Migrant Sexualities: “Non-normative” Sexual Orientation between Country of Origin and Destination
Keywords:non-normative sexual orientation, Maghrib migrants, social representations of homosexuality
The present paper is based upon a research on the experiences of foreign homosexuals in Italy, in particular males from the Maghrib, namely Morocco and Tunisia.
The first part reviews the relevant literature, mainly queer migration studies theories, focusing on the plight of LGBT migrants in Western countries, in particular considering gender identities and non-normative sexual orientations as ground for migration. Avoiding any attempt at categorization and emphasizing the existence of multiple identities rooted in each individual, the theory encourages to shun “ethnocentric” points of view that see the host country as a place where foreigners can live their sexualities freely in contrast with their country of origin. Indeed, it also represents continuity with a society of origin which, in its different aspects – social, cultural and relational – continues to affect the lives of the migrants, as well as their degree of closeness/distance to a Western gaylifestyle model that, though “attractive”, is often criticized.
The second part, through the life stories collected, describes the identity strategies employed by migrants to live their sexual orientation in the host country.
The paper describes the prevailing social representations of homosexuality among foreigners and assesses the “symbolic” impact that the host society may produce on the immigrants' way to (re)think their sexual identity.
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