(Un)critically queer organizing: Towards a more complex analysis of LGBTQ organizing in Lebanon

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In this article, I explore two contending claims in the literature on LGBTQ organizing in the Global South. Whereas some theorists argue that LGBTQ groups in the Global South uncritically apply “Western” understandings of sexuality in their LGBTQ organizing, others claim that a global LGBTQ identity and community truly exists, which despite taking on different forms, follows one similar “developmental” trajectory. Drawing on the cases of the two Lebanese LGBTQ social movement organizations (SMOs) Helem and Meem, I argue that the present literature homogenizes such organizations and does not account for the complexities, differences and diversities in their activism. By analyzing their respective websites, online publications and published online speeches from 2004 to 2011, I argue that Meem and Helem's different strategic choices and definitions of collective queer identities both simultaneously contest and engage with dominant models of Euro-American LGBTQ organizing. I illustrate that, despite their different organizing strategies, both Helem and Meem attempt to remain rooted in a local context by highlighting their multiple positions and intersectional struggles. In addition, I show that geopolitical context plays a central role in their collective identity deployment since the two groups highlight different aspects of themselves in relation to local and global audiences. Finally, I use this case to point out the limitations of the present literature and the need for research that operates with a more complex sense of LGBTQ groups in the Global South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-617
Number of pages25
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective identities
  • LGBTQ activism
  • Lebanon
  • queer globalization
  • queer politics
  • social movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Anthropology


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