"Social Justice Blogging ." Know Your Meme. Accessed February 27, 2017. http://knowyourmeme.com/ photos/940278-social-justice-blogging.
Identity is intrinsically based in an "us-versus-them" framework. In Chapter 4 ("Male homosexual identity in Hong Kong: A social construction") of Sex and Desire in Hong Kong, Petula Sik Ying Ho and Ka Tat Tsang describe the gradual process in which gay male Hong Kongers assume their "homosexual" identities. Through the assignation of labels, these men engage in informal and subconscious acts of meaning-making or, rather, (more passively) meaning-adoption. While these men grow to experience and recognize their own homoerotic desires, the language used to describe these feelings/fantasies/acts comes later (100-1) – an example of linguistic relativity, again.
Thus, the politics of labeling are grounded in an individual's ability to imagine themselves as part of a distinct group of people – definable by shared attributes; "Identity, in this sense, is grounded primarily on the similarity that an individual believes he/she shares with other people as it is expressed in the discursive domain through particular signifiers" (103). These politics are also dependent upon an individual's ability to perform the script of that identity – adopting the culture attached to it, the social mannerisms – overall endeavoring to be more like those with whom one shares this identity. This conformity/mimicry evokes a sense of belonging.
Within this globalized movement for sexual freedom/"homosexual liberation," not only do the political narratives of Westerners drown out/commandeer those of East Asians, but shape the frameworks within which they are able to operate. By producing homonormative media that is consumed by cishets worldwide, Westerners restrict and (re)structure the ways in which East Asians are able to approach their "audience(s)."
"HSBC Hong Kong unveils rainbow lions for LGBT solidarity." China Daily. Accessed February 24, 2017. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2016-12/08/content_27613558.htm.
"Happy Together (春光乍洩) ." Crazy Girl at Cinema. Accessed February 13, 2017. http://crazygirlatcinema.blogspot.com/ 2015/04/happy-together.html.
In her work, Undercurrents: Queer Culture and Postcolonial Hong Kong, Helen Hok-Sze Leung opens with an exploration of the various uses of "queer" relative to her project of film analysis. First, she contends that gender and sexual expression are perpetually in flux ("non-fixity") and, as such, "queer" signifies resistance to dominant cultural scripts that claim a false normativity. Second, she establishes the conditions under which a work may be read as queer: (1) it engages queer characters or issues, (2) it was made by queers or those with a queer sensibility (i.e., queer-adjacent), (3) it encourages queer spectatorship (i.e., a queer audience), (4) it may be read as queer. In other words, the films treated in her work enable and/or explicitly represent diverse narratives of gender and sexuality.
I was struck most by Chapter 4 of Leung's work, "In Queer Memory," wherein the suicide and legacy of Leslie Cheung are read as examples of the commemoration, politicization, and oversimplification of queerness in public discourse (both past and present). Cheung's film career straddled two periods of Hong Kong's history – colonial rule and retrocession. His death was widely mourned as the ominous end of an era, while his life was celebrated (rather, idolized); "It was certainly unprecedented in Hong Kong for a public figure's death to prompt such an outpouring of affection while at the same time eliciting so much positive commentary on his sexuality" (86). The tongzhi community took advantage of this seemingly