This article contributes to the study of media, religion and culture from the perspective of gender and sexuality. It argues that media and culture need to be considered as locations in which ‘other stories’ about religion, gender and sexuality are potentially being produced. It shows that various types of media and visual artefacts have different modes of ‘making’ religion. It coins ‘religion-in-the-making’ and uses this concept to focus on two cultural productions that construct/convey ‘other’ religious narratives starting from female and queer bodies: the Belgian fictional movie Le Tout Nouveau Testament and the Al Jazeera biographical documentary Hip-Hop Hijabis.
In postcolonial queer and gender studies, the concept of homonationalism is currently employed by various scholars in different national contexts to critically analyse the collusions between nationalism and homosexuality. In Western Europe, (recent) extensions of legal rights to gays and lesbians and their partial inclusion in cultural imaginaries create or reinforce constructions of ‘proper gayness’. According to theorisations of homonationalism, proper gayness seems associated with whiteness, masculinity, a stable sexual identity, secularity, public visibility and consumerist life-styles. It is moreover linked to the ‘white man’s burden of gay liberation’. Assumptions about what constitutes proper gayness marginalise the perspectives and needs of ethnic minority, poor and religious LGBT or queer subjects. This chapter looks at two NGO’s who aim at supporting LGBTQ’s belonging to ethnic minorities, or in other words, those situated at the intersection of ethnic and sexual diversity: Merhaba (Brussels) and Respect2Love (Amsterdam). It considers Merhaba and R2L as actors resisting the normativity of proper gayness. Both organisations resist the dominance of the ‘coming-out’ paradigm by referring instead to multiple alliances and identities. The critique of the coming-out paradigm in combination with the notion of safe space will be analysed as pointing at queer non-linear time and queer construction of space that differ from and destabilise proper gayness. The chapter is based on an investigation of in-depth interviews conducted in March 2015 with staff members of Merhaba and R2L.
In this article, I draw on critical investigations of gendered, racialised and sexualised discourses on Islam and Muslim minorities in Western Europe to explore two recent instances of Muslim female intellectuals and artists responding to what has been dubbed “the Muslim question”. I shall show that Muslim women’s counter-voices are multilayered, conveyed through various means, and context-dependent, as well as dependent on intersectional marginalised positionalities. My goal is to theoretically rethink the feminist methodology of ‘talking back’ on the basis of the complex ways in which Muslim women establish modes of critique.