Whatever next? No racism, no sexism, no classism, no ageism, nothing that veers on the right or even remotely towards it? Surely the rhetoric of a paranoid community fearful of a breach in its security as homonationalism has become. Why? More often than not because they can and seemingly with impunity. Until Judith Butler’s rejection of an award for courage associated with Berlin Pride. Before this coup, nothing was said of homo nationalism, sexism, racism as if in all sincerity nothing of the sort existed.
Imagine for a moment that David Irving’s ‘…the holocaust did not happen…’ for a moment in this regard and you immediately discover a lapse in judgement somewhere. That’s as if one were saying that there was no evil in the world and so many religious pundits of whatever shade have given voice to this sort of whitewashing. At it’s starkest, I personally discovered this when, browsing Blacklooks -an online magazine- and discovered the item, “No HomoNationalism!” what Judith Butler had exposed was now gathering momentum. Sexual and gender identity minorities were fighting back. We were saying no to the presence and impacts of homo nationalism on our lives. For this reason Judith Butler’s action will always be commendable.
‘No homonationalism‘, perhaps a rejection of all sorts of separatism, sexism even or is it just something in the choice of words? We are no longer content to just believe that the gay right and its extreme undercurrent can legitimately advocate on our behalf and do so with our best interests at heart. Enter Jessica Xaviera’s take on the matter of homosexism:
Homosexist gender norms emerged from the combination of assimilationism and gay and lesbian identity politics. In many cities after the Stonewall rebellion, gay subculture became more visible and grew into real communities, with regular gathering spaces beyond the usual bars; gay and lesbian own businesses: social, professional, religious, youth and health-related community-based organisations; a communications media; and a visible civil rights movement.
Which is concretised under a photograph of happiness in the following terms, ‘gay men and lesbians assume every queer person is gay or lesbian’ and perhaps there lies the issue at hand.
My personal circumstances bears some of this out. It would be ludicrous to read Black Looks and the Transsexual News Telegraph [TNT] as single issue platforms. Black Looks deals with human rights issues impacting on African and its interaction with the western world and TNT is not just about gender identity but the whole gamut of how life is in the diverse world of transsexuals and the wider world. There are other organisations out there but these two have been a source of information about the issues for me. Without platforms like these there would be no expression of African in the world or even transsexuals for that matter. It is so easy to see how an unwillingness on the part of lesbian and gay communities to willingly and actually “help” minorities can lead to questions of accountability.
Is it ever alright for a lesbian to call a transsexual woman a man even as a joke? Is it right for a gay man to grope a transwoman’s buttocks in a upward trust for the sake of a laugh because immediately after the incident he offers the conventional apology? Is it ever right for a transsexual person whatever their leanings to out another like themselves for the sake of approval in the LGBT or the wider world? In all these cases, if the response is yes then we have got a potential sexist, racist or worst, a homo nationalist whom might more often than not embrace all sorts of pernicious prejudices one of which is the overt or covert hatred of sexual minorities or any identity they consider to be different from the norm.
As a transsexual, a black woman who loves women, and an activist I stand by a different claim. I know that there are degrees of homonationalism from experience. I remember an instances of a lesbian and a gay man at the entrance of a community laughing to ridicule me, I have been cisgendered by a lesbian, I have been groped by a gay man many times over, I have been subjected to abuse at the hands of lesbian or gay colleagues, I have been objectified by a group of lesbians whose activism was put into question because I am also a transsexual , I have also had my hair pulled by a woman that happened to be a middle manager where I worked because a group of gay men at the top of a company I worked for were complicity in my abuse… All these infractions can be levelled at homonationalism because when the happened a lesbian or gay man was involved. These actions were carried out because as all power structures homonationalism commands broad sweeping influences that confer a buffer for members of the in crowd homo privilege or nationalism depending on whom you ask.
So how do we explain the silence or whitewash or blacking out of ‘homonationalism? When two gay men, activists of reputation both gossip openly or at least in the hearing of a vulnerable sexual and gender minority called Amy Omisakin they displayed the peculiar nature of homonationalism. It was at Black Pride 2010.
‘He thinks he’s a woman. I do not know whom he thinks he’s kidding?’ said Lincoln Wodarc hiding his face from Amy.
‘I know he thinks he is but we know better, don’t we?’ said activist Re-pet Chell-that, making sure Amy knew that they were talking about her.
Amy knew both men by reputation. Re-pet Chell-that, was the fearless power house based on showing his outrage to homophobia wherever it existed. He even advocated to enact neighbourhood watch to monitor, and if need be, arrest foreign leaders found in breach of human right laws and grotesque levels of corruption. Or Lincoln Wodarc of Oursisours, with strong roots in the lobby to empower members of the LGBTI on the surface but gay identity in secret, worldwide. Outside this role, Lincoln was also a successful property developer which he used to further his interest in helping young gay men and sometimes lesbians. Wasn’t Amy reaction justified faced with these men’s shameful homonationalist tendencies given what she knew of them? If this is not homonationalism, what was?
However, when an activist is caught frowning because she or he, a lesbian or gay man, is asked about transgenderism and subsequently has the video footage of her or his actions expunged we must accept that homo nationalism exists, when Stonewall exists without the diversity of identities that it started with homo sexism exists, when the transgender communities are left out of joint activism to enable lesbian and gay identity a semblance of normality homonationalism exists, when Judith Butler’s rejection statement is booed or mocked for stating the obvious homo nationalism exists, when an online magazine cannot post blog without being blocks by some invisible hand in the works homosexism exists.
It is not just the act of prejudice that identifies a homonationalist but the power such a person or group could bring to bear on what we knew about them. Our silent complicity, as sexual or gender identity minorities, with homo nationalism throws a Faustian spanner in the works of all our legitimacy as a group and by this I mean the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) identities. We are fed up of being patronised by activists that claim to understand our needs but resort to homo nationalism or imperialism whenever it suits them. It is time we spoke in our own voices; saying exactly what we mean rather than kowtow to watered down versions of whom or what we are. It is time we all said a resounding NO to homo nationalism.
Mia Nikasimo © October 2010
Jessica Xaviera, Gay and Lesbian Identity Politics: A Weapon of Homo Sexism in Transsexual News Telegrapgh (TNT) Autumn/Winter 1998-99, Issue 8, pp. 21-23, San Francisco.