The Other H-Bomb

Sophie Pinkham reviews an exhibition by Yevgeniy Fiks at the Winkleman Gallery:

Homosexuality Is Stalin’s Atom Bomb to Destroy America explores how players on both sides of the cold war did their own appropriating, using the idea of homosexuality as a political weapon. The exhibition includes photos of atomic explosions printed with quotations from US politicians, for instance: “You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives. Mind you, I don’t say every homosexual is a subversive, and I don’t say every subversive is a homosexual. But a man of low morality is a menace in the government, whatever he is, and they are all tied up together.” Such absurd equations show how homosexuality became a floating signifier, associated with whatever political tendency one most disliked. Rather than representing a certain group of people, it represented everything that was wrong—whatever that meant. America’s Red Scare bled into its Lavender Scare; the Soviets associated homosexuality with capitalism and fascism. But empty as it was, the political use of the trope of homosexuality had a devastating effect on real people from both countries.