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In Session: Politics of Protest: Social Movements that transformed Southeast Asia
3: Embracing the Nation: Strategic Deployment of Sexual and National Identities in LGBT Movements
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
University of Southern California, United States
Drawing on the scholarship on social movements, nationalism, and sexualities, this paper examines the strategic deployment of sexual and national identities of LGBT movements through the case study of Singapore’s annual LGBT-inclusive event, Pink Dot. In response to the authoritarian and heteronormative state’s construction of sexual minorities as non-national Others, Pink Dot mobilizes both sexual and national identities in an effort to forge a space of inclusion while ensuring its survival. By portraying itself as a uniquely Singaporean event and espousing national identity and belonging through symbolic and performative practices, Pink Dot leverages national identity to minimize differences from and foreground similarities to the majority. In this way, sexual minorities in Singapore endeavor to embed themselves within the narratives of the nation and claim their legitimate belonging while simultaneously projecting a nation more inclusive of sexual difference. The aspirational inclusion of sexual minorities in the national imagery, however, has the potential to converge with forms of homonational exclusion directed at non-citizens. In doing so, this paper addresses the role of interactions between hetero- and homonationalism in shaping the relationship among the state, nationalism, and LGBT movements.