Archive for the ‘for your reflection’ Category

The LGBTQ Movement is an Intersectional Fail

By GLN Co-founder Andy Thayer
Reprinted from CounterPunch

In recent years “intersectionality” has been the biggest buzz word in progressive circles, liberally sprinkled in activist conferences and social media. Yet few movements have been as long on intersectional talk, and little on action, as the LGBTQ movement.

Few events point up this fail more clearly than the impending release from prison this Wednesday of Transgender heroine Chelsea Manning. She is by far the single most important, impactful anti-war activist and whistle-blower that the LGBTQ movement has ever produced.

She exposed war crimes by the U.S. and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, including murder and torture, such as the infamous “Collateral Murder” video of two Reuters journalists and ten other civilians. She gave the most expansive documentary evidence ever provided of U.S. support for a host of corrupt and vicious dictators across the Middle East. This information helped fuel the wave of Arab Spring revolts, the largest democracy movement ever seen in the region, knocking out a number of these dictators.

Yet from 2010 arrest through her subsequent arduous trial and most of her incarceration – the longest imprisonment of a whistleblower in U.S. history – none of the big LGBTQ non-profits defended her.

You might think that her 2010 incarceration would have produced a “perfect storm” of intersectional and identity politics support. Here you had a working class person who identified as gay, and later came out as a Trans woman, who exposed some of the most scandalous secrets of the U.S. military and State Department in what was to that date by far the largest document dump in U.S. history.

You would think, for example, that in the heart of the most powerful military empire that the world has ever seen, that an activist who opposed the savaging of other countries by the U.S. military would receive intersectional support from a broad section of the U.S. left. And particularly since this activist identified as LGBTQ, the LGBTQ left would particularly be in her corner.

But no. Years earlier a top official in what is now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force told me that “we will never” again come out against a U.S. war, following the Task Force’s public opposition to President George H. W. Bush’s first war against Iraq. He said that the Task Force’s coming out against that war had “nearly destroyed” the organization, as wealthy donors pulled their donations and threatened to never support it again. And this was with the Task Force, the group that likes to posture itself as the “hippest” of the big LGBTQ non-profits.

But it was not the first, nor certainly the last time that LGBTQ non-profits – rightly derided as “Gay Inc.” – prioritized donors’ dollars to fund their salaries and offices, over alleged adherence to intersectional principles.

For all their talk of “grassroots organizing” – another phrase that’s become hackneyed thru repeated misuse – Gay Inc. organizations are staff-driven at best, and at worst, controlled by self-selected boards chosen for their ability to tap contributions from wealthy donors. In this way the wealthiest LGBTQs control the political agenda of what passes for our movement, a pink version of the class stratification talked about in straight society, but rarely mentioned in the movement.

Some say that the reason for this conservatism is Gay, Inc.’s affection for “heteronormativity” – the aping straight people. This is said to explain their recent emphasis on winning equal marriage rights, for example. But this interpretation doesn’t adequately explain where “heteronormativity” itself comes from, and it also radically mis-reads the chronology of how the marriage issue became center-space in our movement.

For many years almost all of the large organizations of LGBTQs opposed pushing for equal marriage rights (the one exception being the Metropolitan Community Church). As late as at its 2005 “Creating Change” conference, for example, the Task Force had only anti-equal marriage speakers at one of the conference’s two plenaries – with no opportunity for proponents to rebut.

More recently, of course, Gay Inc. mercilessly mined the marriage issue for donations, not unlike how they have done with Transgender issues for the last couple of years. The cynicism in both instances is quite breath-taking, especially when you consider, for example, the Human Rights Campaign’s well-documented betrayal [2] of Transgender employment rights under the tutelage of gay Congressman Barney Frank.

The root of Gay Inc.’s betrayal of Chelsea Manning, and their flip-flops on marriage rights and Trans rights, lie directly in their being joined at the hip with the Democratic Party. The incestuous revolving door between military contractors and ex-military officers is only exceeded by Gay Inc’s revolving door with the Democratic Party.

The pollsters and media “professionals” who gave us the disastrous failed campaign against California’s 2008 anti-gay Proposition 8, for example, were drawn directly from the Party. The current president of Gay Inc’s biggest and wealthiest group, the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, “got his start in politics volunteering for the Bill Clinton presidential campaign, which led to a position in the White House Press Office at the age of 19. Following his stint in the White House and his graduation from Georgetown University, he led a number of political campaigns advocating for or against various California ballot initiatives, as well as a number of fundraising efforts for political candidates, such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.”

A big reason why Gay Inc. was initially so loath to take on the equal marriage issue was because their main guy, President Bill Clinton, was directly implicated in the worst measure enacted against it – the Defense of Marriage Act – and the series of failed Democratic presidential candidates who followed him also opposed equal marriage rights. As I’ve written elsewhere,

“After Bill Clinton appeased the right by passing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (and NAFTA, and Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act, etc, etc), he took out ads on Christian Right radio stations bragging about it, as part of his re-election bid.”

Similarly with Chelsea Manning. Besides exposing George W. Bush’s dirty laundry, she also exposed the Obama White House’s illegal support for the military coup which overthrew the elected government in Honduras, with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton providing crucial support for the murderous regime that took over.

Only when an issue is considered acceptable to leading Democrats – or forced onto their agenda by incessant campaigning by truly grassroots activists – has Gay Inc. switched up its issues list. So only after years of polling numbers showed that marriage was a top issue for LGBTQs – reacting to the religious right beating us up on the issue – did Gay Inc. change its tune and decide the issue was “realistic.”

Left to their own devices, Gay Inc. groveled to the Party’s needs. This is why after the 1998 lynching of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard and the protests in hundreds of cities that followed it, Gay Inc. quickly moved to divert the movement into meaningless, if not positively reactionary, calls for “hate crimes” legislation, feeding the racist mass incarceration boom then underway.

Gay Inc. was loath to embarrass then-President Clinton for his support for the Defense of Marriage Act two years earlier, or the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military employment ban three years before that, in enabling the anti-gay hate that killed Shepard.

All of the pro-LGBTQ reforms of the past two decades that were eventually supported by the Democrats have one thing in common:  They cost virtually no money. From hate crimes legislation to marriage rights to Trans people’s access to public restrooms, all cost the profit system little, if any, serious money. (more…)

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Furbirdsqueerly did a review of the show and you can find it HERE.

CHELSEA MANNING

International Victory Day!

May 17, 2017

DEFEND ALL WHISTLEBLOWERS

Chelsea Manning is going to be free! Celebrate with us!

Chelsea Mannings 35-year sentence was commuted by Obama. It was a victory for Chelsea of course, but also for all of us in many countries who supported her and benefited from her courageous whistleblowing: the international women and lgbtq movements, the anti-war and anti-racist movements, the movements of whistleblowers, war veterans, refuseniks and everyone who stands for justice.

On May 17, we celebrate Chelsea’s freedom in many cities:

So far events that we know of are also planned in Auckland (New Zealand), Beer Sheva Israel (organized by refusenik pilot Yonatan Shapiro, near prison where Palestinians are on hunger strike), Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Dublin (Ireland), London, Manheim (Germany), Philadelphia  and Seattle.

WE INVITE YOU TO ORGANIZE AN EVENT, no matter how small: a protest, a vigil, a party.  Please send us news of your event and we’ll help publicize it.

I watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians and artists. My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own. I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others.  – from Chelsea’s statement on her upcoming release (more…)

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MEDIA ADVISORY MAY 10, 2017
MORE INFO:
STEVE THORNTON
860-525-6510

FAMED ABOLITIONIST FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO BE
REMEMBERED BY HARTFORD CHURCH, COMMUNITY

“This is hidden history, as important today as it was during the
time of slavery,” says Rev. Damaris Whittaker of Center Church

Several hundred Hartford residents are expected to join the commemoration of Frederick Douglass’s first visit to Hartford, which took place on May 18, 1843. Douglass is best known for his escape from southern slavery and his rise as a leading spokesman for the early American abolitionist movement.

The event will take place on May 18, 2017, 6:30 pm, at Center Church, Hartford (the First Church of Christ in Hartford) located at the corner of Main and Gold Streets, across from the Wadsworth Atheneum.

“This great abolitionist came to our city many times during his life, yet there are no permanent memorials for Frederick Douglass,” stated Rev. Damaris Whittaker, the pastor of Center Church. “Ironically, there is a Hartford memorial for Stephen A. Douglas, the slavery apologist who ran against Abraham Lincoln for president in 1860,” Rev. Whittaker continued. “We want to fix that.”

“Hartford has a direct connection to the anti-slavery movement, including Reverend Dr. Joel Hawes, who first invited Douglass to speak,” says Steve Thornton of the Shoeleather History Project. “We want to uncover that link and restore it to the history of the church, the city of Hartford, and the anti-slavery movement.”

The event will include brief remarks, a historical talk, and a performance by Nathan Richardson, a poet and author known for his critically acclaimed portrayal of Douglass.

There will also be a dedication of a “Frederick Douglass court” outside the Meeting House with a memorial plaque. The public is invited to this free event.

For more information see HERE.

A friend asked if I would write something about the art that I did/do after reading a piece of mine, The Museum Was Closed Today So I Took A Stroll: Some Art in 10 city blocks. My favorite line in that piece which would go under the categories of  “performance, flow, dance, and let’s eat” is, “A thousand ants carry a dead beetle home.” I like that art work, it works well under the series Now You See It, Now You Don’t. It only asks you to use your mind and see it. See the action as it moves across the dirt toward the hole in the ground. I know the ants are artists do they? Does it matter? Can only people be artists? Are they? A person asked me years ago when the piece was first written if I had a photograph to show of this work. I wondered out loud if they had a mind and never heard from the person again.

Another of my happy go lucky works of art in dance is this. Mind it now it is very simple. “Jump Up Create a Space, Go Back Down Space Erased.”  I do hope there isn’t any need to say anymore. Try it on a windy day and see if you get blown over to the next space. Do it again if you do. I also wrote at this time about out sweeping your sidewalk rearranging the dirt and dust. “Dust cloud up in the air, dust it lands down other-where.”

A little revolution in art never hurt a damn person.   A revolution in society leaves many without heads.

I read the other day in an art magazine (gad I hate those things) that now due to the economic times art will get lighter. There it goes see it going, going, gone into outer space. I had a good laugh at the person making that statement. He was answering a question, “Where is art going in these economic depressed times,”  Or the statement from the Dean of Yale Art School when asked with a host of other art worldly conductors had this to say about where art was going. “People who travel light and do things that are contrary and ephemeral are going to have a good moment.” WOW. Is dat me Jesus?  I know that I have always been contrary. In fact I was a contrary in my former life. I love being contrary. My art is contrary to the art system because I think it is full of shit.  Hey I mean the art system not my art. My art is contrary to buying and selling I do neither. My art does not rely on a collector base to support it, my art is neither priced too high or too low, its free, and I don’t have to worry about a dealer selling my art to stay in business. My art doesn’t look good over your sofa but it might sting you in your ass. You will never have to dust my picture frames nor Windex my glass.  I don’t like glamorous, I don’t like to play kissy buttee. I don’t like being cooler than the next gal.

Someone said the other day now that the glitz and glamor in the art world is over maybe we can serve some heads on a stick. You know who buys art won’t touch that with a ten foot pole, as they will be the art. The same miserable bastards that have taken everything for a ride.  Damn wait a second, this type of art making I am now engaging in wasn’t suppose to appear to near the end when I offer the solution on what to do about leftovers if you don’t want to eat them. I have always held that if we are engaging in revolution and smashing capitalism part of that effort by me as an artist is to break down and destroy that which is called and named art, the art market and those who butterfly around it all. If we hate the capitalist pigs why give them comfort, why give them more bragging rights, why give them prestige, why give them anything. A report came across our desk here are the opening lines: A document listing all the contributions to Donald Trump’s $106.7 million inauguration includes the names of quite a few art world power players.” ( 1 ) In these dreadful times our job is to take. Please don’t give me any of your sick sobs about how your glad the rich are supporting art rather than whatever else they could be supporting honey we been over this a million times, they are using the money that they made in supporting whatever it is that they support to support the arts. I once knew of a woman, have written about her before, who was of the DOW Family. You know the folks who brought good things to life like napalm, well she was all over the place buying contemporary art,everybody love her and said, fuck her shady past, fuck all of the folks and forests that were hit with napalm. She gives to the arts and supports us. What bull that type of reasoning is!  All of the rich take and they are taking and taking again and again. This job of smashing, it’s a big job. Thanks our lucky stars that with Trump in office some of our rallying cries are bearing fruit.

I want my art to question people’s actions and assumptions. Rather than continuing what they are doing just because everyone else is doing it or because it is the way it has always been done. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a fuck or a rats ass if everyone and the grandma is making art for the system. Go ahead and do it. I don’t care if there are more artists now than the population of all of Tarnation. If everyone paints lovelies for their walls, or paints their angst for all to see.  Do I care if you make a picture that when one looks at they are transported to a place where they would rather be because of your skills in making it look so real. That looks just like a postcard I have heard someone say one day while I was working in the art museum. Yeah, back in one of my days I surround myself with 5 buildings full of art for 8 hours a day just to make a living. Damn was that something. I finally had to leave when I discovered that I had the whole place memorized. I knew where everything in that place was and could tell you if you asked me. I bet I was better at museuming than all the hotsy totsy curators in the place. Them that only knew theirs and missed out on all of ours. I think that I like politicks better than art anyway.

All of that said I will start by telling you about some of my old art. Art from back in the day. Art from when I traveled light.

art and ME.. (more…)

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So you are not against all war yet? You think its quite okay and I bet you say under your breath, because it isn’t me. We remember it so well. When young men were threatened by the draft thousands of people were protesting. Take away the draft or get a nice young handsome president and what do you have? Who cares that the US is drone attacking and dropping bombs all over the place. It isn’t me out there dressed to kill. They ended the draft and I haven’t got the time. Let those who can’t get a job go fight a war. Good way to lift them out of poverty.

Even though this song is about one war I would gather we can put all of them in the same bucket of shit. I would gather that it is about time that we bum rush those who make war and stop them in their tracks. War what is it good for? What are those who make war good for? Listen to this man in the song. He knows and he is telling. He is telling those who sit in their arm chair, and those who play in the band entertaining the wounded and dead. He is telling those who send their young sons to die and those who send them. And we by our telling are telling anyone who wants to listen.

A haunting song we chose for this weeks music series. And the band played waltzing Matildia. Sung by Eric Bogle.

 

Note”

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16, also known as the Battle of Gallipoli or the Dardanelles Campaign, was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during World War I. “In all, some 480,000 Allied forces took part in the Gallipoli Campaign, at a cost of more than 250,000 casualties, including some 46,000 dead. On the Turkish side, the campaign also cost an estimated 250,000 casualties, with 65,000 killed.” Source: http://www.history.com/topics/world-w…

 

A song tribute to one of my generations martyrs Sandy Scheuer. Walking to class on May 4, 1970 at Kent State and murdered by the Ohio National Guard along with 3 other students protesting the invasion of Cambodia.

Hey Sandy

written and sung by Harvey Andrews