ORIGINAL RESEARCH article
Refugeeness, Sexuality, and Gender: Spatialized Lived Experiences of Intersectionality by Queer Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Paris
- Analyse Comparée des Pouvoirs, Université Gustave Eiffel, Marne-la-Vallée, France
- French Collaborative Institute on Migration fellow, Marne-la-Vallée, France
In the last few years, asylum claims based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI) have received increased attention within migration and queer studies. Mostly focusing on the refugee status determination process, these works have emphasized how the expectations of asylum institutions about “genuine queer refugees” lead to the exclusion of many applicants from SOGI asylum. This paper aims at shifting the analysis perspective from the legal categorization process to the impacts of everyday experienced categories of “asylum seekers” or “refugees” on queer migrants in the Parisian area. Using a three-year long ethnographic fieldwork, completed through interviews with queer asylum seekers and refugees, this paper investigates how refugeeness, understood as the objective and subjective effects of migration and asylum policies on individuals, contributes to shaping lived experiences of sexual and gender minorities in France. By drawing attention to the ways that the multiple power relationships queer asylum seekers and refugees have to face are spatially grounded, this paper discusses how an intersectional understanding of sexuality, gender, and refugeeness allows us to emphasize the role played by migration status in the negotiation of hetero- and cisnormativity. This paper also argues that far from remaining passive toward the categorization process they are subjected to, queer asylum seekers and refugees strategically appropriate the administrative categories with which they are associated. Such an analysis of lived experiences of queer asylum seekers and refugees in the country of arrival thus highlights the complex reshaping of social location caused by migration.
In the late 1990s, sexual and gender minorities became eligible for refugee status in France, as in many other countries. As sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI) asylum claims increased, the receiving States have progressively formalized the assessment process of those specific requests. Yet, in a context of high suspicion toward asylum seekers, this formalization has turned into a restrictive evaluating apparatus of queer applicants’ credibility. Numerous academic works have emphasized how narrow understandings of sexuality and gender1, as well as expectations of performance of victimhood or narratives of migration experienced as liberation, actually lead to excluding queer2 applicants from asylum (Morgan, 2006; Rehaag, 2008; Berg and Millbank, 2009; Kobelinsky, 2012; Lewis, 2014; Murray, 2014, 2015; Ferreira, 2015; Giametta, 2016, 2017; Akin, 2017; Dustin and Held, 2018; Hertoghs and Schinkel, 2018; Hedlund and Wimark, 2019; Rinaldi and Fernando, 2019; Tschalaer 2019; Tschalaer 2020; Sari, 2020). A more recent study has focused attention on the ways support organizations assist queer migrants with their asylum procedure (Cesaro, 2021). This paper aims at extending the analysis of the impacts of asylum and migration policies on queer migrants’ lives beyond the asylum determination process. By “displacing attention from borders to border crossers” (Ehrkamp, 2016, 6) this paper intends to investigate how the administrative categories of “asylum seeker” or “refugee”3 constrain the everyday lives of queer migrants based in the Parisian area. This paper will however also emphasize how these categories are negotiated and sometimes strategically mobilized in various contexts. In other words, this article will discuss the particular ways in which refugeeness shapes the everyday lived experiences of queer migrants in the Parisian area and intersects with their social position of sexual or gender minority.
Over the past few years, many scholars have shown that the definition of “refugee” turns out to be very variable within different historical, spatial, political, and social contexts (Fassin, 2013; Agier and Madeira, 2017; Lendaro, 2019; Akoka, 2020). The quite recent emergence of SOGI asylum cases, as well as the numerous challenges people face during interviews with asylum administrations to be read as “genuine queer refugees,” are one illustration among others of this evolving nature of the category of “refugee.” As Liisa Malkki reminds us by warning about the risks of “posit[ing] a single, essential, transhistorical refugee condition” (1995, 511), it has to be stressed that refugeeness is thus always a highly context-dependent reality. Analyzing refugeeness also requires a broader understanding of the impacts of the processes at stake during an asylum claim by going beyond the legal level. “Refugeeness” is here framed as “a way of understanding the particular subjective experience in relation to existing refugee policies” (Lacroix, 2004, 163). Being involved in an asylum claim has numerous effects on the everyday lived experience of individuals, especially since this procedure lasts several months or even years. As administrative categories regulating the State’s treatment of individuals, being classified as an “asylum seeker” or a “refugee” leads to a vast number of material and political constraints. These categories are also social categories impacting everyday relationships with other individuals. “Asylum seeker” or “refugee” can become a new stigma per se to deal with, or, on the contrary, an identification that can be used strategically. While asylum seekers and refugees are often simply regarded as “victims” in need of rescue and help (Ehrkamp, 2016; Saleh, 2020), attention has to be paid to the ways these imposed categories and identities are appropriated, negotiated, subverted, or mobilized by individuals in various contexts and not only during the asylum interviews. This focus on the capacity of asylum seekers and refugees to keep themselves distant from these categorization processes allows a shift in the approach of refugeeness: “refugeeness as subjectivity is not about technologies of governmentality or internalized identities, but rather it is the condition of possibility for political agency” (Kallio, Hakli, Pascucci, 2019). Taking into consideration all of these elements, this paper will here refer to “refugeeness” as a means of expressing both the objective and subjective effects of migration and asylum policies on individuals applying for SOGI asylum, as well as the various categorization processes they encounter, referencing them as “refugees,” “asylum seekers,” or “migrants,” and how they navigate through it. By doing so, “refugeeness” is reinscribed in the multiple power relationships that shape queer migrants’ social locations in the country of arrival, that is “person’s positions within interconnected power hierarchies, […] multiple dimensions of identity [that] shape, discipline, and position people and the ways they think and act” (Pessar and Mahler, 2003, 816). The analytical focus to approach queer refugees and asylum is here thus shifted from the legal categorization process to the impacts of an everyday spatially grounded experienced category to investigate how refugeeness, sexuality, and gender intersect.
In the past few years, geographers have indeed called for more important attention to be paid to space in migration studies, for spatialization of analysis (Simon, 2006) by emphasizing migrant’s spatial practices and representations on several scales. Critical geographies of migration have more specifically raised the necessity of identifying how the processes marginalizing and oppressing migrants are spatialized (Gilmartin and Kuusisto-Arponen, 2019). Following Gill Valentine reminding us of “the significance of space in processes of subject formation” (2007, 18) and “that in particular spaces there are dominant spatial orderings that produce moments of exclusion for particular social groups” (2007, 19), this paper will investigate how refugeeness is also a spatially constructed subjectivity in the everyday lived experiences of migrants. Yet, individuals also deploy multiple forms of spatial agency to deal with and challenge social hierarchies (Hancock, 2014; Schmoll, 2017). Such attention paid to the ways individuals adjust differently to various spatial contexts is a key element of geographical approaches of intersectionality (Valentine, 2007; Hancock, 2014): “an understanding of how identifications and disidentifications are simultaneously experienced by subjects in specific spatial and temporal moments through the course of everyday lives” (Valentine, 2007, 18) allowing “an appreciation of intersectionality as spatially constituted and experienced” (2007, 19).
In this perspective, geographers of sexuality and gender have deployed intersectional approaches to refine their analyses (Brown, 2011). As an example, they have underlined the importance of intersectional framing to analyze the production of LGBT or queer spaces and the norms which regulate them, by taking into consideration the power relationships of class, gender, race, among others (Oswin, 2008; Prieur, 2015). Following those intersectional works this paper aims to analyze how the intersection of refugeeness, sexuality, and gender is spatially experienced by queer asylum seekers and refugees, underlining the implications of migration status on individuals’ experiences, an aspect that remains rarely addressed in gender and sexuality studies (Arab, Gouyon and Moujoud, 2018). It thus extends previous works which have emphasized the “complex intersectional experiences of exclusion” queer refugees may encounter as they can be both victim of racism in queer communities and homophobia or transphobia in their national communities (Lee and Brotman, 2011, 259). In line with queer migration scholars, this paper then reminds us that migration experience reshapes inequalities, but does not erase them (Manalansan, 2003; Luibhéid, 2008; Cantú, 2009). Simultaneously it aims at extending the emerging literature focusing on queer asylum seekers’ and refugees’ experiences in countries of arrival beyond the refugee status determination process (Andrade, 2018; Lee, 2019; Wimark, 2019).
After reporting details on the ways this study was conducted, this paper highlights in the first section how refugeeness is the result of everyday spatialized experiences of otherness in the country of arrival. This paper then extends this analysis to show how gender, sexuality, and refugeeness intersect in the lived experiences of queer asylum seekers and refugees as these particular social locations turn out to be mutually constituted. In the final section, this paper that far from being passive toward these categorizations and othering processes, queer asylum seekers and refugees manage the administrative categories they are associated with, by distancing themselves from it or mobilizing them strategically.
This research relies on a three-year long ethnographic fieldwork, carried out from February 2017 to January 2020 and based on observing participation4 (Makaremi, 2008) within a Parisian organization supporting queer asylum seekers and refugees. The assistance provided by this organization ranges from assisting with the asylum claim throughout the procedure, organizing convivial activities, to ensuring access to social rights. The author’s involvement as a volunteer took various forms. As a formation is required to assist people with their asylum claim, the author first attended and took part in the organization of convivial activities (tours of Paris, football training, monthly gathering, among others). The author taught French classes once a week for one year and a few months. Once training was complete, the author started individual assistance with the asylum procedure and took part in the organization of meetings held to receive new people looking for assistance of the organization. The author thus met with several asylum seekers or refugees through this involvement. Numerous observations in various contexts (inside or outside the organization) have been reported in detailed field notes. Among all those people met, the author identified 76 people and formed the study group, including people the author had a discussion with on at least three occasions about their life in their home country or in France, their migration journey or the asylum procedure. This group included 66 men, eight women, one trans woman, and one person still questioning their gender identity. Several factors may explain this overrepresentation of men. First of all, it echoes the characteristics of the general population helped by the association, as for example women represented only 20% of it in 2019. The fact that the author is also male may have been an issue sometimes, as a refugee woman expressed her discomfort about doing a research interview with the author because of his gender.
In addition to this ethnographic fieldwork, the author conducted 33 interviews with 31 queer asylum seekers or refugees, currently or formerly involved in a SOGI5 asylum claim at the time of the interviews. Interviews lasted for about 2 h (the shortest interview lasted 1 h and the longest 3 h, four and a half hours if one considers two interviews conducted with the same person as one unit). They were conducted in French or English. Of the participants met for an interview, 27 were men, three were women, and one was a trans woman. They were originally from Algeria (2), Bangladesh (5), Cameroon (2), Côte d’Ivoire (3), India (1), Democratic Republic of Congo (2), Guinea (2), Mali (1), Morocco (1), Nigeria (1), Republic of the Congo (1), Russia (1), Senegal (4), Tunisia (1), Uganda (2), or Ukraine (2). Participants were between 21 and 63 years old.
Doing fieldwork through an observing participation method raises many ethical issues. While all of them cannot be mentioned in the paper, the author will however address some which shaped the information gathered and used here. First, the choice of such an involvement in a supporting association to conduct the research responded to a wish to be able to help people who would contribute to the study in order to try to readjust, to a certain extent, the unbalanced relationship inevitably produced through the fieldwork process (Collignon, 2010). Working with people in sometimes extreme precarious situations requires all involved to remain vigilant about the kind of relationships established during the research as fieldwork may lead to the adoption of a “position of voyeur, a position which instrumentalizes the suffering of another person, by making it and him an object of study” (Rousseau, 1970, 13). On the other hand, however, being a member of a support association contributes to a blurring of the distinction between the status of researcher and volunteer, which requires those involved to clearly distinguish between all the information accessed and the ones used for research. For example, nothing accessed during face-to-face preparation for the asylum procedure meetings was used for research purposes, though it is undeniable that it contributed to shaping the analysis. People recruited for interviews were previously met in the association activities context. Being involved in long-term relationships thus allowed the author to ask for the participation of people who were not too uncomfortable talking about their lives. Simultaneously, this long-term fieldwork sometimes enabled people to decline a request without having to express an explicit refusal, to think about it for a while, or even to change their mind, in contrast with short-term fieldworks which may generate a feeling of emergency for the researcher leading them to rush the participants (Collignon, 2010).
Refugeeness as Spatially Constructed Subjectivity: Everyday Experiences of Otherness
In this first section, this paper draws some outlines of a geography of refugeeness, which is not about locating places of asylum institutions, humanitarian organizations, or apparatus of migration control, but about reporting on various spatial othering experiences asylum seekers or refugees encounter in their everyday lives. This paper thus illustrates how an administrative category becomes a new social position, by focusing on several situations emphasizing the significance of space in the formation of a new subjectivity and othering process.
Throughout their asylum procedure, people visit various places where they meet numerous actors, from State’s services to supporting associations, besides the moment of the refugee hearing. These encounters are crucial moments in the formation of refugeeness as individuals experience the fact of being first of all categorized and perceived as asylum seekers or refugees according to the stage of their procedure. During fieldwork, the author heard multiple stories expressing how appointments at SPADA or prefecture6 were experienced as difficult, dehumanizing moments, where individuals have felt the burden of being asylum seekers. The following testimonies illustrate this reality, as well as the key role of space in the othering process at stake.
Leila: It [appointments at prefecture] was tough. First of all, for us refugees, we were separate.
Florent: What do you mean?
Leila: Asylum seekers, refugees, we were separated, we’re not in the same room with everyone else. That’s the way it was at the prefecture I went to. We’re separate, you see, like, we’re put aside. There are a few discriminations against us, not a few, a lot actually. First, you see, we have to do the line, since the early morning, there are some families, people come very early. After, the policemen, or I don’t know, the people working at prefecture were yelling at us: “Do the line! Blah, blah.” For me it’s mistreatment. And if one paper is missing: “One paper is missing, madam!” For example, there was once a woman, a young woman, she hasn’t made a copy of a paper and she had no money with her. She told that to the lady at the office, but she answered: “We cannot do a copy for you. Don’t you have 20 cents? Go to this place, it’s 20 cents a copy. Ask for money.” That’s the way they are speaking, it’s tough, very tough.
Florent: How was your appointment when you went to SPADA?
Babacar: Oh, there [laugh]. It was such a mess, I had to sleep there.
Florent: You slept there?
Babacar: Yeah, someone told me I had to go there to get an appointment. I went there around 8 pm, it was cold, and I slept outside, in the cold! It was winter, February, no January I think, like that. I was so cold, it was so cold that night, I went there and I slept outside, in front of the building, because I wanted to be the first one to go. Each day they receive only 20 people. And there are always so many people. So I had to sleep there the night before to be in the first ones. I was 7th, when I arrived there were already 6 people doing the line. They had made a list, I put my name on the list. And the next morning they showed the list they have made to the guy filtering the entrance. He called us and we went in.
Interview with Babacar, May 20188.
Karim and Moussa come to visit me today. We haven’t met the three of us for a long time and we discuss several topics to catch up […] Moussa tells us about a bad experience he had in the prefecture. He explains how badly he was received one day. For him, all asylum seekers and refugees are badly received there. “They treat us like sheeps” he says. He explains one woman yelled at him as he came to have some information since he got the refugee status. He imitates her, shouting: “But Sir, you did not understand anything. Why did you come here?” He concludes that since that day he hates going to the prefecture.
Field note, November 2018.
These situations illustrate how encounters with administrative services throughout the asylum procedure are based on and confront individuals with a strict spatial ordering contributing to a social othering process. Having to sleep outside in the street in front of the reception buildings, waiting and joining a line for every appointment or being treated as unwanted unless you have been duly summoned constitute spatially grounded experiences reminding asylum seekers of the liminal situation in which they find themselves. At many steps of the very procedure supposed to receive and protect them, they are marked as out of place and such spatialized repeated interactions lead to the emergence of a feeling of non-belonging.
Spaces of organizations supporting migrants and humanitarian interventions are also sometimes marked by a rigorous spatial organized configuration reflecting multiple social hierarchies (Guénebeaud, 2015). The organization in which the author conducted ethnographic fieldwork holds a monthly meeting to receive new people wishing to be assisted in their SOGI asylum claim. This meeting takes place in the LGBT Center of Paris which is available for temporary use by various associations. After a meeting lasting approximately 2 or 3 h, the association leaves the place and other people occupy the Center. First of all, the general organization of the meeting may be reminiscent of appointments with administration services and State institutions. As the number of people received by the organization has increased, volunteers involved have formalized more and more of its functioning. Besides the multiplication of papers and forms to fill, people coming to the meeting have to once again queue in front of the building before entering. One by one, they come into the Center to have a quick discussion with a volunteer of the organization to identify the stage of their asylum procedure. This situation leads to a significant continuity of experience between State services and support organizations, which can contribute to blurring the distinction between those actors for asylum seekers (Makaremi, 2008). There may indeed sometimes be a discrepancy between “the « face » of humanitarian aid as it is viewed by its donors and the « face » of the same aid as seen by its beneficiaries” (Verdirame and Harrell-Bond, 2005, 17). At the same time, the othering process previously mentioned is reinforced. Yet, some situations occurring in the specific space and time of this meeting also emphasized how refugeeness and race, understood as a social construct, are mutually produced as this example shows:
The meeting is reaching its end, people who will next occupy the place begin to arrive. Claire and Samuel stand behind the bar of the Centre that we use during the meeting as a reception desk. Claire is a white woman volunteering in the association and Samuel a black man. He’s currently in the asylum procedure, assisted by the association and often offers his help for the organization of the association’s activities. One man of the Centre, not from the association, approaches and explain, as he sees Samuel, that we are not supposed to let “migrants” go behind the bar. He explains there would be a risk of theft. Claire explains that Samuel is also a volunteer at the association. The man goes on: “But a permanent volunteer?.” Annoyed, she confirms and the man goes away.
Field note, February 2020.
Standing behind the bar, Samuel is identified as “out of place” (Puwar, 2004): in the interaction, the place he occupies is not only perceived as disrupting the spatial organization but the social order itself. The man’s reaction to the situation discloses dominant representations and social norms according to which blackness is associated with the figure of the “migrant,” whereas whiteness is associated with the humanitarian aid. In such a polarized frame constructing mutually exclusive positions, Samuel’s situation is unreadable. This situation therefore illustrates how refugeeness is also spatially experienced in spaces of supporting association, but emphasizes, most of all, that refugeeness relies on much more than only an administrative category as it is consubstantially produced alongside another othering process, such as the racializing one.
In addition to spaces and contexts specific to the asylum procedure and support spaces, refugeeness is also experienced in everyday public spaces. Refugeeness is here characterized by a feeling of non-belonging. This feeling arises from multiple political practices occurring at several scales, putting asylum seekers in a situation of limbo and to create an unwelcoming atmosphere for foreigners more generally. The precarious administrative situation 9 in which asylum seekers find themselves, the impossibility of work 10, making them “feel unable to plan for a future” (Giametta, 2018, 11) or the multiplication of dissuasive measures, from urban planning practices to police intervention, in order to prevent or remove the presence of “migrants” in Parisian public spaces and targeting in particular informal settlements inhabited by homeless individuals (Gardesse et al., forthcoming), illustrate, among other things, this reality. It leads therefore sometimes to a significant fear of control or any interaction with the police. Louis provides an example of this situation:
Louis: In France, you cannot do anything, you’re not at home […] You have to avoid scams, you have to avoid mafia, there are some areas where you should not hang around because maybe the police will suspect you of something.
Florent: What kind of area? Where for example?
Louis: But, like here, in Marcadet11, I cannot hang out here. Because I see people selling illegal stuff, like cigarettes, cannabis. I cannot stay in such places. I cannot, because, well, I’m an asylum seeker, so if the police catch me, if they think I am also selling cannabis. What proof do I have? I don’t have any proof. I will be part of a story I know nothing about. So I have to avoid it.
Interview with Louis, April 20188.
As this quote illustrates, the feeling of illegitimacy in the country of arrival impacts daily mobility and the way people perceive and navigate public spaces. Even though migrants are in a regular situation during the entire time of the asylum process, the meticulous precautions they take to strategically navigate through urban public spaces turn out to be very similar to the ones developed by undocumented migrants (Le Courant, 2016). Such a similarity highlights the major insecurity felt by asylum seekers which does not only appear in the specific places and times of the asylum procedure but in their everyday lives. This interiorization of refugeeness uncovers how strong the othering process is.
In this first section, this paper has illustrated how refugeeness is spatially grounded and experienced. Multiple spatialized interactions with various actors contribute to marking asylum seekers and refugees as others, leading them, in turn, to adjust their behavior to the feeling of non-belonging thus produced. Making sure they are kept in place through multiple local spatial ordering ensures they are out of place. In the next section, this will investigate how this impacts the ways queer asylum seekers negotiate their sexuality or gender in France. In other words, this paper will develop an intersectional approach of refugeeness, sexuality, and gender as social location, in order to highlight how migration policies shape the everyday lived experiences of sexual and gender minorities.
Refugeeness, Sexuality and Gender: Spatialized Intersections
Queer asylum seekers or refugees have to face at least two types of marginalization in France: because of their migration status on the one hand, because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, on the other hand12. Discriminations based on these two axes of social power can be experienced separately. Yet, an intersectional approach must go beyond a simple additional look as social divisions constructing power relations are not just additive but mutually constituted (Yuval-Davis, 2015). In this section, this paper aims to highlight the fact that refugeeness, in itself or alongside with other power relations, has significant impacts on how queer migrants face hetero- and cisnormativity in their everyday life in France through various spatially and contextually grounded experiences. By doing so, this paper argues that migration and asylum policies directly affect the lived experiences of queer migrants as sexual or gender minorities in the country of arrival.
As mentioned above, refugeeness is characterized, among other things, by a feeling of insecurity and illegitimacy in public spaces produced by many processes. Extending this analysis of representations and practices of public spaces by queer asylum seekers allows us to provide an example of the intersection of refugeeness and sexuality. Many geographers have emphasized that public spaces are the product of a hierarchization of sexualities, showing the major role played by norms regulating them in the affirmation of heteronormativity (Browne, 2007; Blidon, 2008, 2011; Cattan and Leroy, 2010). It appears, though, that individuals experience differently the exposure to this norm according to the specificity of their social location. These two examples illustrate that refugeeness directly impacts how queer migrants face heteronormativity.
When I speak about the police, often, when I was an asylum seeker, once I was assaulted in the metro, someone called me a faggot, insulted me and so on. I took my courage to go to the police, I filed a complaint against this person. But I know that there are a lot of asylum seekers who have not this strength to go [to the police], they are thinking: « No, like I’m a foreigner, I’m an asylum seeker ».
Interview with Jean, January 20198.
[Leila]: Tunisian people know each other in France. Sometimes when I go to Belleville13, because there are a lot of Tunisian people there, well I run into people that I met in [city of Tunisia], at university or high school. But I’m afraid of them, of their look actually […] But now I’m not afraid anymore.
[Florent]: What has changed?
[Leila]: The fact that you see on your paper, international protection, well you’re reassured. It’s just a piece of paper, that’s all, but it’s reassuring. […] It’s like your life changes in a split second. It’s true I’m still quiet, but I feel I’m protected. I’m freer, I feel that. For example, now I can go to the Marais14, I can go to parties, and I’m not afraid to meet someone I know in the streets. Now I don’t have this anymore.
Interview with Leila, April 20188.
Both of these examples emphasize how the feeling of non-belonging in the country of arrival, particularly strong during the asylum procedure, contributes to exposing even more queer people to heteronormativity. The fear of authorities can interfere with access to justice as we see with Jean. Leila’s experience indicates how this feeling impacts her apprehension of and relations with other Tunisians in France. Indeed, queer asylum seekers and refugees have an ambiguous relationship with their compatriots located in the new arrival country (Andrade, 2019; Wimark, 2019). The latter may provide useful resources as asylum seekers and refugees often find themselves in a situation of high precariousness. But the persecutions faced in the past and the hetero- or cisnormative expectations that may exist in such networks lead queer asylum seekers and refugees to be very suspicious of people coming from the same country, as Leila’s case illustrates. She is afraid of being identified as a lesbian by Tunisians she may meet in Paris. Being granted asylum however represented for her a turning point, making her feel more secure than she was during the process of the asylum procedure. This highlights the strong entanglement between citizenship status and the lived experience of sexual minorities, as her fear is based as much on the potential heteronormative behavior of other individuals as it is on her status as an asylum seeker.
Such an entanglement then leads many queer asylum seekers to practices of self-censorship, as the asylum procedure generates anxiety about one’s future and a pervasive fear of having a problem with one’s legal situation. Mariam, a young woman from Guinea, explains for example that she prefers to wait until she has a better administrative situation to go to lesbian bars.
For now, I don’t like to go outside during the night, I’m thinking, I’m not feeling very safe, I’m not, my papers, my legal status is not so good. Actually, I tell myself that I don’t have the papers to live. But I know that the day I get my refugee status I will go very often to lesbian bars, I will go a lot.
Interview with Mariam, September 20188.
John adopts the same attitude toward gay nightclubs, with a more explicit concern, once again, about any potential interaction with police.
[Florent]: And would you be interested in going to such places?
[John]: I’d really want to, yes. If I get somebody who can give me company, you know. Because, the system, in different countries, in most cases if you’re, it’s not good to put your life at risk. Like, a person like me, I sit and think about myself, and I know I'm still in the process of seeking asylum. What if you go to a bar, like in my country Uganda, there are so many thieves in nightclubs, what if somebody steals my phone, you know? What will happen? […] So I really don’t want to be caught in such a situation, that police come, and they arrest you, you know. You're still under this process and you're bringing such problem, and then you start calling [name of the organization supporting him with his asylum procedure] people and you say “You know what, I've been arrested. They are suspecting me for stealing a phone.” Can you imagine?
Interview with John, December 2018.
As we can see here, the expectation of safety and access to new opportunities of queer sociability once in France comes up against the lived experience of the administrative situation in which asylum seekers find themselves. The access to LGBT labeled bars or clubs, for those who are interested in attending such places, is hindered by the fact of being put in limbo during the entire asylum procedure, i.e., a period of high uncertainty marked by the experience of non-belonging and the fear of facing racism by being treated by police as a suspect rather than a victim. The sense of isolation sometimes experienced by sexual and gender minorities is thus increased by the condition of asylum seeker. This is one example among others, of the impact of the lack of private and intimate spaces because of housing problems (Chossière, 2020), highlighting how sexuality, as social location, is intrinsically linked to refugeeness. The challenges and consequences arising from the administrative situation of asylum seekers have thus led several people to feel disillusioned with their life as queer individuals in France.
Furthermore, such an experience of non-belonging arising from refugeeness adds up to the racialized othering process queer asylum seekers and refugees may face in spaces of queer sociability, increasing even more the sense of isolation and their disillusionment. Various works have documented the racializing practices and forms of exclusion of racialized people occurring in LGBT labeled places, such as bars or clubs, or more generally in gay neighborhoods (Kawale, 2003; Held, 2017; Trawalé and Poiret, 2017). Both experiences of rejection or sexual fetishization encountered by some respondents highlight this reality. Steve, a refugee from Cameroon, who has attended gay saunas several times, explains:
[Steve]: But something I hate, it’s when someone approaches me and says: “I love Black people, you know?” I hate this.
[Florent]: Does it happen often?
[Steve]: Yes! “Oh I love Black people”. I say: “Ok, good for you”. Because actually it’s racist and a lot of people, even Black people, do not realize. A lot of people tell me “I like Black people”, then I say to them “Why?,” and often it comes: “Big dick, sluts,” all this kind of stuff. They see Black men as exotic. […] So in this kind of places, if you come to me like this, then I ignore you.
Interview with Steve, July 201814.
Aman, coming from Bangladesh, explained how he faced racism in gay clubs or on gay dating apps:
I don't know why specific white gay community doesn't like the other communities. It should be one. Because we are the minorities. And they try to kick out the minorities from the minority, why? And if anyone, it doesn't matter, White, Black or Brown, if he hates gay, he will hate you, me and a Black guy. All of us. So why we hate each other? And I will show you something, I took two pictures, some guy they live next to us, and they mention if their profile they don't like Asiatics. See? These two guys live next to me. So? And they even. Why? Asian people they don't look good? We are not qualified? Or we are from another planet? Or you people you are from another planet? What makes you superior? We all are gay.
Interview with Aman, October 2018.
If such experiences of racism are not specific to asylum seekers and refugees, it needs to be stressed that refugeeness may be inextricably linked to racialization as it can reinforce this othering and excluding process. During our interview, Aman also illustrated how being identified as an asylum seeker intensified the rejection and denigration he encountered.
But when we are talking about, with [gay] white people, sometimes they react in strange way, sometimes they make fun of us: “Ok, so you are doing asylum here blablabla.” They even make fun! On asylum. […] Like for straight people, even when I was in England15, so I applied for asylum and when I was talking about to straight people they all are welcoming, they say “If you want us we can come to the court”. But if I am talking to a gay man about asylum procedure, most of them they are English or European, so they don't know what does asylum, and when I say this is my situation, they don’t take it in a normal way, they don’t understand being refugee, or, it’s not easy to be a refugee, nobody wants to be a refugee. I was born in a country where I cannot be homosexual. The country law and the Islamic law, everything is against me. And it's not easy to take this decision and left your country, and living in another country. And most of the people they don't want to understand that difference, you know? So they make fun. [… But, why, we people, don’t we accept each other? Like we are the minority and we create discriminations among us. So that's not fair actually for me.
Interview with Aman, October 2018.
Spaces of queer sociability, playing sometimes a major role to face hetero- and cisnormativity, may thus be actually spaces strengthening other norms, such as the one of whiteness. Refugeeness can be experienced alongside the racialization process, marking queer asylum seekers and refugeeness as others in places where they may be looking for inclusivity. For Aman, this new and unexpected rejection significantly reinforced his feeling of isolation and his disillusion about his migration to France, which has not enabled him to fulfill the expectations he had about this journey as a gay man.
Finally, for transgender people seeking asylum, attending spaces of encounters with the State’s services is often a source of anxiety. As spaces where gender assignment is the result of intertwining individuals’ interactions and multiple practices of administrative identification, the chances of being misgendered are high since French administrations may use identity documents of the country of origin of asylum seekers to designate their gender. Emily, a transgender woman, faced such a situation during an appointment at the prefecture.
When I went to register for asylum, there was a long line of people, mostly men, and we all had to wait for hours. And I was, I felt very uncomfortable because I wasn't sure if I pass as a woman. And there was also a problem if I pass as a woman, they announce, they call you, to have an interview, to have your fingerprints taken, they call you and they announce: “Monsieur16X” and stuff. And given people around think you’re a woman, a person comes and announces that you are Monsieur and immediately, like, it's very scary because they can react in certain ways. And one time I was waiting for my first récépissé17 and I was waiting for hours and hours, and the person announced “Monsieur X” and I came and they didn’t believe I’m X, and they asked me for proof like, they looked at my photo, they looked at me, they looked at my photo, they looked at me. And it was very public, and they were almost angry with me, the people who worked there, and everybody paid attention and they basically outed me to the all room, because they were like: “Are you Monsieur or not?” And I was: “I have my documents but I’m transitioning and stuff”. And I came back to my place to wait for another document, and immediately there were two guys who looked at me very, in a hostile manner, […] So, the all thing, like announcing Monsieur and Madame is a bit dangerous for trans people. And also being like in a long line with hundred people who might be transphobic or not is also a bit intimidating, especially if you don’t pass.
Interview with Emily, August 2018.
In this situation, refugeeness is characterized by a proliferation of documents, papers, forms produced, and interactions taking place to identify and control asylum seekers. For transgender migrants, such a process increases considerably the possibility of inadequacy between their gender identity and the ways they are gendered by people. This is all the more true given that there is sometimes a real lack of awareness regarding trans identity issues within administrative services dealing with asylum seekers leading to everyday exposure to transphobia (Lee and Brotman, 2011). After this misgendering experience in the prefecture, Emily also had to face a similar problem for her housing accommodation. Indeed, it is not uncommon that people handling the placement of asylum seekers in gendered housing facilities do not know where to place transgender people (Wimark, 2020).
And after that OFII18has found me an apartment, but they made a mistake, because they marked me not as male to female trans person, but female to male. So they sent my CADA19direction a document that I should be living with a man, because I’m a trans person who identified as a man. So they made a mistake, so that's why I had to live for a month and a half with a man from Pakistan. […] And it was super uncomfortable at first, because first, it's humiliating, because the apartment in CADA is strictly gendered and there is male apartment and female apartment. And if you are sent to a male apartment and you are a trans person, obviously that's insulting. And also it was uncomfortable because he didn't know I'm trans, I was not sure if I should tell him I’m trans. And then it was uncomfortable for me as a woman because the guy was flirting with me, and was asking me out on a date later, and it’s not, I think, acceptable.
Interview with Emily, August 2018.
Practices of migration control, therefore, turn out to reaffirm cisnormativity because of the numerous identifying operations on which it relies in addition to the assessment of the asylum application itself.
In this section the author emphasized how refugeeness intersects with gender and sexuality, but also race, drawing on the approach of “situated intersectionality,” that is an intersectional analysis “highly sensitive to the geographical, social, and temporal locations” (Yuval-Davis, 2015, 95) of individuals. The author analyzed how refugeeness contributes to reshaping sexuality and gender as social locations. By doing so, this paper argues that migration and asylum policies play a major role in the ways hetero- and cisnormativities are experienced by queer migrants in their everyday lives. This closer look given to the impacts of administrative and legal status on queer asylum seekers’ lived experiences reminds us that the liminal and precarious state asylum seekers are put in lead to their exposure as sexual or gender minorities in countries of arrival. While the asylum system relies on a “metanarrative of progress” based on “an imagined neat trajectory that goes from claimants’ past oppressions to their present liberation” (Giametta, 2016, 62), it appears that policies governing the lives of asylum seekers in the country of arrival have themselves consequences leading individuals to reshape the meaning given to their migration as a result of several disillusions they come to experience.
Negotiating Queerness and Refugeeness Across Various Contexts
It should, however, be remembered that asylum seekers and refugees do not remain passive in the face of the categorization processes defining them and their consequences. As the refugee label20 can be as much a new stigma to handle as a resource to be mobilized (Ludwig, 2016), individuals carefully adjust their self-presentation to the different contexts in which they find themselves. This adaptation practice is all the more meticulous for queer asylum seekers and refugees, as it becomes, with a SOGI asylum request, a matter of negotiating jointly refugeeness and queerness. Insofar as according to specific times and spatial contexts, particular identity positions may be obscured or made more salient by individuals (Valentine, 2007), this final section aims at analyzing how queer asylum seekers or refugees negotiate refugeeness in various contexts, thus highlighting their agency against the categorization processes they face.
First of all, being an asylum seeker or a refugee can be experienced as a double stigma, both among the people of the new country and among people from the country of origin. For the latter group, applying for asylum can be seen as a betrayal to one’s country.
[Leila]: There are people, I told them I’m a refugee, there are people, I don’t. There are two categories as I told you, there are people I can tell them I’m a refugee, they are students like me, people who understand, who don’t judge. But on the other hand, I know some people, well, I don’t tell them. For them, a refugee is someone who has abandoned his [or her] country, someone who has denied one’s origin.
[Florent]: A refugee is seen as someone who has abandoned his or her country?
[Leila]: For us, in Tunisia, the word “refugee” was an insult. Before, when I was in Tunisia, it was used as an insult. But I don’t have a problem with that.
[Florent]: So what do you say to people? You don’t tell you’re a refugee?
[Leila]: Some people I told them when I was granted asylum, some people I tell them I’m a student, I’m still a student here.
Interview with Leila, April 2018.
On the other hand, individuals may also experience the burden of the status of asylum seeker or refugee as they try to build new relationships in France.
After the meeting with Youcef, [a young gay man from Algeria] we talked while walking. He explains to me that one time he met a guy he liked. As they got closer, Youcef told him he was applying for asylum. Yet, from then on, this guy started being more distant, then stopped seeing Youcef, telling him that he couldn’t help him, especially materially. Since then, Youcef no longer tells the new boys he meets that he is in the process of an asylum claim. He adds that he also hates feeling that people pity him. Because of these two reasons, he now avoids as much as possible saying that he is an asylum seeker.
Field note, December 2019.
The stigma of refugeeness is here associated with the idea of people viewed as depending on material help from others (Ludwig, 2016). At the same time, asylum seekers and refugees have to deal with the fact of being seen through the particular lens of pity, an equally dehumanizing experience. For many of the people met in this study, this impossibility of being perceived as an equal was a major obstacle in the search for a relationship in France, reminding us, once again, of the liminal situation in which queer asylum seekers find themselves in the country of arrival, far from the expectation of a fulfilled life as sexual or gender minorities. As a result of these different forms of stigmatization and of the fact that the refugee label often overshadows other identities of individuals (Ludwig, 2016), asylum seekers or refugees may choose not to disclose their migratory status, or to pretend to be in another situation, as Leila does by saying that she has a student visa for example.
For queer asylum seekers and refugees, this meticulous negotiation of refugeeness in self-presentation is closely linked with the way they negotiate the potential stigma associated with their sexuality or gender. In some contexts, revealing that one is or was in an asylum procedure may lead to revealing one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, as it is at the basis of the asylum claim. Housing is frequently a place where such a negotiated presentation of oneself is needed. Indeed, asylum seekers often share housing accommodation with other people, whether in official accommodation centers for asylum seekers in which it is common to have to share a room with other people or in informal housing solutions they can find, renting a room or a bed in a place inhabited by many other migrants, in exchange for a modest amount of money. In this case, the roommates are not necessarily asylum seekers as well. In this configuration, queer asylum seekers sometimes carefully prevent others from being aware of their involvement in an asylum claim.
After the meeting of the association, I talk with Adama. He explains to me a little bit more about his housing situation. He’s renting a place in a room he’s sharing with another man from an African country. He pays 60 euros a week, sometimes 100 euros a month. OFII hasn’t provided him accommodation for now. He tells me that he doesn’t talk much with his roommate. Sometimes the latter asks Adama how he earns money. Adama tells him he’s working, but it’s not true. Adama monthly receives a little financial help provided by OFII as an asylum seeker but he does not share this information as he doesn’t want his roommate to know about his asylum procedure. He fears that this would lead his roommate to ask him too many questions about his life and to find out that he’s gay. “African people talk too much” he adds, and he’s afraid of being ostracized again here in France.
Field note, December 2017.
In this example, as in many other situations, refugeeness and queerness are inextricably linked. Distancing oneself from the administrative categories of asylum seeker or refugee is a means to manage a piece of information that could potentially lead to two different kinds of stigmatization. For queer migrants, refugeeness turns out to be a multilayer identity to handle. Depending on the context in which they find themselves, queer asylum seekers and refugees thus adjust how they present themselves by avoiding disclosing information about their situation that could put them in an uncomfortable position.
In other contexts, however, the refugee label can be strategically mobilized as it becomes an identification providing resources for oneself or others. In this case, refugeeness thus represents a possibility for individual or collective agency (Kallio, Häkli and Pascucci, 2019).
First of all, asylum seekers, especially refugees, may serve as “migration experts” for newcomers (Ludwig, 2016). Refugeeness is here associated with specific knowledge, access to information but also to a privileged relationship with volunteers of a supporting organization. This position is all the more important and useful as many queer migrants do not know they can apply for asylum based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In addition to contributing to the dissemination of information, sometimes even on a transnational scale (Chossière, forthcoming 2022), queer asylum seekers or refugees can sometimes give newcomers the benefit of their already established contact with a support organization, leading to quicker access to assistance. The organization in which this study was conducted works on the principle of individual support provided throughout the entire asylum procedure. The purpose of the earlier mentioned meetings is to assign a volunteer of the organization to a person seeking asylum to ensure long-term individual support. Queer asylum seekers or refugees often help an acquaintance to bypass this procedure by putting him or her in contact with a member of the organization directly. Further, being introduced by a refugee may sometimes even help to gain credibility for the newcomer, as supporting organizations are not exempt from the current inherent suspicion of the asylum system. In the asylum procedure itself, lawyers as members of the supporting organization prioritize the value placed on testimonials provided by the partner of the applicant to prove a relationship: the testimony of a refugee, i.e., someone whose credibility has been established in the eyes of asylum institutions, is regarded as more valuable than the one of another asylum seeker. Refugeeness appears thus as a collectively produced identification and functions as a basis for solidarity practices put into place to navigate borders, migration, and asylum systems. The identification with the administrative status of asylum seeker, but more importantly of refugee, by oneself and by others can strategically be mobilized to help other people.
Queer refugees may also identify and present themselves as refugees in contexts not related to asylum, emphasizing how individuals appropriate themselves to this category.
[During a week-end activity organized by the organization]. Mani is here, I haven’t seen him in a long time. He got his refugee status several months ago but keeps coming to the activities of the organization. About his absence over the past few weeks, he explains to me that he went to spend several days in London. While he was there, he met the members of an LGBT association. He tells me that he introduced himself as a gay refugee from France and even showed them his membership card of the organization, which supported him during his asylum procedure. He concludes by saying he was very well received and had a good time with them.
Field note, March 2018.
This example illustrates how refugeeness can be perceived as an identity linked to a feeling of belonging to what is seen as a transnational queer community. Mani’s use of the organization card in his self-introduction can be interpreted in several ways. It can be seen as a way to foster relationships from one LGBT organization to another, but it can also be perceived as the expression of an internalization of the requirement to prove oneself, inherent in the asylum procedure, but reappropriated outside of this procedure. The use of this specific card is not insignificant insofar as in the asylum procedure showing one’s membership to and participation in an LGBT association may contribute to the credibility of the asylum claimant. In both cases, and regardless of the actual effects of such an initiative, introducing oneself as a queer refugee, and proving it, is here considered as profitable by Mani in this context.
This last section emphasized that refugeeness is negotiated every day by asylum seekers and refugees. By drawing attention to the ways they deal with their administrative status (Akoka, Clochard and Tcholakova, 2017), this work showed how individuals strategically identify or disidentify with this categorization according to various contexts they find themselves in. Refugeeness can become either a stigma or a resource. Moreover, for queer asylum seekers and refugees, refugeeness turns out to be a multilayer new identity to handle as it may be highly linked to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In many situations, refugeeness and queerness have thus to be negotiated conjointly.
When they apply for SOGI asylum in France, queer migrants have to face, as in other countries, a rigid “biographical border” (Giametta, 2016) which may prevent them from accessing the protection they need. Many scholars have investigated the challenges queer asylum seekers encounter to be read as “genuine refugees” in an asylum system marked by a high level of suspicion, highlighting the paradox of countries often presented as a safe haven for sexual and gender minorities, but remaining unreachable for many SOGI asylum applicants. This paper extends the analysis by shifting the attention from the legal categorization process of the “genuine queer refugee” to the everyday experiences of an administrative category queer migrants have to deal with in the country of arrival. By doing so, this paper emphasizes the impacts of migration and asylum policies on the lived experiences of queer asylum seekers and refugees in the Parisian area, showing how their particular migration status in this new country contributes to informing their lives as sexual or gender minorities. With specific attention paid to the way multiple power relationships queer asylum seekers and refugees face are spatially grounded, this paper aims at extending the intersectional approach of geographies of sexuality and gender by taking into consideration refugeeness as one axis of social power among others.
First, this paper has shown that refugeeness is a specific social location produced by multiple spatialized interactions marking asylum seekers and refugees as others. Encounters with State administrations but also supporting organizations are sometimes based on rigorous spatial ordering, contributing to the othering process of asylum seekers and refugees. The feeling of non-belonging thus awakened, paired with the anxiety and precarious administrative situation linked to the asylum procedure, leads asylum seekers to carefully adjust how they navigate urban spaces daily. Yet, such a situation turns out to have numerous consequences for the way queer asylum seekers experience their position as sexual or gender minorities in France. By mobilizing a situated intersectional approach highlighting how refugeeness, sexuality, and gender intertwine, this paper underlines the effects of migration status in the ways queer individuals can face, or not, hetero- and cisnormativity. Far from being synonymous with liberation, the experience of migration reshapes social hierarchies as border crossing confronts individuals with new power relationships impacting all aspects of their lives. However, queer asylum seekers and refugees do not remain passive toward these categorization and othering processes. Refugeeness is also negotiated by individuals as they can strategically identify or disidentify with the status of asylum seeker or refugee depending on the contexts they find themselves in. As this imposed administrative category can become a new stigma to handle or a resource to mobilize, queer asylum seekers and refugees appropriate this new identity to manage it differently in various spaces. For queer migrants, refugeeness can thus become supportive of a new individual or collective agency.
Data Availability Statement
The datasets presented in this article cannot be made available. In order to maintain the anonymity of respondents, interviews transcriptions, and field notes cannot be made available by request.
Ethical review and approval was not required for the study on human participants in accordance with the local legislation and institutional requirements. Written informed consent for participation was not required for this study in accordance with the national legislation and the institutional requirements. Ethics issues were however discussed with PhD supervisors.
The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and has approved it for publication.
This research is the result of a PhD work led at Université Gustave Eiffel and conducted under a three-year doctoral contract issued by the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, funded by the French Ministery of Higher Education and Research.
Conflict of Interest
The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
1Though these particular cases will not be addressed here, it has to be noted that restrictive and normative conceptions of gender are also an issue for asylum claims based on sexual and gender-based violence (Tastsoglou and Nourpanah, 2019).
2The term “queer” is used here to encompass the variety of practices and identities non-conforming to heteronormativity and/or cisnormativity as not everybody may identify as LGBT + categories. The expression “sexual and gender minorities” is mobilized later in the text to emphasize the always relational and contextual process at stake in the making of a minority as a result of multiple power relationships.
3The term “refugee” refers to someone who has been granted asylum, whereas “asylum seeker” is used for someone in the process of an asylum claim waiting for a hearing with asylum institutions or the outcome of one’s claim. Though having been granted the refugee status removes the deep situation of uncertainty in which asylum seekers are placed in, this administrative category of “refugee” still may have important impacts on the everyday life of individuals. Therefore, both categories and situations are considered in this article.
4“Observing participation” is mobilized by Chowra Makaremi to describe ethnographic configurations in which the researcher holds a specific position in the situation or context analyzed, like being involved in an association. Observing participation may be motivated by several reasons, such as the impossibility to get access to specific places or the difficulty to remain a simple observer when the fieldwork leads to situations of violence, precariousness, or inequalities. In such cases, participation of the researcher does not come after first time observation: both activities are simultaneous and inextricably linked.
5It has to be noted that all queer migrants do not necessarily apply for asylum on the grounds of (fears of) persecutions due to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
6The Structure de Premier Accueil des Demandeurs d’Asile (First Reception Center of Asylum Seekers) is the first place people have to go to apply for asylum. The services of SPADA are in charge of obtaining and giving the claimant an appointment with prefecture services to register the asylum application. Since May 2018, a new system has been put in place in the Parisian metropolitan region (Ile-de-France): people have to call a number to get an appointment at SPADA. This new configuration contributed to the disappearance of long waiting lines in front of SPADA, but only shifted the problem insofar as many people encounter difficulties in obtaining an appointment with this telephone platform.
7To maintain the anonymity of respondents, all names have been changed. In some cases, the country of origin is intentionally not mentioned.
8Interview conducted in French. Translation by the author.
9Throughout the asylum procedure, claimants receive a document stating that they are in a regular administrative situation as asylum seekers. However, this situation is only temporary and will change depending on the outcome of the asylum application. In case of rejection, this document cannot be renewed and the person becomes undocumented. The asylum procedure lasts several months, sometimes much more than one year, thus placing individuals in a very long period of waiting, uncertainty, and anxiety.
10During the first six months of their asylum claim, asylum seekers are not allowed to work. If after six months, OFPRA (Office Français de Protection des Réfugiés et des Apatrides) has not examined the asylum request, it is possible to submit an application for a work permit examined by an administration which will decide whether to accept it or not.
11This place named by Louis after the name of a subway station is located in the neighborhood of Château-Rouge, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. Château-Rouge is a commercial centrality for African migrants in Paris and its suburban area. Police controls are frequent and sometimes violent in this area marked by the presence of informal trade practices in the streets (Chabrol, 2014).
12Many other axes of social powers, of course, contribute differently to shaping the social location of queer asylum seekers and refugees in France, such as class, race, but also age. However, it would have been difficult to deal rigorously with all of these aspects in this paper alone. Therefore the author decided to focus more precisely on the articulation between gender, sexuality, and refugeeness.
13Name of a Parisian neighborhood.
14Name of the Parisian gay neighborhood.
15Before coming to France, Aman spent several years in England where his asylum application was rejected.
16“Mister” in French.
17Name of the official document stating a person is in a procedure of asylum and provisionally regularizing one’s administrative situation.
18The Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (French Office of Immigration and Integration) is the public institution in charge of providing material support for asylum seekers in France: a monthly financial aid and housing accommodation. However, many asylum seekers are not offered accommodation solutions because of an insufficient number of accommodation places and have to find a solution by themselves. For example, only 42% of people who applied for asylum for the first time in 2018 were provided accommodation (Coordination Française du Droit d’Asile (CFDA), 2019).
19Center d’Accueil pour Demandeurs d’Asile (Center for Asylum Seekers): housing accommodation for asylum seekers.
20Bernadette Ludwig distinguishes the legal refugee status, as an administrative situation referring to people who have been granted asylum and conferring specific rights, from the informal label “refugee” used in a more general way and independently of the specific administrative situation of individuals (2013).
Andrade, V. L. (2019). “Gay African refugees in Brazil: a diaspora?” in World of diasporas: different Perceptions on the Concept of diaspora. Editors H. Singh Majhail, and S. Dogan (Leiden, Boston: Brill-Rodopi), 86–91.
Blidon, M. (2011). “En quête de reconnaissance. La justice spatiale à l’épreuve de l’hétéronormativité” Justice spatiale-Spatial justice 3. Available at: http://www.jssj.org/article/en-quete-de-reconnaissance-la-justice-spatiale-a-lepreuve-de-lheteronormativite/ (Accessed June 25, 2018).
Chossière, F. (forthcoming 2022). “Leaving one’s country, applying for SOGI asylum in France: African queer migrants trajectories beyond liberation narrative,” in Bodies and Borders: LGBTQ+ Migration on, from and to the African Continent. Editors B. Camminga, and J. Marnell (London: Bloomsbury Academic).
Chossière, F. (2020). Minorités sexuelles en exil : l’expérience minoritaire en ville à l’aune de marginalisations multiples. Urbanités. Available at: https://www.revue-urbanites.fr/13-chossiere/ (Accessed February 13, 2020).
Coordination Française du Droit d’Asile (CFDA) (2019). Report “Exilé·e·s : quels accueils face à la crise des politiques publiques? 88. Available at: https://www.primolevi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Cfda_Exile.e.s-quels-accueils-face-a-la-crise-des-politiques-publiques.pdf
Dustin, M., and Held, N. (2018). In or out? A queer intersectional approach to ‘particular social group’ membership and credibility in SOGI asylum claims in Germany and the UK. GenIUS 2018 (2), 74–87.
Gardesse, C., Pivat, A., and Runet, P. (forthcoming). “Des exilés à la rue à Paris : entre invisibilisation et débrouille, spatialités d’une mise en errance forcée,” in Paris et les exilé.e.s 2015–2020. Editors C. Gardesse, S. L. Courant, and E. Masson-Diez (Paris: L'Oeil d'Or).
Giametta, C. (2016). “Narrativising one's sexuality/gender: neo-liberal humanitarianism and the right of asylum,” in Sexuality, citizenship, and multiple belongings: transnational, National and intersectional perspectives. Editors F. Stella, Y. Taylor, T. Reynolds, and A. Rogers (New York: Routledge), 55–72.
Giametta, C. (2018). New asylum protection categories and elusive filtering devices: the case of 'Queer asylum' in France and the UK. J. Ethnic Migration Stud. 46, 142. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2018.1500172
Gilmartin, M., and Kuusisto-Arponen, A.-K. (2019). “Borders and bodies: siting critical geographies of migration,” in Handbook on critical Geographies of migration. Editors K. Mitchell, R. Jones, and J. L. Fluri (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing), 18–29.
Guénebeaud, C. (2015). “À chacun sa place. Une étude des rapports de domination dans l’aire de distribution des repas aux migrants sans-papiers de Calais,” in Espace et Rapports de domination. Editors A. Clerval, A. Fleury, J. Rebotier, and S. Weber (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes), 285–296.
Held, N. (2017). 'They look at you like an insect that wants to be squashed': an ethnographic account of the racialized sexual spaces of Manchester’s Gay Village. Sexualities 20 (5–6), 535–557. doi:10.1177/1363460716676988
Kallio, K. P., Häkli, J., and Pascucci, E. (2019). Refugeeness as political subjectivity: experiencing the humanitarian border. Environ. Plann. C: Polit. Space 37 (7), 1258–1276. doi:10.1177/2399654418820915
Kawale, R. (2003). “A kiss is just a kiss . Or is it? South Asian lesbian and bisexual women and the construction of space,” in South Asian women in the diaspora. Editors N. Puwar, and P. Raghuram (Oxford: Berg), 181–99.
Lee, E. O. J. (2019). Responses to structural violence: the everyday ways in which queer and trans migrants with precarious status respond to and resist the Canadian immigration regime. Ijcyfs 10 (1), 70–94. doi:10.18357/ijcyfs101201918807
Lendaro, A. (2019). “Le réfugié, le migrant économique et le passeur. Ce que catégoriser veut dire, ou le poids des mots,” in La crise de l’accueil : frontières, droits, résistances. Editors A. Lendaro, C. Rodier, and Y. Lou Vertongen (Paris: Éditions la Découverte), 97–118.
Makaremi, C. (2008). “Participer en observant. Étudier et assister les étrangers aux frontières,” in Les politiques de l’enquête - Épreuves éthnographiques. Editors A. Bensa, and D. Fassin (Paris: La Découverte).
Prieur, C. (2015). “Des géographies queers au-delà des genres et des sexualités?” EspaceTemps. Available at: https://www.espacestemps.net/articles/des-geographies-queers-au-dela-des-genres-et-des-sexualites/ (Accessed April 20, 2015).
Rinaldi, J., and Fernando, S. (2019). Queer credibility in the homonation-state: interrogating the affective impacts of credibility assessments on racialized sexual minority refugee claimants. Refuge: Canada’s J. Refugees 35 (1), 32–42. doi:10.7202/1060673ar
Trawalé, D., and Poiret, C. (2017). Black gay Paris: from invisibilization to the difficult Alliance of black and gay politics. Afr. Black Diaspora: Int. J. 10 (1), 47–58. doi:10.1080/17528631.2015.1085669
Keywords: queer refugees, asylum, migration, intersectionality, refugeeness, Paris, France, sexual and gender minorities
Citation: Chossière F (2021) Refugeeness, Sexuality, and Gender: Spatialized Lived Experiences of Intersectionality by Queer Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Paris. Front. Hum. Dyn 3:634009. doi: 10.3389/fhumd.2021.634009
Received: 26 November 2020; Accepted: 18 February 2021;
Published: 13 April 2021.
Edited by:Moira Dustin, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Reviewed by:Shiva Nourpanah, University of Guelph, Canada
Cheran Rudhramoorthy, University of Windsor, Canada
Vítor Lopes Andrade, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Copyright © 2021 Chossière. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Florent Chossière, email@example.com