Why I Won’t Be Celebrating the Repeal of DADT: Queer Soldiers are Still Agents of Genocide

So “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is looking like it will be repealed and there will be a party in the Castro. I, for one, am not going to be one of the many queens marching throughout the streets of the Castro with my American flag, fatigues, and pink helmet shinning.

It seems almost ironic that the Queer liberation movement (now more aptly called the Gay Rights movement) has done a 180 since it’s radical inception. If anyone were to look into the rich history of Queer struggle they would, no doubt, come into close contact with the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). This group of radical queer groups, which crystallized around the time of the Stonewall Riots, took its name from the Vietnamese Liberation Front. This show of solidarity, through name, was symbolic of the fact that the GLA took a stance against capitalism, racism, and patriarchy in all their forms.

Gay Rights activist now find themselves crying out for marriage equality and inclusion in the military as if these issues are at the core of what it means to be a Queer oppressed in our current society and as if the rash of media covered teen suicides would not happen if these two barriers could be overcome. They clearly have forgotten or didn’t get the memo about the US army being the symbol of western imperialism and marriage being the backbone of patriarchy. Other issues, such as decent housing, medical treatment, resistance to police brutality have become things associated with people of color and other groups. Gays have obviously come to a place where these are non issues in their minds. Queer assimilation is the sinister nature of the State and Capitalism at it’s finest.

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
James A. Baldwin

The Queer population, in addition to others in the 60’s and 70’s, fought against the State and Capitalism, in large, because they had not material connection to the State. Queers found themselves outside of the nuclear family structure and the light of mainstream acceptance. This is why you see the great flight to San Francisco happen; this is why you see San Francisco become a Mecca of all things Gay. A home was needed and a home was found. This home, ironically, is the most symbolic of the radical change that has happened in the Queer population in the last 40-50 years.

The Castro district in San Francisco now stands as the most alienating piece of land to anyone that finds himself or herself not a rich, white, gay male.  It is a destination for global tourism and one of the city’s biggest moneymakers. Commodities line the windows of almost every store and you’d be lucky to find a flat here that is under 4,000 dollars.  A few years back, the residents of the Castro district refused to have a youth center be built in the neighborhood because it would bring down property value, in their words. The Castro is the perfect symbol of the complete bankruptcy and co-optation of the Queer Rights movement. Tourism and profit stand over the lives and safety of youth who desperately need to escape from their abusive families. This is what happens when the Queers desire to become mainstream. It becomes an issue of “who can comfortably assimilate and who can’t”. And you can see what happens to those who can’t.

My problem with the hype and pressure around DADT is that it distracts from the very things that the Queer Liberation movement was founded on: Anti-imperialism, anti-racism, equal access to housing and healthcare, and struggles against patriarchy. It seems almost irrelevant to me whether or not gay soldiers can “come out” in the military when the US military is not only carrying out two genocidal campaigns for US imperialism and corporate profit, but also when the war budget is draining the funds needed for almost every other service we so desperately need in this country. When I see the situation as such, not only does it become apparent to me that the Queer Movement must be antiwar, but also that the movement, as is, has been hijacked by a few high powered assimilaitionist dragging everyone along through corporate propaganda.

So no, I will not be getting my tens in the Castro when DADT is struck down.

40 Comments

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40 responses to “Why I Won’t Be Celebrating the Repeal of DADT: Queer Soldiers are Still Agents of Genocide

  1. Truthiz

    “the US military is not only carrying out two genocidal campaigns for US imperialism and corporate profit, but also…the war budget is draining the funds needed for almost every other service we so desperately need in this country.”

    On point…and I couldn’t agree with you more!

    However, I’m gonna have to Respectfully disagree with your take on the repeal of DADT not being something to be glad about. As long as gay Americans (men and women) are willing to serve this country, making the ultimate Sacrifice_then THE LEAST that those men and women deserve is the Freedom to simply be Honest about their orientation without fear of being punished for doing so.

    DADT was “a sin and a shame before God,” (as the older generation used to say), and I’m mighty glad to see it go!

    • Thanks for reading and responding. I appreciate people getting into the topics and responding. I want dialogue in this space so it always makes me happy when there are comments. I feel like a kid in a candy shop.

      I think a particular struggle for me has been to understand what the relevance of Queer soldiers being able to “come out” in the context of them being soldiers in a war that is not about anything other than the further conquest f the American empire, at the expense of the lives of millions. I haven’t heard anybody convince me in a serious way that this particular struggle is one that queers should take up. And that’s how I’ve been feeling about all of the so-called gay rights issues as of lately. “Marriage equality” “DADT” . . .etc. I feel like it is moving further and further away from the roots of the struggle and being co-opted through assimilation. I completely agree that Queers should not be the victims of bigotry that says they cannot live as loudly and as authentically as they like, however when that is put into the context of those same queers being agents for the obliteration of the rest of the world then I think it is not worth talking about in the giant scheme.

      • Truthiz

        Crunch:
        “Marriage equality” “DADT” . . .etc. I feel like it is moving further and further away from the roots of the struggle and being co-opted through assimilation. I completely agree that Queers should not be the victims of bigotry that says they cannot live as loudly and as authentically as they like, however when that is put into the context of those same queers being agents for the obliteration of the rest of the world then I think it is not worth talking about in the giant scheme. [...]

        Again: Points well made and I couldn’t agree with you more!

        And I probably should have stated more clearly, in my initial response, that my opinion on repealing DADT was limited to just this_am I happy to see it go? Yes.

        That does not mean that I, in any way, feel that a grand celebratory display of any kind is in order. It. isn’t. And for many of the reasons you’ve so correctly pointed out.

        Thanks so much for the exchange!

  2. cmm

    WORD. Thanks for posting.

  3. Thank you for this dose of much-needed perspective. As happy as I am for any personal, psychic relief that this might bring to individuals, militarism is a grim framework for celebration. I swear, these political games seem so surreal sometimes. One step forward, ten steps back. Take a pill for a headache and it gives you (and the neighbors) cancer.

    Hugs

  4. Admin

    it would be great to link this article in the against equality archives at http://www.againstequality.org if you would be interested. let us know and we will put it up! great stuff!

  5. Genevieve

    Yes, the fact that the Castro and SF in general is ridiculously expensive, rich, gay, and mainly white , with the globs of upper class yuppies that live there is very alienating to most of the non-white, non-rich queer community. Unless you’ve been in a rent controlled apartment for more than a decade like me, and I’m not rich or white, you have a better chance getting hit by a bus than be able to afford to live in the elite SF Castro district. I’m a native of SF and an Asian American genderqueer butch adn I live in the Castro. I feel that the repeal DADT is still cause for celebration, yeah you may now want to celebrate in the Castro, but DO celebrate where you are and want to be for the thousands of our LGBT military brothers and sisters who deserve this equality that they so very much need and want.
    They’ve sacrificed a great deal and some their lives for freedoms we ALL enjoy.

    R. Lee

  6. Christine Karatnytsky

    Huge respect and solidarity. Thank you so much.

  7. oso

    I followed the link over. As I told my friend Brad, I’d written on a post that while applaud any end to discrimination, this is essentially saying it’s ok for gays to kill Muslims too. So very good post, thank you.

    • Right, we have to have a full discourse on the issue and not blanket applause to the end of discrimination in the military. Thank you for taking time out to read.

  8. TippyCanoe

    You make poignant observations on the assimilation of the gay population into the mainstream. It’s baffled me, as I’ve witnessed this transition firsthand. Although as a queer who lived my baby dyke years during the height of the AIDS crisis and having lived in the Castro/Mission in the late 90’s/early 2K’s, this transition is remarkable as it use to be a culture fighting against the state, not begging to be part of it. Thanks for taking this to task.

  9. Didi

    as long as everyone looking up the history of the GLF, you can look up the history of genocide. i would never claim that the war started based on a purely ethical foundation but it is far from a genocide.

    • jasonhellion

      genocide- noun-the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/genocide

      documented civilian deaths from the violence in iraq:
      99,171 – 108,281

      http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

      thats enough to satisfy my interpretation of the definition of the word genocide…

    • TippyCanoe

      Is the the systematic destruction of the civilian populations, either directly or through the use of depleted uranium munitions, anything short of genocide?

      I would suggest looking up the US military’s use of depleted uranium weapons, their illegality according to the UN charter, and their long-term after affects…. and then tell me that is anything less than genocide.
      Sorry, but the author got it correct.

  10. jasonhellion

    i will admit that as i read each article and view each post about the repeal of DADT, and witness the excitement that surrounds it not only in the mainstream gay community, but the mainstream liberal one as well, i cant help feeling anger and frustration well up inside me… reading your post was an invigorating and much needed deep breath of fresh air… thanks so much for helping to keep the radical spirit of resistance alive, well, and kicking… much love and solidarity from philadelphia…

  11. John Emerson

    Thanks for the post.

  12. Tara

    Um… The “Gay Liberation Front” in itself has patriarchy in the name. It’s a male identified word. The Gay Liberation Front was headed by and largely founded by … white gay males. Let’s not erase history here.

    • That’s very true. There were problems with the GLF, but my point was that the name was used to show solidarity with struggles against imperialism. I think it’s important to look at my reference in the context that it was used. I don’t believe I made any larger claim that the GLF was a perfectly revolutionary and fully functioning org.

    • I think it’s important not to look at organizations expecting them to be perfect vessels of revolution as if they do not com from the same conditions they seek to change. If we did that, then we would not look at any of these groups of the past with any kind of admiration.

  13. Pingback: Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Passes... now arguing about other things

  14. Carol Demech

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been saying the same and getting chastised. The military wants more canon fodder. I’m a 64 year old dyke and an activist – civil rights, women’s rights, GLBT rights, AIDS activist in the 80’s.
    What we need to be fighting for are equal rights for The Queer, GLBT community (whatever you want to call us). Use the same efforts we did in the 60’s. 70’s and 80’s. Wake up young people – get your priorities straight!
    Young gay men spreading AIDS is a big problem that needs to be addressed. They spit on the memory of all my friends who died from this horrible disease. They worked so hard that no one would have to live with this disease. Every GLBTQ bar, GLBTQ center, GLBTQ business, GLBTQ health center needs to non stop show videos of people dying of AIDS. Push it in their faces – stop the behavior. Don’t give the hets any ammunition!
    NYC and state has a non smoking campaign that is very effective. The tv commercials and print ads show people dying from smoking cigarettes, show people who have lost their voice box to cancer, have holes in their throat and speak with an amplifier held to their throat – very very effective. Very few people smoke here.

  15. David

    A wonderfully articulated opinion, one that I can not agree with more. I’ve expressed the same sentiment to those near me and am always met with the same dull expressions. I’m glad to know there are others out there who are feeling the same disquiet regarding all this so-called progress. Thanks.

  16. This blog is paradise for me, i love all these informations, thanks for your work dude. Waiting for more posts

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  18. Esmeé Beckham

    I will admit that when I began to read the blog, I was skeptical that I would find anything of substance since most of the blogs and articles I have read that have a similar focus tend to be written by barely legal, teeny bopper, privileged children who are simply complaining without anything substantial to back up their point of view other than parroting a few things they have heard their friends say. By the end of the posting, I was glad that I had taken the time out of my day to read it and felt that there was finally a voice that was educated, coming from the point of view from someone who is informed on the issue and the stance they have taken. Definitely sharing this on my fb wall.

  19. Excuse me! Marriage is about love and mutual respect and not about glorifying patriarchy. And if LGBT or straight people wants to enter marriage, why should you have a problem with that?, People entering marriage, or commitment ceremonies don’t say “hail to patriarchy!” A shallow hardliner who thinks like you is no different from a white upper-class first world radical feminist who thinks that owning a male dog is an affront to women’s rights. People should be free to choose how they want to live their lives,..be it in the military, as a communist guerrilla, married or single. LGBT “(pseudo) activists” who can’t support equal rights for the LGBT community have no right to dictate what the community should and should not advocate for.

    • Hey Mike, thanks for commenting and reading my piece. I enjoy any kind of engagement with my pieces, whether they be positive or negative. Debate is important and one of the ways in which we push our theory and pedagogy forward. With that said, please refrain from leaving any unnecessarily rude comments. I think we can disagree and not have beef.

      Now. . . I believe that you may be missing a few points from my argument.

      I believe that people should have to freedom to choose to celebrate their love in whatever manner they deem fit. I think that under Capitalism, marriage has a different character, because it is faculited through the State and thus has historically been in the interest of the wealthy. Marriage is also an institution which has primarily been used to transfer wealth between the wealthy. Marriage, as it stands now, has little to offer working class people. One of the few benefits I can see for working people is the uniting of salaries so that they may stay afloat in the system. Throughout its modern development, marriage has had little to do with romance or love. Love does not sell womyn off as products, or privilege certain relationships (monogamy as oppose to other forms) with rights that others do not have, love does not cling to false veils of citizenship or equality or progress. (like the modern gay rights marriage equality movement) I am talking about marriage as the legal institution under capitalism, not the idea of romantic couplings that people choose to be apart of (of which I, at the moment, plan to be apart of: a monogamous relationship)

      Once we move past that I believe that my argument is easier to understand. This post sought to talk about the dialectic between the State and Queer movement.

  20. amaifreeman

    I first read the comment prior to mine about marriage and was upset and appalled at how abrasive and violent their response was. After calming a bit, I had to evaluate what would necessarily bring a person to such a conclusion. This is what happens when oppressed people are prescribed goals and aspirations which are characterized by their oppressor’s aesthetic and morals.

    I think “Myke Abaya Sotero” is confused and offended at the idea that crunch author seems to be attacking something as socially affirming(under white supremacist patriarchal capitalism) as a societally acknowledged marriage. It is incorrect to demand equal marriage rights as though it is the final bastion of queer rights under capitalism. Marriage as an institution is founded on patriarchal social relations which are reinforced by the exploitative forces of capitalism. To deny these underlying causes of queer oppression, is to ignore the issue of equality outright.

    It is because people are socialized to view marriage with such high regard that people project their individual ideas and feelings about freedom onto the symbolic unity of marriage. These dreams become so intertwined with oppressive patriarchal conventions of marriage, that people forget freedom outside of this environmental context of male chauvinism and exploitation. They define it singularly as a liberal/reformist right under capitalism. As a result, it becomes easier to react negatively to any challenge at all to this singular narrow issue in the context of gender equality.

    I believe it is this that is leading “Myke Abaya Sotero” and people who share similar reactionary sentiments to speak angrily, from ignorance. All of this takes place in order to protect the oppressive patriarchal aesthetic of marriage.

    “One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness. Thus the behavior of the oppressed is a prescribed behavior, following as it does the guidelines of the oppressor. The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift.”
    -Paulo Freire

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