Guyana and the United States Pre and Post Marriage Equality: The Kitty-Kattah Gaits Towards and Against the Anti-Man Aesthetic

It is often said that ‘when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.’ However, despite the Supreme Court’s ratification of same-sex marriage in the United States, some societies outside the United States still consider themselves impervious to the demands for equal human rights by their LGBTQ community. More specifically, Guyana with its anti-LGBTQ cataloguing of transgender, gay, and non-gender conforming bodies as anti-man. The anti-man aesthetic is substantiated through the rhetoric of colonial era laws that criminalize cross-dressing; men in women’s clothing and women in men’s clothing if considered for an “improper purpose.” Though vague about the constitution of “improper purpose,” the anti-cross-dressing laws of Guyana are the doppelganger of the 19th century statewide laws that prohibited wearing ‘the dress of the opposite sex’ in the United States. However, 21st century America’s shift in focus from the body as a narrative to marriage equality resulted in a neglect of the human rights issues attached to the bodies of members of the LGBTQ diaspora. For the LGBTQ diaspora, the body is synonymous with basic human rights since the prevalence of heteronormative stereotypes such as the anti-man aesthetic become pavements for vigilantism, and the subjugation of queer people by law enforcement. Therefore, the focus has to be on more than just marriage equality since the world often takes its cue from America. This paper will address the anti-man aesthetic, its contributions to the violation of the basic human rights of members of the LGBTQ diaspora, and the United States’ role in the global discourse on equality for the LGBTQ community.


Part of panel Queer Bodies in Inter/Transnational Contexts
October 2, 2016, 14:15–16:00