For the third year in succession the Cork branch of the Workers Solidarity Movement participated in the Cork Pride Parade. Anarchists have been involved in Pride organising in Cork since its beginnings in the mid-noughties and have long seen Pride as both an important civic festival and an opportunity to connect with Cork's burgeoning LGBT community. Cork WSM also distributed a leaflet on Pride and its politics at the parade (see below). The parade was the culmination of a week of hectic activity and celebration by Cork's LGBT community across a number of venues and across a range of activities.
This year's Pride parade followed successfully in the colourful and flamboyant footsteps of its immediate predeccessors, with 5,000 or more cheering (and ear-splitting whistling!) participants following a looping route around the city centre. This year's parade was led off by deputy lord mayor John Buttimer, whose right-wing Fine Gael party marched in the parade for the first time. There were also banners from the Labour and Socialist parties in the parade, showing a growing engagement by political organisations with Cork Pride. Banners from LGBT support and campaigning groups and from allies like Cork Feminista well in evidence, showing a strong awareness of political and social issues in Cork's queer community. This trend is very encouraging given the propensity for mainstream acceptance of LGBT communities to lead to a bleaching out of queerdom's radical history and a dumbing-down of political awareness among many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Here's looking forward to Cork Pride 2013!
Text of Cork WSM's Cork Pride 2012 leaflet
How Pride Began – Remembering Our Roots
The International History of Pride
In June 1969 in New York, both gay pubs and dressing in drag were illegal. One night, inspired by the Civil Rights and the anti-Vietnam war movements a bunch of queers, sick of being harassed, arrested and beaten by police, fought back!
The police ended up barricaded in the Stonewall Inn - the pub they had tried to raid - and a group of LGBTQ people managed to pull a parking meter out of the ground and began to batter the door down with it! For three days and nights there were huge battles involving thousands of people ….
... the Stonewall Riots.
Most of the people who fought that night were people who had nothing to lose, those who couldn't pass as straight: butch dykes, drag queens, and trans people - and homeless young people (thrown out by their families for being queer) who made their living as sex workers.
The next month, a radical queer liberation organisation called the Gay Liberation Front was founded. The GLF explicitly stood in solidarity with the Black Panthers, the anti-Vietnam War movement and with working-class struggles. In 1970 the first ever Pride march was held to mark the anniversary of the riots. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm. By 1972 the participating cities included Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Washington D.C., Miami, and Philadelphia, as well as San Francisco.
"By the time of Stonewall, we had fifty to sixty gay groups in the country. A year later there was at least fifteen hundred. By two years later, to the extent that a count could be made, it was twenty-five hundred."
The History of Pride in Ireland
The first Dublin Pride march was in in June 1983. In March of that year a gay man had been murdered in Fairview Park by a gang of men who regularly went “queer-bashing”. Earlier that night another man they had attempted to kill had escaped. At the trial two of the five defendants appeared in court in their Air Corps uniforms. All received suspended sentences for manslaughter.
A huge protest march was held that month boosted by large numbers of trade unionists and women's groups, since in Ireland, the gay movement was still very small. In June of the same year the first ever Dublin Pride march was held, organized by the National Lesbian and Gay Federation.
Soon afterwards, trade unions took up the cause of gay rights, the result being an ICTU policy document with detail as complete as pension rights for surviving partners. These negotiation guidelines were incorporated into much of the civil service as well as some private sector companies.
The first large Pride Parade in Cork was in 2005, organised by a small committee of volunteers including 2 anarchists. Since then, Cork Pride has gone from strength to strength, and anarchists continue to be involved in helping organise the festival.
The Future of Pride – Kicking or Kissing Corporate Arse?
So what has happened to the politics of Pride?
There are queer organisations around the world who still see their struggles as connected with the struggles of other oppressed groups. In Toronto, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid regularly marches in Toronto Pride, despite threats by the local council to remove the funding for the whole event. Rainbow flags have appeared at pro-choice demos in Cork, Dublin and Belfast this year. In Britain Queer Resistance takes an active part in fighing the cuts in public services.
This year, for the first time a “Pinc!” (Pride in Community!) bloc participated in the Dublin Pride Parade.. “PINC! is an LGBTQ group which rejects the idea that Pride needs sponsorship from groups which are actively oppressive in Irish society and the world at large. Corporations like Google actively use their power as information providers to censor internet content in many countries. State organisations like An Garda Siochanna routinely oppress students, grassroots activists in rural areas, the homeless, poor and working class people, as well as having a culture in which rape jokes are found acceptable.
We want to remember what we REALLY have to be proud of. The incredible people in our community who do so much work in our behalf. People who work with LGBTQ youth and trans people of all ages; the people who are there for a cup of tea in Outhouse for those who are lonely and need someone to talk to; people who provide health services to people with HIV/AIDS; people who sit in helplines helping keep LGBTQ people on the brink alive; people who work with LGBTQ people in the travelling community; those who provide support to immigrants or LGBTQ people seeking asylum. This is what we're proud of!”
There is still no legal recognition of the gender of trans people. Too often the addition of the “T” To the names of LGB groups is an empty gesture. There is widespread prejudice amongst gay people against bisexual people. All that has to change!
We can't rely on right-wing politicians to continue to pretend to care about queer issues. Politicians will say whatever seems convenient at the time..and can turn on us again as easily as they whip up hatred against e.g.: immigrants, the unemployed or public sector workers The history of successful LGBTQ struggles has been one of allying itself with the struggles of other oppressed groups. We aren't proud of who we happen to be attracted to. We are proud of our courage in fighting against bigotry and injustice.
This leaflet has been produced by the Cork branch of an anarchist organisation, the Workers Solidarity Movement. Contrary to what you may have heard anarchism is not about chaos and destruction, it’s about equality: - socialism with freedom. Prominent anarchists such as Emma Goldman were holding large public meetings in the late 1890s arguing for queer liberation as part of the wider struggle against capitalism. That tradition of standing in solidarity with LGBTQ people fighting oppression continues to this day.
As anarchists, we argue (for example):
not only for equality in immigration for LGBT couples but an end to deportations and ultimately for the abolition of all borders and nation states;
not just for removing the unfairness in inheritance tax that discriminates against gay couples but for housing as a basic right for everybody. Today, a large proportion of homeless youth are queer youth rejected by their families;
We do not need the right to fight in wars which only benefit the rich. We want an end to wars;
We see the struggle for queer rights as part of the wider struggle of all working class people for equality and freedom.