What are we Proud of? & who can we rely on? - Belfast Gay Pride 2008

Date:

So what are exactly are we proud of? Is it just that we are attracted to a particular gender or genders? Or, are we proud of our courageous history of struggles as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered/ LGBT/ Queer people for our rights, and against bigotry, oppression and hatred?The original Pride marches were held to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York which began on June 28, 1969, and which were led mainly by Black and Puerto Rican butch dykes and drag queens sick of being beaten up and arrested by the police. The following year, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, the Gay Liberation Front organized a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Almost 10,000 women and men attended the march.

The international wave of Lesbian & Gay Liberation which spread out from Stonewall was closely based on the Black Civil Rights movement and couldn't have happened without the work the women's movement had already done in challenging fixed roles for women and for men.

In Ireland, we won legal protection via equality legislation, in combined struggle with other social struggles, and that is where our true strength still lies in the streets. The current wave of Irish LGBT Liberation started with feminists trade unionists and peace activists marching with us through Dublin, 1983 in outrage at the killing of a gay man cruising Phoenix Park.

We're celebrating Queer Pride in Belfast 2008, We've won a lot of battles and these days it seems we're feeling smug and respectable enough to ally ourselves with the forces of bigotry and intolerance, thinking it will strengthen our grip on our own rights. Some of our 'community leaders' seem to think that cosying up with bigots from the DUP or politicians in general is the best way of securing our future. The DUP in particular is famous for trampling on the rights of LGBT, not to mention the recent disgusting comments by Iris Robinson and inciting violence which is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s time we organise and fight back.

What about organising a militant march to her house and let her know what we really think of Iris Robinson and others?
The prejudice that politicians whip up, whether it’s against single mums, Travellers or immigrants is a way of distracting attention from the greed, incompetence and megalomania of those same politicians, -and it can soon be turned back on us if it becomes useful again. The forces of power and big money won't hesitate to take away our rights or help whip up hatred against us again next time it suits their interests.

Since medieval times Queer communities have been making progress in economic good times, only to get stomped on again as soon as the going gets tough. In Western Europe there have always been periodic economic crises which were accompanied by moral panics and waves of persecution of queer communities. Late medieval transvestite subcultures were driven deep underground by persecutions that were part of the general 14th to 17th C witch hunts. More recently the long depression of the last quarter of the 19th C saw persecutions that included the trial of Oscar Wilde. The powerful homosexual, feminist and sex reform movements of the early 20thC were mostly crushed by fascism, Stalinism and the conservative climate of the Fifties. During the depression in Britain in the Eighties Thatcher introduced anti-gay laws.

So do we rely on the rich and powerful continuing to be nice to us and openly welcome the PSNI? While we say nothing about how the status-quo treat immigrants, Travellers and people with disabilities?

Or do we strengthen our alliances with working people based on common class interests and fight for a just and peaceful world for everyone in the revolutionary spirit of Stonewall 1969 …………Then we could really hold our heads up in Pride
“Where pride once mobilised, it now marshals that consensus as our anger and frustration into a range of diversionary shopping opportunities. The battle is no longer about(if it ever has been) equality and acceptance, but liberation and simply survival as human beings against a system galloping towards the abyss.”

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¸Text of leaflet for annual 2008 Gay Pride march. First published by Cork WSM and edited by Belfast WSM

Produced by the Belfast branch of the Workers Solidarity Movement

"...freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice
... Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality"

Email:belfastwsm@yahoo.com

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