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Is This What Equality Looks Like?

How Assimilation Marginalizes the Dutch LGBT Community

Abstract

Using the Netherlands as a case study, this article explores how increased social acceptance of and legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people impact their lives. The author draws on in-depth interviews with nine LGBT people to argue that the danger of acceptance is invisibility for those who assimilate and marginalization for those who do not conform to assimilationist discourses, such as transgender individuals and other gender nonconformers. Utilizing Butler’s theories of normalization and Goffman’s theories of stigmatization, the findings also show that assimilating into homonormativity can generate feelings of shame and fear. The author concludes that new approaches in dismantling heteronormativity and seeking equality are needed in order to achieve genuine acceptance for LGBT people.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For a general overview of social scientific methods and in-depth interviewing, see Chambliss and Shut (2006); for a more detailed look at the method of in-depth interviewing, see Taylor and Bogdan (1998)

  2. 2.

    This research project was conducted through the School for International Training (SIT). SIT did not require the project to go through Institutional Review Board. Each informant had to read and sign a consent form. The consent form was in both Dutch and English—all informants spoke both of these languages fluently.

  3. 3.

    The Homomonument is a memorial in Amsterdam that honors gays and lesbians who were persecuted during World War II, and the memorial acknowledges the continuing fight against oppression that the LGBT community still faces today (Goldman 2009).

  4. 4.

    This question was only asked if the interviewee answered “Yes” to question number 7.

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Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I greatly appreciate the anonymous reviewers at Sexuality Research & Social Policy for their encouraging and constructive feedback on this manuscript. I would also like to thank Christine Williams, Kristine Kilanski, Pamela Neumann, Lady Adjepong, and Kate Henley Averett for their support and comments throughout this entire process.

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Correspondence to Brandon Andrew Robinson.

Appendix

Appendix

Interview guide

  1. 1.

    Describe for me your sexual and gender identity.

  2. 2.

    Which term (Holebi or LGBT), if either, do you use to describe the sexual minority community in the Netherlands, and why do you prefer to use this acronym?

  3. 3.

    Can you tell me about your relation to the Dutch sexual minority community?

  4. 4.

    How would you describe the Dutch sexual minority community?

  5. 5.

    What are your opinions on the Dutch idiom: “Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg” (“Act normal, as that is crazy enough”) in relation to the Dutch sexual minority community?

  6. 6.

    Do you view yourself being outside of this “act normal” notion that the Dutch sexual minority community may at times emulate? If so, why or how?

  7. 7.

    Have you ever felt marginalized by the Dutch sexual minority community? If so, how? And can you describe specific instances?

  8. 8.

    Why do you think you were marginalized by the Dutch sexual minority community and where do you think this marginalization comes from?Footnote 4

  9. 9.

    Do you think the Dutch sexual minority community is fully liberated and the movement has achieved all of its goals? If not, what goals or ends does the movement still need to fight for?

  10. 10.

    What personal solutions do you have in solving the problems within the Dutch sexual minority community?

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Robinson, B.A. Is This What Equality Looks Like? . Sex Res Soc Policy 9, 327–336 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-012-0084-3

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Keywords

  • LGBT
  • Homonormativity
  • Heteronormativity
  • Gender nonconformity
  • Normalization
  • Stigmatization