A reply from Comrade Nat Winn on the subject of Queer Liberation and the Media.

Kasama

“First, let’s appreciate the radical art that is made (not just in subculture margins, but sometimes in a ways that reach millions).

“Second, let’s appreciate the role that radical artists currently play (Hunger Games was recently playing in theatres!)

“Third, let’s understand that many radical people will wobble back and forth between revolutionary politics and left oppositional politics for a long time and this will be resolved in real life, not by arguments in the main.

“Fourth, let’s develop a long term, strategic relationship of “unity and struggle” – with a genuine appreciation of people trying to do radical things under difficult constraints, and also under the pull of notoriety, great wealth, active courting by slick imperialists like Bill Clinton, etc.

“Finally—We need to have a communist pole (that is clear and very bold about road and direction and goals and about supporting revolutionary struggles of the people internationally), that…

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My recent article about media and Queer relations written for The Kasama Project.

Kasama

We are posting two essays at the same time.

The first, by Curtis Cole, is entitled False Progress: Queer Equality and the Media .

The second, is an answer to Curtis by Nat Winn, and argues that revolutionaries must not be mechanical in evaluating artists and the cultural superstructure — and that we  should develop a long term policy of “unity and struggle” with radical artists operating in major arenas of art, media, film and music.”

Curtis is a reader of the Kasama site and has submitted this article. Curtis describes himself this way: “

My name is Curtis Cole and though I haven’t yet spent decades in activism I know that the only way forward to a better future lie within the creation of queer friendly socialism. This society cannot be built without help from all corners of life; with this in mind I wrote the following article in…

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The State of International Queer Liberation

The “Rainbow Fist” is an insignia for the Queer Working Class.

May ninth will be a historic year for the gay liberation movement in North America. This is because American President Barack Obama announced his backing of Gay marriage. Though bourgeois apologists have claimed that this move will push forward the global equality campaign such a statement is a complete fabrication. The truth couldn’t be more backwards. With many countries becoming more anti-American by the minute, and often doing the opposite of whatever America does,  any endorsement from the United States will only serve as another reason why bigoted nations crackdown on equality protesters.

With the decline of capitalism entering its second decade, a decade which, much like its predecessor, will be marked by Imperialist interventions, repressive social measures, and draconian austerity pushes, the ruling class will seek to undermine popular uprisings by dividing the working class. In a world so disturbed by unrest many minorities are caught in the crosshairs and used as scapegoats. In our modern epoch no minority is perhaps more persecuted than sexual minorities; the people of the Queer movement (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) face the brunt of the assault.

In Europe, with the rise of Neo-Fascism steadily climbing, many Queer people are facing bigoted governments. In Russia, within the city of St. Petersburg, the city board passed an “Anti-Gay Propaganda” bill which prohibits any “promotion” of Queer people. Because of this bill many activists have already been arrested. The recent conviction of Nikolai Alexeyev proves that the reactionary Russian government intends to stick with this law. Worse yet, other cities in the former USSR are attempting to pass similar legislation.

Going beyond Russia one finds within the African Continent widespread Homophobia. For men homosexuality is illegal in 29 countries while for women it is illegal in 20 countries. Examining such fear more closely one will find that Uganda still reigns supreme with its rigid maintenance of patriarchal social-systems.  Under such orders the Ugandan government still seeks to pass its infamous “Kill All Gays” bill; though once defeated it has reemerged with some support.

Moving onto China we can see how “capitalist road travelers” have firmly entrenched the Western stigmatization of homosexuality. Though Same-Sex attraction was officially “legalized” in 1997, and removed from the Ministry of Health’s list of mental diseases in 2001, modern China maintains “traditional” unions. It is routine for police to raid gay establishments, depictions of Same-Sex couples are banned from television, and the Absolute Neutrality policy (commonly referred to as the “Three No’s) All but prohibit the ruling party from any progressive action.

Yet, no location is perhaps more important than the United States. With North America being home to the citadel of worldwide Imperialism, and the U.S.A readily calling itself a progressive nation, the status of the Queer Liberation movement here is important precisely for the reasons which many heterosexual revolutionaries fail to see.

Though several American States have passed laws allowing homosexual marriage, with more states doing all but allowing marriage, discrimination remains high. Many Queer activists are fooled into advocating for the failed institution of marriage because they honestly believe it will lead to equality. Yet, the opposite is most often true. This is evidenced by the continuing epidemic of gay teenagers committing suicide. Many of these suicides have taken place within areas which were above the so-called “Bible Belt” and thusly were considered desirable areas for Queer couples to immigrate to.

Facts such as this should be studied by all socialist revolutionaries for exactly the same reason that the marriage battlers want to be married: equality. The reality is that the anti-discrimination and bullying movement is far more prevalent. Within this movement progress is likely to be reached within a duel fashion: as soon as all discrimination is truly expelled than marriage would naturally be the end result. Many bourgeois activists, however, fail to see such methods and opt instead for the direct route of marriage (the reasoning that with marriage will come acceptance).

These American movements are important to note because of the ripple effect American power has on its allied Imperial camps. As social tides change and the working class begins to assert themselves throughout the world, the bourgeoisie finds each passing day their power dwindling. It will only be expected that to reassure their stranglehold they will adopt successful tactics as operated by their foreign counterparts.

This event is what some Situationists might refer to as “Recuperation.” Simply put it is when the Ruling Class takes an event which has at one time threatened their position and now uses it to strengthen their base. Decades ago the Gay Liberation movement was militant and lead by all stripes of the revolutionary left, yet, as progress slowed, and the religious fundamentalist counter-revolution gained momentum, the movement which had once been radical gradually became mired in reactionary goals and tactics.

Such an example is exactly what has happened in the allied camps. In this manner the battle for marriage, and not anti-discrimination, is another example of a degenerated workers movement that the bourgeoisie harnessed to protect themselves; though conservative elements oppose such a goal the liberal wing understands that even when the day comes where marriage is made legal it will no longer pose a threat to their control.

Under this strategy the Ruling Class seeks to export such tactics to both their allies and their enemies; their allies via diplomatic and societal coercion, and their enemies, those capitalist nations which exist outside the American sphere of influence, by brute force (often known as “Humanitarian Interventions”). Though often a slow process the Capitalist class invariably gets want they want sooner or later.

Using Recuperation, to again use the Situationist term, the reactionaries fool the masses into believing their progressive rhetoric thus eliminating an obstacle and gaining a friend (Once the immediate goal of marriage has been satisfied many bourgeois activist see little reason to continue participating and thus return to the bourgeois system full heartedly).

Their victory is reflected in how their citizenry are treated. In American life this often translates to Transsexuals; a minority within a minority that is often persecuted by reactionary Queer elements.

With the trial of CeCe McDonald drawing to a close and many Transgender activists furious at the incident, many Americans are blind to Transgender struggle despite contributing to the hatred. CeCe was attacked late one night while patroning a local convenient store. Her attackers were four Caucasians, one of which had a Swastika tattoo on his chest. CeCe defended herself and though the details are hazy by the end of the night two of her attackers lay dead.

CeCe, a colored Transwomen, was a dedicated activist and role model for the Queer youth she lived with. Yet this did not stop her from being unjustly persecuted as a criminal. It is commonly assumed that CeCe took the offered plea deal because she understood that she would be convicted and sent away for a much heavier sentence than if she refused.

It must not be overlooked that it was fear which drove her to accept this deal (a deal which gave her 41 months behind bars). Fear that manifested itself as a direct result of the Queerphobic and racist attitudes which still persist in America despite the election of a Black man and the widespread “Justice for Trayvarn Martin” movement. This episode indicates that many Americans have such Transphobia that even their supposed anti-racist convictions cannot push them to helping another human. In this manner they reveal that though they fight for Martin’s “Justice” they are, in fact, little better than petite-racists for their rejection of CeCe’s struggle.

We see here that American politics are opportunist: Obama announcing his support for gay marriage while overlooking CeCe McDonald, is potent proof of the reactionary intents of even the so-called “progressive” bourgeois dictatorships. It is simply another tactic the bourgeoisie uses in its never ending campaign to adjust to new social climates.

In conclusion, though in some parts of the world the bourgeoisie have been tactful and granted some steam towards the Queer Rights movement such support is misleading; it weakens the Working Class movement while adding to the Capitalist class’s “moral reserve;” it does this not from any inherent Queerphobic paranoias but from depriving activists a vital tool in organizing. As revolutionary anti-capitalists it is our mission to fight with our Queer brothers and sisters. We must battle alongside them for anti-discrimination measures, equal treatment in the workplace, and where no other more progressive cause exists, a revolutionized effort at attaining marriage.

The Gay Guide to High School

 

The Young Man’s Gay Guide to High School

                I’ve heard this coming school year will be an exciting year for you: entering into the ninth grade, going to be a high school freshman! That is an exciting event. Only happens once in your life, after all. Still, as a gay kid you might have some questions about high school life. Well, don’t you worry because not only are such questions normal but we have you covered, for enter, the Gay Guide to High School!

Here in this handy guide you will find some answers to the most frequently asked questions about school life and about the problems you may face when entering into the new school year. So, without any further delay, read on and lets ease some of your anxiety.

Question #1: “It is my first day tomorrow and I am freaking about whether I should be open about my sexual orientation!”

Listen here bud; this is a demanding decision, to be sure. Yet there is something you should know: life in high school isn’t like life in general. Though I would say that this depends largely on if your area is homophobic or tolerant, I can part onto you some spicy wisdom that may help you make an informed decision.

By holding off on telling your peers about such an important aspect of who you are, you are not only selling yourself short, but you could be closing possible opportunities with other gay freshmen; if you have the courage to be out not only does it set a precedent for the rest of your time there but it may give other closeted students the courage to be open. Being “out” on the first day sets the stage for your other three years. It wipes away the most challenging aspect of high school, self-expression, while having the potential to affirm who you are as a person.

There can be some repercussions if you live in a hostile environment, which is why I suggest doing some preliminary observations on whether it would be safe to come out, but I still take the stance that if not being completely out and in the open is possible, than telling a couple friends is a suitable alternative.

Question #2: “Okay, I have decided to be out about my sexual orientation, but how do I talk with my classmates about being gay?”

At first this may seem daunting but fortunately this problem is actually a paper tiger. The great thing about high school is that everyone is either already talking about their sexual preference or will soon be talking about their preference. Because of this you do not actually have to start a conversation or be dramatic and come out in a spectacular manner; which, in regards to, is better handled by simply stating your orientation non-chantly instead of making a production over the event. The same goes for conversation: sooner or later your friends, or potential friends, will chatter on about sex, who is cute and hot, and what interests they have. Use this opportunity to state your preference.

From here it depends on your school and how people react. Even if this first group of friends reacts badly, however, to you coming out or talking about homosexuality, so as long as they are not bullying or harassing you, you should feel more than free to salvage what you can from that encounter and move on to another group of students knowing that you were completely open about who you are. This being said, I would recommend that you not engage in even mild flirting with anyone until you have yourself established as “a dude who likes dudes.”

Question #3: “Okay, thanks for the advice. But, ummm… there is this guy who I am pretty sure is straight. I really like him and want to hit on him but am unsure of what I should do.”

Believe me buddy, nothing good comes from hitting on straight guys, it is a dead end. Likewise, trying to seduce them into sexual acts is only going to direct negative attention towards you. Youth play cruel tricks so do not believe that a perverted guy wouldn’t set you up for a colossal humiliation. Video recording pranks and posting them on the internet is very easy these days; so never assume what happens behind closed doors will stay there. Hormones are hard to deal with but not impossible. If you find that your feelings for a certain guy are too overwhelming than you may certainly tell him of your feelings (assuming he isn’t homophobic), just avoid making your revelation melodramatic (no one, especially heterosexual guys, enjoy drama).

Question #4: “Well, that makes sense, so thanks again. But still, it is awfully lonely in this school without a partner to call my own. How do I find a boyfriend when I don’t see any other gay guys?”

Finding a partner (aka “boyfriend”) is never easy, especially when you are going at it all alone in a heterosexist atmosphere. Still, it may be worth looking into if your high school has a Gay-Straight Alliance (G.S.A). This way, if it does, than your problem of finding other homosexuals has probably been solved. However, even if your school doesn’t have a G.S.A, than you haven’t run out of luck yet. As stereotypical as it may sound many gay youth are interested in the performing arts (dancing, acting, etc) so it might be valuable to joining the local theater or drama club. Though gay guys are likely to be in any extra-curricular club the odds of finding a gay or bisexual kid are more likely in the artistic segment.

Question #5: “Okay cool, I will put that to use. In the meantime, however, I found this Bisexual upperclassman and I think he might be interested in me. Should I ask him out on a date?”

My approach to students who are older than you and in a higher grade is to leave them where they are. While it is hard being alone, and even harder to pass up an opportunity to be with someone, you have to consider that he is several years older than you; as a result he is several years further in life than you.

If you are in the ninth grade and he is in the eleventh grade than that means you will only have one year together before he graduates. And when he does graduate you have to remember that he will probably have college ambitions: do you think he will wait three years for you to finish high school prior to leaving for institutions of higher learning? Is it really ethical for either of you to hold up his life? The conditions here are simply stretched too thin.

Chances are any older boy who shows in interest in you is only doing so because they want sexual favors. They will lure you to what they want by promises of companionship and then ditch you as soon as they slack their sexual urges. Unless one is ready to trade off loneliness for short term companionship at the price of engaging in possible sexual acts, it is best to wait until you meet someone closer to your own age.

Question #6: “I put what you said to use and guess what? I found a partner!!! I am so happy that I want to tell the world… but should I?”

First of all I congratulate you on finding your partner. Secondly, in response to your question of whether you should be open to the school about it, this depends on how open you have already been about your homosexuality. If you have already been as open as you could possibly be than there is no cause for you not to be open about your partner. Yet, if you haven’t been open than it would be best to be cautious as rumors travel quickly in the adolescent den of high school. Just remember that if you are open more attention will be leveled at you and such gossip may spread towards segments of your life which do not know about your sexual orientation.

Question #7: “Argh! Well, I was open about dating my dream guy but now some bullies have started calling us names and threatening us. What should I do?”

Terrible to hear about this situation but do not worry, there are steps you can take to resolve the situation. First things first you have to tell your parents as well as the school officials. Inform both of them of what is happening (if your parents do not know about your sexual orientation than this might be a tricky area to balance with lies). Both need to have constant communication with one another.

If the harassment is taking place in the classroom than request to be transferred to another wing of your grade level so you have different teachers and different classmates. This will place you out of the immediate reach of the bullies and give you some breathing room until the school administration disciplines the offenders. If bullies ever physically confront you and you are not in a position to flee than do not be afraid to strike any blow with any object. If it means sparing you pain than unleash your inner beast.

Likewise, however, bullies can also use the cyber world to belittle you. If this is the case than you must remember that no matter what hurtful instant messages you receive or what degrading harassment is thrown your way, you will overcome. Be patient, change cell phone numbers if possible, and increase your online security (for full details see our guide to cyber-bullying).

Bullying is hard to endure but if your parents/guardians and school administrators are proactive such horrid behavior can be stopped dead in its tracks. If you find that the school is not fulfilling its obligations to protect you than there is always the option of legal action; your state’s local American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U) chapter would be more than willing to help you in this regard.

~             ~             ~

Well, there you have it my young chum, I hope what you have read in this guide has helped you in better understanding what to do in the event these scenarios happen. Though far from perfect, life rarely is, if you tackle the myriad of challenges that school offers you with your head held high I have the greatest confidence in you that you will emerge on the other side of the year more confidant, powerful, and happy than when you entered.

A Report From the Occupy National Gathering

The Workshop
Here Lisa Savage from Code:Pink Maine hosts a workshop chronicling the abuses of NATO within Afghanistan as well as Amnesty International’s selling out to Western Imperialism.

From the days of June 29th to July 2nd I was lucky enough to attend the National Occupy Gathering; an events which was originally pegged to be the “must attend” activist congregation of the year. However, as time passed it soon became clear that this conference would not so much lead the movement forward as it would signal the inimitable decline of Occupy.

Personally I was able to attend after securing a ride with my state’s Code:Pink local coordinator. She was nice enough to drive us over nine hours to our destination. While on the way we helped a broken motorist, stopped to eat, nearly broke down, and got lost it was a wonderful trip (if one was to exclude the heat) where I was able to both be helpful and consider my future within the Occupy Movement.

By the time my contact and I arrived in Philadelphia we were both exhausted with the car close to overheating.  Nearly lost and very near a frustration overload we ended up calling our hostesses to ask for directions. Since they were such awesome people, however, they opted to come and get us in Lou of informing us which turns to take. In no time we arrived back at their house where I fell in love with both their super comfy couch, air conditioned room, and lovely German Shepard.

Sleeping soon after we settled into our areas of comfort my contact friend and I soon crashed into a deep sleep. When we woke up, not too hard to do with all the dogs barking, we felt energized and ready to rumble with the outside heat (which was a dry 100). However, since the vehicle we used to come up was in the shop, and my contact friend needed to wait for the mechanic to call, I would be destined to head down town to the Occupy encampment by myself.

Hitching a ride with one of our hostesses, where during the time we had a sublime chat regarding school and heteronormality, she dropped me off at the train station with instructions on how to travel to 8th & Market Street. Though taking the train for the first time was a personally daunting prospect, and I did end up missing the first such scheduled train, the actual ordeal was much less painful than I thought. Once out of the station and into the daylight I eventually found my way towards the park (though I had to call for help several times).

It was once I was at the park in which things turned different. When I attempted to enter the park the pigs would not let me enter with my sleeping bag (what they considered camping equipment). So I regulated myself to waiting on the sidelines until either my contact friend came down or until a comrade of mine, who said he would come, gave me a call.

After some time, maybe thirty minutes or so, I met up with my comrade-a cadre from Workers Power-and took off, without my sleeping bag, to discuss vital matters of the day. We looked around the park and came to the conclusion that Occupy was near its end; with little more than a couple hundred people there on the first day it was a poor showing at best.

Though there would be a small march later in the day, followed by a small and very needless confrontation with the police, only one person would be arrested that night. My comrade and myself had long ago written off any possibility of participating in such a confrontation due to its completely uselessness in actually achieving results. In truth, it is sad to say that the first day ended with the only inspiring event being that some people had showed.

Hours later we parted ways and returned to our respective homes for the night.

The following was a little more packed. Certainly the attendance was above that of yesterday yet still nothing to cheer wildly about. The events for the 1st of July did manage to go off without a hitch and workshops were presented in a timely manner. The one in which was of most interest was the “Occupy and Labor” outreach workshop. This teach-in, which was hosted by professional revolutionaries who know what they were doing, was able to bring a high amount of energy, humor and radicalism while still appealing to the “average” non-politicked worker. I took mental notes and would try and apply his method to the future struggle.

Speaking honestly this was undoubtedly the high point for the day if one wishes to talk about politics. Though my comrade and I listened in on parts of other workshops and we went out to lunch, and discussed party building some there was little other of consequence to speak of. We hugged, said our goodbyes, and parted ways.

So in the end while the Occupy National Gathering was a splendid event from the perspective of an outsider looking in or a revolutionary socialist considering how to recruit others for the next step of the struggle, for the actual occupy movement it was lackluster to say the least. With reactionary SNAFUs (a poorly planned comedy hour in which all variety of bourgeois humor was spewed), an agonizingly hot temperature, and none within the actual city observing the event, it was a gathering to be remembered in paradoxically unflattering and hopeful terms.

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