Burning Spear News
PRIDE: Rooted in white imperialism
This past June and July, cities around the world held ‘Pride’ parades; celebrations of resistance to the restrictive sexual norms of European culture. To their supporters, the parades were living monuments to a righteous struggle for inclusion in a predominantly heterosexual society.
For colonized workers, however, including same-gender-loving (SGL) and gender non-conforming (GNC) colonized people, this brand of inclusion into the status quo is an assault on their lives and their communities.
The primary day-in day-out struggle for colonized workers, is not for ‘inclusion’ in parasitic capitalism. For them, true liberation and self-determination means seizing State power and overturning the very system of capitalism built and sustained entirely by their oppression.
For those living under the boot of the colonial State, inclusion has never been an option. Inclusion does nothing to end the violence embedded in the State’s every action. Colonized workers know too well the horrors of a colonial system to see personal assimilation as a viable long-term solution.
For whites already living atop the colonial pedestal and prospering greatly from its existence, inclusion may still be a quick fix for personal contradictions. Inevitably however, any social system requiring such massive stratification will fall to the urgent demands of the suffering, toiling masses.
As the toiling masses rise, this contradiction between the white gay struggle to be legitimized as colonizers and the colonized workers’ struggle for power creates a key dialectic of the current period.
This contradiction is reflected in nearly every aspect of the white gay struggle from military involvement to marriage to ‘gentrification.’
The ostensibly ‘welcoming’ pride parade and the Gay Rights Movement in general bear the flaws and shortsightedness of bourgeois European identity politics and the dead-end pursuit of colonial State power.
The so-called "gay community" would like to believe that all its members suffer from the same contradictions and share the same oppression more or less, but the reality is that there is no such thing as "gays in general."
The false unity of all SGL people, put forward by a white gay elite, must be liquidated in order to reveal the violent oppressive relationship between colonizers and colonized.
Gay members of the white oppressor nation live on the pedestal of power atop the backs of the same-gender-loving individuals of the African nation and other colonized nations.
Every luxury, resource and right that white gays acquire comes at the profound expense of Africans and other colonized peoples, including colonized SGL individuals.
By understanding this contradiction, the disconnect between the priorities of white gays of the colonizer nation and the struggles of the oppressed colonized masses becomes clear.
In the past decade, the gay rights movement has fought for hospital visitation rights, meanwhile African communities have little or no access to healthcare coverage, fewer local hospitals, and no support for non-Western medical treatment. African community control of medical service is the foundation to providing support for African SGL people.
More clearly tied to colonial imperialism is the gay movement’s struggle for inclusion in the U.S. military. The imperialist U.S. military represents white nationalism at its most brutal, with a 600-year track record of murdering Indigenous, African, and Middle-eastern people, seizing control of their lands and resources, and subjugating them to a profit-mining economic system.
White gays who support the struggle for a more inclusive imperialist U.S. military are struggling directly against the freedoms of all oppressed and colonized people. They are putting their work and resources into furthering the U.S. colonization of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. This is a contradiction.
Destroying U.S. military domination and imperialist violence is fundamental to preserving the lives and freedoms of colonized people everywhere––including those members of the SGL sector.
Married to the status quo
Most recently, gay activism has fought for and won entry into the institution of marriage. By legalizing gay marriage, a core branch of the State, the Supreme Court, used this demand to consolidate a large and wealthy sector of the white oppressor nation. While marriage has many romantic associations, under the current capitalist system, its primary purpose is as an economic institution which consolidates wealth.
African families, who have on average less than one twentieth of the wealth of white families, do not benefit from this consolidation. In practice, marriage serves as one more way that capitalism––the drive for private profit at the expense of the working class––expands its hold on our intimate relationships.
By seeking assimilation with the status quo, gay rights activism has made significant political gains from its place in the colonial pecking order.
Early white ‘homophile’ organizations in the 1940s and 1950s sought to prove that gays were fully suitable to participate in capitalist society without confronting that society’s basic norms. Before the campaigns for military inclusion, marriage, and adoption, these ‘homophile’ groups used scientific research and academic theory to plead with the ruling class for acceptance.
Many of these organizations, including the Daughters of Bilitis and the Mattachine Society formed the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO). Using its legal fund, “NACHO” challenged anti-gay regulations on immigration, government, and military service. These attempts to gain federal acceptance formed the basis for later white gay struggles for imperialist inclusion.
In 1968, NACHO created its Homosexual Bill of Rights, and adopted the slogan “Gay is Good” taken from the already powerful African slogan “Black is Beautiful.” In 1970, with younger members radicalized by the Black Panther and Anti-imperialist movement for withdrawal from Viet Nam, NACHO was overtaken by new strategies for white gay struggle.
Stolen Movement, stolen momentum
It wasn’t until powerful movements, led by Africans and other colonized people, emerged in the 1960s and 1970s––notably the Civil Rights Movement––that white gay rights groups organized themselves directly against the State.
Emboldened by the efficient and successful strategy of Black Power organizations, white gay groups changed their tune. White gay activists with no ties to the struggle of colonized people for power, deployed the organizational labor of African revolutionaries to seek justice.
With this development, and the advent of the HIV/AIDS crisis, white LGBT people got a taste of the State’s capacity for violence. This was the kind of violence African workers have experienced for centuries: raids on homes and gathering places, unwarranted arrest and cruelty, and refusal to provide medical care.
State brutality against SGL and GNC people came to a head notably on June 29, 1969 at New York’s Stonewall Inn, when a police raid was met with resistance from over 200 people in Greenwich Village.
For a brief time, principles and tactics were adopted directly from the Black Panthers to form a ‘Gay Liberation Front’ which put forward the goal of restructuring society. The ‘GLF disbanded after 4 months citing poor organization and political contradictions.
One year later, honoring the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the first Gay Pride Marches were held concurrently in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The following year, three more North American cities, Boston, Dallas, and Milwaukee were added and three European cities, London, Stockholm, and West Berlin held marches.
In 1972, seven more North American parades were added: Washington DC, Philadelphia, Miami, Detroit, Buffalo, Atlanta, San Francisco. Since then, the annual march has grown into a larger parade and party showcasing a variety of gay community organizations.
The movement floats along
The parade as it is today evades concrete political demands, a luxury possible for a movement which remains allied with the status quo. Many parade representatives are large banks, real estate companies, multinational corporations, and other administrators of global capitalism.
In fact, the relationship between colonial capitalism and modern gay identity illuminates the shortcomings of the mass political effort for gay rights.
The spread of parasitic capitalism and the wage labor system in Europe and North America threatened traditional family relations required by Europe’s feudalism, subsistence farming, and earlier systems. Paired with capitalism’s demand for individual success and competition, the nuclear family structure was slowly dissolved.
The shift away from the self-reliant family unit, with its accompanying requirement of the creation and development of children, permitted new lifestyles not bound by the requirement of reproduction for survival. These new social patterns within white society formed new communities, organized by a shared or compatible set of desires.
However, the colonial capitalist economy which allowed these identities to emerge as ‘oppressed identities’ existed uniquely in European ‘white’ society. Nearly all African, Asian, and Indigenous communities have charted variety in sexual practice and gender expression. Both SGL and GNC people have been community leaders throughout the non-western world.
It is not surprising, given the relationship of ‘gay’ culture and capitalism, that a movement which champions ‘gay identity politics’ would be unable to advocate for the masses who suffer under capitalism’s parasitic grasp, whatever their sexuality or gender.
The modern gay right’s movement is a movement built on white nationalist economic structures. It attempts to provide resources, power and access for white ‘gay people’ within the structure of parasitic capitalism.
Rather than seeking community control of resources, healthcare, police, for all humans with same-gender affiliations, every single campaign of the Gay Rights Movement has sought imperial power and has materially benefitted the lives of gay members of the white oppressor nation.
Imperial power under the State’s control undermines and displaces the lives and interests of Africans and other colonized people.
A movement that does not recognize the primacy of colonial capitalism in the lives of same-gender-loving Africans and colonized people, will be unable to effectively build power for Africans and other colonized same-gender-loving and gender nonconforming people.
In fact, it will further poach labor and resources from the African and colonized world to build a liberal white movement.
If you are interested in fighting for the lives of SGL people under the leadership of African workers without upholding white imperialist State power, join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement. Building a genuine socialist global economy under African working class leadership is the only principled way for white LGBT people to help build a world without oppression.
Learn more at www.uhurusolidarity.org, contact USM at [email protected]