Rao, ‘Third World Protest: Between Home and the World’, 2010
Rahul Rao, ‘Third World Protest: Between Home and the World’, Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010, DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199560370.001.0001
Part II, 6 Queer in the Time of Terror
Third World queer activists are increasingly caught between two discourses that challenge their self-assertion: first, an occasionally orientalist cosmopolitan discourse of ‘LGBT rights’ that regards such rights as a marker of modernity and portrays societies that fail to respect them as backward; second, homophobic communitarian discourses of authenticity that contest queer self-assertion with the claim that homosexuality is a Western vice. This chapter attempts to criticize power hierarchies within cosmopolitan LGBT solidarity, without downplaying the oppressiveness of communitarian homophobia against which such solidarity is directed. To do this, it disaggregates Western activist responses to cases of alleged persecution of homosexuals in Iran, bringing to light distinct manifestations of a gay rescue narrative. While some activists capitalized on the resonance between apparent queer rights abuses in Iran and the security preoccupations of Western states in the ongoing ‘war on terror’ to further their own domestic agendas of assimilation, others were wary of participating in such a politics.