Coming Out  l'oriental: Maghrebi-French Performances of Gender, Sexuality, and Religion.

Published: July 1, 2011


In this article, I examine issues of gender, sexuality, and religion for North African (Maghrebi)-French men in contemporary France. I introduce performance artist-photographer "2Fik," one of the Maghrebi-French research subjects from my 2010 fieldwork, and examine excerpts of his particular coming out story to his parents and situate it in relation to recent work on homosexuality in the housing projects of France’s banlieues [suburban neighborhoods] ( Chaumont, 2009 ; Naït-Balk, 2009 ). The interviewee’s narrative interweaves a variety of discourses and imagery that help distinguish his experience from those found in those publications as well as in recent scholarship on sexuality, citizenship, and transnationalism ( Cruz-Malavé & Manalansan, 2000 ; Hayes, 2000 ; Leap & Boellstorff, 2004 ; Patton & Sánchez-Eppler, 2000 ; Provencher, 2007a ). I argue that 2Fik’s story and photography provide him a unique voice that draws on feminist and queer perspectives-informed by both reformed Islam and contemporary Western values-to "decline" ( Rosello, 1998 ) and rewrite longstanding stereotypes of Islam in France. In fact, by acting as a "citizen-photographer" ( Möller, 2010 ), 2Fik successfully declines stereotypes including the absent Muslim father, the veiled woman, and the symbolic violence associated with heteronormativity and traditional masculinity in Maghrebi-French families.

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