Anonymous Is An Invert Not Again
Anonymous Is An Invert Not Again.
I’m seeing it pop up lately, more and more, in press conferences, in demonstrations on speakers platforms, and in other places where we all gather to state what is on our mind. I wonder if this pattern is harking back, back to the day when anonymous was an Invert?
Many years ago when speaking of the homosexual population (women and men) in America Harry Hay declared we were like a masked anonymous and unkown people. The founding of the Mattachine Society was based on this idea and the name Mattachine was taken from a medieval French Society of unmarried men who conducted ritual dances at the vernal equinox. At these dances the men performed wearing masks. Through out the years of a movement we always knew that we had to come out of the closet and stand up and be counted. Stand up in pride. We shouted we are your mothers, your fathers, sisters and brothers and everyone else are we, in the rainbow of humanity. That is a fact we knew it then and we know it now. This process of coming out takes many shapes and forms and many of us know that it is not something that we do once. Politically it still is as important today as it was 50 + years ago. If they don’t know us, it gives who ever wants to, an excuse to continue to make our lives miserable. The theory goes as more and more people know us then there is less of an excuse to hate us. (jury still out on that)
Back some 40 years ago when our contemporary movement was young, back in the heady revolutionary days of Americka our sisters and brothers in the GLF knew that in order to be free that others had to be free also. The GLF was a part of the huge surge of the oppressed who rose up against the system. Building bonds and building coalitions in those days was not always easy. We were met with disdain and outright hostility on the picket lines, in anti-war demonstrations, in the unions and within most of the left. Only 2 leftist parties, that I know of, opened their arms to us, The Workers World Party and The Freedom Socialist Party. I can remember marching with anti-war pro-gay banners and being heckled by other anti-war marchers. Same old story that QWB faced a few years back, “What does Gay have to do with this?” but many of us knew then as we do now that if we didn’t build coalitions we would be dead ducks. Many of our people at that time were indeed in the various liberation movements but our idenity was hidden in the closet. We must remember that some of our great leaders came out of the left. This has always been the case and is a forgotten part of our stories. I would love to read a history posting on our connections to the early Anarchists and Socialists. Will someone take this up? Will someone help us return to the soul of our movement?
Building coalitions today is as important as it was in years ago. Since none of us live single issue lives (thank you Audre Lorde) how can we not be a multi-issue people? If the old saying we are here there and everywhere holds any water then we could never be single issue movement/people. We are fully aware that the LGBTI/Q community does not live in isolation from other communities. (can’t say it enough.) We know that war, racism, sexism, poverty, health concerns, youth violence, environmental justice, religious intolerance, racial and ethnic profiling, tax cuts for the wealthy, the slashing of critical programs for the people, attacks on civil liberties and immigrant rights, the right to organize into unions, affordable housing are our issues, our everyday issues. We participate in many groups today and work on many issues. Do we hide who we are in these groups? Do we think it isn’t important to come out of our closets? If we do believe this way then we are moving backward and joining with the agenda of the assimilationists.
Why this writing?
What got me thinking about this again was something that happened a few years back at a anti-Iraq war rally. A person from the LBGT community was up on the stage speaking out against the war. This person is a very good speaker, very committed to social justice and was speaking to a crowd of about 1,500 people. Not once was the connection made that the very same people who waged a war of terror on Iraq were waging a war here at home against LGBT people. We too are their enemy. The political and religious right continues to demonize our people and believe that it is quite okay to write discrimination into the constitution. We are so much their enemy that they discharge soldiers from the military who are specialists. For whatever reason this speaker did not see any need to express outrage and sorrow as a LGBT activist. The opportunity was lost to educate the anti-war crowd (lord knows many of them need it even though they pretend to be oh so hip) that we are here, we are queer, we are outraged, that we care and we are not all a one-issue people. One of my mentors told me back in the day that one can always find a way to get this important fact about our lives out and in the speech. She also reminded me that it is our duty to our LGBT community to do so. By doing this we then begin to disarm people’s notion about our lives, who we are and what we stand for. So many people have been lead to believe that all we care about is marriage and rescinding the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. By any of us not speaking out, many on the “progressive left” will continue to believe and think of us, as just a pressure group which does not join in the larger struggle of liberation. This thinking isolates us from potential allies and abandons us in the fight to transform society. Then we do not become a block in the building of the new world but remain members of the old society that must be done away with. By this silence we mask ourselves again, and we mask our people. (if anyone wants to be in the closet go ahead, but don’t expect me or our people to join you.) This speaker by not saying, out and proud, I am a Queer made it far easier for the leftist that asked at another demonstration, “why are you gays here, I thought you were only interested in marriage.” (I have to admit this leftist made me laugh. My first anti-war demo was in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. I was 17, out and as anti-war, full of piss and vinegar as others in my generation.) Show me your scars, I will show you mine.
Our responsibility of unmasking ourselves extends to all coalitions that we join. We not only stand in solidarity against the war in Iraq, against any war with Iran, Venezuela, or North Korea but stand in solidarity with all victims of hate crimes. We have a large stake in this area. So many of our people have been beaten and killed in this country and around the world that as Queers we must stand together with any and all who are victims. We have to stand up and out with all others so all will know that we are a force to be reckoned with. When standing up and out we must proclaim that We as Queers are activity opposed to transphobia, racism, sexism, classicism, and xenophobia. We must speak out against this system that oppresses us and other minorities to the point that the common citizen feel its quite okay to beat and kill us. When one of us is chosen to speak to this great injustice we must do so by being totally unmasked. We owe this to our people, to our history and to justice. Nothing or anyone is so important to force us back into the closet, to demand that we do not speak our truth and that we should put on a mask of any shape, type or size. If we are asked to do so or feel that we must then it might be time for us to join another human fellowship rather than continue in a false intimacy.
I would like to get a clearer picture of this. Perhaps I am not getting it right. Perhaps I am from the olden golden period of the revolutionary days when we stood out and proud as we shook off the rules and regulations of heterosexual society. Perhaps I don’t understand this post identity politics very well. Perhaps I don’t know too much about how to be a blender or keep my mouth shut. I know something is happening here and I don’t like what it is. That much I do know.