Better to be a prostitute than a lesbian. Why did communists hate homosexual women?

How the perception of sexual orientation changed.

Some women were more than just friends. Some women were more than just friends. (Source: Archive of Katarína Nádaská)

Kamila was born in 1948. At the age of 18, she worked at the Prague City Hall and later participated in the "The Right Girl" competition.

"It was the perfect opportunity to conceal that I was attracted to girls," she explained. "When something was called 'perfect girl' or something along those lines, I thought: hurry up, that's great, you would have an alibi. The whole nation was watching," said Kamila in an interview with Czech sociologist Věra Sokolová, who dealt with the life of LGBT+ people during socialism in the book Queer Encounters with Communist Power.

SkryťTurn off ads
SkryťTurn off ads
Article continues after video advertisement
SkryťTurn off ads
Article continues after video advertisement

Kamila finished second in the national round. Her participation in the show was a camouflage. No one at work or in her family knew about her sexual orientation. She assumed that no one would have thought that a woman with the ambition of becoming the perfect girl-with everything it entailed in socialist Czechoslovakia-could be a lesbian.

Sokolová notes that by participating in the competition a young woman ensured that no one questioned her "correct", or in other words, majority orientation or identity.

Related article Years of LGBT+ intolerance in Slovakia culminate in two killings Read more 

Better to be a prostitute than a lesbian

Camouflage was necessary at work as well.

"Either you had sex with your boss, followed by good pay and conditions, or you were fired for the smallest of things. Everyone paid attention to (sexual orientation) very closely. So I preferred to have the reputation of a prostitute than have anyone know I was into girls. I sat in the lap of drivers, I flirted with the leaders of the (communist) party all the time. I was the biggest coquette in town. But it worked," recalls Kamila.

SkryťTurn off ads

A strict dress code was also prescribed at work. Women wore skirts or dresses. Kamila hated both, but it helped her fit in with her heterosexual colleagues. Plus, she was lucky that her Austrian friend was a seamstress, so she always looked like a cover model.

“All the other women at work envied my style. Who would dare question my sexuality when they looked at the best of them all?” Kamila continues.

During socialism, there was the prevailing idea that homosexual women looked more masculine and homosexual men were effeminate.

The rest of this article is premium content at
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on and

Top stories

Štefan Galvánek with his pictures in the unique Coburg Park in the village of Pohorelá. The park belonged to the aristocratic family of Coburgs.

Štefan Galvánek captures the beauty of the Horehronie region.

Marcela Ballová 23 h
Harvesting festivities in the town of Modra near Bratislava.

Autumn is the time to celebrate the grape harvest. Festivals for running...or a public transport for those not keen on running. Here's what to do during the weekend September 8-10.

8. sep

A secret service reform demanded by people, Slovakia-based foreigners on the 2023 early elections, and traffic restrictions in Bratislava.

16 h
SkryťClose ad