Queer Argentina: Movement Towards the Closet in a Global Time
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Some of the most beautiful and culturally rich places in the world have anti-LGBT policies. I can only travel to so many places in the next year or two and my priorities are with countries that currently spark my interest. Where do you draw the line? Or transgender inclusion in the nondiscrimination act? LGBT people bring a massive amount of expendable income with them. It is an often overlooked fact that the LGBT community is a loyal customer base. Lesbians are still buying Subarus in because of an advertising campaign in the mids.
Statistically speaking, we travel more than straight folks. The average LGBT traveler in the US takes trips a year in comparison to straight folks who take an average of 4 trips a year. Hong Kong, in particular, is an interesting example because the local government has come under fire for their bid to host the Gay Games without comprehensive protections in place for LGBT citizens. So why are they interested in hosting? I would rather support destinations that are interested in creating inclusion and equality. The idea that a brand or destination is only interested in the LGBT community for our money without respect to our humanity leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I would also hope that the decision makers at the Gay Games would take into account the local policies and state of LGBT civil rights in an area before they award the destination with the opportunity to host an event of such magnitude. A decision on the host city is expected in November. I believe in cultural exchange. I also believe that when people are exposed to difference they learn and grow and expand in their beliefs.
Despite what anti-incrementalist activists may believe, social change comes on a slow and gradual gradient. It is extremely rare for people to rapidly change their beliefs and most people are not capable of overnight radicalization of progressive values. It was only through over a century of domestic activism and education that the tides are changing in the US and we still have a long way to go in regards employment protections, adoption, and gender identity and expression. The expectation that every country should be open and accepting overnight is just not realistic.
That being said, I believe much like a single drop of water against a stone, with time we shall persist.
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Newspapers in Uganda have been known to print the names, addresses, and photos of local activists which has resulted in the murder of several LGBT people. We were talking about my dedication to activism and the LGBT community. At the time, I was in the process of applying to the Peace Corps and had just been accepted to serve in Sub Saharan Africa. As any good western white liberal with a case of white guilt and a misunderstanding of international political complexities, I was trying to organize the pros and cons of the numerous African countries that I could have been placed with.
There is a lot of middle ground between choosing to boycott a destination and open defiance of local laws and customs. In Nigeria for example, same-sex couples can face up to 14 years in prison, and same-sex public affection is illegal. Ironically, the strongly anti-LGBT sentiments in many African countries can be traced to British colonial rule and American evangelical preachers.
Ironically, I ended up going back into the closet anyway years later — except it was in South Korea. During my first month in South Korea, my boss asked me if my coworker was going on a date with a guy or a girl. He was trying to make a joke, but it took everything I could not to burst into tears. I spent most of the year living in a state of nearly continuous panic attack. I never felt safe enough to come out of the closet while I was in Korea. A handful of my foreign coworkers knew, but none of the Korean people I knew or worked with.
I made that choice to protect myself and sacrificed honesty and transparency in my relationships which is unfortunate because my fear stunted my experience in Korea. Being in the closet offered me the opportunity to talk about LGBT issues within a one step removed hypothetical context. It is possible to have these conversations as we travel without outting ourselves or endangering local people. Harm reduction and protecting ourselves comes first and foremost.
I love my community but I would rather not have my casket draped with rainbow flags. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer here. Where and if you travel as an LGBT person is a decision only you can make. I would never encourage someone to visit a place that resulted in them feeling unsafe physically or emotionally.
Ultimately it is our responsibility to research the areas we are visiting to the best of our ability and make the choice based on the knowledge of how someone with our unique set of identities and privileges experiences the world in that location. That implicitly says that if Russia had been fostering the homophobic environment at the time of selection, Sochi would not have been selected.
At the same time, there must be a broader coordinated educational effort. Anything that helps to increase the visibility of LGBT people, to move beyond past stereotypes and ignorance, to show that gays occupy the same range of positions in life and society as everyone else, that will help to make societal change happen more quickly.
In many ways the younger generation is much more accepting than their elders. I see a positive trajectory as young people grow up with variations in sexual orientation around them being the norm. But the younger generation is also a battleground. Business is a very important stakeholder in this debate.
Where business currently falls short, though, is in embracing role models. The more that corporations can highlight the LGBT people among their leadership, the quicker these societal transformations will be encouraged. Positive action is taken at several different levels — local, national and global. What happened at the UN is important as part of the effort to legitimise LGBT rights; to have such an overwhelmingly positive vote is an important rebuke to those governments that want to pretend homophobia and bigotry are consistent with international human rights standards.
International multistakeholder organizations, such as the World Economic Forum, could clearly play a leadership role in this debate, by holding sessions devoted to trends in the rights of LGBT people. For example, a session on best business practices with respect to LGBT rights would give an opportunity to talk about, not just the formal non-discrimination steps, but also the more personal leadership role that corporations might play.
One of our first real interventions took place in Egypt, where there had been a crackdown and a raid on what was called the Queen Boat; this was literally a boat in the Nile that had been a gay bar, and the occupants were arrested and brutally beaten by the police. Human Rights Watch put out a protest, but a few of our Egyptian colleagues objected, claiming that homosexuality was immoral conduct, and the repression of gays was not a human rights issue.
They feared that their broader human rights work would be discredited if they took on LGBT rights. But this shows the pressures that civil society groups can face as they take on an area that has been circumscribed by homophobia and regressive views.
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Do you think this will continue, or is there a positive role religions could take on? I think enlightened leadership can emerge in all religious traditions. Look within Christianity. On the negative side, you have the right-wing evangelical movement, which is very well-funded and a nefarious homophobic force. Pope Francis took it a step further by explicitly adopting an accepting attitude, both at a doctrinal level and in his personal posture and statements.
He shows what an enlightened leader can do, even within a very conservative institution. Annual Review. Accessed March 5, Jackson, Julian. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago. Kissack, Terence. Kollman, Kelly. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
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Kong, Travis S. London: Routledge. Kramer, Larry. London: Penguin. Farnham: Ashgate. Lennox, Corrine, and Matthew Waites eds. London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies. McCormack, Mark. Mead, George Herbert.
Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century. Meeker, Martin. Morris, Charles E. Mowlabocus, Sharif. Surrey: Ashgate. Accessed June 2, Plummer, Ken. Sexual Stigma: An Interactionist Account. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Aggleton and H. Homans, 20— Basingstoke: Falmer. Oxford: Blackwell. Oxford: John Wiley. Puar, Jasbir. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Rubin, Gayle. Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader. Ryan-Flood, Roisin. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Queer Argentina_ Movement Towards the Closet in a Global Time (2017, Palgrave Macmillan US)
Seidman, Steven. Spijkerboer, Thomas. Stein, Arlene. Timmons, Stuart. Boston, MA: Alyson Publications. Vance, Carole S. Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality. Walters, Suzanna Danuta. Warner, Michael. Fear of a Queer Planet. Waugh, Thomas. Weeks, Jeffrey.
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Zerubavel, Eviatar. Ken Plummer humanism, intimate citizenship and cosmopolitan sexualities. Skip to content. When I was young, I only had a couple of decades of my own life: everything was new and exciting and many of the old ideas given to me by my elders had to be rejected—this was by now the generation of baby boomers after all. But now I have nearly seven decades to incorporate.
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And so, whilst I am still very excited by the new, I can also sense clearly just how the very new so soon becomes the very old. And the very old is soon forgotten. When I started my research, I was active in the rapidly and now very long defunct Gay Liberation Front; these were probably the pivotal moments of my life. Shortly after my research ended, in , AIDS came to thwart, haunt us, and change sexual meaning forever.
Queer theory did not arrive till a full decade later—at roughly the same time as computers became widespread but long before the Internet. Same-sex relations became part of a world agenda as the world has changed. All of this is now a generation or three away from me, but it does not die. It lives on in my generation and me in the present moment.
We cannot unlive this and, for a short while before we die, we are the carriers of history. And now in the world I live in is very different indeed from the world of my research. Indeed, we have both witnessed this change over the short span of 60 years of our lives. The sexual world has indeed change massively over the past half century and each generation brings different understandings to this complicated whole. Here are some suggestions: A hundred years ago, the languages of same-sex relations were private, inchoate and unclear.
There was no homosexual identity as such and it would be a while before a few would be adopting such an identity. A hundred years ago, politics was almost wholly parochial and nationalist. States were paramount. Now, social movements have arisen in permanent contestation with the state on a global stage. A hundred years ago, there was little, if any, media through which to learn about same-sex relations. Now it is everywhere public and on line. Making contact by the phone gradually became possible for a very few, but there was certainly no widespread social networking media to facilitate organization.
But now same-sex connectivity has become globally ubiquitous even as some communities ban it. A hundred years ago, nations, states and religions were largely hostile to same-sex relations. Now some states actually facilitate positive laws; there is a transnational language of rights along with institutions like the United Nations and European Court that organize them; and religious and multi-faith organizations seek common grounds over sexual conduct. A hundred years ago, the notions of sexual rights and sexual citizenship, gay marriage, lesbian motherhood, assisted reproductive technologies, AIDS, transgender surgery and rights, global queers and the rest were unknown.
Now they are all part of the global fabric. Time and its Generations The ideas of generations , time and radical sexual generations help create bridges across different historical periods of activism. Millennium Generations: Cyber Queers, Global Queers At the time of the millennium, yet another generation was in the making. The philosopher George Herbert Mead gives us a sense of this problem and so he is worth quoting: We find that each generation has a different history, that it is a part of the apparatus of each generation to reconstruct its history.
Mead —7 So new pasts are always moving in the present. But more, here is Dewey: We always live at the time we live and not at some other time, and only by extracting at each present time the full meaning of each present experience are we prepared for doing the same thing in the future. Let me just sample a few: Generational languages. Creating Global Cosmopolitan Generations I want to conclude my brief review of generational activism with a critical and major caution. These are: Democratization.
These are the generations shaped by a sense of freedom and rights.
There are wide ranging differences across world democracies and democratic processes; and clearly until recently Western democracies have often made same-sex relations the subjects of legislation and prejudice, etc. So democracy, in itself, never guarantees a positive climate. And indeed as the claims for a widening argument for democracy are made in less democratic countries e. These are the generations shaped by histories of subordination and repression by a former dominant state. In the long historical span, there are very few countries this does not exclude!
And here different generations have to confront the traumas left by former dominating, colonizing nations. Indeed, just as post-colonial nationalisms are often defined in response to their former colonization, so colonized generations are shaped, often traumatically, by these invasions of culture. There are different patterns for different colonizing nations. But always sexualities imposed by a ruling group leave their mark. Britain is a central example: for the countries colonized by Britain inherited their legislation against homosexuality.
These are multiple generations who experience the chronic breakdown of their society. Through genocide, civil war and strife, tribalism, extreme poverty and famine or natural disasters these generations are struck by extreme situations and become marked by trauma and damage. People often are forced to live with a deep sense of loss and wasted life, in fear and pain. These are usually countries engaged in major conflicts e. Haiti and now the Philippines. It includes large numbers of people who become refugees and dislocated Spijkerboer Such damage may be short-term or long-term; but it is clear that such countries currently provide little opportunity structure or context for the advance on gay rights.
For such generations, issues of gay activism and rights are usually pushed into the background. Rupturing and Revolution : These are generations who have confronted a former authoritarian state and who subsequently come to face an anomic upheaval with a search for a new order: a generational cohort that has experienced major disruption with visions of a better future. The strong case of this has been South Africa, where the breakdown of the discriminatory and anti-apartheid situation has led to the replacement with a new progressive agenda of human rights, which included gay rights.
Likewise the fall of Franco in Spain, Galtieri in Argentina and others elsewhere created opportunities for new more democratic generations. This has not, however, always been positive: the situation of new generations in the Soviet Union has led to some of the key global activist issues of recent times. Fundamentalism : These are generations where absolutist religious affiliations have taken hold and shape the stages of a life. These are regions where political opportunities for gay activism are restricted and the struggles hard and risky see Hunt in this collection.
Good examples are to be found in much of Latin America, Asia and Africa, where the issue of AIDS has created a space for speaking about and developing projects around a wider range of sex issues Epprecht , Parker et al. AIDS activist generations often open political opportunities for wider gender and sexual debates. Conclusion In thinking about the future of activisms, it helps to think of generations past, present and future—to think globally, act locally, and remain critical.
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