Pinkwatching And Pinkwashing: Interpenetration and its Discontents

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Pinkwatching And Pinkwashing: Interpenetration and its Discontents

and identitarian (and identifiable) groups. Thus, critics of pinkwashing, who assume an international queer camaraderie, repeat a central tenet of homonationalism: homosexuals should be in solidarity and empathize with each other because they are homosexual. In fact, pinkwashing and pinkwatching are both made possible and legible through the political and social efficacy of homonationalism as a structuring force of neoliberal modernity.

Pinkwashing produces endless questions about the status of gays, lesbians, and trans Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza, as well as in Israel. Pinkwatching in the United States not only produces these very same questions, but it also responds to them citing the presence of Arab and Palestinian activist groups and individuals in the Middle East as proof that there are native and authentic LGBT activists in the Arab world. In this way, the relationship between pinkwashing and pinkwatching produces a call and response feedback loop that stabilizes the discourse that pinkwatching claims to critique.

Moreover, pinkwatching has become the primary, myopic lens through which queer youth (but not only youth) are asked to (and allowed to) be politicized around the issue of Palestine—a cycle which reinforces the myriad ways in which solidarity for Palestine/Israel in the United States is often articulated through the presence of different identity groups staking “their claim” in the debate (Jewish- American, Arab-American, Gay-American). One is tempted to call the production of such a narrow and reductive framework, through which American queers are to become politically engaged in foreign policy, an exercise in homonationalism.

Pinkwashing insists that the “queer Palestinian subject” and homophobia show up on Israeli/global terms. Pinkwatching advocates for solidarity for the Palestinian cause only if, and because, Palestinian “queerness” and homophobia shows up on the United States’ terms—terms recognizable by global queer identity formations. In fact, Palestinian queers cannot be cut from the fabric of Palestinian society in a way that mimics the identity politics of the gay( s ) internationally. Furthermore, “homophobia” now circulates as a purportedly transparent form of violence that all queers are subject to, regardless of geopolitical locations or historical, cultural, and economic variability. As shorthand for the myriad and complex manners through which heterosexuality can be a privileged form of social organization, it thus also reduces all heterosexualities to the same construct. This globalizing of the term homophobia, and its attendant assumptions works, therefore suture, rather than disrupt the hetero-homo binary and the gender binary upon which