In Ralph Severijns’ analysis of the state’s reading of refugee stories—that is, in the crucial “free narrative” that asylum seekers tell when they apply for asylum—some problematic stories come up (see PoL #10, “Refugees Tell Their Stories to the State“): Asylum seekers who’ve undergone religious conversions or those who are queer often are not believed. Something more than personal bias gets in the way. In the case of queer asylum seekers, the system of evaluation—the state rules that shape “the hole in the donut” that Severijns says is the space of their decision making—is deaf to unconventional stories. While Western bureaucrats easily recognize a narrow range of conventional “coming out” stories, the unusual lives led by queer asylum seekers don’t always fit that model and are misunderstood, so their need for asylum goes unmet. In the words of an activist campaign, their stories are #notgayenough.
As an addendum to PoL #10, we publish excerpts from a recent Utrecht University undergraduate thesis, “Not Queer Enough?” by Lotte Wolff. Wolff both shows us the limitations of the IND’s approach to reading, and models an alternative by including an account of her own limits and methods as a reader of the IND.
1 March, 2022