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Gay Imperialism Gender and Sexuality Discourse in the 'War on Terror'

Gay Imperialism Gender and Sexuality Discourse in the 'War on Terror'

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Published by caz__
Our article focuses on the situation in Britain, where ‘Muslim’ and ‘homophobic’
are increasingly treated as interchangeable signifiers. The central figure in this process is Peter Tatchell who has successfully claimed the role of the liberator of and expert about Muslim gays and lesbians. This highlights the problems of a single-issue politics of representation, which equates ‘gay’ with white and ‘ethnic minority’ with heterosexual. At the same time, the fact that Tatchell’s group Outrage passes as the emblem of queer and hence post-identity politics in Britain shows that the problem of Islamophobia is not reducible to the critique of identity. The active participation of right- as well as left-wing, feminist as well as gay, official as well as civil powers in the
Islamophobia industry proves racism more clearly than ever to be a white problem, which crosses other social and political differences. Racism is, further, the vehicle that transports white gays and feminists
into the political mainstream. The amnesia at the basis of the sudden assertion
of a European ‘tradition’ of anti-homophobic and anti-sexist ‘core values’ is less a reflection of progressive gender relations than of regressive race relations. We will point to parallels in the German ‘integration’ debate around the recent Immigration Act (Zuwanderungsgesetz), the so-called
honour killing of Hatun Sürücü and the new ‘Muslim Test’ in the nationality law. We critically examine the central role of individual migrant women like Seyran Ateş and Necla Kelek in these German debates, who are constructed as the notable exception which confirms the rule of a victimised Oriental femininity. Irshad Manji, the lesbian journalist from Canada, is a
further ‘exceptional Muslim’. Her popularity in Britain and Germany further underlines the transnational nature of these white processes of identification.

In this article, we argue that neither figure – that of the notable exception and that of the faceless victim without agency – makes sense outside its imperialist context.
Our article focuses on the situation in Britain, where ‘Muslim’ and ‘homophobic’
are increasingly treated as interchangeable signifiers. The central figure in this process is Peter Tatchell who has successfully claimed the role of the liberator of and expert about Muslim gays and lesbians. This highlights the problems of a single-issue politics of representation, which equates ‘gay’ with white and ‘ethnic minority’ with heterosexual. At the same time, the fact that Tatchell’s group Outrage passes as the emblem of queer and hence post-identity politics in Britain shows that the problem of Islamophobia is not reducible to the critique of identity. The active participation of right- as well as left-wing, feminist as well as gay, official as well as civil powers in the
Islamophobia industry proves racism more clearly than ever to be a white problem, which crosses other social and political differences. Racism is, further, the vehicle that transports white gays and feminists
into the political mainstream. The amnesia at the basis of the sudden assertion
of a European ‘tradition’ of anti-homophobic and anti-sexist ‘core values’ is less a reflection of progressive gender relations than of regressive race relations. We will point to parallels in the German ‘integration’ debate around the recent Immigration Act (Zuwanderungsgesetz), the so-called
honour killing of Hatun Sürücü and the new ‘Muslim Test’ in the nationality law. We critically examine the central role of individual migrant women like Seyran Ateş and Necla Kelek in these German debates, who are constructed as the notable exception which confirms the rule of a victimised Oriental femininity. Irshad Manji, the lesbian journalist from Canada, is a
further ‘exceptional Muslim’. Her popularity in Britain and Germany further underlines the transnational nature of these white processes of identification.

In this article, we argue that neither figure – that of the notable exception and that of the faceless victim without agency – makes sense outside its imperialist context.

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Published by: caz__ on Jun 09, 2013
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CHAPTER 2
Gay Imperialism:Gender and Sexuality Discourse in the ‘War on Terror’
Jin Haritaworn, with Tamsila Tauqir and Esra Erdem
Suddenly everybody wants a piece o the Paki pie.(Jaheda Choudhury,
Out o Place 
conerence, 25 March 2006)
 How do we explain the new omnipresence o (some) queers o colour?
1
 Muslim gays and lesbians have received their debut in V programmes,newspaper articles, research projects and political events. At rst sight,this development is new and welcome. It breaks with the imposed silenceo those who have traditionally allen out o the simple representationalrames o a single-issue identity politics. Other queers o colour, however,continue to lack a public voice. Moreover, as Leslie Feinberg (2006) ob-serves, the interest in Muslim gays and lesbians has emerged rom a globalcontext o violent Islamophobia. Tis raises the question o which storiesare being circulated and how they contest or reinorce racism. It is alsoquestionable what interest other actors have in this new politics o queer o colour representation, notably white gays, lesbians, eminists and queers.
1
We use ‘queeras an umbrella term or coalitions between people o various marginalisedgender and sexual identities. We are aware o the traps o this usage. First, it is increasingly equated with ‘gay’. Mirroring this gay assimilationism, it is homophobia rather than transpho-bia or sex-work phobia which is most interesting to current imperialist subjectivities. Tis isalso why gay Muslims, rather than transgender or sex-working Muslims, are at the centre o thisdebate. Te second problem with queer, which we explore in this article, is that many queersidentiy as anti- or post-identity and hence outside o racism and other power relations.
 
72 Jin Haritaworn, with Tamsila Tauqir and Esra Erdem
Our article ocuses on the situation in Britain, where ‘Muslim’ and ‘homo-phobic’ are increasingly treated as interchangeable signiers. Te central g-ure in this process is Peter atchell who has successully claimed the role o the liberator o and expert about Muslim gays and lesbians. Tis highlightsthe problems o a single-issue politics o representation, which equates ‘gay’ with white and ethnic minoritywith heterosexual. At the same time, theact that atchell’s group
Outrage 
passes as the emblem o queer and hencepost-identity politics in Britain shows that the problem o Islamophobia isnot reducible to the critique o identity. Te active participation o right- as well as let-wing, eminist as well as gay, ocial as well as civil powers in theIslamophobia industry proves racism more clearly than ever to be a 
white 
 problem, which crosses other social and political dierences.Racism is, urther, the vehicle that transports white gays and eministsinto the political mainstream. Te amnesia at the basis o the sudden as-sertion o a European ‘tradition’ o anti-homophobic and anti-sexist ‘corevalues’ is less a refection o progressive gender relations than o regressiverace relations. We will point to parallels in the German ‘integration’ debatearound the recent Immigration Act (
 Zuwanderungsgeset
), the so-calledhonour killing o Hatun Sürücü and the new ‘Muslim est’ in the national-ity law. We critically examine the central role o individual migrant
2
womenlike Seyran Ateş and Necla Kelek in these German debates, who are con-structed as the notable exception which conrms the rule o a victimisedOriental emininity. Irshad Manji, the lesbian journalist rom Canada, is a urther ‘exceptional Muslim’. Her popularity in Britain and Germany ur-ther underlines the transnational nature o these white processes o iden-tication. In this article, we argue that neither gure – that o the notableexception and that o the aceless victim without agency – makes senseoutside its imperialist context.
3
Te article began as a series o open letters by two o us about the growing 
2
Te concept ‘migrant’ has its origin in anti-racist activism in Germany and includes peo-ple o urkish, North Arican, Southern European and other ethnocised origins, including German-born people o the second and subsequent generations o migration.
3
Our choice o Britain and Germany stems in part rom our biographies. Like many migrants
 
Gay Imperialism 73
conservatism o the white gay leadership, circulated to queer and eministorums in late 2005 and early 2006.
4
Our hope o nding allies and build-ing anti-racist sexual coalitions was largely disappointed. wo years later, while making our last revisions, the issue o sexual and multicultural rightsis at the brink o academic recognition. While we welcome any challengesto sexuality discourse in the ‘war on terror’, our epistemic communitiesneed to keep asking dicult questions in the spirit o this volume. How do the new theories reinscribe or challenge the single-issue politics at theroot o this problem, where sexual agency (and theory) remains white andcultural agency heterosexual? How do they contest or reinorce a constructo ‘Eastern culture’ as homophobic (and thereore open to ocial controland o re-colonisation by the ‘liberated West’)? Does their archive remain white, or do they acknowledge its theoretical and political predecessors inqueer Muslims and other queers o colour? As we shall demonstrate, aneective intervention into the ways in which sexual rights and migrantrights have become constructed as mutually contradictory requires a criti-cal historiography, which questions how white subjects came to claim theright to dene and theorise sexual liberation projects in the rst place.
and people with biographical backgrounds and links to Germany, Jin and Esra migrated toBritain in the search o a better place (Jin is still living here now). amsila has visited Germany and has ‘queer-extended’ amily links with people ‘originating’ there. Te two contexts are in-teresting in that they are oten presented as opposing paradigms o race relations, with diering histories o colonialism, genocide, and migration (Piper 1998). Britain has traditionally beenviewed as the more liberal regime, with its (now deunct)
ius soli 
(law o the soil) model o citi-zenship and its (now embattled) state multiculturalism. Tis contrasting view is contradictedby the ndings presented in this article, which point to the growing convergence and intertex-tuality o violent Orientalisms throughout Europe and the sel-identied ‘West’.
4
Te second birth place o this article, Esra’s and Jin’s
Intersections 
classrooms at Hamburg University and Humboldt University Berlin (January and February 2006), has been more ruit-ul. We would like thank our students, as well as Jennier Petzen, the organisers and partici-pants at the
Out o Place 
conerence, the
Re/visionen
panel at the Let Book Days in Berlin,Liz Fekete,
Next Genderation
, and the ellow activists rom the
Queer&Ethnicity 
Conerence(Qekon) (Spring 2002), the
Queer&Ethnicity 
space at
Queeruption
Berlin (Summer 2002), andthe
Blackfst 
sex radical queer o colour list (Summer 2007), or various moments o collabora-tion, inspiration and encouragement.

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