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Protection of LGBTQ rights increasingly undergirds 'Western' imperial agendas, while more and more 'non-Western' countries embrace homophobic counterpolitics. This panel explores the concrete discourses and dynamics through which such homophobias and homonationalisms mutually constitute one another.
Recent years have seen an increasing global division in official and public attitudes towards non-heteronormative sexualities. Tellingly, this division often proceeds along the lines of the West vs. 'the rest'. As in 'Western' countries protection of LGBTQI rights increasingly undergirds state and corporate imperial agendas, more and more 'non-Western' countries are embracing the counterpolitics of state-sponsored homophobia: negating sexual minority rights, repressing pride marches, and promoting 'traditional' heteronational values. Western states and civil societies often see homophobia elsewhere as a sign of essential moral-political inferiority, to be countered by sanctions or 'civilizing' tolerance projects. This session critically interrogates the neo-Orientalist discourses that organize imaginings of such global divisions in attitudes to non-heteronormative sexualities, and strives to examine the concrete situations and dynamics through which state-sponsored (and often popular) homophobias and Western homonationalisms come to mutually constitute one another. We seek to explore a number of questions: (1) In what specific and concrete ways have LGBTQI people and politics served as pivots for the shaping of complex geotemporal political tensions between Western and non-Western sites, (2) How has dissemination of 'global' gay identities been instrumentalized in the emergence of 'traditionalist' backlashes, and the reassertion of 'local' counterhistories and meanings, and (3) Through what particular processes have LGBTQI politics served to direct real frustrations about non-Western sites' positioning in global geopolitical structure against sexualized scapegoats, new and old?