A Cold War for the twenty-first century: Homosexualism vs. Heterosexualism

Alexander Kondakov, Laurie Essig

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Tension between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin has led some pundits to announce a new Cold War. Unlike the twentieth-century Cold War, however, the new one is not so much economic as it is sexual. Rather than Capitalism vs. Communism, we see two ideological camps forming around issues of sexual citizenship and national belonging. In the US, a narrative of legal progress for LGBT citizens is used to mark the US and its allies as progressive while Russia uses its protection of ‘traditional sexual relationships’ to mark itself as an alternative to Western values. The moral regimes of what we call Homosexualism and Heterosexualism circulate in both Russia and the US as well as across the globe. That is because this new Cold War is taking place in a time when ideologies transcend the formal boundaries of nation-states. Like the old Cold War, the New Sexual Cold War results in a battle between the #x2018;good’ us and the ‘bad’ them but both ‘we’ and ‘they’ are everywhere. In this chapter, we argue that the newly revived Cold War rhetoric has deep roots in notions of Western/American exceptionalism as well as Russian spiritual superiority. Russian claims to spiritual superiority redefine homophobia as ‘traditional’ and as a victory against ‘Western Imperialism’ even though much of the rhetoric of ‘traditional sexual values’ was invented by American conservatives. Perhaps more importantly, the New Sexual Cold War rhetoric disguises how contemporary LGBT rights movements in the West and anti-gay movements in Russia are both highly contradictory spaces that are neither safe nor settled. In this chapter, we place fights over sexual citizenship and national belonging at the centre of US/Russian relations during the Obama years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoviet and Post-Soviet Sexualities
EditorsRichard Mole
Number of pages24
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication dateFeb 2019
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-65470-9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-62307-8
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameRoutledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe Series

Bibliographical note

Essig, L. & Kondakov A. (2019). A Cold War for the Twenty-First Century: Homosexualism vs. Heterosexualism. In: Soviet and Post-Soviet Sexualities, Edited by R. Mole. New York: Routledge, pp. 79-102.

Fields of Science

  • 5141 Sociology

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