“Love is a profoundly social emotion. Love is not in the least a ‘private’ matter concerning only the two loving persons: love possess a uniting element which is valuable to the collective.” - Alexandra Kollontai, “On Marriage and Everyday Life” (1926)

Sofia Queer Forum is dedicated to the centenary of the October Revolution. This occasion is a great opportunity to reflect on the variety of controversies this date has been associated with around the world. We would like to rediscover through arts some of the ideas that brought to life changes in gender relations – such as simplification and secularization of marriage and divorce, legalization of abortion, emancipation of women: obtaining voting rights, economic independence, socialized care and security of maternity, or expression of sexual identity (homosexuality was decriminalized from 1922 until 1933) - as a result of revolutionary thought. This specific moment in time of an actual transformation of power, when systems of social relations have changed dramatically, had been a time of chaos, but also a time of discovery. We are interested in this exact time of rupture, in the discoveries that have been made then including all controversies around them and how they affect our practices now.

The legacy of people like Alexandra Kollontai and Clara Zetkin has been often neglected as if it was some superstructure to the Bolshevik revolution. Kollontai was the first to head the Department of Social Welfare in the new Soviet Union and later the head of the Women’s Department. But her work influenced more than women’s issues and helped emancipate homosexual people too. On occasions, Kollontai criticized precisely the idea that proletarian sexual morality is no more than superstructure. The primacy of economy and its change is normally seen as the condition for any change in sexual relations, but people like Kollontai developed a dialectical notion of love as inextricable from class struggle.

Thus SQF 2017 is an attempt to de-stalinize the legacy of the sexual revolution of the beginning of the 20th Soviet Union. We propose that queer love is a (class) struggle with heterosexism and patriarchy. Queer love, in short, can become in given conditions the base: it is not always the superstructure.   

Stanimir Panayotov and Boryana Rossa, curators of Sofia Queer Forum 2017