This presentation discusses different approaches to identity in lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) movements in Morocco, a country known to be politically repressive in the LGBT context. On the basis of fieldwork conducted with the organization Group in Defense of Minorities (GDM) – one of the few groups in Morocco to fight for LGBT rights - I analyze three distinct ways of engaging ‘identity’ in contemporary social movements: (1) how does GDM’s collective identity interact with individual members’ activism, (2) how do the members construct mobilization strategies in a repressive political context, and (3) how do GDM members work strategically in relation to activist visibility. Several theoretical approaches from the field of social movement studies inform my analysis: perspectives and concepts from political process theory, new social movements’ theory, and network theory.
My analysis shows that the GDM activists construct a space of solidarity and experience that helps to sustain and reinforce their activism. It also gives insights into the group’s strategies, which are primarily aimed at at the state through its documentation and denunciation of anti-LGBT violence. Finally, the analysis maps out the different dimensions of the organization’s visibility strategies. My findings challenge common assumptions within social movement theory that collective protest is and must be manifested publicly, arguing instead that covert activism is a necessity in a context where basic political rights are criminalized.