The Gay Periodical Press in Eastern Europe

Appx 750 words


The Gay Periodical Press in Eastern Europe
Alan V. Miller (unsigned)
Gay Archivist, Number 10, Nov 1992


Significant developments in gay and lesbian life in Eastern Europe have taken place since 1992, when this article first appeared. For current online information, check the home page of Steffen Jensen of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).
(Full address: http://www.inet.uni-c.dk/~steff/)

Links on that page lead to ILGA's EuroLetter, with issues available online, and to a list of groups (under "Gay Links"), some in Eastern Europe.

Rick Bébout, April 1997


Telephones, answering machines, faxes, videos, call waiting -- just a few of the modern conveniences that allow us to communicate. We North Americans often take these for granted. Not so in a united Europe, especially in the newly revived eastern countries. There, gay people are demanding a place in the new order.

Although gay visibility in the arts has been increasing since the mid-1980s -- who could ignore, for example, the gay content of Hungarian director Istvan Szabo's films Mephisto (1981) and Oberst Redl (Colonel Redl, 1984) -- the past two or three years have witnessed an explosion of lesbian and gay activity in eastern Europe.

In the 1990s we are finally seeing the establishment of a gay public voice -- to communicate with one another and the rest of the world -- through the publication of newspapers and periodicals.

Gay Pravda was the first newspaper to open a dialogue between gay people in western and eastern Europe. This was a 1990 coproduction between Gai Pied Hebdo (Paris) and De Gay Krant (Best, The Netherlands), published in the west for distribution in the Soviet Union.

Russia

TEMA (Theme, 1990 - ) was the first gay periodical in Russia in modern times, published clandestinely at great risk (until 1991, homosexual acts were still punishable there by five years in prison). Its recent issues have included more local news items, a few erotic drawings, and personal ads.

Once Russia became a separate state, at least two other gay periodicals began to appear, both starting in 1991. Risk and Ty reached out to gay people, despite stringent attempts to close them down.

These publications may seem primitive to jaded North Americans who are accustomed to slick productions like The Advocate, Out/Look, or QW. Even so, these first steps toward a vibrant gay press in Russia must be applauded. They are truly brave -- even revolutionary -- in a society where sexuality of any kind has been tightly controlled for over seventy years.

Poland

Despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, Poland appears to have emerged as the leader in gay publishing among former Communist bloc countries.

Filo was the first paper to appear there, starting in 1987. Although its first issues were mimeographed on poor paper, Filo is now a glossy production and continues to publish after thirty-four issues. It contains coverage of cultural events, AIDS information, and international news.

At least four other Polish titles exist: Gayzeta: Nie? Tak!, Inaczej (1990 - ), Okay, and Warsaw Gay News (1990). Inaczej is the most attractive of all the gay periodicals in eastern Europe. It is a polished production filled with international news, AIDS news and information on safer sex, personal ads, and practically everything one would expect to find in a North American gay publication.

The success of Inaczej is based in part on international fundraising efforts and support from Toronto's Polish Gay and Lesbian Group. Thanks to donations by this group, the CGA [now the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives] has a good run of both Filo and Inaczej.

Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and beyond

A gay press is emerging slowing in the rest of eastern Europe. Hungary has at least two titles (HOMeros and MASOK [Who We Are On the Other Side]), as does Slovenia (Lesbosine and Revolver, 1991 - ). Countries with at least one title include Bulgaria (Flamingo, 1992 - ), Czechoslovakia (SOHO revue, c 1990 - 91), and Estonia (Voimalus [Opportunities]).

Some of these are quite sophisticated: SOHO revue, for example, was printed on good quality paper and had many photographs taken from the international gay press, as well as advice columns and some lesbian content. We do not know if Latvia, Lithuania or Romania have gay newspapers or periodicals, although we have found a great deal of coverage on these countries in the European gay press.

The CGA has only limited information and incomplete runs of these publications. We would appreciate receiving further information on gay publishing in eastern Europe. The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) surveys the international lesbian and gay press and reprints some material in its newsletter -- a newsletter that we cannot afford to subscribe to.

Why not adopt one of these titles and deposit it with us? We are very anxious to keep up our collection of lesbian and gay periodicals, a collection we feel is already a resource of major research importance in its documentation of the international lesbian and gay community.


[List of online documents] [Lesbian and Gay Archivist]