Talking about Sexuality in Order to Deal with Discrimination? Gay Men in Palestine

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 11:10 AM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Gabriele ROSENTHAL , Center of Methods in Social Sciences, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
Hendrik HINRICHSEN , Center of Methods in Social Sciences, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
In the context of a German-Israeli-Palestinian research project, we conducted biographical-narrative interviews with Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem. We asked our interviewees to tell us their family and life histories without suggesting any other topic during the first (and main) part of the interview. In all our research settings we had several interviews with men who define themselves as homosexual or who experienced serious discrimination because of being defined as homosexuals. It became obvious that these men wanted to speak with us because we represent, from their perspective, the so-called Western culture that they associate with more sexual liberty and because they felt a need to speak about their suffering from discrimination. In order to understand and explain the interaction during the interview it is crucial to understand their specific definitions of the concrete relationship to the male interviewers from Germany.

These biographical self-presentations are marked by talking about experiences of discrimination and about struggling with their self-definition (Am I gay, transgender or heterosexual?). Thereby they touch on the issue of homosexuality being a ‘Western’ concept.

In our paper we will present our assumptions, that are based on several case studies, about the interrelation of these self-presentations and self-definitions with the hegemonic discourse about male homosexuality, or non-normative sexualities respectively, in Palestine. Furthermore we will discuss our impression (and assumption) that these interviewees, who are in a position of outsiders (in the sense of Norbert Elias) in Palestinian society, are talking more openly about internal conflicts inside the Palestinian community than other interviewees.