Russia's Hidden Gay Literature


Editor's Preface
Kevin Moss
Publisher's Note
Winston Leyland
Introduction: Russia's Gay Literature and History
Simon Karlinsky
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)
Poem: Imitation of the Arabic
Translated by Michael Green
A Pushkin Puzzle
Essay by Michael Green
Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841)
Poem:Ode to the John
Poem:To Tiesenhausen
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky
Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852)
Nights at the Villa
Translated with commentary by Simon Karlinsky
Leo Toistoy (1828-1910)
The Ivins-Selections from Childhood
Pages from Tolstoy's Diaries
Translated by Kevin Moss
Konstantin Leontiev (1831-1891)
Khamid and Manoli (story)
Translated by Gerald McCausland
Mikhail Kuzmin (1872-1936)
Aunt Sonya's Sofa (story)
Virginal Victor: A Byzantine Tale (story)
A Summer Affair (Cycle of 12 poems)
A Story Interrupted (Cycle of 10 poems)
Three Poems from Alexandrian Songs
All storieslpoems translated by Michael Green
Mikhail Kuzmin: Past and Present
Mikhail Kuzmin's Diaries-A Foretaste
Two Essays by Michael Green
Fyodor Sologub (1863-1927)
The Petty Demon (Selections from the novel)
Translated by S. D. Cioran
Vyacheslav Ivanov (1866-1949)
Two Poems
Translated by Vitaly Chernelsky
Vasily Rozanov (1856-1919)
People of the Moonlight (Selections)
Translated by Spencer E. Roberts
Nikolai Klyuev (1887-1937)
Two Poems
Translated by Simon Karlinsky
Sergei Esenin (1895-1925)
Four Poems
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky
Ryurik Ivnev (1891-1981)
Selections from Ivnev's Diaries
Translated by Michael Molnar

Poem: "Who Will Comprehend These Feelings."
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky
Anatoly Steiger (1907-1981)
Ten Poems
Translated by Paul Schmidt
Georgy Ivanov (1894-1958)
The Third Rome (Selections from the novel)
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky
Valery Pereleshin [pseud.] (1913-1992)
Three Poems
Three Sonnets from Ariel
Translated by Simon Karlinsky

Twelve Sonnets from Ariel
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky
Yevgeny Kharitonov (1941-1981)
Four Stories:
The Oven
One Boy's Story: How I Got Like That
The Leaflet
All translated by Kevin Moss
Gennady Trifonov (b. 1945)
Poem: Letter from Prison
Three Poems from Tbilisi by Candlelight
Translated by Simon Karlinsky

Open Letter to Literaturnaya Gazeta
Translated by Kevin Moss
Letters to the Editor of Tema and 1/10
Translated by Kevin Moss
V. K. and Nikolai Serov
Letters About Prison Life
Translated by Dan Healey
Vladimir Makanin (b. 1937)
The Prisoner of the Caucasus (story)
Translated by Anatoly Vishevsky and Michael Biggins
Vassily Aksyonov (b. 1932)
Around Dupont (story)
Translated by Alla Zbinovsky
Yury Past (b. 1954)
No Offense in Love (story)
Translated by Diane Nemec, Ignashev
Nikolai Kolyada (b. 1957)
Slingshot (play)
Translated by Susan Larsen
Sergei Rybikov (b. 1962)
Lays of the Gay Slavs
Translated by Anatoly Vishevsky and Michael Biggins
Dmitry Gubin (b. 1967)
Three Poems
Translated by J. Kates
Dmitry Kuz'min (b. 1968)
Two Poems
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky
Gennady Trifonov (b. 1945)
Two Ballets by George Balanchine (Selections from the novella)
Translated by Michael Molnar
Efim Yeliseev [pseud.] (b. 1940s)
The Bench (story)
Translated by Anthony Vanchu
Vitaly Yasinsky [Pseud.] (b. 1946)
A Sunny Day at the Seaside (story)
Translated by Anthony Vanchu
K. E. [pseud.] (b. 1962)
The Phone Call (story)
Translated by Anthony Vanchu
Yaroslav Mogutin (b. 1974)
The Death of Misha Beautiful
Poem: The Army Elegy
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky
Dimitri Bushuev (b. 1969)
Poem: "The night will burst with hail, and the rain"
Echoes of Harlequin (Selections from the novel)
Translated by Vitaly Chernetsky

Excerpt from Out of the Blue: This is a letter from a Russian gay man to the editor of the Russian gay magazine Tema transp.gif
...I did my service with an artillery unit. Our regiment was stationed in Czechoslovakia. Relations with my fellow servicemen were very difficult. Though I didn't flaunt my "gayness," the way I acted must have allowed my brothers in arms to guess my sexual proclivities. This was all expressed in hints; they told me they dreamed they had sex with me and offered to make the dream a reality. But since not one of them appealed to me, I got off with a joke.
transp.gifSpeculation that I was gay reached the company Commander, Lieutenant Borisenko. That's when I felt all the "joys" of service and learned from personal experience what homophobia is. There wasn't any kind of dirty or hard labor I wasn't assigned. It reached the point of idiocy. For example, in the winter of 1980 we were participating in the joint exercises called "Friendship 80. " Before the exercises we were all issued felt boots, but by the personal order of the lieutenant, none were issued to me. I was afraid to complain, since I already knew how professionally our commander could beat people.
transp.gifSo I endured all the "trials and deprivations of army service." I even participated in an amateur evening, since I read poetry rather well. And on the 20th of February, 1980 1 was transferred to the district command, to the town of Mlada Boleslav to participate in a concert for Soviet Army Day on February 23. Two musicians were sent there with me. One of them, Borya Khramov, I liked right away.
transp.gif On arrival we were quartered with a musicians' platoon. The commision saw our act and decided to keep us there for the May 9 Victory Day concert.
transp.gif The housing for the platoon was cramped, and we had to sleep two to a bed.
transp.gifRelations with the guys were more or less OK. It was the usual rehearsal workday. Of course the way I acted didn't fit the usual manly stereotype here either.
transp.gif The 28th of March I had my birthday and treated the guys to good wine. We had a good time and went to bed. As I already said, we were sleeping two to a bed. The day before had been bath day, and I ended up with no underwear, and therefore I had to sleep in my birthday suit. When everyone went to sleep, Borya (and I ended up sleeping with him) started kissing me and stroking me. And then. . . I didn't even put up a fight, since I'd wanted this myself for a long time. And Borya finished his business and got up from the bed, woke up the whole platoon and told them a "faggot" had wormed his way in and that he (that is me) fucks like a cat, and so on and so forth.
transp.gifLord! How they beat me! Ten enraged men against one! The results of this "conversation" were lamentable for me. My jaw and one rib were broken. And then when they got tired of beating me they put me on all fours and each had ago.... Then they beat me again, then raped me again.... In the morning my own mother wouldn't have recognized me. According to regulations I was taken to the infirmary in the morning. There I was patched up, and I had to invent some story about some strangers who asked me for a light. There was no way I could have told the truth then. My fellow servicemen and "lovers" came after taps to the infirmary, took me without anyone's saying a word to the basement and beat me again. Finally they wanted to hang me. but I convinced them to put the execution off until the next day. When I got back to the ward I drank a vial of carbolic acid and passed out.
transp.gifNaturally news of my poisoning myself with carbolic acid reached the public prosecutor's office. I was taken to a central (TsGV) hospital, and after they brought me back to consciousness in intensive care, they put me in an isolated psychiatric ward. The investigating detective turned up immediately. At first I tried to deny it, making something up about the reasons for my attempted suicide. Finally the detective got tired of my stories and gave me a tape of the interrogation of my "lovers" who sincerely repented everything. There was nothing for me to do but confess my "gayness" and tell him everything.
transp.gifThen there was a psychiatric exam. I was held in the psych ward a month. The whole exam consisted of huge doses of sulphazine, aminazine, and soul-saving chats with the department head on the subject of "How could you?! tsk, tsk, tsk!"
transp.gifJust before the trial I was transferred to a KGB solitary cell for interrogation. There I was surprised to learn that only Borya and I were on the docket, the rest got off light and were acting only as witnesses.
transp.gifThen came the comedy of the trial. At the judge's bench sat a colonel, next to him two jurymen-sergeants. Since it wasn't deemed necessary to familiarize me with the materials of the case before the trial, it was only from the indictment of the prosecutor that I learned what a disgusting person I was and how my "deviant" personality had contributed to the disruption of the valorous Soviet Army. And it turns out the ones who beat me up were practically the foremost fighters for protecting the military preparedness of the army. My attempts to be upset at such an interpretation of events and tell about the insults of these "champions of morality" were decisively cut off by the presiding judge, since they "had nothing to do with the case."
transp.gifAfter a thorough "examination" of the case the court pronounced sentence: for the satisfaction of sexual passion in deviant form to sentence:
-me to 4 years deprivation of freedom in a camp of common regime
-Boris to one and a half years of common regime
transp.gifOf course I was not let out to "chemistry." When my two weeks were up I was called to the head of the operative section, Captain Ch. He chatted for a long time on the subject of "tsk, tsk, tsk," then "imperceptibly" shifted to the topic of my sexual preferences. He asked for a long time about what I feel during sex. And he ended the conversation by expressing the desire to "try" me. He was young and damned handsome. And I didn't want to refuse him. After this I spent a wonderful half hour on his work desk. True, that evening I was again put away in the psych ward for offending the head of the operative section." I was put into solitary. The next day I announced a hunger strike and demanded that they call the head of operations. He came, locked himself in his office with me, and said, "don't fight it, it has to be like this." After that I went down on him. And in three days I was transferred as a "vicious disrupter of discipline" to the PKT, and after two months there to another camp. That camp and the relations in it were exactly the same as the previous one. The only difference was that I soon became the lover of one of the inspectors. I can't remember his name anymore, but in the camps he was called "Vanka with the accordion."

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