The stigmatization of Caribbean postcolonial nation-states in the Western imagination as exemplifying some of the most homophobic nationalisms masks a more-nuanced reading of the complexities of Caribbean modernity. As such, the hardening of homophobic nationalisms in settings such as Trinidad and Tobago forces us to question how and why compulsory homophobia is deployed as a form of moral discipline that is made to seem compatible with postcolonial modernity. This article explores the “problem space” of state-sanctioned homophobia as a regulative and generative (not simply repressive) force in postcolonial nationstates. It first briefly theorizes how compulsory homophobia has become a mandate of state-popular affinity in the postindependent era that conditions the possibility of pluralistic consensus in the postcolonial nation-state. Within this context, the author further explores a historic court case involving the “wrongful arrest” and alleged strip search of an out gay subject by state police officials. Some analytic insights into the strip search and subsequent court case testimonies are offered with a view to understanding the regulatory and generative potentials of institutionalized homophobia. The implications of this case for an incipient LGBT activist platform are also discussed as an expansion of the complex debates about sexual citizenship and political community within the postcolonial condition.
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Amar Wahab; Homophobia as the State of Reason: The Case of Postcolonial Trinidad and Tobago. GLQ 1 October 2012; 18 (4): 481–505. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-1600707
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