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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Proclamations of the Red Queen

8th February 2010


Posted by: Craig Young

What happens when we’re ‘over the rainbow’- and have achieved the desired LGBT reforms that we currently await, like inclusive adoption reform, same-sex marriage and overt transgender inclusion in anti-discrimination laws?parisian_gay.jpg

We might start to hear the word ‘postgay’ (or ‘postlesbian’) more often. Now, I’m usually quite leery about attaching unwarranted prefixes to social movements. I seem to recall Aboriginal activist Bobbi Sykes’ sage words about ‘postcolonialism’- “What, you mean they’ve all gone home?!”  (No such luck, unfortunately). Or take that other ‘post’, ‘postfeminism.’ Wow, patriarchal social relationships have mysteriously vanished? You mean women’s economic inequality, absence of reproductive freedom and violence against women has miraculously ceased to exist?! Again, no such luck. I see the sense in referring to the achievements and successes of feminism from the sixties to nineties and perhaps the current generation of younger women take those achievements for granted, but male domination has probably acquired new and more insidious forms.

And what about the term ‘postgay/postlesbian?’ Ah. So homophobic violence has also somehow mysteriously vanished from the home, schoolyard, backstreet alleyway and elsewhere? So gay men aren’t at particular risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS and contingent discrimination, or pharmaceutical policy bottlenecks that delay new protease inhibitors or combination therapies? Granted, yes, like feminists over the last thirty years, we have much to celebrate in the western world (as well as China and India, to a lesser extent). Male homosexuality has been decriminalised, there are mostly equal ages of consent to gay sex, LGBT folk are covered by antidiscrimination laws, we have access to legal recognition of same-sex relationships and same-sex parenting, provocation defence laws have gone in Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand, and LGBT folk are entering the professions and political leadership positions.

Hence the New Statesman’s recent article on Johanna Sigurdadottir, Iceland’s newly re-elected lesbian Prime Minister and the world’s first out elected head of state. But here’s the thing- the resultant article relegated her civil partnership to a footnote, and while there were relevant questions about Iceland’s current fiscal dilemmas and the situation with that country’s recently defeated centre-right opposition party, there was no indication that Sigurdadottir was a lesbian. Or postlesbian? How did LGBT Icelanders react to her election? We simply don’t know. Disaggregating LGBT folk by relegating our sexual identities to the background isn’t good. It’s a form of neo-closetry. Normalisation should not mean obliteration of our collective identities and communities.

Postgay/postlesbian? Only in a posthomophobic world, unfortunately.


Alysson MacDonald: “Interview with Iceland’s Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdadottir”: New Statesman: 15.01.10:

Tags: Politics

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Uroskin // Feb 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Perhaps post-**** just means a shrug or a polite form of declaring something as irrelevant. Icelanders didn’t think it was an issue she was lesbian. Whether she is competent as a PM is far more important, especially if you’re in an economic crisis as deep as the outside temperature in Winter in Iceland.

  • 2 Craig // Feb 11, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Yeah, I take your point about Iceland’s fiscal crisis…but there’s the whole question of economic inequality and LGBT folks. How does sexual orientation and gender identity play out in terms of that? What about low income, homeless or mentally ill members of our community? Or is our community sufficiently inclusive when it comes to vulnerable LGBTIs?

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