Professor Dan Healey

Featured Publication

Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi (Bloomsbury Academic, August 2017)

Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi

Examining nine 'case histories' that reveal the origins and evolution of homophobic attitudes in modern Russia, Dan Healey asserts that the nation's contemporary homophobia can be traced back to the particular experience of revolution, political terror and war its people endured after 1917.

The book explores the roots of homophobia in the Gulag, the rise of a visible queer presence in Soviet cities after Stalin, and the political battles since 1991 over whether queer Russians can be valued citizens. Healey also reflects on the problems of 'memorylessness' for Russia's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movement more broadly and the obstacles it faces in trying to write its own history. The book makes use of little-known source material - much of it untranslated archival documentation - to explore how Russians have viewed same-sex love and gender transgression since the mid-20th century.

Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi provides a compelling background to the culture wars over the status of gay citizens in Russia today, whilst serving as a key text for all students of Russian social history over the last hundred years.

"'Dramatological' Trauma in the Gulag: Malingering and self-inflicted injuries and the prisoner-patient," in (Hi-)Stories of the Gulag -  Fiction and Reality, eds Felicitas Fischer von Weikersthal and Karoline Thaidigsmann (Heidelberg: Winter-Verlag, 2016)

(Hi-)Stories of the Gulag: Fiction and Reality

After decades of being concealed and downplayed, the Soviet Gulag system is gradually gaining attention. The opening of archives following the fall of the Soviet Union, new editions of testimonial literature, and new media representations have fostered an increased interest in research into the subject. Moreover, popular culture itself has embraced the Gulag. Thus, old and new representations in cultural media, as well as in academic research, all compete in narrating and interpreting the history of the Gulag. Which of these stories from and about the Gulag form our current understanding of the Soviet forced labor camps? And where can we situate them within the dichotomous field of facticity and fictitiousness? By bringing together international researchers from historical sciences, literary and cultural studies, film studies, and musicology to analyze the validity and significance of existing Gulag narratives and discuss their impact on the public's perception, the volume contributes to a more thorough understanding of this complex subject.


Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent (University of Chicago Press, 2001)

Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent

The first full-length study of same-sex love in any period of Russian or Soviet history, Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia investigates the private worlds of sexual dissidents during the pivotal decades before and after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Using records and archives available to researchers only since the fall of Communism, Dan Healey revisits the rich homosexual subcultures of St. Petersburg and Moscow, illustrating the ambiguous attitude of the late Tsarist regime and revolutionary rulers toward gay men and lesbians. Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia reveals a world of ordinary Russians who lived extraordinary lives and records the voices of a long-silenced minority.


  • History of LGBT Russia
  • Russian and Soviet medicine and psychiatry
  • Russian and Soviet penal institutions, the Gulag

My latest book, Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi, (Bloomsbury Academic), looks at the recent politics of homophobia in Russia in historical perspective. Taking the view that modern political homophobia began in Russia with Stalin’s rule, the book explores the fate of the queer in Stalin’s Gulag camps, the social and psychological worlds that queer men and women inhabited under the Soviet regime, and the rise in visibility of LGBT Russians at the end of the twentieth century. It concludes by examining the obstacles to understanding Russia’s queer past, and considering prospects facing LGBT Russians hoping for a queerer future.

I have long had an interest in the Soviet Gulag forced-labour camp system, and in particular, its medical services and their history. My project, ‘Medicine in the Gulag Archipelago, 1930-1960’ uses new archival sources to explore this topic. The 'Gulag Archipelago' or network of Soviet forced-labour camps spanned the length and breadth of the Soviet Union, and the 'Gulag' became a byword for cruelty and human degradation. Yet at the same time new sources from the camp system itself reveal the operation of an extensive and surprisingly sophisticated medical service. Embedded in the organisation of the secret police who ran the camps, the Gulag's medical clinics, stations and hospitals present a puzzle for the historian: why have these places of apparent humanity in the midst of suffering and high mortality? This project uses the archives of the Gulag's Sanitary Department, its embedded medical service, as well as the local archives of camps in far flung regions of the Soviet Union. I also draw upon doctors' and nurses' published and unpublished memoirs, on museum collections, and on the reminiscences of prisoner-patients and prisoner-medics. I explore the establishment and evolution of the camps' medical service, the practices of its socially and politically diverse staff, and the impact it had on police-colonies that eventually became 'ordinary' Soviet cities and towns.

  • Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi

  • ’Dramatological’ Trauma in the Gulag: Malingering and self-inflicted injuries and the prisoner-patient

  • La révolution sexuelle en URSS : des changements dynamiques sous la glace

  • Lives in the Balance: Weak and Disabled Prisoners and the Biopolitics of the Gulag

  • Chto takoe ‘traditsionnye seksual’nye otnosheniia’?

  • From Stalinist Pariahs to Subjects of ‘Sovereign Democracy’: Queers in Moscow 1945 to the Present

  • Love and Death: Transforming Sexualities in Russia, 1914-1922

  • Russian and Soviet Forensic Psychiatry: Troubled and Troubling

  • The sexual revolution in the USSR: dynamic change beneath the ice

  • Gei i lesbiianki - zhertvy politicheskogo terrora v SSSR

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • Antony Kalashnikov
  • Mikhail Nakonechnyi
  • Nikolay Erofeev
  • Gavin Lofthouse 

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding Russian social, cultural, gender history of the 20th Century; history of Russian/Soviet sexualities; history of the Gulag; history of Russian/Soviet medicine. 

I would be willing to hear from potential potential Masters students looking at Russian and Soviet History.

I currently teach:


  Further subject “The Soviet Union, 1924-1941”
  Special subject “Terror and Forced Labour in Stalin’s Russia”
In the Media

"Violence Shows Risks Of Being Gay In Chechnya", Huffindton Post, 27 April 2017 (

“Politicheskaia gomofobiia – eto fashizm i nenavist’” (“Political homophobia is fascism and hatred”; interview with Alisa Kustikova), Novaia gazeta (St Petersburg), 8 July 2016 (

“In Search of Vadim Kozin,” (documentary),  BBC World Service, 27 December 2015 (

“The Story of Homosexuality in Russia,” Rear Vision, Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio, 1 December 2013 (