And speaking of taking time off from piloting drones, President Obama, er, came out in support of marriage equality. Well, he came out personally as a supporter of gay marriage. The day after the lesbian and gay community of North Carolina was devastated by a brutally anti-gay referendum that the President failed to comment on. Did I mention he thinks marriage equality is a states rights issue so his personal opinion doesn't mean he will intervene in such state struggles in the future? Oh sure I understand the limits of his executive power. He has certainly made clear the limits of his moral authority. It might come as no surprise that the gay community, deeply distrustful of Obama, immediately jumped full force on his reelection bandwagon. Seemingly, the only gay voices continuing criticism of the president are those on the right tainted by the dogwhistle racism of the Republicans.
Oh and a new book came out, which I can't imagine myself reading, by a heterosexual woman I'd not heard of before named Linda Hirshman entitled "Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution." Yes, it seems we have won. The struggle for our civil rights is over! No doubt we are now approaching the same state of grace as all of "post-racial" America.
This needs to be said: This is not gay liberation.
I'm finding myself surprisingly pissed off this year. Lesbian and gay pride always seemed like an opportunity to take our star turn: to celebrate our place in the fabric of the city, in the fabric of society. To walk about openly without worry, armed with great numbers in mutual solidarity. It seemed to me that while it was not always an overtly political event, it certainly had the political subtext of bringing our own struggle for social justice to the same field of battle where all the other struggles are waged.
But this year it feels to me like the gay community is saying, "hey, we got ours!" I think the community understands the threat from the religious right: it's clear a large minority of people in the United States have no love for the gays. But I think the gay establishment, and hence a large segment of the community, has also been utterly seduced by those fluttering rainbow flags. Gay pride has literally been sold to corporations. And those who question the sale, or suggest that a pinkwashing sleight of hand is at work, are being silenced or marginalized.
What a sham it is that corporations are waving rainbow flags at the same time they're busting unions, taking back basic benefits like paid healthcare and time off, and generally engaging in the looting of society for their own financial gain.
For me, "gay liberation" has always been intimately tied to "the revolution." That is, one social justice struggle among many that got at the core nature of capitalist society and its divide-and-rule strategies and materially-based oppressions inherent in that politico-economic system. I always argued that victory for our struggle as gay people — deeply connected to the role of women in capitalism — was not possible in a capitalist society. I don't feel equipped to address that huge question head-on in this essay, but I have to say that what the gay community is experiencing right now doesn't feel like a victory to me. I suppose the end of certain forms of legal discrimination are an advance for a certain privileged layer of the community that may benefit many gay people up and down the class spectrum, but something feels hollow.
While semi-covert gay organizations quietly existed for years before the legendary Stonewall rebellion, the mass gay civil rights movement has its roots in the social uproar of the 1960s and the radical movement against American involvement in Vietnam. It's no accident that the first militant gay organization, the Gay Liberation Front, was named in the spirit of the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front, more commonly known as the Vietcong.
|"Not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you."|