LGBTIQ in Kyrgyzstan: Terminology and the Expansion of Queer Potentials

August 28, 2017
Friday, September 29, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Page Hall, room 20
Image of Speaker in Kyrgyzstan

Samuel Buelow is a recent PhD of Anthropology from the Indiana University Bloomington. The topic of conversation will cover sexuality, race and trans issues in Central Asia, with particular focus on Kyrgyzstan. The event will begin with a reception and snacks at 4:30pm, with the actual discussion beginning at 5pm.  

Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic located in Central Asia and home to a little under 6 million people. Kyrgyzstan's LGBTIQ population has been organized around NGOs since shortly after male homosexuality was decriminalized in 1998. While NGO culture began to thrive in the capital city of Bishkek, the LGBTIQ community went largely unnoticed until 2014, when the parliament made a move to criminalize “gay propaganda” with a bill harsher and broader in scope than similar legislation that had passed in Russia the year before.

In Kyrgyzstan, a variety of terminology in English, Russian, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek is being utilized within LGBTIQ activist spheres and LGBTIQ communities to describe themselves and their experiences and to communicate those experiences as part of a global dialogue surrounding gender and sexuality. While English language terms come to Kyrgyzstan through participation in global conferences, engagement with Western NGOs, and through English language media, these terms take on new meanings in Kyrgyzstan that expand the potential of the way that gender and sexuality are understood through these terms. Terms such as gay, MSM, queer, transgender, cisgender, and crossdresser are adapted in ways that expand and subvert US-centric understandings of queer subjectivities. Terms, however, often lack absolute consensus, undermining the idea that they are “localized” to Kyrgyzstan. This multiplicity of meanings further contributes to the expansion of queer potentials.

Co-sponsors: The Department of Comparative Studies; The Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality StudiesDepartment of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures; Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures; the Center for Slavic and East European Studies; the Middle East Studies Center.

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