Date of Award
Bernadette M. Calafell, Ph.D.
Family, Intersectionality, Iranian American, Narrative interviewing, Poetic transcription, Queer
Within the social sciences and humanities, failure to adequately account for the intersectional ways people of color navigate their multiple identities within contesting cultural systems, creates an unfinished portrait of queer identity. For queer people of color, negotiating queer identity is always in relation to their nationality, race-ethnicity, class, gender, religion, and family. While many queer of color stories share similar obligatory cultural norms, the legal ramifications that impact the lives of queer Iranians and their families, both within Iran and abroad, challenge many queer of color expectations. Due to stringent cultural and legal influences, Iranian social discourse heavily impacts the family unit and an individual's ability to navigate sexual identity within those structures. Ascribing to a collectivist orientation, Iranians consider family a cohesive, interconnected, and integral system that relies on extended families for financial, emotional, and social support. Correspondingly, when Iranian women deviate from normalized expectations (e.g., heterosexuality, marriageability, maintenance of virginity, traditional gender roles) they are seen as having betrayed their families and their entire ethnic communities. Thus, the pressure to remain committed to traditional social scripts is imperative for the preservation of family, making the risk of deviating from those conventions for queer Iranians and Iranian-American women, even greater. Within the context of the United States, many of the same social and familial obligations remain steadfast. Despite ideological limitations, the rise of acceptability for LGBTQ identity in the U.S. has given leeway for some queer Iranian-Americans to share their sexual identities with their immediate families. However, since similar expectations are placed on queer Iranian-American women, many are still compelled to hide their identities from their families of origin, distance themselves from the Iranian community, and/or enter heterosexual partnerships. Utilizing women of color feminism driven by intersectionality, this project explores how queer identity performances function as tools working to reify and/or resist systems of power and privilege. By utilizing personal narrative interviewing and poetic transcription, I explore the ways in which first-generation, queer Iranian-Americans perform their sexualities through an amalgamation of feelings of shame and guilt, the expectation to remain loyal to both family and community, and the possibilities for agency and resistance.
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Abdi, Shadee, "Navigating the (Im)Perfect Performances of Queer Iranian-American Identity" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1255.
Received from ProQuest