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I have been thinking about holograms lately. Projection technology itself is not necessarily new (the Bat-Signal, anyone?), but their recent proliferation in the realm of protest have profound implications for how we imagine resistance. Projection technology creates another layer for “protection through collective action” (83), where an individual is not only difficult to recognize in a crowd but is also not physically present. Of course, this does not necessarily prevent policing through forms of digital surveillance, but it can certainly hinder physical violence.

If we think of queering as it is described in Beltran’s essay as “opening up new possibilities to imagine political membership and political claim making” (88), then holograms appear to be digitally queering protest. But as Beltran also describes, one should not assume “that queerness is always and only productively transgressive” (88).

This brings me to the differences between the Edward Snowden hologram and the UndocuQueer activists in particular. Each of these acts of resistance concerns “coming out” in different ways. As we discussed last week, Snowden “came out” as the NSA whistleblower and has since become a national figure representing the fight against national and global surveillance. But the “coming out” of queer, undocumented immigrants concerns the intersection of these identities, not just the revelation of one’s name occupation and political motivations. They are criminalized by the state in a different way than Snowden, who may never be able to return to the United States but is still regarded as American (and on another level, a normative, heterosexual, cisgender American). Visibility granted him celebrity status in a way that is not afforded to UndocuQueer immigrants. Or Chelsea Manning, the notorious whistleblower before him, for that matter.

Given this rhetoric, it feels as if Snowden embodies the homonationalism that Beltran addresses — revealing one’s identity and becoming nationally representative of dissent (unawareness of Snowden from that John Oliver segment notwithstanding). Holographic resistance is possibly queer, digitally possible and vital to protest, but the visibility it affords its participating transgressors and the contrast with other groups adopting digital resistance reveals concerning normativities.