Gear Up, Queer Up for Commie Pinko Pride
Coinciding with the anniversary of Stonewall, aka Christopher Street Liberation Day, I started Commie Pinko Fag with a purpose of documenting current and historical perceptions of queers — posting images, quotes and art. The inaugural photo posted to Commie Pinko Fag was of the first night of the Stonewall Riots as it was occurring; unique, in that the photo remains of the only known surviving photograph of that very first night of rioting.
The spark of Stonewall drove thousands to the streets and to form coalitions to aid in the cause of justice and is still brightly lit to the day. The momentum for a wider movement had been building, and a strong foundation had been created with the pioneering work of the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, and most importantly the mobilization of student groups and activists around the globe. From the early days of the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance and Street Transvestives Action Revolutionaries, queer [LGBQTI] organizations have grown exponentially world-wide.
After four decades of marches and June celebrations, the queer community has seen great progress. The mainstreaming of gays and lesbians has brought the fight for equality to in the homes of millions. After the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, marriage equality is in the recent forefront of the media political frenzy. While there’s much to be proud of as we celebrate this anniversary of Stonewall, we still have much to fight for.
Fighting the Non-fight
It seems each year — regardless of the city — the gay press publishes either an op-ed, or letter to the editor concerning the appropriateness of the appearance of segments within our community in Pride parades across the country. The argument stems over whether floats of Speedo boys, flamboyant drag queens, or the S&M leather contingent is the right venue for the public spectacle of parade. Driven by a need to fit into the larger society, and ‘don’t rock the boat’ mentality, I doubt any venue would be deemed proper.
Not rocking the boat leads to complacency, and sometimes forgetting our own history. Today, the hegemonic mythos of the affluent gay, white male of the 90s persists. Marketing from corporations can be seen at Pride parades across the world. However, 40 years ago people of various backgrounds, genders, ethnicities came together to create a movement to actively end ALL oppression. Queers have always been hard to pin down as we cross all class, ethnicity, and have been historically observed throughout many cultures. And nothing rocks the mainstream boat more than that. We cannot be complacent, and must embrace our own diversity — else we forget and begin to leave behind portions of our community in our quest for equality, thus no one is truly safe.
The Fight for Equality Is Not Single-Issue
The noise from the media tends to focus its narrow beam on a solitary issue. Marriage equality seems to be the controversy du jour in the States. Many countries — including the United States — are currently turning their back on supporting equality for minorities in favor of the wealthy few in power, upholding failed traditions, and enacting laws that further persecute gays. The ridiculous litany of laws barring, criminalizing homosexuality is a Victorian-era concoction that continues to this day. One of the earliest laws was Germany’s Paragraph 175, only repealed in 1994. In the 30s and 50s, the basis for McCarthy’s communist witch hunt was largely an effort to ferret gays from government positions. We still face legalized discrimination globally. By no means is this list exhaustive, however it should illustrate we still have much of a fight left.
- Institutionalized Homophobia/Hatred: religious intolerance; laws calling for imprisonment, corporal punishment, fines, torture, murder/death penalty; laws against freedom of speech and censorship [don’t say ‘gay’, obscenity laws]; prevention of freedom of assembly;
- Gender/Sex Discrimination: binary [male/female] system of records for passports/licenses, applications; adoption, marriage, public service [government/military];
- Laws of Consent: sodomy laws and anti-abortion legislation — designed to suppress all forms of non-procreative and non-marital sex acts;
- Economic Discrimination: employment discrimination and wage disparity, workplace harassment; segregation, housing; tax breaks for legally recognized married couples; power of attorney, inheritance law;
- Health & Safety: denial of service, denial of medication/treatment, denial of benefits for partners; HIV/AIDS discrimination; blood donation ban; threat of harm, targets of hate/bias crime, rape, vandalism; deportation/immigration; visitation rights in hospitals/nursing homes;
A number of studies illustrate the great toll of discrimination on mental health, feelings of shame/stigma, depression, suicide, and drug dependency. The perpetuation of abuse, bullying, murder, and hatred also continues as institutions and individuals deny civil rights. Prejudice is a learned behavior.
Gear Up, Queer Up
The need for the political arm of a Pride parade will hopefully dissipate once we gain equal status and protection under the law and within society. We are at a pivotal point to change the world for social justice.
Be out, be visible, be vocal, be involved/engaged. Whether it's as subtle as wearing a lapel pin, or creating art for the masses, we are stronger in numbers. Our visibility helps to remind others who aren't in a position, or feel safe enough, to come out; that they are not alone.
Be safe, be aware of your surroundings. Travel in groups when possible; and use well lit streets when walking at night. Learn self-defense techniques. Help protect others. Speak up against bullies and hate speech.
Support small and local, queer-owned businesses instead of corporate giants with a big marketing budget.
Act up! Participate in direct action in your community — sit-ins, marches, talks. Volunteer at queer and queer-positive organizations.
Start small. But always fight the good fight.
Posted on June 28, 2012.
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