History Workshop Journal Presents the Work of Andrew DJ Shield, Member of the GC’s PhD Program in History
‘Suriname – Seeking a Lonely, Lesbian Friend for Correspondence’: Immigration and Homo-emancipation in the Netherlands, 1965–79 by Andrew DJ Shield
Andrew DJ Shield is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He lives in Denmark, where he is a visiting scholar at Roskilde University. He has presented research on European immigration at the Sexual Nationalisms conference (Amsterdam, 2011), the Homonationalism and Pinkwashing conference (New York, 2013), and the Nordic Migration Research conference (Copenhagen, 2014).
The Netherlands has exemplified the politics of ‘homonationalism’ since the late 1990s, particularly with regard to political rhetoric that ties gay and lesbian rights to policies against immigration. Drawing from queer-of-colour and queer-migrant critiques, this essay challenges the construction of the categories ‘homosexual’ and ‘immigrant’ as mutually exclusive by reconsidering the histories of homo-emancipation and immigration in the Netherlands in the late 1960s and 1970s. Linking these two ostensibly distinct histories complicates current political discussions about a supposed clash between immigrant and ‘native’ European cultures with regard to sexual tolerance. As the Dutch homo-emancipation movement radicalized in the 1960s, many men and some women placed contact advertisements (seeking romance, correspondence, housing, employment) in popular Dutch activist periodicals. An analysis of 500 advertisements from one gay and lesbian periodical shows that about ten percent of these ads were posted internationally, and about three percent of local romance ads were placed by those who self-identified as immigrants or people of colour (e.g. post-colonial migrants, those recruited through so-called ‘guest-worker’ programmes). Dutch homo-emancipation movements both included and demonstrated solidarity with immigrants and people of colour. Scholarship on homonationalism and current political discussions of immigration could benefit from understanding the practical ways that immigration has overlapped with romance, desire, and sexuality since the 1960s.
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