Russian LGBT Activism, Transnational Memory Politics and Solidarity

Pauline Stoltz, Anna Khlusova

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPaper without publisher/journalResearch


LGBTQ activists engage in transnational activism against the backdrop of increasingly globalised contentions around the nature of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), the family and LGBT human rights. In Russia, queer sexuality has for decades been cast as a Western degeneracy, with official political narratives presenting LGBT rights as foreign, immoral and dangerous interferences of external actors aimed at destroying Russian national values (Khlusova, 2017). These narratives reinforce LGBTQ marginalization, intersectional inequalities and injustices. However, to counteract these official representations, a growing number of (transnational) memory-oriented grassroots initiatives have emerged. They actively mobilize counterhegemonic narratives of Russian LGBTQ pasts as the basis for claiming political legitimacy and rights for Russian LGBTQ communities in the present.
When different actors use a global polarization over LGBTQ issues to mobilize both inclusive and exclusive forms of national identity, then how do (queer, feminist and nationalist) social movement organizations and activists, states, and institutions such as the UN and the EU negotiate and contest LGBTQ rights? This paper addresses transnational dimensions of memory politics, on place, space (including national spaces) and time (memory), but most of all on the politics of time, place, space and agency in Russian queer activism. More specifically, we ask how memories of local gender and sexuality-based activism by Russian queer activists matter in transnational struggles for the human rights of LGBTQ communities in Russia in light of global intersectional inequalities in power. We concentrate on (possible) collaborations between Russian queer activists and actors in the EU (EU-based LGBT organizations; EU diplomats and parliamentarians).
Based on a narrative approach (Stoltz, 2020), we investigate personal narratives of memories of activism in interviews with Russian queer activists. By using intersectional and decolonial approaches to the analysis of transnational mobilizations, we will discuss how the activists assess the possibilities for a transformative solidarity with actors in the EU in their struggles to challenge marginalization, intersectional inequalities and historical injustices relating to Russian LGBTQ communities (Farmer 2020; Stoltz 2020). As a result, this study continues investigations on gender, sexuality, intersectionality, transnationalism and activism that have started to emerge in memory studies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date5 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021
EventMemory Studies Association Annual Conference - Warsaw, Poland
Duration: 5 Jul 20219 Jul 2021


ConferenceMemory Studies Association Annual Conference


  • Memories
  • Transnational approaches
  • transnational politics
  • Solidarity
  • LGBT movements
  • Russia
  • Activism


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