"Social Justice Blogging ." Know Your Meme. Accessed
February 27, 2017. http://knowyourmeme.com/
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.
This semi-microsociological process of individuated/communal identity mirrors Benedict Anderson's theory of the imagined community (used to describe the construction of a nationalist consciousness). Does "human nature" tend towards same seeking same, like attracting like? This supposed "natural tendency" towards homogeneity (pun intended) conflicts with contemporary promotions of multiculturalism – of prioritizing "salad bowl" rhetoric over that of the "melting pot." Is this disconnect the reason why respectability politics discursively engage similarity as a means of gaining sympathy (e.g., "love is love," "we're all humans," "I don't see color," etc.) – no matter how false, absurd or counterproductive (in the long-term) it is?
Chapter 8 ("Identity Politics and Hong Kong's Return to Chinese Sovereignty") of John Flowerdew's Critical Discourse Analysis in Historiography : The Case of Hong Kong's Evolving Political Identity specifically touches on the issue of language choice/use. Discussing the bilingualism of Hong Kongese society and the symbolism embedded within it, Flowerdew observes that Cantonese represents "the mother tongue" and "a language of solidarity," while English showcases the city's "developed," "modernized," and "international/cosmopolitan" status (176). However, as China continues to gradually phase out Cantonese and traditional characters, just as localists increasingly cling to the two as unique components of their identity, we are left with an important question. In a post-retrocession age, how will conflicts over rhetoric and dialect continue to materialize in Hong Kongers' everyday lives, as well as specifically influence the politics (and affiliations) of the tongzhi community?