Homohegemony and the Other: Canada and Jamaica
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Existing scholarship on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer/questioning) rights, regulation, “homonationalism,” and citizenship fails to consider lesbian and gay inclusion as a hegemonic state ideology. This dissertation addresses this lacuna, with particular attention to Canada and Jamaica. It considers the political implications of near legal equality for gays and lesbians in Canada, not merely in terms of the entrenchment of a regime of sexual citizenship rights culminating in same-sex marriage, but, relatedly, in terms of significant popular consent to the notion of gays and lesbians as equal and included citizens. It theorizes and critically demonstrates “homohegemony,” an ideology of relative inclusion of gay and lesbian citizenship in the national imaginary, in which the state extends selective citizenship rights to the gay and lesbian minority in a benevolent liberal fashion. However, these rights are premised on moments of illiberalism both within and outside the Canadian nation-state. Drawing on a neo-Gramscian understanding of hegemony, these illiberal exclusions may also be seen to characterize homohegemony, ideologically and materially. Once homosexual inclusion in the national imaginary becomes hegemonic, symbolized by the granting of near legal equality through same-sex marriage, longstanding and novel “others” are (re)imagined as exterior to the ideal-typical national community. One illiberal “other” is “homophobic Jamaica,” which functions as a significant constructed counterpoint, or foil, to a newly homohegemonic “national self.” A historical preoccupation with the “homosexual other” within Canada has significantly turned to a fixation on homophobic other nation-states. The ideological construction of Jamaica in particular is persuasive, not least because it bases itself in a degree of truth grounded in real heterosexism. The construction is, however, replete with generalizations, distortions, exaggerations, and omissions, and occurs in the context of historic colonial and other stereotypes. This image of Jamaica invisibilizes a much queerer reality. Homohegemony, both in its veritable benevolent liberal inclusions, and its less commonly appreciated significant illiberal exclusions, is thus set out in a broadly understood Canadian context. That such a context includes the imagination of Jamaica and Jamaicans, within a broader neocolonial relationship, represents a queer development in the history of hegemonic Canadian sexual ideology.