Nationalism in rainbow colors 

Anna-Maria Sörberg: Homonationalism Leopard publisher. Sweden

Forfatter: Anna-Maria Sörberg
Forlag: Leopard förlag (Sverige)
Western right-wing populists have become more gay-friendly in recent years, and tolerance and equality are becoming a new line of conflict. 


The book begins with a story from one of the author's first encounters with the odd nightlife in Stockholm in the mid-1980 century, when she was about to leave the closet for the first time. She and other gays were gathered in a dilapidated building in an outskirts, while the AIDS epidemic, or homo pest, as it was often called, ravaged the worst. Sörberg describes a rather marginalized assembly of deviants, whom she both felt sorry for and felt ashamed of being associated with. Since then, the tolerance of gays and lesbians has apparently exploded in the Western world, both in terms of formal rights and cultural recognition, and acceptance of gays, lesbians and equals has become an important part of many Western nations' self-image.

Right-hand embrace. In recent years, nationalist groups and right-wing populists, who have historically stood for a Christian conservative view of values, have emerged as more gay-friendly. The Front National in France is a prime example of this. They have a clear Christian conservative stance, while at the same time not hesitating to accuse Muslims of being gay and women hostile and a threat to values ​​they themselves have previously fought for. Here at home, the Progress Party has – somewhat hesitantly – abandoned opposition to the gender-neutral marriage law, while the right-wing party of the English Defense League caught the attention when they appeared in a pride parade with their newly created gay network. Muslims and non-Western immigrants, on the other hand, have not reached the same level as the West. This is at least the homonationalist argument.

Surrounded by masculine lesbians in varnish and leather, the leader of Christian conservatives can loudly proclaim that the party has finally embraced the gender-neutral marriage law.

In parallel with increased recognition for many gays, Muslims have been seriously identified as a major threat to the West in the wake of September 11, and culture has been increasingly cited as an explanatory factor. An important part of this scare is that Muslims are against the rights of gays and women, and this is used to defend a stricter immigration policy. It is uncomfortable to read about how important martial arts such as inclusion and equality are used to legitimize right-wing populist martial law, and made a case that will separate "us Norwegians" from "the others".

Superficial. The book is a combination of reports, reviews of professional literature and interviews with activists and academics. The introductory story puts the extensive change in cultural and social status that parts of the slanted movement have experienced in perspective, and the descriptions of the sometimes paradoxical coalitions that have emerged in recent years are among the book's strengths. Thirty years after Sörberg took courage and went to her first social gathering for slice, she stands and bystanders Stockholm Pride, while the leader of the Christian Conservative Party in Sweden stands on a truck in the train. Surrounded by masculine lesbians in varnish and leather, she can proclaim to the great cheer that the party has finally embraced the gender-neutral marriage law.

The activists and researchers Sörberg has interviewed point out that the change in question is in reality limited to accepting a change in the law that was made many years ago. The new tolerance is mainly about two issues, namely gender-neutral marriage law and the right to be open about sexual orientering in the military. Critics have argued that these issues are primarily about being included among the majority. In this way, one helps to consolidate oppressive institutions such as marriage and the military. If you also take a closer look at surveys that have documented changes in attitudes, they show that a large majority in western countries today support gay marriage. At the same time, more than three quarters of the respondents answer that they think transgender behavior is unacceptable. Although tolerance towards gays and lesbians has increased, this may indicate that attitudes towards gender remain unchanged. The superficial approach to equality is an important feature of Christian conservative and right-wing extremist tolerance. Progressive values ​​that previously belonged to the left are used as evidence of the West's progress, while Muslims and non-Western immigrants are seen as anti-gay.

Acceptance of gays, lesbians and equality has become an important part of many Western nations' self-image.

Divide and Conquer. Although Sörberg explains well the gradually expanding research on homonationalism, it is the longer interviews and reports that carry the book. Sörberg was one of the peaks in the Swedish right-wing party the Swedish Democrats when he organized a kind of pride parade in a drab city outside Stockholm. The event generated a lot of media attention, but few reactions among the locals. Eventually, however, a boy came and shouted "fucking gay" to the congregation. Seansen was captured on film and highlighted above all it was worth as an example of Muslim intolerance. It makes an impression to read about the increased polarization that is taking place between the Muslim and the other people in Sweden, and how public discussions are pitting minorities against each other. In the Swedish suburbs we meet Leila Qaraee, who is the leader of one of several local associations for women from the Middle East and North Africa, and the gay activist Per Pettersson. For the past couple of years, Pettersson has been thrown out of homosexual scorn by minority boys on a couple of occasions, something he has never experienced before. Qaraee, in turn, is experiencing increasing pressure against her and other Muslims. The Swedish Democrats and other right-wing populists' attempts to define gay struggle and equality as Western phenomena sharpen their opposition and increase suspicion against Muslims. According to Qaraee and Hansson, who follow developments on a daily basis in the suburbs, there is a risk of creating suspicion of homosexuals among Muslim youth who feel excluded from society because they are viewed as Western identity markers. Thus, on all fronts one is caught up in a self-fulfilling prophecy where the various elements reinforce each other, while the room for dialogue becomes ever smaller.

Sörberg's ability to put words into this development is perhaps the book's most important contribution to the social debate. The political dividing lines have changed, without many having been involved. Homonationalism should be able to lay the foundation for a new political analysis and contribute to self-reflection, both in the queer movement and in society in general.

Subscription NOK 195 quarter