Gay Desire In Revolutionary Russia Analysis

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Dan Healey’s Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia details the experiences of Russia’s homosexual citizens. Healey’s heavily researched monograph illuminates the perception of homosexual relationships over the centuries, beginning with the widely accepted “same-sex eros” of the nineteenth century. Healey divided his research into three major sections, each describing a different aspect of homosexual life as Russia developed from a monarchy to a socialist state to the modern federation. Although the wealth of new information offered within this volume is undeniable, Healey’s research is poorly organized, creating unnecessary confusion and obscuring the details needed to adequately understand the volume. In addition to this disorganization, …show more content…
Much of the monograph savors of condescension, primarily due to Healey’s affinity for parentheticals. In most instances, these parentheticals would be better understood as part of the extensive notes, or could be removed entirely. For example, in his introduction, Healey mentions that many Russian concepts of homosexuality are “tied to… what Russians currently call (without irony) ‘non-traditional sex’”. In other instances, Healey contributes to the reader’s understanding; here, the parenthetical is useless. Given the supposedly scholarly nature of the monograph, it would be reasonable to assume that every phrase would be unironic. In specifying the lack of irony, Healey subtly suggests to the reader that this phrase- and Russia’s perception of homosexuality- are outdated and backward. This subtle Orientalism is consistent throughout the monograph, and reduces the scholarly impact of the piece. Healey’s bias is likely a product of the Cold War, which was at its peak during his undergraduate studies and ended shortly before he began researching this monograph. The tension between the Eastern and Western blocs at the time led to heavy propaganda, with each side demonizing the other. Healey likely internalized this propaganda, conceiving Russia as a out of date country …show more content…
Healey presents a wealth of new information gleaned from his extensive research, but due to the organization and bias, much of this data is inaccessible. With clear introductions and conclusions offered, it is easy to understand the gist of Healey’s argument on each topic. However, his decision to place necessary details in the notes section, rather than integrating them into the body of his text, makes fully understanding his arguments immensely difficult. Further compounding this confusion is Healey’s baffling use of parentheticals, many of which would be better placed in the notes. These parentheticals are also the chief indicator of Healey’s bias, as many of them contain subtle, snide comments on the failures of Russian culture to modernize its’ views on homosexuality. In light of Healey’s abject failure at organization, the subtle Orientalism, and inaccessibility of the monograph, this piece can only be praised for its early publication. Research on sexuality was sparse until contemporary researchers took interest, and Healey was one of the contemporary revisionists who recognized its importance. If someone were searching for an example of contemporary sexuality studies, and needed an example with obvious bias, this book would be the first recommendation; in all other cases, I

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