Desiring Queer, Negotiating Normal:Denise Ho (HOCC) Fandom before and after the Coming-Out

Li, Cheuk Yin (2017) Desiring Queer, Negotiating Normal:Denise Ho (HOCC) Fandom before and after the Coming-Out. In: Boys’ Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols. Queer Asia . Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, pp. 131-156. ISBN 9789888390809

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This chapter explores the entanglement and tension between the desire of queer and struggle with normativities in the fandom of Denise Wan-See Ho (a.k.a. HOCC), one of the few celebrities in the East Asian Chinese-language entertainment industry to have come out as a lesbian in public. By adopting ‘queer’ and ‘normal’ as analytical tools, I contextualise the queer fan culture of HOCC before and after her coming-out by demonstrating the interplay among fans’ lived experience, sexual cultures in Hong Kong, and global information flows. Data for this study are drawn from semi-structured interviews and participant observation conducted between 2009 and 2014 with a total of 29 self-identified fans of HOCC in Hong Kong with diverse age, education background, gender, and sexual orientation. Under the strategic alliance of the postcolonial government, patriarchal Chinese family, and religion, which has powerfully shaped sexual cultures and reinforced heteronormative values in Hong Kong, HOCC fans have struggled when negotiating HOCC’s gender and sexuality and their own. Before HOCC’s coming-out in November 2012, queer reading was celebrated but precariously negotiated. Although fans enjoyed queer reading and playing with the ambivalence in HOCC’s sexuality, they were self-disciplined in both online and offline discussions out of fear of jeopardising HOCC’s career. The gossips and HOCC’s coming-out in 2012 were significant in reshaping the queer fan culture. While HOCC’s coming-out could be regarded as related to discontent with heteronormative dominance and oppression of tongzhi in Hong Kong, her fans shifted their attention to negotiating her lesbian embodiment. The anxiety over the “proper” embodiment of a lesbian and “correct” representation of the tongzhi movement demonstrated the complex relations between heteronormativity and normalisation in queer politics, as well as the new emerging homonormative codes in queer fan culture. The quest for normal has therefore fostered the homonormative understanding of queer. This chapter concludes that HOCC fans in Hong Kong, who are situated within macrostructural and micropolitical forces, desire to be queer by transgressing normal and paradoxically desire to be normal by tactically negotiating the limits of queer.

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10 Sep 2019 09:10
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18 Sep 2023 02:42