Decolonization and Sovereignty are queer issues

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Decolonization and Sovereignty are queer issues

According to Annamarie( 1996), queer is a term used by many scholars instead of the term lesbian or gay or the acronym LGBT to refer illustrate the different means by which experience is received by people about their sexual and gendered selves. Unlike words such as transgender and gay that are used to refer to sexual minorities within a small fraction, queer represents all forms of sexual and gender diversity. From previous literature and studies on the Australian history, there exists evidence that in the long past Australia might have had same-sex desire whose origin is before the settlement and colonization by the European. There has been evidence that before colonization, queer individuals were sovereign and not marginalized. By Aboriginality being queered, it is not only about challenging the Aboriginal representation brought about by colonization, but an ideal way to question all Aboriginal representations that rare fixed and single and taken as being heterosexually constructed. Since queer indigenous studies and queer native studies provide a link that is critical between ‘queer’ and ‘indigenous’ identity (O’Brien, 2009). It is only through this that it will become clear that decolonization and sovereignty are queer issues.

According to Hodge (2015), in the history of Australia, Aboriginal people’s gender and sexual diversity is not much interpreted and recorded. As a result of this, Aboriginal culture is viewed from a hetero-centric point of view. If as a society we are eager to be more conclusive, this is an issue that needs to be treated as important in order to ensure that we deconstruct the manner in which Aboriginality was constructed. Through this it will ensure that other members of the academy, historians and history can give freedom to Aboriginal people to enjoy their diversities as objects and subjects and not follow histories that were brought about by colonization. By achieving this, the society would have created room for native and alternative histories.

Through the theory of able-bodiedness, Hodge (2015) argues that it resulted in sense of disability and since it is thoroughly interwoven it results in sense of disability where queerness is born. As a matter of fact, heterosexuality that is compulsory is contingent to able-bodiedness that is compulsory and vice versa. It is during the colonization period where the aboriginals were denied sovereignty that the able-bodiedness and heterosexuality were wedded resulting in our own situation where both identities are dominant and marginal identities that are non-pathological become  even spectacular and more visible. The postmodernity condition and neoliberalism that are products of colonization increasingly favor heterosexual and able-bodied individuals who are spectacularly tolerant and visible of disabled/queer existences.

There are various evidences that link same sex desire among Aboriginal women before the settlement by the Europeans. This is despite the problematic nature of the aboriginal communities’ non-heterosexuality nature being written by white supremacists. There is a critique by Jennings on Carl Stehlow who was a Lutheran missionary regarding his interpretation of cross gendered and sexual activity of two women of Aranda origin as being unnatural. This critic is based on two findings. First, writings by observers who were white male are mainly overlaid by perceptions that indicate that same-sex activity are a vice and unnatural. Also, the white men that were writing about Aboriginal women had limited opportunities to fully understand what took place in private women spaces (O’Brien, 2009). What truly comes at fore is that despite the manner in the recordings of the accounts, there is the likelihood that the gender and sexual practices of the Aboriginal people does not fit a system of gender that is binary or heterosexual. This ascertain has various proves that includes an observation by Roheim in 1920’s in central Australia where while performing a “love magic song” women show each other their labia. Since a song that is not published can be considered as an artefact, this brings to question if it is actually in order in considering pre-colonial Australia as actually being heterosexual. It can be considered as a homosexual custom the act of women showing each other the labia. Additionally, this act of women showing labia to one another may also be considered as a practice that is homo-social. Some individuals even though argue that the act of Aboriginal women showing their labia to one another might have been an intentional act to provide information that is misleading  in order to conceal knowledge and shock the Europeans (Hodge, 2015).

Also, the custom of the aboriginal created spaces that were gendered. For example, sacred places and women camps existed where women elders lived together and engaged in activities that were women-centered away from the rest of the society. This spaces and camps might have resulted to relationships of intimacy being built by the women and the likelihood of the relationships affording potential erotic moments.

According to Hodge (2015), there are also links of Pitjantjatjara tribesmen with same-sex attraction. According to John Willis research, even though erotic expression might have been felt by men for each other, the kinship and gender system of the community conspired to ensure of this sexual expression and physical attraction is completely limited. There exists literature regarding Aborigical men about same-sex attraction.

This published interviews and findings offer proof that among the Aboriginals, they have hetero-sexual ways that were practiced before European settlement in Australia. Useful knowledge is provided by stories that have been recorded of meeting any Malagas. They are key in dispelling myths about the non-existence of queer Aboriginal people. They enforce the notion that Aboriginal people sexualities are complex and diverse and might have even before colonization they might have been in existence. In a book “Writing Queer Cultural histories”, there are some issues raised after interviews with Asian and aboriginal gays. Things become clearer when of close contacts of two white men with Aboriginal communities are also interviewed. It emerges that there was existence of relational and contextual nature of homosexuality in the Aboriginal people even before colonization. From the interviews with gays of the aboriginal origin, it indicates that it is not possible to reduce understanding of sexuality to sexual identity as proposed by the western model (Hodge, 2015).

There have been suggestions that during the tribe’s men rituals, young men used to masturbate openly in front of each other. Even though this acts cannot be fully understood to refer to homosexuality before ascertaining the fantasies sexual of the involved men. It is not easy to make assertions that are clear regarding attractions of the same sex during these ceremonies. There have also been links to erotic potentials among Aboriginal male adolescents that could go out for days out of the country during the periods that actions and conversations were not limited to analyzing land hunting.

Hodge (2015) argues that queer persons that are indigenous provide information that is vital in opposing representation that is colonial. Additionally, diversity that exists among queer intellectuals that are Aboriginal has the capacity to examine productions of their own within relations of power that colonization created. By Aboriginality being queered, it is not only about challenging the Aboriginal representation brought about by colonization, but an ideal way to question all Aboriginal representations that rare fixed and single and taken as being heterosexually constructed.  Hence, it is important to ensure that the institutions colonization practices are disrupted and bring Queer Aboriginality into focus from its own position of knowledge, and its experiences particularly those shaped by colonization.


From the above analysis, it is evident that decolonization and sovereignty are queer issues. There is the need to ensure that colonization effects are circumvented in drawing upon history imaginings. Which needs to include history of colonization, creating new artifice, new methodologies that transform the present, past and the future. What is evident is that a queer society and practice existed among the Aboriginals in Australia before the European settlement and colonization and it is not a “disease of the white man”. This is evidenced by practices such as “love magic song” where women show each other their labia. The analysis also argues that among the tribes men of the aboriginal people there also existed homosexuality before colonization. This is proven through interviews with Asian and Aboriginal individuals and close contacts of two white men. Hence it is evident that it is sexuality among the aboriginal people is more complex than the general western view of it.


Hodge,D., 2015. Colouring the rainbow

O’Brien, J. ed., 2009. Encyclopedia of gender and society (Vol. 1). Sage.

Annamarie, J., 1996. Queer theory; an introduction, (New ED.)


Essay Questions/Topics:

1. The legacy of Women’s Liberation in Australia was positive. Discuss in relation to sex, gender and/or sexuality and feminist activism in Australia from the 1970s onwards.
2. Through a discussion of some examples from popular culture in the 1970s and today (e.g. film, advertising, music, social media) discuss how gender can be understood as a social construction, and how ideas about being a man or a woman have (or haven’t) changed.
3. Australian feminism has historically neglected Indigenous women’s lived experiences. How has work by Indigenous women, activists and scholars reshaped Australian feminism and how might the idea of intersectionality help or hinder efforts to counter racism within feminism?
4. Contemporary Australian masculinity has been shaped by feminism. Do you agree or disagree and why? Discuss in relation to specific examples of masculinity and feminism.
5. What was Gay Liberation seeking liberation from and what strategies of liberation did they use? Discuss 1970s Australian activism in your answer.
6. Media and political controversies surrounding the expression of sex, gender and/or sexuality often demonstrate conflicting ideas around these concepts. Discuss through a critical analysis of a particular controversy.
7. The struggle for gender and sexual rights for people with disabilities has a long history. Through reference to examples of Australian and/or international activism, writing, research and/or films/art etc. discuss some of the key concerns or critiques expressed by disability rights activists in relation to sex, gender and/or sexuality.
8. What was the impact of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s on people during that time? Discuss Holding The Man in your answer.
9. Queer theory emerged in the 1990s as, among other things, a critique of the idea of sexual identity.  What is problematic about sexual identities like ‘gay’ or ‘straight’?  
10. Historically, trans people have often been marginalised within both feminist and gay and lesbian politics.  How have trans people fought for the new level of acceptance evident in many ways today? 

  1. Sovereignty and decolonisation are queer issues. Discuss.


Harvard document format. 1400 words. 10% repetition rate.