queer politics politicians gentrification french minister france sarah el haïry olivier dussopt lgbtiq+
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Article by:
Chloé Bruère Dawson
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May 25, 2023
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Queer politicians ≠ queer politics

After my article on the usage of queerness in gentrification processes was published, while protests in France were still going strong, Sarah El Haïry became the first-ever French minister to come out as a lesbian.

In theory, this news would have made me happy: Even though it’s late, even though it should have happened way earlier than 2023, it’s still a step forward in a country in which there is a lot of work to do when it comes to the representativity of its politicians. But instead, it made me angry.
It made me angry, just like the coming out of French’s minister of labor a month earlier made me angry. Because when Olivier Dussopt, the man behind the unfair pension reform, or Sarah El Haïry, the woman behind the re-establishment of the military service, come out amidst unpopular reforms and a democratic crisis, it is nothing but a red herring, a distraction. And it is yet another confirmation that a queer identity doesn’t translate into progressive policies.

Tokenism, the practice of giving people roles with little to no power to pretend inclusivity, is nothing new in politics around the world. But having LGBTIQ+ officials come out amidst a government crisis goes beyond tokenism and pinkwashing. It is a marker of a growing queer conservatism, as more and more openly gay or lesbian officials express regressive ideas and push unfair policies.

No need to travel far from Paris to find another example. Germany’s far-right party, “Alternative for Germany”, has been led for 5 years by the openly lesbian Alice Weidel. Across the English Channel, the far-right party UKIP had openly gay MP Peter Whittle. There is Sebastian Tynkkynen in Finland, George Santos in the US, or Javier Maroto in Spain. And this list goes on and on.

Besides their queerness and conservatism, what those politicians have in common is very clear: a rejection of intersectionality and rampant sexism, racism, Islamophobia, and/or transphobia. Alice Weidel thinks the immigration of Muslim individuals will hinder gay rights in Germany, and don’t want “gender idiocy” being taught to her children. Peter Whittle opposes multiculturalism, Santos is against abortion and Tynkkynen has been convicted twice for his Islamophobic comments, those examples being only a fraction of their bigotry.

The growing number of LGBTIQ+ conservatives is nothing but a reflection of the increase of far-right politics across the globe. It goes in pairs with homonationalism, giving a false sense of progress in LGBTIQ+ rights through representation in Western countries while supporting racist policies and proclaiming moral righteousness against non-Western countries less accepting of LGBTIQ+ identities, using this ground to attack them.

LGBTIQ+ conservatives also enforce the idea of “respectable queerness”, that you can be accepted as a gay or a lesbian individual only by acquiring a respectable social identity, understand: keeping your queerness mostly private and undermining other (poorer, of color, refugees, transgender…) queer people’s rights.

So no, I do not feel happy about Sarah El Haïry’s coming out knowing her government is pushing racist, neocolonialist, and anti-poor policies. And no, I won’t feel happy, or even just represented, by any LGBTIQ+ officials that make a job out of refusing other people’s rights.

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