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5 From ‘Madwoman in the Attic’ to ‘Queer Stranger in the Closet’: Sexuality and Migration at the Crossroads

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Chapter Summary

This paper aims at discussing the complex processes of identity (re)construction and trans-acculturation experienced by a young homosexual Bangladeshi who migrated to Italy to provide economic relief to his impoverished family and to create a ‘new life’ (notun jibon) for himself. Whilst Bangladesh accepted and left unquestioned the Section 377 of the Penal Code firstly introduced by the British in 1860 that criminalises homosexuality under the category of ‘Unnatural Offences’, the Italian legal system is yet to implement legal provisions to tackle the issue of homophobia. Faced with harassment by his own countrymen, fear of assault by other migrants, racism by some narrow-minded Italians, contemptuous attitude by the local police, ostracism inside the local mosque’s, Zakir has now to choose if he wants to stay in Italy, despite all the odds, and live an oxymoronic ‘free life’ as an asylum seeker, or go back to Bangladesh, where he faces the threat of life in prison. Following Zakir’s narratives of migration, this article tries to highlight the difficulties of coming to terms with multiple identities in transnational settings, where cultural positionalities impede real social mobility and push the ‘absurd heroes’ of our times to find a new space where to inhabit their resignified homo/migrant identity.



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