Please join us on December 13, 2019 for our last workshop of the fall semester!
The Gay Immigrant American Dream: Post-Soviet LGBTQ Migrants in New York City between Cold War Legacies and Contemporary Geopolitics
Since 2012-2013, New York City has been a site of emerging community and grassroots activism for LGBTQ migrants from the former Soviet Union who come to the United States primarily as asylum seekers escaping homo- and transphobia in countries of origin. They embark on their migration journeys against the backdrop of major social and political changes in the United States with the country’s immigrant and LGBTQ policies in flux. In this presentation, I will discuss the ethnographic research of the Russian-speaking LGBTQ migrant community that I have been conducting since 2015. I will begin with an overview of the Russian/post-Soviet LGBTQ migration to the U.S., addressing the problems migrants commonly face, as well as the changes they experience.
I will focus on the reasons for migration from Russia and other former Soviet states and the reasons why my informants have chosen New York City and the United States. I argue that the case of post-Soviet LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers in the United States adds the Cold War perspective to the study of queer migration which, up to date, has been largely drawing on postcolonial frameworks. I will conclude by thinking through the question of whether Russian-speaking LGBTQ migrants, as they pursue the “Gay American Dream,” have been caught in the middle of the U.S.-Russia geopolitical power play of sexual politics and competing exceptionalisms still haunted by the lasting legacies of the Cold War.
Alexandra Novitskaya is a doctoral candidate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is also a Visiting Scholar at the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, New York University.
She recently published “Patriotism, Sentiment, and Male Hysteria: Putin’s Masculinity Politics and the Persecution of Non-heterosexual Russians.” NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies 12 (no. 3-4, 2017).