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1917-91: Carving Privacy From Communal Space
by Dr. Dan Healey

The World War, revolution and then civil war brought sweeping and devastating change to Moscow in the years between 1914 and 1921. Combat, epidemics, migration and starvation decimated the urban population, and from a 1917 high of 1.9 million, the city's inhabitants dropped to only 1 million in 1921. An important factor for the future of the city's homosexual subculture was the government's move from Petrograd to Moscow in 1918.19 This shift brought diplomatic and administrative personnel to the Soviet capital and also contributed to its artistic life. The arts, as we shall see, were to become a refuge for male homosexuals in the Soviet era.

As would be expected, the social and political realignments of the first socialist state greatly affected the lives of Moscow's homosexuals. Revolution brought pluses and minuses for them. On the one hand, formal legalization of sodomy between consenting adults came with the first Bolshevik criminal code (1922), and this along with marriage, divorce and abortion legislation was heralded as the most radical sex reform in Europe (Healey 1993: 37). Yet the regime's instrumental view of law, and frank embrace of terror, meant political campaigns (especially in the 1930s, during the first Five Year Plans) could overwhelm mere legislation. More pervasive perhaps was the effect of the new government's economic policies on everyday life. A culture of shortages and exchange through informal and illegal networks evolved, re-casting human relationships in ways unintended by economic and social planners. Also unanticipated were the effects of socialized housing and the elimination of private space on the human need for intimacy.

Sources for Moscow's male homosexual subculture in the 1920s and early 1930s are scant. With sodomy legalized from 1922 until 1934, formal court records hold less information than in previous and subsequent periods of criminalization. The psychiatric literature of the 1920s presents a shift of interest away from male homosexuality toward lesbianism, leaving us with fewer sources on men's same-sex relations for the entire decade.20 The male prostitute Pavel, described by Dr Belousov in 1927, remains our richest informant on Moscow's homosexual subculture for the 1920s. His testimony may be compared with data drawn from 1930s sodomy trial records held in Moscow's municipal archive.21

Pavel reported that in the post-revolutionary era, the Boulevard Ring remained the focal point for meeting and socializing between homosexual men. Apart from factors affecting housing opportunities, to which we shall return, the street setting in itself had considerable logic. This ring of connected boulevards (each with its own name) surrounded the heart of Moscow in a semi-circular band of greenery dotted with shrubs, benches and small kiosks selling newspapers and refreshments. There were also public pissoirs and toilets. Ideally situated to become the arena for a male homosexual subculture, boulevards provided pleasant places to sit, smoke and converse; there was a constant circulation of pedestrians; links with public transport made them accessible. The boulevards were but a few minutes' walk to Moscow's greater and lesser theaters, to the Conservatory, and to shops and department stores. Pavel quite accurately noted, 'You can find and meet men on any boulevard.'

Parts of the Boulevard Ring also had a seedy reputation as the main centers of female prostitution, and, as in European and American centers, there was often a sharing of urban territories between public women and male homosexuals. Tsvetnoi Boulevard and adjoining Trubnaia Square were dubbed by two 1923 critics 'the classic centers of Moscow prostitution.' In that year they observed how organized 'professional' women sold themselves on the boulevard and consummated their liaisons in private rooms, usually rented out by older women, in the side-streets off these thoroughfares.22 Meanwhile the boulevards near Trubnaia Square were becoming homosexual haunts, as would the nearby Ermitazh Park and Trubnaia's public toilets by the mid-1980s.

Nikitskie Gates, a square on the Boulevard Ring notorious as a haunt of homosexuals. Behind the monument were underground public facilities where men had sex together during the 1920s and 1930s.
Source: Photo undated, late 1920s, D. Healey collection.

The specific stretches of the Boulevard Ring which homosexuals frequented seem to have changed little during the 1920s and 1930s, to judge from Pavel's remarks and the 1930s court records. The stretches of Nikitskii Boulevard leading to Moscow's 'most important "den",' the square known as Nikitskie Gates, were singled out by the male prostitute; the memoirs of Yugoslavian communist Anton Ciliga, also name this square as the site of a 'secret market' of homosexual men in the late 1920s (Ciliga 1979: 67). In a trial of three young men in 1941, contacts were said to have been made on Nikitskii Boulevard and on Trubnaia Square and the adjoining boulevards. One of the three men explained during his interrogation: 'In 1936 in the apartment where I lived, Afanas'ev, an artist of the ballet, moved in.... He showed me the places where pederasts meet: Nikitskii Boulevard and Trubnaia Square.' Not long after this friendship began, the dancer was convicted for sodomy while on tour in Irkutsk in Siberia. During interrogation, another defendant in this case related how 'Sasha told me that the chief places for pederasts were Nikitskii Boulevard, Trubnaia [Square], a bar on Arbat [Street], and the Tsentral'nye Baths.' He was speaking of the early 1930s.23

Sretenskii and Chistoprudnyi Boulevards were also mentioned by the ex-prostitute Pavel as places where 'an especially important public' among Moscow's homosexuals gathered and made assignations.24 In a 1935 sodomy trial Sretenskii Boulevard was mentioned as a meeting place and as a possible trysting ground too. Thus in its sentence a municipal court noted that ' [the accused] met by chance on Sretenskii and other boulevards of the city of Moscow with men-pederasts (muzhshchiny-pederasty), and entered into sexual intercourse with them in toilets, in apartments and on the boulevards....' 25 other places mentioned in the trials include Manezh Square and nearby Sverdlov Square, located in front ot the Bol'shoi Theater in the heart of the city.

Public toilets were noted by Russian psychiatrists as places of male homosexual contact from the late nineteenth century. In the early Soviet period, many venues for meeting, such as bath-houses or sympathetic bars, were nationalized and consequently grew less likely to function as homosexual gathering points or havens for same-sex prostitution. Locations for 'balls of women-haters,' or even homosexual poetry readings, hired in the past in private transactions, were now controlled by government functionaries hostile to displays of disorder. The public toilet thus took on a new significance for the male homosexual world. Dr Belousov reports that Pavel observed, 'Now, after the revolution meetings in toilets have become the most predominant [means of contact].' The male prostitute's description of the toilet in the cinema 'Maiak' in Khar'kov in the 1920s, as 'particularly convenient,' betrays an awareness of the perverse applications of such architectural accidents.26 The revolution, by virtually eliminating commodified indoor space available for private rental and enjoyment, relegated male homosexuals to a 'culture of the toilet.'

In the sodomy cases from the 1930s various toilets betray their reputations: the most important one in the decade, it seems, was on Trubnaia Square. This facility was constructed underground in the shape of a circle, with the stalls against the perimeter wall, facing inward. There were no doors on the stalls, which had simple holes in the floor.27 All users were in a position to observe each other, and this perverse panopticism apparently enabled as many meetings as it prevented. One defendant investigated for sodomy in 1941 described his discovery of this facility:

Once in autumn 1940 I left a restaurant on Tsvetnoi Boulevard and was walking toward my apartment on Neglinnaia Street. On the way I stopped in the toilet on Trubnaia Square and there, against my will, an act of sodomy was committed with me. A man came up to me and began to masturbate, touching my penis. I did not particularly object. A month and a half after this I once again went to the toilet on Trubnaia Square, but this time with the deliberate intention of committing an act of sodomy. In this manner I committed acts of sodomy about five or six times.. .28

Sometimes, this man invited partners home to sleep overnight with him; others be had sex with then and there. He claimed to police that his loneliness drove him to drink, and it was only the alcohol that was responsible for his cruising in the toilet - not his desire for company.

The public toilet remained a focal point for Muscovite gay lives after World War II, when more efficient enforcement of the sodomy statute raised the number of convictions from 130 in 1950 for the entire Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic to 464 in 1961 and 854 in 1971.29 Facilities in the heart of the city, near major department stores, railway stations and in Aleksandrovskii gardens by the Kremlin wall, were well known to homosexuals, police and the KGB, and entrapment was common.30

In the handful of post-1945 sodomy trials preserved in the open sector of Moscow's municipal archive, one unveils something of the 'culture of the toilet' - and in an outrageous location. In 1955, two young men met and attempted to have sex in the very center of Moscow. Klimov, a 27-year-old stoker at a Moscow railway depot, who commuted to work from an outlying settlement, related in his interrogation:

I came from the village to Moscow, and I was looking for food in GUM [Department Store on Red Square], when during that time I went to the men's toilet. In the toilet a young lad came up to me, shook my hand and said let's get acquainted. He was called Volodia, and he said to me 'Let's go over to the Lenin Museum....' I went with him to the Lenin Museum, he bought the entrance tickets with his money, and we went straight to the men's toilet. He began to grope me, he grabbed me by the penis, held it for some time, but just then some strangers came in and disturbed us and we left the Lenin Museum.31

The pair agreed to another rendezvous, but Klimov, apparently unnerved by city-dweller 'Volodia's' bold ways, did not keep the date. Nevertheless, some three weeks later in the GUM department store toilet, Klimov and 'Volodia' chanced to meet, and this time they took the metro to Sokol'niki Park, where they made love in a secluded wooded spot.32

The men's toilet in the Lenin Museum surfaces some twenty-five years later in a memoir written by a lawyer who defended the ringleader of a gang of Moscow queerbashers in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The ringleader claimed he had been raped in this particular toilet and believed himself to be a 'fag' (gomik) (Kozlovskii 1986: 196-9). It is probable that facilities such as this one, the GUM department store toilets, and those in nearby Sapunov Lane and the Aleksandrovskii Gardens, remained points of contact for Moscow homosexuals, because of architectural features exploited by homosexuals to construct a ration of privacy. Their proximity to Sverdlov Square in front of the Bol'shoi Theater, a cruising ground from at least the mid-1980s, guaranteed a steady circulation of men seeking contacts. Homosexuals made creative use not only of the 'convenient' layouts of toilets, but of entire streetscapes between them, and by the 1970s observers spoke of a periodically shifting 'route,' a kind of gay promenade between the Bol'shoi Theater and Nogin (now Old) Square (Kozlovskii 1986: 54: Gessen 1990:46-7).

If the garden in front of Russia's most famous theater was a constant on the homosexual map of mid-to-late twentieth-century Moscow, then other gathering spots in the vicinity appeared and disappeared over time. Cafes located near the Bol'shoi such as the 'Sadko' and 'Artisticheskoe,' with an apparently indifferent management, were meeting places in the 1970s and 1980s. Of the two nearby bath-houses, the Sandunovskie and the Tsentral'nye, the latter most often appears as a place where contacts were made (though not consummated) in this period. An anonymous writer 'G' reported queues for entry to the Tsentral'nve lasting for up to an hour ('G' 1980: 16).33 An American reported in 1973 that Pushkin Square (a favorite gathering place for dissidents of all stripes) and the lanes off Gor'kii Street (also close to the Bol'shoi) offered cruising possibilities, as did the more distant embankments at Gor'kii Park. Moscow University's riverside embankment, a hangout for youthful non-conformists, was another place to meet the sexually adventurous (Reeves 1973: 5-6). The instability of such cruising grounds was the result of more intense but episodic police and KGB surveillance, especially as dissident subcultures blossomed in the Brezhnev era. Another factor peculiar to Soviet society, the state ownership of even the smallest cafe or refreshment kiosk, made control over such sites unlikely for stigmatized croups, putting homosexuals who frequented such spots at the mercy of managerial whims and periodic clampdowns.

The single most significant cause of the resort to marginal communal space such as toilets, parks and the boulevards were domestic arrangements, and their peculiarities in the command economy. Homosexuals were often forced to seek privacy in public spaces because of the state's total control over housing, and the relatively low priority in the national economy which apartment construction commanded. The capital's housing shortage, and the types of housing available, produced a situation where the divisions between households were blurred. Moreover, the paltry rations of space between family members within households drove individuals who sought illicit sexual release out of their homes and into the streets.

After the 1917 revolution, most urban housing was nationalized and the 'communal' apartment was born. A flat in which an entire family would inhabit each room, the kommunal'ka often brought together dozens to share a single kitchen, toilet, bath and telephone. Soviet planners discarded the bourgeois household as the basic unit of domestic space, and thought in terms of a per capita entitlement to square footage, more amenable to collective living arrangements. It was also cheaper to build (Kotkin 1995: 158ff). Many pre-revolutionary tenement blocks in Russia's towns were converted to communal flats, and demand for this housing remained high since most of these blocks were located in city centers. The pressure on urban housing space was always great, but it intensified during the rapid industrialization of the Five Year Plans in the 1930s. Factories constructed their own housing, and placed favored workers in these blocks, while newcomers resorted to distant barracks and flop-houses. In Soviet towns, the average number of dwellers per room rose from 2.71 in 1926 to 3.91 in 1940 (Hoffmann 1994: 131-3, 139).

Privacy was therefore a luxury many were unable to achieve. Those who had access to housing in the capital took advantage of this scarce resource. Many Moscow sodomy cases of the 1935-41 period mention an exchange of accommodation for sex, usually in terms found in one 1935 trial. The defendant Bezborodov is said to have initiated a sexual liaison with one Timofenko in 1927, and 'using his dependent position,' offered him a place to live in exchange. The nature of Timofenko's 'dependent position' is not explained, but usually this condition was either youth or being a newcomer to Moscow. Murav'ev, another rnan accused of sodomy the same year, met an unnamed visitor from Turkmenia on the tram in Moscow, and spent a day off showing him the sights of the capital. Murav'ev was said to have displayed 'particular zeal' in trying to find the Turkmen a place to live; he introduced him to a homosexual Communist Party member, Venediktov, who testified that the Turkmen immediately offered him sex, apparendy in hopes of obtaining accommodation.35

A 1950 Moscow sodomy case illustrates the vulnerability of the domestic sphere in the communal flat which was a constant of Soviet lives.36 Ivanov, a 50-year-old professor of Marxism-Leninism in a Moscow technical institute, was arrested after his wife, with whom he shared one room in a kommunal'ka, became fed up with his drunken carousing with men half his age. She did not put up with his disruptive behavior for long. In one statement to the police, she described how she watched her drunk husband and a man of about 25 'commit sexual acts' together in their room:

[The younger man] undressed my husband and laid him on the bed. Then he got undressed and lay down with my husband. I demanded that he not get into bed with my husband, but he didn't listen. They both began to shout at me to get rid of me, but I stayed. [The young man] embraced my husband. The light in the room was on. Then they began to commit sexual acts.... I was indignant at this and pulled the sheet off them... my husband fell from the bed, but then he got up and started to swear at me. I took fright and called for our neighbor, Vera. She arrived when my husband and [the young man] were already up out of bed.37

Ivanov's wife did not call the police this time, but a later episode exhausted her patience. Police were summoned and caught Ivanov in bed with a 17-year-old youth. The neighbor Vera, a trusted Communist Party member, provided sharp-eyed reports of gossip against Ivanov in the communal kitchen, and an eye-witness account of his unmasking in bed with this friend.38 The crowded world of the communal flat was dangerous territory for all sexual non-conformity, and drove illicit relationships out of the domestic sphere. A 1946 survey of 5,000 male clients of the capital's central VD clinic revealed that 75 per cent had met female sexual partners (previously unknown to them) on the streets or in theaters and restaurants; fully 30 per cent had sex with these women not 'in domestic circumstances' but 'on the street, in entrance halls to blocks of flats, in parks or automobiles.'39 Homosexuals were not alone in constructing privacy out of public spaces for sexual purposes.

Although Moscow's housing stock expanded after World War II, so too did its population, reaching 9 million by the 1980s. The domestic situation of Sasha, a young homosexual met by Tom Reeves on the streets of the capital in the early 1970s, was typical. A student in his twenties, Sasha shared a two-room flat with his mother and sister; all three slept in the same room (Reeves 1973: 5). Reeves and Russian observers also reported encountering pockets of privilege. Dormitories at Moscow State University - a top institution of higher learning - had been alienated by non-conformists, the children of high officials, and among these Reeves found 'two suites of gay men' living among a larger grouping of artists and musicians, in a congenial version of communal domesticity. Parental connections were instrumental in obtaining self-contained flats for other fortunate gay men described in 1980 ('G' 1980: 18-20). Widespread overcrowding affected innumerable groups in Soviet society. Yet pervasive surveillance, whether by family, neighbors and inquisitive superintendents, or more formally by the police and KGB, rendered the home a desexualized space for all but the most resourceful of Moscow homosexuals (Gessen 1990: 46-7).40

If physical space was difficult for homosexuals to control in Soviet conditions, then at least one social 'space' offered the hope of respectability and even prestige. This important locus of Moscow's male homosexual subculture was the art world. Homosexuals believed with some justification that they were tolerated there, and they gravitated toward music, drama, dance, the visual arts and allied professions. Homosexual figures at the summit of Russia's artistic life have been well documented in English (Karlinsky 1976, 1982, 1989; Poznansky 1991, 1996; Moss 1996). Little has been said, however, about ordinary homosexuals and their use of the arts as a cloak of respectability in a society which assigned great prestige to official culture.

'Antinoi' (Antinous), a private arts circle devoted to the appreciation of 'male beauty' in prose, verse, drama and music, functioned in Moscow during the early 1920s, staging readings of consciously homosexual poetry, recitals of music by 'their' composers, and even an all-male ballet. The group made plans to publish an anthology of homosexual verse from ancient to modern times. The collection went unpublished, and our knowledge of the Antinoi group's activity begins and ends with correspondence relating to the Leningrad poet Mikhail Kuzmin's May 1924 reading to the group in the Blue Bird Cafe just steps from Tverskoi Boulevard. The group appears to have disbanded as it became more difficult to rent meeting space, or publicize its activities even by word of mouth.41

If private artistic action was politically dangerous, then official culture provided opportunities for homosexual men, and indeed would have been the poorer without them. Great talents such as Sergei Eisenstein and Sviatoslav Richter married to make their peace with an economy offering only one patron: the state (Karlinsky 1989: 361-2). Others did not always fare as well. Of the thirty-six individuals named in the Moscow sodomy trial documents for 1935-41, fully one-third were employed, or getting training, in the arts. A further four out of ten homosexuals briefly mentioned in the 1941 sodomy trial of students at the Moscow Glazunov Musical Theater College were cultural employees. Most of these men were dramatic actors, but there were dancers, a film executive, a pianist and a humble ticket-collector from a branch of the Bol'shoi Theater. One man even claimed to be a stage designer when he met boulevard pick-ups, according to the man whose testimony led to his arrest.42 A student of the Musical Theater College, examined in court by his defense lawyer, explained that he deliberately sought out actors 'and wanted to work in tbe theater, because I engaged in that [sodomy].'43

The cultural world remained a haven for male homosexuals after World War II, although the authorities' increased awareness of homosexuality in general meant that periodic prosecutions, centered on elite institutions and sometimes involving the sons of high officials, took place. Mosfilm Studios, the Moscow Conservatory of Music and Moscow State University were scenes of at least one sodomy scandal each in the 1950s through 1970s. Such scandals were normally hushed up and archival access to criminal records on them remains blocked.44 A 1959 sodomy case against an instructor in the Moscow Conservatory was perhaps typical of these scandals. The teacher was accused of requiring sex from his male students in exchange for serious instruction from 1950 to 1959. When the son of a high Party member complained, about two dozen students signed a petition to the procuracy praising their instructor and demanding his release, on the grounds that Khrushchev's newly enunciated principles of socialist humanism dictated that individuals should not be prosecuted for such offenses. Nevertheless the instructor received a five-year prison sentence.43 Despite these setbacks, some homosexuals interviewed in 1973 recalled the Khrushchev years of political 'thaw' as a time when the invigorated culture of jazz clubs and literary cafes brought fresh opportunities for gay men to meet and forge social networks (Reeves 1973: 6). Khrushchev's successors tried to force all non-conformism back into the closet. High-profile sodomy prosecutions of cultural and sexual dissidents took place, such as that of poet Gennadii Trifonov in 1976. Other homosexuals sought to lead their lives discreetly in the hopes of escaping official persecution. Some wrote honestly but 'for the desk drawer' (Evgenii Kharitonov's then unpublishable stories of gay experience were written in the 1970s), adopted false marriages or relied on friendship networks in the arts world for mutual support (Kozlovskii 1986: 187-95; Gessen 1990: 47; Moss, 1996: 196, 226-32).

Driven from communal domestic space and forced by the command economy to retreat from the once commodified spaces of bars, meeting halls and hotel rooms, Moscow homosexuals along with others who had illicit sex sought contacts - and consummation - in public space. For men who had sex with men, certain boulevards, parks and toilets became the chief zones where sexual release was possible. At times during the communist era, bath-house contacts and cafe or bar pick-ups were possible; but the subculture was not able to gain stable purchase on these now nationalized establishments. Homosexual desire, unacknowledged by the planned economy, led some men to appropriate and redefine public space to satisfy their own needs. Others sought respectability and perhaps an escape from the 'culture of the toilet' in the arts as a means of making contact with like-minded men. And there were those who inhabited both territories, crossing the boundary between respectability and illicit acts, some paying with harsh prison sentences when they were unmasked.

In the 1990s, gay men in Russia are enjoying a social and political 'thaw.' The emergence since 1991 of a small network of bars, dance clubs, publications and campaigning groups owes much to the end of Communist Party rule, the decriminalization of sodomy in 1993, and the arrival of foreign activism and money. As so often in Russia's past, a number of Western models (of gay liberarion of AIDS activism, of commercialized identities) compete for influence but they do not confront a blank slate. An indigenous homosexual subculture has been an element of Russia's urban heritage for the past century, a reflection of the simultaneous 'modernization' or westernization of social relations, characterized by lunges and lags in diverse fields (Engelstein 1993: 338-53). Russia's gays and lesbians are faced with appeals to 'come out' and to adopt identities that mav not always make sense in a culture which seems almost Mediterranean in its respect for family and in its extreme patriarchalism (Tuller 1996).

At the heart of the evolution of Moscow's homosexual subculture lie the privileges of masculinity in Russian culture. Overwhelmingly, homosexuals formed a male subculture. Women who loved women rarely took on an open, public role as 'lesbians' (Healey 1997: 83-106). Men's mobility, their relative freedom to earn a living, the drinking culture and the permissiveness conferred by vodka, and the licensing of heterosexual brothels between 1843 and 1917, were all elements of a masculine culture increasingly inflected by market relations. Traditional hierarchies of age and social position within the homosocial world of men reproduced themselves in new forms during the nineteenth century, as men with experience, status and resources exploited these advantages over apprentices, servants and newcomers to Moscow.

The tsarist bath-house, too, contributed to the evolution of a homosexual subculture, by sheltering and institutionalizing commercial sex between males, in a quintessentially homosocial and hygienic environment. Although bath-houses continued to operate and remained popular during the Soviet era, socialist disapproval of commercial sex, and modern forms of surveillance, drastically reduced the degree of male prostitution they sheltered. Nevertheless the national culture of the bath-house, in its elemental celebration of all bodies, lent itself to a perverse reinterpretation through homosexual eyes. If men were less able to consummate sexual relations in these spas, they were at least capable, through the rituals of bath-house sociability, to recognize like-minded men and begin the search for privacy.

Moscow's homosexuals still confront the problem of constructing privacy in a transitional economic order. In the past, they made astonishingly bold use of Moscow's most important central landscapes. They persistently exploited secluded and marginal spaces in the heart of the national capital, perhaps secure in the knowledge that their perverse appropriation of these sites was sufficiently unthinkable to call attention from the uninitiated. Such energetic resistance, given the frequency of official persecution, suggests that Russia's gay men have a heritage which we would do well to study before we offer them models they may not wish to assume.

Dr. Dan Healey


19 St Petersburg was redubbed Petrograd in 1914; from 1924 to 1991 it bore the name Leningrad.

20 On the shift of attention to lesbians, see Dan Healey, 'Unruly identities: Soviet psychiatry confronts the "female homosexual" of the 1920s,' in Gender and Sexual Difference in Russian Culture and History, ed. Linda Edmondson (London: Macmillan, forthcoming).

21 Part of the following discussion is based on a sample of fourteen sodomy trials (with forty-four named defendants) from Tsentral'nyi munitsipal'nyi arkhiv Mosby (TsMAM), dating from 1935 through 1956. Eight of the trials, and thirty-six defendants, fall within the 1935-41 period; the remaining eight individuals were tried between 1949 and 1956. All names cited from these trials have been altered. It is noi possible to determine from TsMAM inventories what proportion of Moscow sodomy offenses this sample represents. Uncatalogued and inaccessible sodomv files are known to exist. I am grateful to Julie Hessler whose suggestions on this archive were invaluable.

22 LM. Vasilevskli, and L.A. Vasilevskaia Prostitutsiia i novaia Rossiia (Tver': 'Oktiabr',' 1923).

23 TsMAM, f. 819, op. 2, d. 51,11. 57, 106 ob. 24 Belousov, 'Sluchai gomoseksuala - muzhskoi prostitutki,' p. 312. Pavel also listed meeting places and trysting grounds in major cities of the USSR in the 1920s. All of these were on public terrain: embankments, boulevards, toilets in cinemas, public gardens.

25 TsMAM, f. 819, op. 2, d. 10,1. 297.

26 Belousov, 'Sluchai gomoseksuala - muzhskoi prostitutki,' p. 314.

27 Personal communications, Viktor Gulshinskii of the Russian Library of Lesbians and Gays (GenderDok), 4 Nov. 1995.

28 TsMAM, f. 819, op. 2, d. 51, 1. 83. 'Sodomy' in Soviet-era police documents might mean any sexual contact between males.

29 Convictions for 1950: GARF, f. A353, op. 16s, d. 121, 11. 16 ob.-24. In this year, Moscow's share of convictions was just six persons, while Leningrad had nine, see 1. 18 ob. Convictions for 1961, GARF f. 9492 sekretnaia chast,' op. 6s, d. 58,11. 37, 99; for 1971, f. 9492, op. 6s, d. 177, 1. 45. Convictions remained stable at this approximate rate in the 1970s; 849 persons were sentenced in 1981 for sodomy, f. 9492, op. 6s, d. 328, 1. 30. These now declassified sources do not distinguish between convictions for consensual or aggravated sodomy.

30 Kozlovskii (1996); see also TsMAM, f. 1919, op. 1, d. 136 for a 1952 trial involving sex in public toilet near Leningrad railway station.

31 TsMAM, f. 1921, op. 1, d. 69,1. 10.

32 This is the same park where, ninety-four years earlier, Pavel Medved'ev sought to 'produce lust' with his male friend. Klimov and 'Volodia' had the misfortune to be discovered by a police dog while it was being walked by two Moscow policemen; both defendants received 3-year prison sentences. TsMAM f. 1921, op. 1, d. 69, 11. 6, 8, 43-4.

33 Both baths served approximately 2,000 customers a day in 1979, see PA. Voronin et al. (eds) Moskva: Entsiklopediia (Moscow: Sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1980), 126.

34 TsMAM, f. 819, op. 2, d. 11,11. 238-45.

35 Ibid, 1. 242.

36 On the communal flat's effects on heterosexual married couples, see Kotkin (1995: 195).

37 TsMAM, f. 901, op. 1, d. 1352,11. 49ob.-50.

38 Ibid, 1. 7.

39 GARF, f. A482, op. 47, d. 4868,11. 40^0 ob. Soviet-era hotels officially only admitted out-of-towners or foreigners, eliminating another site for non-approved sexual encounters.

40 Pokrovskii, described in the introduction of this chapter, lived with his wife and stepson. The wife told police she slept in a bed with her son while Pokrovskii 'always slept apart, on the sofa' and refused sex with her, TsMAM, f. 1919, op. 1, d. 238,1. 27 ob.

41 Describing obstacles to holding the reading in a letter to Kuzmin, V.V Ruslov blamed 'the generally awful mood reigning at the moment in Moscow, among Muscovites in general (the reason - mistrust and arrests) and also among "our own," who, as you doubtless know; are more timid than desert gazelles; as a result, frightened by the mood here, they are prostrate and at the thought of "our" evening immediately fall into hysterics and refuse to purchase tickets.' See A.G. Timofeev, 'Progulka bez Gulia? (K istorii organizatsii avtorskogo vechera M.A. Kuzmina v mae 1924 g.).' In Mikhail Kuzmin i russkaya kul'tura XX reka: lektsii i materialy konferentsii 15-17 maia 1990g., ed. G. A. Morev. (Leningrad: Sovet po istorii mirovoi kul'tury AN SSSR, 1990), p. 187.

42 TsMAM, f. 819, op. 2, d. 51.

43 Ibid.,1. 106ob.

44 While conducting research in Moscow in 1995-6, employees at one archive advised me of the existence of a classified file on a 1955 sodomy scandal at Mosfilm; in another archive, employees allowed me limited informal access to a file on a similar scandal at the Moscow Conservatory of Music. 'G' described a psychiatrist who treated several gay Conservatory students, sons of powerful officials, for homosexuality in the 1970s, and described a similar scandal involving the University, ('G' 1980)

45 1959 criminal case in RSFSR Supreme Court against music instructor at Moscow Conservator of Music, personal communication from staff at one Moscow archive. Tolerance of 'amours of a different kind' at the Conservatory was the subject of journalistic attack in 1878, see Poznansky (1996: 18).


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