Nikolai Gorbachov

Research study

«Pidory Mechti»: a Strategy to Subvert the Homophobic Insult

/ Nikolai Gorbachov, Lund University, EHU Centre for Gender Studies; 2018

The research critically examines several attempts to use the derogatory Russian term «pidor» (semantically similar to «fag») in affirmative way. It primarily operates with the fieldwork methods of in-depth interviews and participant observation. Analyzing the term, the study proposes a strategy to redefine the term «pidor» by the subversion of the heteronormative basis of the insult.


The minor case study explores the individual creative reflection and artistic respond to the homophobic insults, that were made in the online community of the techno party «Mechta» (means: dream) in Minsk, Belarus. The author of the offensive comments suggested not to let the «pidory» in the club. The respondents of the research were troubled with these claims. For the next party one of them have made an inscription «pidory mechti» (means simultaneously: fags of the [D]ream and dream-fags) on his body; another have photographed him to post it online. Considering the case an example of redefenition of the derogatory term «pidor», the research explores the strategy and nuances of the meanings produced by this action.

The study also explores the strategy of the Belarusian campaign «Delo Pi». In 2018 the campaign have published the «Pidor Manifesto», which resembles the famous «Queer Nation Manifesto» published in 1990 in the USA. The research explores the relations between the terms «queer» and «pidor», insisting those are not synonyms. It problematizes the «Delo Pi»’s strategy and questions it’s relevance for the declared aim of the campaign to struggle the homophobic violence.

The research proposes a strategy to redefine the term «pidor». Primarily the term is used as a derogatory designation of a homosexual man. However, it is often used as an offensive insult of any (male) person, regardless of his sexuality. The semantic relation of the term «pidor» to homosexuality is not used exclusively as a reason, but rather as a method of the insult: the contestation of heterosexuality itself is considered to be offensive. The insult is based simultaneously on the disapproval of non-heterosexuality and the belief that any person is a priori heterosexual.

The use of the term «pidor» as an insult reinforces the perceptions of non-heterosexuality as abnormal, deviant and perverse. However, the concept is being disrupted when the insult does not work: a person called «pidor» does not get offended, but confirms the statement or uses the term for self-presentation. Such an action subverts the basis for the insult, showing that the contestation of heterosexuality is not offensive.


The minor case study was conducted for the Fieldwork course during the studies for the Master of Science in Social Studies of Gender at Lund University (Sweden). The research was continued on individual basis. It is now being prepared for publication in Russian and English. You are welcome to inquire for more details.

Related studies: