Drawing on the writings of Georges Bataille and Leo Bersani, this essay reexamines the long-held association of homosexuality with a radical erotics of death from the vantage of queer of color critique. While notions of suicidal ecstasy, self-shattering, and masochistic jouissance have played a central role in the theorization of homosexuality’s transgressive potential, accounts that center homosexuality’s desubjectivizing negativity have often been charged with a failure to attend to questions of racial difference and the limits they pose for an erotics and ethics grounded in risk and violence. This essay sets philosophical and psychoanalytic readings of (homo)sexuality’s thanatology against the necropolitical realities of racist violence in order to think through, while refusing to abandon, the possibility of a nonwhite erotics of self-shattering. To do so, it analyzes the case of Luka Magnotta, the so-called Montreal gay cannibal killer, who murdered, decapitated, and committed acts of cannibalism and necrophilia on the corpse of Jun Lin, an Asian international student. In reading this case, however, the essay aims not only to demonstrate the racialized distribution of risk but also to show how racist violence itself might stem from the disavowal of the urge to dissolution that homosexuality is said to represent. The essay suggests, in turn, that this disavowal might be read as part of the ongoing conversion of homosexuality into a form of life, a process usefully illuminated by the phenomenon of gay twinning, in which gay men pursue sexual relations with what appear to be their mirror images made flesh. Grounded in notions of sameness and self-duplication, twinning dramatizes the abnegation of homosexuality’s suicidal erotics and demonstrates the relations of complicity that bind the work of self-preservation to the reproduction of orders of racial difference that threaten to erupt into murderous violence.
AGENTS AND OBJECTS OF DEATH: Gay Murder, Boyfriend Twins, and Queer of Color Negativity
Bobby Benedicto is assistant professor of media and sexuality at McGill University. His first book, Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene (2014), was a finalist for the LAMBDA Literary Award for LGBT Studies and received an honorable mention for the Ruth Benedict Prize for Queer Anthropology. He is currently working on a new monograph titled “Fatal Sex,” which examines the role of necroaesthetics (the aesthetics of death) in twenty- first- century queer art and media.
Bobby Benedicto; AGENTS AND OBJECTS OF DEATH: Gay Murder, Boyfriend Twins, and Queer of Color Negativity. GLQ 1 April 2019; 25 (2): 273–296. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-7367750
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