This article reviews the scholarship on Cold War sexuality issues prior to the 1969 Stonewall riots, paying particular attention to recent books by Robert J. Corber, Michael S. Sherry, and Jennifer V. Evans. The Cold War in the West affected both the lived and the discursive realities of sexual minorities in a paradoxical way. On the one hand, anxieties about the superpower rivalry facilitated regulatory frameworks and social demarcation lines that profoundly circumscribed the agency of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups and individuals. On the other hand, these borders and regulatory systems often backfired, subverted their intended function, or simply produced unintended consequences. Although repression of non-normative sexual and gender identities remained a fact of life during the first two-and-a half decades of the Cold War, it does not reveal the totality of the Cold War experience. The current research on Cold War sexualities demonstrates that Cold War culture can thus be best understood as a complex system in which fissures and breaks were as salient as the demand for uniformity and control.

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