‘Where the state freaks out’: Gentrification, Queerspaces and activism in postwar Beirut

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Abstract

In this article I illuminate the production and erasure of Queerspaces in Beirut as part of postwar gentrification. A dual Beirut has emerged within assemblages of sectarian power, sexual citizenship and political economy. Commercial Queerspaces tacitly incorporated into the neoliberal and sectarian state exist while the ‘Queer unwanted’ – spaces and people deemed transgressive to the moral order – are violently erased by state and non-state actors. These dual spaces expose the limits on life for Queer communities. To analyse these dynamics, I turn to the testimonies of LGBTQ activists in Beirut in relation to the possibilities offered by Queerspace. While activists note the exclusions – class, gender and sexuality – of commercial Queerspace that restrain political agency, they have powerfully asserted radical intersectional politics into recent revolutionary anti-sectarian waves of protest. This politics is marked by articulating Queerness as a project of connecting marginality for all excluded groups in Lebanon’s postwar order and by a queering of sectarian/neoliberal space that has hitherto cleansed undesirable LGBTQ bodies. This paper draws on extensive fieldwork in Beirut (2011 to 2020), thus permitting longitudinal research of LGBTQ activism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Studies
Early online date14 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 14 Mar 2021

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