Securing an LGBT Identity in Kyrgyzstan. Case Studies from Bishkek and Osh
The high level of homophobia in society and a contradictory state policy towards sexual minorities define the specific mode of existence of the LGBT community in Kyrgyzstan. The need to socialise and spend some time together is a big part of building and maintaining an LGBT identity, which requires collective security practices. The concept of “securityscapes”, based on Arjun Appadurai’s idea of “scapes”, was used as a main instrument for the analysis of ethnographic data. LGBT people in Kyrgyzstan navigate quite complicated landscapes of security and insecurity, defined by encounters with various agents, and engage in different strategies of adaptation. During the field research two types of threats within LGBT securityscapes were identified: “outer” threats (such as the homophobic environment) and “inner” threats (such as some behavioural patterns that might expose community members to this hostile environment). LGBT people navigate within their securityscapes individually, yet community life requires specific measures. The collective securityscapes of the LGBT communities in Bishkek and Osh were examined, and it will be shown that despite the differences according to local conditions, similar strategies were developed in both places when responding to “inner” and “outer” threats.