Gay Nationalism

The first notions towards the creation of a Gay identity were made by the German lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs who proposed implementation of Uranian marriage and Uranian's association as soon as 1867.

The conception of being "different" is taken by many Gays and Lesbians for granted, due to their experiences of social segregation and the natural tendency of minorities to seek support and protection among their ilk. After decriminalisation of homosexuality in many countries a vivid LGBT-culture arose, and yet true social and legal equality with heterosexuals could not be accomplished to the same extent. This situation has led to increasing frustration and a wish for separation from the hostile heterosexual majority.[1] These feelings found their expression in 1990 with the establishment of Queer Nation, a radical organization with one of its slogans being "I hate straights", but best known for its slogan "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it."

A nation-state for homosexuals was suggested, among others, by William S. Burroughs, who changed his views later towards an organized structure similar to the Chinese Tong community.[2]

The first attempt to make territorial claims was made in 2004 by a group of Australian Gay activists who declared the tiny islands of Cato to be the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea and Dale Parker Anderson to be the Emperor. Following the 2005 disagreements within the group, the Gay and Lesbian Commonwealth Kingdom and Unified Gay Tribe have cancelled their affiliation to Mr. Anderson. Some other groups with similar causes exist, e.g. the Gay Homeland Foundation and a micronation called Gay Parallel Republic.

The argumentation of the Gay and Lesbian nationalists refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which

in article 15 guarantees
- the right to have a nationality;
- that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality;

in article 16 guarantees
- the right to marry without any limitation due to nationality;
Formal recognition as a people by the United Nations would lead to recognition of same-sex marriages and the elimination of discrimination against homosexuals in the signatory states.

The Gay and Lesbian national movement resembles the Jewish emancipation movement and orients itself with the ideas of Theodor Herzl.

The emancipation through formation of national identity, as suggested by the "separatist" groups, is opposed by the assimilationist establishment.

Research on Nationalism

First to recognize the "Queer Nation" as a new form of nationalism were Bérubé (1991) and Chee (1991). [3], [4]

An advanced analysis was published 1996 by Brian Walker.[5] In his article “Social Movements as Nationalisms, or, On the Very Idea of a Queer Nation” Walker points out that several features of the nationalistic creation of identity apply to the LGBT national movement as well. Walker classifies Queer Nationalism as one of the "new", cultural nationalisms which are distinct from the "old" ethnic and religious nationalisms as they were defined by Kymlicka, Margalit and Raz. Walker concludes that the gay and lesbian community fulfills many criteria to be regarded as a people, because:

- All nationalisms began as social movements, which this is – it’s a people set apart from those around them by “in-group attitudes and discrimination from others”;
- Homosexual community has a culture, with discussion groups, bookstores, magazines, bars, cabarets, etc.,
- has a history,
- has a literature,
- seeks access to “certain key levers of the state” to ensure survival (particularly given how much under attack they are by, e.g., religious groups), is highly organized and able to create national identity.

Walker regards modern communication technologies such as internet as offering a chance for the LGBT community to create a global culture as a (non-territorial) nation.

This thesis is supported by Paul Treanor who considers an alternative (non-nationalist) world order as possible. In this context Treanor mentions the LGBT community as a "non-territorial nationalist movement".[6]

Will Kymlicka acknowledges that Gays have developed a group identity and group culture similar to to those of ethnocultural groups, but argues in favor of integration instead of separatism.[7]


[1] Ranklin, L. P.: 'Sexualities and national identities: Re-imagining queer nationalism' in: Journal of Canadian Studies, Summer 2000.
[2] Burroughs, William S. "Thoughts on Gay State" in Gay Spirit. Ed. Mark Thompson. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987. pp 20-24. ISBN 0-312-00600-4
[3] Berube, A. & Escoffier, J. (1991) 'Queer/Nation', Out/look, Winter, pp. 12 - 14.
[4] Chee, A. (1991) 'Queer Nationalism', Out/look, Winter, pp. 15-19.
[5] Walker, Brian: "Social Movements as Nationalisms" in: "Rethinking Nationalism" [ISBN 0-919491-22-7].
[6] Treanor, Paul: "Structures of Nationalism" in "Sociological Research online".
[7] Will Kymlicka: "Can Multiculturalism Be Extended to Non-Ethnic Groups?" in "Finding our way: rethinking ethnocultural relations in Canada" (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 90-101. [ISBN:0-19-541314-8].
[8] Wikipedia article on Queer Nationalism.


Key Concepts


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