So “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is looking like it will be repealed and there will be a party in the Castro.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.