Accepted paper:

Navigating Norms of Masculinity: tactical gender performance among gay men in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Authors:

Jasmine Shio (University of Amsterdam)
Eileen Moyer (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Research among gay men in Africa has documented high levels of stigma, violence and abuse directed toward gender non-conforming men. In this paper we explore how men who identify as gay in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania navigate legal and social structures that inhibit their sexual and gender identities.

Paper long abstract:

Research among gay men across Africa has documented high levels of stigma, violence and abuse directed toward gender non-conforming men. Building on these studies, we explore how men who identify as gay in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania navigate legal and social structures that inhibit their sexual and gender identities. As a consequence of their non-normative sexualities and gender non-conforming practices, they face violence from a state, which has declared homosexuality illegal, and also from other men and society at large. Using case studies from one-year of ethnographic research conducted among gay men aged 18 years and above in Dar es Salaam, we explore how they navigate their everyday lives in this structurally limiting context. In the midst of victimization and stigma they continue to find ways to create spaces to live openly as men who desire other men. They achieve this primarily through frequent and strategic movement within the city and via concealed modes of activism that make use of social media. In this paper, we argue that despite state and social strictures, gay men in Dar es Salaam find ways to disrupt norms, refusing to be controlled, while also demonstrating individual and communal plasticity, creativity and flexibility.

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