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Advantages and Disadvantages of Homonationalism and How It Affects the Lifes of LGBTQ People

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Homonationalism is a rare but important term we need to understand when talking about LGBTQ rights. For this paper, I will be looking into homonationalism, the importance of homonationalism, the negative side to homonationalism and how homonationalist affects the lives of queer people around the world especially the queer people in the African countries.

Nationalism

Before explaining homonationalism, we need to understand nationalism. Wikipedia explains nationalism as a political, social, and economic system characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining sovereignty (self-governance) over the homeland. In my understanding, nationalism is saying that your country is better than others, seeing other nations as lesser than your country. Now, with this understanding we have of nationalism, we can go on and explain homonationalism.

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Homonationalism

Homonationalism is a term coined by Rutgers University Professor Jasbir K. Puar in 2007. He states that homonationalism is seen as the intersection of gay identity and nationalist ideology. Homonationalism is an understanding and enactment of homosexual acts, identities and relationships that incorporates them as not only compatible with but even exemplary of neoliberal democratic ethics and citizenships. In my own words, after understanding nationalism, homonationalism is just as nationalism but with a little twist. In addition to saying that your country is superior to other countries, homonationalist adds specific reasons as to why their country is superior to others and these reasons are related to the LGBTQ rights.

Disadvantages of homonationalism for queer people in African countries

Homonationalist are quick to pick out the problems that most African countries face when it comes to LGBTQ rights, but the question I have to that is what exactly are the homonationalist doing to better the lives and the situations of the queer people in Africa.

A good example is the paper by Amar Wahab (2016) Calling ‘Homophobia’ into Place (Jamaica), Interventions. In this paper, homonationalist called out the homophobia that they saw in Jamaican music. This essay critically investigates the Stop Murder Music (SMM) campaign in Canada, which aims to censor explicitly homophobic Jamaican dancehall music and artists. It draws on concepts such as homonationalism and gay imperialism to problematize and resituate the campaign as a mainstream Canadian LGBTQ liberationist discourse. A discourse analysis of related newspaper articles, weblog discussions and campaign paraphernalia highlight the sociohistorical construction of the ‘Jamaicanization’ (i.e. racialization) of homophobia in the Canadian and western contexts. The analysis also complicates understandings of queer diasporic/transnational activism by highlighting how constituencies within the margins of the Canadian LGBTQ community simultaneously refuse/unsettle and enact/bolster Canadian homonationalist projects through the SMM campaign.

Now, being an Africa I can say that we don’t believe in queerness and do not believe it is a something that we taka part of and it is of the West. Writing a paper about homophobia in Jamaican music, forgetting that they have not solely accepted homosexuality, just puts the queer people in Jamaica under the spot light., not only queer people but people who are perceived as queer. There is a stereotype when it comes to fishing out who is queer (we see these stereotypes mostly in the western films). A gay man is a man who portrays women attributes, loves wearing pink and walks strangely and a lesbian is a woman who dresses like a man. This is a bias way to think because there are tom boys (girls that genuinely feels comfortable in men clothing or baggy clothing) and there are men who do not have muscles and like the colour pink. All these attribute does not mean one is queer but since there is no one educating them about LGBTQ then just writing about the homophobia in Jamaica puts a lot of lives in danger and constantly under surveillance and for the queer people, it makes them afraid and constantly trying not to fit into the stereotype, so they don’t get caught.

Professor Jasbir Puar’s first point was that to criticize or work against homophobia or transphobia (and likely sexism, racism and all kinds of other things too) within cultures, peoples, or countries which are victimized by imperialism, is to be complicit with imperialist oppression. This explains the notion of “homonationalism” – if gay/lesbian people in the US or Europe criticize or work against homophobia in countries like Iran, it means that we’re participating in “imperialist oppression” of these countries. I don’t see why someone couldn’t work to improve safety for gay men in Iraq, for example, in an expressly anti-imperialist way or to work with queer people in Palestine without working with the Israeli government in any way.

From the article by Ebenezer Obadare (2015) Sex, citizenship and the state in Nigeria: Islam, Christianity and emergent struggles over intimacy, Review of African Political Economy, he says that the belligerence (that is the hostile and aggressive behaviour against the queer community) has thrown up a rare alliance of the state, religion leaders and the print media. Attributing the alliance to the postcolonial crisis over the functions of masculinisation and power. This to me means that there is conflict between masculinity and power and there is a crisis in masculinity. Men feeling that their traditional roles in the society is being challenged by homosexuality and this is because of colonialism. As I said earlier, homosexuality is seen as a thing from the West. The author suggest that anti-gay resentment is a straw man for a ruling elite facing growing socio-economic pressure. This shunting-off of sexual ‘others’ from the terrain of public action has profound implications for the way modern Nigerian citizenship is understood. This just means that for you to be a good citizen you have to be a heterosexual and if otherwise then you are a bad citizen of the country.

In Nigeria (being Nigerian), men are seen as superior to woman and they have the power and control of the nations on their hands. Accepting homosexuality threatens that ideology because men will no longer be in control. This goes back to the point of awareness. The queer people are put on the spotlight and now men starts to prove that they aren’t queer but instead heterosexual. This thought might be far fetched but I feel that that just leads to abuse and violence against men and women. In most African countries, when a man is trying to show who is charge especially when it comes to a heterosexual relationship, he tends to beat his wife or girlfriend to show her who is the boss. When a man feels insecure, he does everything to give himself that power and security he ‘deserves’. In the article by Oliver, M. (2013). Transnational sex politics, conservative Christianity, and antigay activism in Uganda. Studies in Social Justice, the U.S is seen as being responsible for homophobia in Uganda. This just goes side by side with the Jamaican article, but this is related to Christianity. If we date Christianity back to the missionaries, they were white men and we in the present still live under their doctrine. The church frowns upon anything that is not normal, normal being heterosexuality.

Advantages of homonationalism for people in the western countries

As stated above, there are negative sides of homonationalism in Africa but what are the positive aspects of homonationalism for the western countries. It is obvious that people run away from African countries to find refuge in the western part of the world because their country does not accept and embrace the LGBTQ rights. In Nigeria, if you are caught being queer, you are sent to prison for 14 years. The more people that migrate from their homes to the western part of the world, it strengthens the economy for the west and weakens that of Africa. This just makes me wonder if the homonationalist have a plan when they condemn African countries for the lack of room for the LGBTQ. If they argue that African countries have some sort of moral deficit, then they can feel better about themselves and their country.

If the homonationalist could lend a helping hand to the few people in these African countries that are trying to speak out for themselves and their rights and also help educate people in Africa there would be a change. I feel that its lack of education on LGBTQ that is the major problem. The very few times people in Africa hear about queer people are from the western movies. I feel that even the queer people in the African countries conform to these stereotypes they see on TV because that is how the western world portrays the ‘right’ way to be gay or a lesbian.

Do the homonationalist have the right to blame the African countries on how they see queer people? My answer to that question is a NO because they can do something about it but chose not to do anything about it. I think that homonationalism is not really on fighting for the LGBTQ but to point fingers on how poorly other nations are treating the queer people so theirs could stand out. In researching this topic and reading those articles, I agree with the authors in not agreeing with homonationalism. While you cannot deny a campaign like the Stop Murder Music campaign’s accomplishments in Europe and America, it has been rather less effective in Africa (Jamaica). A campaign like the Stop Murder Music campaign succeeded in provoking debate in Africa (Jamaica), but concedes that, in the short term at least, the debate may have made life more difficult for the country’s gay population.

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