Queer Home-Making and Black Britain: Claiming, Ageing, Living

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Abstract

This essay enriches current black queer British and black queer diasporic scholarship by foregrounding the relevance of home-making, affect, and queer ageing for these contexts. I begin by situating relevant diasporic and performative aspects of queer home-making, discussing contributions by both scholars and writers. As a result, “home-making” arises in tension between variable meanings, including home-making as bound up with heteronormative privilege, as facilitating queer heterotopias of security and happiness, queer home-making as unsafe and/or jeopardized by (internalized) homophobia. I complement my conceptualizations with an intersectional discussion of two novels: Jackie Kay’s Trumpet (1998) intervenes in a transphobic 1990s Anglo-American context, queering and post-colonializing the biography of Jazz musician Billy Tipton by transferring his life story to the UK and giving him an African father. Bernardine Evaristo's Mr Loverman (2013) queers the home-making project of the Windrush generation, depicting its elderly characters’ struggles to reconcile their secret long-term queer love relationship with the expectations of their Caribbean community, and with their own increasing desire to make a queer home together. The novels offer a combined writing back to heteronormative ideologies of home-making in a transatlantic, black British context and to disempowering narratives of queer diaspora. They position queer ageing, frequently couched in silences and/or heterosexist othering, as central for demands and representations of queer viability, and thus for legitimizing queer claims to citizenship. The novels thus offer diverse contributions to an ongoing process of making a home for queerness in imaginations of black Britain. Read in the current context of surging racism, populism, and homophobia, they also stand as stark reminders of the diversity and validity of non-normative life paths as well as of the legitimacy and humanity of those seeking “liveable lives” in Britain and elsewhere.

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APA

Koegler, C. (2020). Queer Home-Making and Black Britain: Claiming, Ageing, Living. Interventions, 22(7), 879–896. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369801X.2020.1718536

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