712.2 Sexuality as a citizenship right: Social participation in young homossexuals' mentality change

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 12:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Jamile GUIMARAES , Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil
This study comprises a broader research that deliberates about some of the ways sexuality is constructed by young Brazilians who are part of student organizations, political parties and social movements. Through participatory observation and in-depth interviews with young gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, their discourse, which, by relating sexuality and citizenship, is given a political sense, is examined. The narratives evince the understanding of equal rights as a guiding principle to the building of a socially democratic country. They are opposed to normative heterosexuality, subverting this standard through the proposition of sexuality's free expression as a social contract's legitimate condition. This discourse introduces sexuality as a personal attribute claimed for in society under the sign of individuality and power of choice. Thus, individuals socially invisible and stigmatized by their sexual orientation are redefined as citizens. It sets out from the emphasis on a general attribute that abrades differences and simultaneously allows for difference. To import the notion of citizenship from other spheres and appropriate it on behalf of sexuality, requires that sexuality break free from nuclear meanings like intimacy, gender, identity, and be linked to policy instead (laws, rights, respect, coexistence). This vocabulary focuses on the debate for ways to improve homosexual quality of life, pulling away from issues concerning male and female genders' narratives of the self. Relinquishment from the pursuit of the self in sexuality, in this sense, shows that the gender issue, although considered important, is sidelined by the young participants. The specifics of gender, sexual practices and behavior are diluted on the behalf of what would be common to all: citizenship. This refusal to consider the shaping of sexual identities shows an appreciation for the public sphere at the expense of the private one, and unveils the prevalence of political over personal issues.