Terms of a Western discourse of homosexuality shape conflicts surrounding
sexual identity that are faced by many Muslims, especially those who
live in diasporic communities. Many use essentialized categories to articulate their
sexual orientations and express incommensurabilities between their sexuality and
their identities as Muslims. This article argues that discursive constructions of the
Muslim as traditional other to the secular sexual subject of a modern democracy
generate an uninhabitable subject position that sharply dichotomizes sexual orientations
and Muslim family/religious orientations, a dichotomization that is reinforced
by well-publicized backlashes against open homosexuality in several
Muslim countries. Yet observations made during ethnographic field research in
Pakistan, as well as scholarly evidence from other Muslim countries, suggest that
many Muslims are less troubled by sex and desire in all their possible forms than
they are by the peculiar modern practice of naming our sexualities as the basis for
secular public identities.
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