Archive for the ‘In Remembrance’ Category

Uniting together for a common goal. A union of folks on a mission to topple that which opposed our very lives.

One lesson that many of us learned back in the day of our youthful rebellion was the idea if we supported others and their fight for liberation that they in turn would support us and the more support that we had and they had the better off we would all be. Maybe, just maybe we would fight together and we would win. A union of different folks together in a common goal, united to fight for a common purpose our liberation against the state. To topple and transform the institutions what a wonderful idea!

In the early days of the L and G movement that idea was lost when a wrong road was taken by members of the Gay Liberation Front who walked out of a meeting at a very crucial time. This time as many of us know who studied or lived our history was the meeting to vote on support for the Black Panther Party. Those who walked out of the multi-issue GLF founded that December the Gay Activist Alliance. Now the GAA was a lot like some of the conservative groups that Harry Hay warned us about, those who only wanted to work on their issues, that is what has been described as the white comfortable gay male issues and fuck everyone else and their issues. We going to get ours and the heck with you. Wrong road boys and girls wrong road.

One thing we learned in union organizing is that we must stick together, and as the old song goes, “What force on earth is weaker than the feeble force of one?” Solidarity across all lines that is how a revolution is made and is won. But the boys and girls back then didn’t see that as the boys and girls operating from their elite non-profit mainstream LGBT organizations don’t see it now. Their little lobbying groups who will only go so far so not to upset the man and his yardstick. The straight man that is. You know that old saying, “we are not different from you, except for what we do in bed.” You have heard about it, we all must look a certain way, to fit in. Men in suits, women in dresses. No butches, fems, no drag queens, no far out types. Look normal! Ding dong hear the wedding bells, go drop some bombs on the little brown girl at her sewing machine. Conform! Fit in! Oh what we do for the love of mommy and daddy! One has to wonder did anyone of these folks even stop to question the very system that they clamored to be a part of? Did they even understand that perhaps not all inclusion was good inclusion? That what they had fled from was no place to return to?

Yes the movement took a wrong road back then, the GAA didn’t see that our liberation was tied into the liberation of the Panthers, the Young Lords, the grape pickers, women, those who fought for civil rights of Black amerikkka and anyone who was or is the outcast. They didn’t see that everyone who called out against the oppressor was leading us towards freedom. A new freedom. No they only could see to the end of their own nose. Their desires and wants should be everybody’s wants and desires.  But that is where everyone was and wanted to be. By 1970 the multi-issue Gay Liberation Front had all but disappeared from the New York political scene and with it the idea that none of us are free unless all of us are. I remember it well and I remember how hard it was to share a revolutionary vision with those not willing to share with all others. I found that I had more in common with those on the left than my own people. This article is just another attempt to free us from the BS of the “We must fit in movement.” We can only say that those who want the man so bad, those who want the ruler, the measuring stick of the straight world, then how can you be our friends and comrades. How can you believe in a one issue movement and fight in a one issue struggle when we know damn well the old slogan, “We are here, there and everywhere,” is the truth?

We are going in this essay to hear about some folks who rejected that type of organizing. Those who can today be called our true revolutionaries who looked beyond their self and fought back.

This work, a collage is gleaned from many sources in the service of the people.

We decided to start each of these articles with The International. Here is the updated version as written and sung by Billy Bragg after a challenge from Pete Seeger.

The Patterson Silk Strike

(more…)

Years ago the Imperialist Uncle Scam, the U.S led by George Bush invaded Iraq and destroyed a civilization based on a pack of lies. A group of us Queers were at a antiwar demonstration, passing out leaflets denouncing the war, waving the rainbow flag and chanting along with the best of them. This was nothing new for some of us since we had been demonstrating against war since the invasion of Vietnam by the U.S. A leftist who for the life of me I can’t remember her name came up to us and said, “I thought you gays were only interested in marriage.” This was said to us almost as a put down by one of the organizers of the rally where speaker after speaker never once mentioned the LGBTQ community. A couple of times of course in the apporiate place I had to yell out, something like, “that affects the Queer Community also,” or “you’re forgetting the LGBT community”, or “Queers too!” I think many in the audience listening to the speakers were a bit taken back as you know that those who are chosen to speak, know their subject that is why they are standing up there, telling all of us what is and what isn’t. ( a topic for a whole other article) “Leaders”, as May Riley says, “Oh what do we do with those who call themselves Leader?”) Whenever Queers Without Borders held an event, Frank would bring along his speaker system, Timmy or Richard would decorate their pull along shopping cart, and a open speak out would be held. We wanted to hear what everyone had to say, not just the chosen few. You know that one idea pushes another idea? Well a lot of ideas push a lot of ideas and we always thought we ended up in a much better place.

Below is one of the antiwar leaflets that Queers Without Borders passed out a demo’s in Hartford.

I got to thinking about this again over the past few months when Jerimarie Liesegang, the mother of the Ct. Transgender movement, and I have been doing a lot of research on the LGBTQI+ communities using a timeline that I did for the exhibition Challenging and Changing America The Struggle for LGBT Civil Rights 1900-1999 among other items of research. We now are on the 3rd video in our collaboration a look at the LGBT movement, The Radicals vrs. the Reformists. (soon to be released) I got to thinking again about unions, the work place, and the struggle for basic civil rights. I got to thinking again that most of us, yes I would say a good percentage of us are working class queers and what did the struggle for human rights in the workplace mean for us, how do we approach unions and how do unions approach the LGBTQI+ communties. I remembered a few sections of the timeline that I wanted to explore more fully so began this posting for Furbirdsqueerly.

This work is gleaned from many sources and put together as a collage in the service of the people.

The cause of labor should be the cause of every LGBT person. Our shared struggle is one of the most critical movements in America today. In this the age of trump and the rise of the right-wing gun toting fascists’, the right to work, get paid a living wage, and share in the fruits of your labor is being eroded week by week. Collective bargaining is one of the only tools in our tool belt that allows us to push back against this tide of income inequality and demand our fair share of the economic pie. Not crumbs mind you, never crumbs shaken from the rich man’s table, and even not a piece of the pie, but honest pay and then some. I think of the line from Solidarity Forever, Without Us Not A Single Wheel Would Turn. Pay that every worker can live on. Honest pay that is ours not the bosses, not the owners, and not the wealthy. Not $15 per hour as some unions say, (in Part 2 we will tell you why and do the math.) Nope we are not bowing and scraping and enjoying those table cloth crumbs. We do not live for pie in the sky.  But in this struggle we must be aware from union-busting corporations, to state legislative all out efforts to dismantle workers’ rights, America’s unions have never faced attacks from so many angles at once. As we know and Jerimarie and I have proven in our research, far too often, the LGBT community of today turns a blind eye to these struggles. The elite leadership of the LGBT movement is drunk with their own wins of marriage and “gays” in the military, yeah folks go kill brown people all over the world in the name of equality, and their one issue agenda of and for the elite among our community. (more on that later) But first we demand unity with the workers of the world and the workers of the world demand the same from us.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS!     (1)

Let us start this essay using a few dates and information from the original timeline of 1999 and other postings from this site. Here are some of the LGBT people who were activists in support of workers and show that the LGBTQ common struggle is with the labor movement.

From Challenging and Changing America: The Struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights 1900-1999.

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman a Russian born Feminist, and Anarchist, though not a Lesbian or Bisexual according to most historians was a strong supporter of our people. When asked in 1900 when living in the U.S how could she dare to come out in support of Oscar Wilde she replied, “Nonsense no daring is needed to protest great injustice.”  ( 2 ) Goldman spoke out in support of freedom of expression, women’s equality, birth control, sexual freedom, workers rights and was a champion of the rights of homosexuals’ and those who were bisexual or transgender. (more…)

On this day, 10 May 1904 Dutch cellist, conductor, lesbian and anti-Nazi resistance member Frieda Belinfante was born in Amsterdam.
During the German occupation she joined the resistance and began forging documents for people hiding from the Nazis and their collaborators. Along with gay resistance fighter Willem Arondeus she helped plan a successful attack on the Amsterdam population registry which destroyed ID records so that forged papers couldn’t be identified.
While the other members of the group were captured and executed, Frieda managed to evade capture by disguising herself as a man, and eventually fleeing to Switzerland with the help of the French resistance. She survived the war and lived until the age of 90.

The lesbian cellist and conductor Frieda Belinfante was a leading figure in the artists resistance. Dressed up as a man she participated in the resistance and escaped the Gestapo.
The couple Ru Paré and Do Versteegh saved over fifty Jewish children.

The famous socialist and homo-erotic writer Jef Last was part of the resistance group ‘De Vonk’ (The Spark). He was in contact with the editors of the magazine ‘Levensrecht’ (The Right to Live) (1940), which after the war formed the basis for the COC (Dutch Gay Organisation). Nico Engelschman and Jaap van Leeuwen were active in several resistance groups. Jaap Diekmann went underground, was caught and worked as a forced laborer in Germany.

Other COC-members included Gé Winter, who saved his Jewish friend Van Spiegel and his family, and the publisher and interpreter Henri Methorst from The Hague, who kept psychiatrist Coen van Emde Boas and his wife out of Nazi hands.

In Groningen tobacco manufacturer Willy Niemeijer, was involved in underground activities and later perished in Neuengamme concentration camp.

In Amsterdam the Castrum Peregrini was active, a safe-house for Jewish refugees around the German intellectual Wolfgang Frommel, follower of the poet Stefan George. Homo-eroticism was a concealed theme in their circle. The poets Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand were arrested on grounds of homosexuality and died in a concentration camp. The writer Wolfgang Cordan was the leader of an armed resistance group.

From Gays and Lesbians in War and Resistance. 

We received notice via them. that our sister liberation warrior, mother of the Trans Latinx community in Queens New York Lorena Borjas has died from the Covid-19 virus. Wren Sanders writing in an excellent article about Lorena opened the announcement this way:

“Lorena Borjas — a human trafficking survivor and lifelong defender of immigrants, sex workers, and trans folks — died this morning from complications due to COVID-19, according to tweets by Bianey Garcia, Borjas’s chosen daughter. She was 60 years old.

Known as the mother of the trans Latinx community in Queens, Borjas earned the reputation through a roughly 30-year career as a community organizer. Beyond leading some of the first marches to specifically honor the trans women of Jackson Heights, Borjas advocated for her sisters through organizing HIV testing opportunities for trans sex workers, establishing a fund that would bail out folks who were arrested on prostitution charges, and through running syringe-exchange programs for trans women taking hormone injections. She was a leader in her community, a voice of wisdom, and a guide for activists in generations to come.”

Please follow the link to read the article HERE.

From us at Furbirdsqueerly we can only say, Rest In Power Liberation Warrior Lorena Borjas and thank you for all that you have done for our people.

A very important finished piece by J. Bruce Wilcox an artist that was introduced to our readers in a link below. When he sends more photo’s and information about his show we will post here.

CrossBones: In Memory Of All Who Have Died In Some God’s Name. Built in 2000. Finally completed in 2020. 7’6″ wide X 9’8″ high

RIOT
The North Gallery at Spark
Reception 3 / 20 / 2020. 5 / 9 pm.
900 Santa Fe Drive Denver
With Bill Ballas and Phillip Potter in the Main Gallery.

UPDATE: Informed by the artist the show has been cancelled.

Image may contain: indoor

Check out other art by this Queer Artist. Need we say we love his work.

The Nation published an excellent article that all of us in the LGBTQI+ movement should and must read.

The First Drag Queen Was a Former Slave
Who fought for queer freedom a century before Stonewall.
By Channing Gerard Joseph

The article begins this way:

“His name was William Dorsey Swann, but to his friends he was known as “the Queen.” Both of those names had been forgotten for nearly a century before I rediscovered them while researching at Columbia University. Born in Maryland around 1858, Swann endured slavery, the Civil War, racism, police surveillance, torture behind bars, and many other injustices. But beginning in the 1880s, he not only became the first American activist to lead a queer resistance group; he also became, in the same decade, the first known person to dub himself a “queen of drag”—or, more familiarly, a drag queen. In 1896, after being convicted and sentenced to 10 months in jail on the false charge of “keeping a disorderly house”—a euphemism for running a brothel—Swann demanded (and was denied) a pardon from President Grover Cleveland for holding a drag ball. This, too, was a historic act: It made Swann the earliest recorded American to take specific legal and political steps to defend the queer community’s right to gather without the threat of criminalization, suppression, or police violence.”

The article goes on to say: “My research on Swann began 15 years ago, when I stumbled upon a Washington Post article from April 13, 1888. The headline leaped off the page: “Negro Dive Raided. Thirteen Black Men Dressed as Women Surprised at Supper and Arrested.” According to another news account, more than a dozen escaped as the officers barged in and Swann tried to stop them, boldly telling the police lieutenant in charge, “You is no gentleman.” In the ensuing brawl, the Queen’s “gorgeous dress of cream-colored satin” was torn to shreds. (The fight was also one of the first known instances of violent resistance in the name of LGBTQ rights.)”

And ends this way: “Though the Stonewall uprising of 1969 is often touted as the beginning of the fight for gay liberation, Swann’s courageous example forces us to rethink the history of the movement: when it began, where it came from, and who its leaders were. Coming of age at a time when an entirely new form of freedom and self-​determination was developing for African Americans, Swann and his house of butlers, coachmen, and cooks—the first Americans to regularly hold cross-dressing balls and the first to fight for the right to do so—arguably laid the foundations of contemporary queer celebration and protest.”

The article can be read HERE.

This wonderful article about a great poet came from Freedom Socialist.

Roque Dalton
The life and tragic death of a Salvadoran revolutionary poet
Sukey Wolf
October 2019

Roque Dalton

Salvadoran radical Roque Dalton has quickly become my favorite poet of the 20th century. By turns, his writing is lyrical, pragmatic, intimate, angry and self-deprecating. He was known by his friends as a man who laughed a lot — at the absurdity of life under a dictatorship, at the vagaries of the human condition, and at himself.
Born in 1935, Dalton was the illegitimate son of a U.S. coffee plantation owner and a Mexican single mother. He was educated by the Jesuits, courtesy of his father. He blamed their hypocrisy and support for the status quo for his break with Catholicism. One of his first political acts was a high school valedictory speech blasting his teachers for their tacit support of the school caste system by which poor children were demeaned.

Among his first poems is one about his experience in kindergarten as a child from a lower-class family. Dalton describes it as
…where I took
my first steps in society
smelling faintly of horse shit
“Peasant!” Roberto called me
… and he gave me a hard shove …

This experience came to define Dalton. The rest of his life was devoted to the exploited, harassed and abused.
Fifty years of dictatorship. The world-wide depression of the 1930s led to the collapse of the Central American coffee market, causing great suffering. At the time, the Communist Party (CP) of El Salvador was organizing among workers, teaching them about the gains of the Russian Revolution and the right to strike. The party called for a mass demonstration on January 22, 1932 to demand better pay and working conditions. When indigenous peasants staged an insurrection in western El Salvador on the same day, both uprisings were attributed to the CP. Mass arrests as well as a ruthless military genocide against communists and the indigenous population followed. In short order, four percent of the population was wiped out by state violence. Afterwards, military juntas ruled until 1992.

This was the world Dalton was born into and fought until his death in 1975.
The early years. While at university, Dalton formed a group with other writers known as the Generación Comprometida or Committed Generation.
Their philosophy was that to be an artist one must be a practicing revolutionary, actively intervening in the class struggle instead of just observing it.

In 1960, Dalton joined the Communist Party and was arrested within a few months. He was sentenced to die, but ironically a military coup, which freed many prisoners, saved his life. After this, Dalton went into exile, first in Mexico and later in Cuba and Prague.
The poet finds his voice. Dalton produced fourteen books of mostly poetry in his life. The poems with explicitly political content are alive in a way that much poetry like this is not. A perfect example is his poem “On Headaches” in which he proclaims:

It is beautiful to be a communist
although it causes many a headache.

Later he concludes, “Communism will be, among other things/an aspirin the size of the sun.” Rather than theorizing, Dalton is giving us his lived experience wrapped up in the fanciful image of a giant pain pill and the ideas come alive.

In a poem about Karl Marx by the same title, the poet says:
… from the fever, like a small world
of light in the endless nights
you have corrected God’s lame work
you, so guilty of giving us hope.

Again, instead of offering the reader propaganda or polemics, Dalton goes right for the gut in deceptively simple language. This simplicity extends to another poem that is all in the title — “Advice Which is Now Not Necessary Anywhere in the World Except El Salvador” — in which he counsels:
Don’t ever forget
that the least fascist
among the fascists
are also
fascists.
The ideas are complex, but he breaks them down to elemental clarity.

Not all Dalton’s poems are about the class struggle. He has some beautiful love poems of which my favorite is “Nakedness.” In it he writes:

When you undress for me with your eyes closed
you fit in a cup next to my tongue
you fit between my hands like my daily bread
you fit beneath my body more neatly than its shadow…

A death too soon. In 1973, Dalton returned to El Salvador from exile in Cuba. By then well-known, he was determined to join the guerrilla movement against the military dictatorship and underwent plastic surgery to avoid being recognized. He joined the People’s Revolutionary Army, known by its Spanish acronym ERP. This group later joined the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a military front of guerrilla organizations.

A strong proponent of armed struggle, Dalton nonetheless developed differences with the ERP leadership over forging links with mass organizations. Joaquin Villalobos and other leaders of the ERP advocated a coup-d’état strategy instead. They accused Dalton of being an agent of the CIA and Cuba, and Villalobos himself executed Dalton four days before his 40th birthday. After the civil war, Villalobos went on to become a right-wing radio commentator in England.
Sadly, this poetic genius was taken from us too soon. Fortunately, he left us his poems to read and enjoy, to inspire and inform us.

This article and other information about Freedom Socialist can be found on line at: https://socialism.com/fs-article/the-life-and-tragic-death-of-a-salvadoran-revolutionary-poet/?fbclid=IwAR0bIIdTFJXtPFWUom9MIZof6S2h5GHayW7xbEDA2SNL5Fql4WlP1Zs0iB0