Queer sovereignty: the Gay & Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands

Judy Lattas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What can the spectacle of gay nationalism tell us about the reality of our cosmopolitan dream? My suggestion in this paper is that it challenges the assumption that simply invoking cosmopolitanism, or indeed embodying it as a style and a politics, is enough to secure the rights and recognition that were previously obtained by means of territorial claims and independent flag waving. It teaches us in order to reach an end – that of cosmopolitanism - it may be necessary to recommence at the beginning. The Gay & Lesbian Kingdom (GLK) seceded from Australia in 2004. Emperor Dale Parker Anderson declared independence upon raising the rainbow pride flag on the Coral Sea Island of Cato. The decision to secede was made as a response to the Australian government's 2004 action in presenting the Amendment of the Marriage Act 1969. In giving my account I draw on a 2007 interview, correspondence with Emperor Dale and other ethnographic material concerning the GLK. Among other articulations, I consider its secessionist move in light of Linda Bishai's critique in Forgetting Ourselves (2004). This is that for all its liberationist motivation, secession is essentialist in its conception, and inherently anti-democratic; her prediction is that its preoccupation with state formation is making it irrelevant in the age of "rhizomatic" community networks. In its micronationalist "queering," however, I find secessionist politics more relevant in late modernity, not less, as the pluralising democratic politics of identity and representation are increasingly unable to contest key outcomes of "family values" and "national values" rhetoric in the 21st C. While Bishai calls for an end to secession, my suggestion is that it is precisely in the secessionist moves of contemporary micronationalism that the "new cosmopolitics," a politics aimed at the "renewal of international law" (Derrida 2002 p. 3) might be witnessed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalCosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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