Imagining Queer Futures: Postcolonial Utopias of Desires in Trinidadian Writing

Bastien Bomans[1]

 

In Cruising Utopia, José Esteban Muñoz writes that “[q]ueerness is not yet here” but that we can nevertheless “feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality” (Muñoz 2019, 1). Opposed to the naïve representation that is commonly associated with utopia, Muñoz sheds light on the critical and political potential of the concept of queerness. In the field of queer of colour critique, other theorists, like Roderick A. Ferguson, have highlighted the ways in which the understanding of LGBTQI+ identities that obfuscates their combination with other identity categories, such as gender, race or nationality, departs from the multidimensionality of queerness that initially promised liberation for all (Ferguson 2019). While oppression against LGBTQI+ subjectivities keeps occurring on a global scale, the resurgence of racist and colonial dynamics is also sustained by assimilationist and homonationalist discourses from the ‘western’ world.

With a past marked by colonialism, slavery, indentureship and subsequent diasporas, queer Trinidadian literature more often than not presents characters that face oppression in an intersectional, multidimensional way because of their non-hegemonic gender, sexuality and race/nationality. Being part of “a decolonized Caribbean discourse” (Cummings 2011, 323), queer Trinidadian writings offer fictive visions of silenced pasts and presents in order to imagine the potentialities of queer futures. As Rosamond S. King states, literature can “[help] us to see some of the ways sexuality is imagined in the [Caribbean] region and the diaspora, both as it is and was, and how it could be” (King 2014, 13). Focusing on three Trinidadian novels[2], this paper explores the imaginings of queer utopian worlds that draw attention to the imbrications of systems of oppression, suggest the possibilities of creating solidarities across difference, and allow us to have hope for a ‘not-yet-here’ queerness.

References (alphabetical order):

Cummings, Ronald. 2010. “Queer Theory and Caribbean Writing.” In: The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature. Ed. by Michael Andrew Bucknor, and Alison Donnell. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 323-331.

Ferguson, Roderick A. 2019. One-Dimensional Queer. Medford: Polity.

King, Rosamond S. 2014. Island Bodies: Transgressive Sexualities in the Caribbean Imagination. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Muñoz, José Esteban. 2019. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. 10th Anniversary Edition. Foreword by Joshua Chambers-Letson, Tavia Nyong’o, and Ann Pellegrini. New York University Press.

 

[1] Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Études Postcoloniales (University of Liège), Department of Modern Languages, Place Cockerill, 3-5 (A2), 4000, Liège, Belgium.

Email address : bbomans@uliege.be

[2] Although Lawrence Scott’s Witchbroom (1992), Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night (1996) and David Chariandy’s Brother (2017) are likely to be selected, the definitive corpus might be adapted later on.