115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Queer Imagined Collectivities: Disrupting the National Allegory in Hasan Namir’s God In Pink

Sean Weaver, Louisiana State University

Through a queer postcolonial reading of Hasan Namir’s God In Pink: A Novel, this paper examines the ways Namir creates an imagined collectivity that establishes visibility for homosexual Muslims in the Middle East and offers an alternative to the model of the national allegory that has dominated postcolonial studies for decades.

Proposal: 

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With an assault rifle, Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53. One of the deadliest shootings in recent history, the massacre at Pulse was reported in the media as two distinctly different narratives involving the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Initially, it was claimed that Mateen, the son of Afghan immigrants, committed this terror attack in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The FBI continues to maintain this record of events. Following the attack, however, a gay man came forward claiming that Mateen was his lover who took revenge on the LGBTQ+ community for treating him as an outcast after he repressed his sexuality due to religious homophobia.

As a Muslim and as a gay American, Mateen inhabits contradictory national allegories, to use Frederic Jameson’s influential phrase. The narrative around these allegories establish a greater whole, a collective response, that challenges the space Mateen holds as a citizen/subject of a nation—whether it is a pseudo state such as ISIL or the established nation of the United States. Therefore, Mateen’s representation as radical Muslim, or self-loathing homosexual, can be read as narratives of regulation by opposing nation states that determine who is/isn’t a citizen; the Western national allegory deliberately includes homosexuality while at the same time excluding the “terrorist” Muslim (FBI/U.S.), whereas, the non-Western (ISIL) national allegory uses heterosexuality as a means of regulating who is a citizen.  The narratives presented above demonstrate the limitations that arise when nation-based formulas are used to establish sexual-based citizenships in a globalized world where people are found between nations, citizenships, sexualities, and religions (Bell & Binnie).

If such complications arise when it comes to nation and sexual based formulas of citizenship, how might literatures by Queer Arab men disrupt dichotomies like the one presented in Mateen’s story? In what ways might they demonstrate such limitations of nation-based citizenships dictated by sexuality when it is assumed that all third-world literatures are a national allegory?  This presentation attempts to answer these questions by showing that Queer Arab literatures are imagined collectivities that disrupt dichotomies of nation-based citizenship because Queer Arab men in the Middle East embrace their sexuality at the expense of their religious identity through the influence of Western homonormativity as well as Arab traditions that deny the existence of homosexual Muslims in the Middle East (Anderson & Ahmad). Through a queer postcolonial reading of Hasan Namir’s God In Pink: A Novel, published in Canada by a queer Iraqi immigrant in 2015, this paper examines the ways in which Namir disrupts and queers Iraqi and Western national allegories revealing how non-normative bodies imagine alternatives to monolithic national allegories. By analyzing the ways national and religious languages are used to erase Iraqi homosexuals as Muslims and Iraqi Muslims as homosexuals, this paper shows how Namir transforms normative national languages and bodies in order to create an imagined collectivity that establishes visibility for homosexual Muslims in the Middle East and offers an alternative to the model of the national allegory that has dominated postcolonial studies for decades.