Intimate Lovers, Legal Strangers —The Politics of Dissident Relationality in Portugal

Abstract: Dominant cultural frameworks, laws, and social policy in Southern Europe often stem from and replicate a collective imaginary based on a reproductive, cohabiting, monogamous, and cis-heterosexual couple. Concomitantly, despite significant advances in legislation in recent years, LGBTQ+ intimacies continue to be subject to daily prejudice, violence, and shame. The purpose of this article is to understand how state recognition contributes to the un/doing of the abject culturally attached to LGBTQ+ intimacies; and to examine personal, sociocultural, and legal traits that shape biographies turning intimate citizens into intimate lovers and/or legal strangers. The first part of this chapter involves an outlining of developments regarding law and relational diversity in Portugal. The second part deals with the visibility of non-normative sexuality that is often a target of abject gaze, rejection, and other cultural practices of discrimination. It is suggested that legally recognized marital status can become a way to overcome the abject or the invisible, both in relation to the state and the cultural milieu. We offer the notion of relational performativity and suggest that non-monogamy (even when consensual) is a major cultural source of the relational abject, encapsulating moral panic around the promiscuous, unhealthy, and uncommitted sexual monster. The article finishes with reflections that move beyond the examples provided to dialogue with dissident relationality as a concept that describes the intimate experiences of aging LGBTQ+ people.

Keywords: LGBTQ+; intimacies; consensual non-monogamy; aging; dissident relationality; relational performativity; Portugal

Reference: Santos, Ana Cristina, and Ana Lúcia Santos (2023), “Intimate Lovers, Legal Strangers—The Politics of Dissident Relationality in Portugal”. Social Sciences 12: 144. https:// doi.org/10.3390/socsci12030144

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