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Critical Essays

Charmaine Crawford – “‘It’s a Girl Thing’ Problematizing Female Sexuality, Gender and Lesbophobia in Caribbean Culture” - Critical Essay (Barbados)

In this paper, I will examine how lesbophobia manifests in a post-colonial Caribbean landscape in multiple ways, whether it is through societal sanctions such as stigma discrimination and violence, or through fabricated claims of sexual immorality against same-sex female sexuality promoted by the church, state and media. From a critical feminist perspective, I will first critique dominant notions of gender and sexuality by exploring the relationship between patriarchy and heterosexism in ordering female sexuality and sexual relations. I will then discuss the ways in which lesbian sexuality and bodies are constructed to denote a kind of corporeal disorder that is unsettling or disruptive to dominant notions of hetero-femininity or womanhood associated with gender identity, sexual pleasure and motherhood. Finally, I will demonstrate how the media plays a role in manufacturing and reinforcing lesbophobia through sensationalist accounts that serve to pathologize and delegitimize same-sex female sexuality.

Savannah Shange - "Mediated (Be)Longing: Consumer Citizenship and Queer Caribbean Diaspora" - Critical Essay (United States)

How do queer-identified diasporic Caribbean subjects navigate these crosscurrents of belonging? How does homonormative North American media shape narratives of home for Caribbean people living abroad? These questions are deceptively simple, as they flatten the diversity of both “queer” and “abroad;” gender assignment, gender performance, region of migration, island(s) of origin, and racialization all serve to differentiate within the category of queer diaspora. In this article, I analyze mainstream media discourse, contextualized by qualitative interview data, to explore the experience of “home” and “homophobia” for queer-identified Caribbean subjects across a range of gender identities. Following the imperatives present in the scholarly work of Deborah Thomas, Ritty Lukose, and M. Jacqui Alexander, I critically interrogate the production and circulation of a “homophobic Caribbean” through the strategic practices of what I am provisionally calling diasporic consumer citizenship.

Introduction by Rosamond S. King & Angelique V. Nixon

While the collection represents mostly English-speaking territories (including Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago), it also includes the Spanish, French and Dutch speaking Caribbean (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Martinique, and Suriname). The collection refers to a complex range of sexual identities, preferences, and orientations, and includes a few voices engaging with trans-identity. The collection crosses disciplines, intersects communities, bridges theory and activism, and highlights the relentless and strategic work of community workers, artists, activists, and scholars across the region. This may be the strongest element of the collection—the bringing together or “gathering” of voices (continuing the work of Our Caribbean – A Gathering of Gay and Lesbian Writings in the Antilles) in multiple media to offer a complex understanding of the Caribbean sexual landscape at home and abroad.

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