Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Striving for LGBTQ Rights in Russian Psychology and Society: A Personal Narrative

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Striving for LGBTQ Rights in Russian Psychology and Society: A Personal Narrative

Article excerpt

Pages: 35-41

DOI: 10.11621/pir.2017.0203

Keywords: Russia; LGBTQ; Ethics Code; Kon; Tsilikin; psychology

Downloads: 191

Introduction (Personal history of LGBTQ)

In 1972, when I was 16 years old, my parents suspected me of being “homosexual.” They accused my friend, who was 10 years older, of sexually abusing me. They initiated criminal prosecution against us both and at the same time started attempts “tocure” me of homosexuality. As “proof” of my homosexuality in the criminal prosecution and in conversion therapy they subjected me to, they used some of my love poems that they stole from me addressed to somebody in the male gender. Their vision of me and my friend’s relationship was strange to me. I did not know about homosexuality until their accusations. I saw my mother in terrible sorrow and my father in deep distress. I did not feel guilty or that I had done anything wrong, but I learned very fast about Criminal Article 121 on “Muzhelozhestvo,” which is an archaic word that means “lying with a man.”

I was confused and scared. I lost my best friend. I lost communication with my parents. I was forcefully put into therapy - first with a psychologist, then with a psychiatrist, and when the psychiatrist emigrated to the West, again with a psychologist. I had sessions with the psychiatrist during my summer holidays. He had rented a house in a village near Leningrad, and my parents rented me a room at another house in the same village, so I could see him on a regular basis. The psychiatrist asked me strange questions about anal penetration that I was not aware of; I did not understand what he was talking about. But one example of his “therapy” deserves description. I lived in a house where another room was rented by a family with a beautiful blonde girl who was 12 years old. She and I took walks together on a street in the village and the psychiatrist saw us. In one of our meetings he suggested that I should have intercourse with her. I had enough sense to reject such a “treatment” recommendation. Because we became friends, I continued to meet her for the next five years. When she was 17 years old we undertook the “prescribed” treatment. The girl became pregnant. I was frightened that she was not at the legal age of marriage yet, and having sex with her could be considered rape. I had to marry her and stayed in this marriage for 20 years.

When I was accused by my parents of homosexuality, I was a senior in high school. I wanted to be a Mathematician as my older friend had become, but the year with a Psychologist turned my interests to psychology. I was accepted into the Department of Psychology at Leningrad State University. During my student years I got acquainted with Professor Igor Kon, who familiarized me with the Englishlanguage literature on sex differences, sex role development, and human sexuality. During my student years, and with Kons recommendation, in 1977,1 received training at the Moscow Psychiatric Institute at the Departments of Endocrinology and Sex Pathology. The first one was headed by Dr. Aaron Belkin, who was a pioneer in the study and treatment of transsexuals in the Soviet Union. The Department of Sex Pathology was headed by Dr. Geogriy Vasilchenko. He had his own theory of sex pathology based on male sexual reactions. His main concern was male s erection and its role in copulation. This theory was not applicable to women. Dr. Vasilchenko considered sexuality only from medical and biological points of view, but at that time even this approach seemed progressive in the context of the asexual Soviet science.

In 1980 I studied sex-role development in Abhazian families. This study was done in collaboration with Galina Starovoitova, who was the head of an ethnographic psychological research study in Georgia. It was a big Soviet-American project on research into longevity. This was during the eraof the USSR’s invasion of Afganistan and all international cooperation with the Soviet Academy of Science was banned by the US Government. …

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