3 Reasons Why Im Not About These Equal Signs.

. . . this is not meant to be written from a place of anger or judgement- just love. i want to love, to understand and to be able to move through life in a way that is most pleasing and healthy for me. And i believe that we should all be able to do that. this is why i critique. because i want to understand how all the movings around us inform our lives and whether they push us towards self determination.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

marriage is not love. 

 

love has a vast meaning. it applies to many different kinds and formations. for example: i love nature, i love my mother, i love my partner(s), i love my best friends, i love days off, i love my cats.  the weight, that all these hold in my heart, may be different but, in general, there are feelings of warmth, comfort, compassion, joy, and light found in these relations. 

 

marriage is a social contract- it is a legal arrangement that sometimes springs from a place of love. Under capitalism, under our current social order, marriage is propaganda. it is billed as being the final manifestation of romantic relations. marriage holds over 100 extra rights given to those in that legal bond. marriage is seen as “moral”. marriage does not apply to all romantic couplings- people in polyamorous relationships cannot be married, same sex couples in most states cannot be married. thus, marriage, through the state, is not a manifestation of love. it’s another tool of the state to divide and police. During the developing stages of capitalism, in Europe, “marriage” was a means of accumulating wealth amongst the upper classes. Families of high status would only marry into one another in order to secure/ increase their wealth. In the past, many attacks on the morality of womyn in general, and poor womyn of color specifically, involved the word “unwed”. This was used in conjunction with other attacks to invalidate the voices of womyn who sought help from the society or who critiqued the neglect of the state.

 

it then makes perfect sense to me that marriage, under the state, is not a manifestation of love but instead another capitalist divide- another class. 

 

 

marriage ain’t gonna save us.

 

If you are a queer who’s main issue is marriage then you are privileged and actually in the minority. Esp when we are still poor, not given any of the vital resources needed to survive, homeless, victims of racism, sick, criminalized (trans folk are being banned from restrooms in some states while in others there are serious legislative pushes to quarantine HIV positive folk), etc. . . this is real. Seeking straight privilege that gives approval because of the zeros on your check, skin color, possession of a penis, etc . . means than it doesn’t get better for those of us who don’t identify or who aren’t apart of those groups. Normalizing this privilege will only result in the cementing of a gay bourgeoisie and i really don’t have time for imperialism with a rainbow flag. Gaining access to marriage licenses will place an end to/ or even begin to place an end to the destruction this society is bringing to us. It will benefit those who have the privilege of accessing it. Ask yourself, “if these rights are so vital, then why are we having to beg for them? Why are they not afforded to every being possible? Are there folk not deserving of these rights?”

 

What this argument for “equality” sounds like to me is assimilation. That means that there is a belief that morphing ourselves to reflect the larger society will put an end to the trauma we face in that society.  If history has taught us anything, it’s that assimilation is a failed strategy. Black folk, and other marginalized peoples, won many rights at the end of what is known as the “Civil Rights Movement”. 40 years later, however, we see segregation, the incarceration of bodies of color, de-funding of social services (which support many poor folk and folk of color), police brutality, etc. . . at an all time high. In fact, many of the rights won during the Civil Rights Movement are almost gone. The modern “Gay Rights Movement” spends a lot of time invoking the Civil Rights Struggle. Gay folk would do well to note the complete play out of that movement and question whether or not it is something worth the time. 

 

The sad truth under capitalism is that there is a need for a class system. There cannot be privilege if there isn’t suffering and this is a system of privilege. That privilege is defined and given to certain individuals (the faces of which may change slowly and periodically but ultimately the structure remains.) Grabbing that privilege means being seen as one of the people who is worth state in society and part of that includes being seen as “moral”. Gays, historically have not been seen as “moral”. Recently, as some gay folk have begun to become successful capitalists (or businesspeople) and as parts of gay cultures have been successfully commodified, we have seen a larger acceptance of gay folk. However, it isn’t all gays. Images coming from the Gay Rights Movement rarely include womyn,  disabled gays, homeless gays, poor gays, gays of color, trans-folk etc. . . and this is because assimilation means that only those closest to being what is “acceptable” or “presentable” can be included. All others are left behind. Thats because the argument about the value of everyone’s life and love but instead, it’s really a plea, the the straights in power, to be seen as “just like you”.

 

Take San Francisco, the “Gay Homeland” for example. The city is seen as a safe space for gays- as a place where we are welcomed and no where else have I, as a queer Black male, ever felt more out of place. In the Castro District, the residents (who have a decent amount of coins- enough to be considered a worthwhile audience during elections) voted against the building of a youth center. Most of them citing the fact that homeless youth being that close to their homes would bring down the property value. Also in the Castro, the only times I have ever seen images of folk who look like me have been on porn ads, HIV prevention work, and drug addiction support ads. Lesbians and Trans folk are rare. (period, in person and in image). What I do see and hear in the Castro is the affirmation of Gay white men- both in image and in presence. The HRC, which is situated in the Castro District, claims that one of the benefits that marriage will bring to gay couples is that it will allow those couples, in which one doesn’t have citizenship standing, to stay united. However, the HRC never mobilizes to counter the I.C.E. raids in the mission district, which is just blocks away. Where is the care for “illegal immigrants”? If we can take SF as a model of what gay assimilation looks like then i think the horrors are very evident. 

 

 

Marriage ain’t moral and i ain’t decent. 

 

Often times “marriage” is seen as something “moral”. Something that is pure and right. And so, the thoughts around marriage include: “it being the right thing to do”, it having a “sanctity” that we need to protect. 

 

First off, if marriage was moral then it wouldn’t be exclusive and given by the state. “Morality” is a concept- meaning that it is inherently subjective means only as much as the person using it believes. 

 

This is the same state that: 

 

– founded itself on the corpses of native folk

– that became what it is using the blood and labor of enslaved Africans 

– that involuntarily sterilized womyn of color 

– that continues to invade country after country in search of natural resources that will bring profit 

– that, to this day, is the only nation on this planet to use a weapon of mass destruction

– that spends more money annually on incarcerating Black and Brown bodies than it spends educating this. 

– made gay sex illegal

– legally protects companies that create food so destructive and unnatural that they erode soil, pollute air, and contribute to in development of cancer.

-arrests Black womyn for lying about which county she lives in so that her child can go to a safe school while it does nothing to White men who shoot defenseless Black boys who are tied up and laying face down.

– that uses Islamphobia and zenophobia as launching points for a war on an entire region of the world.    

 

This state is most definitely not defining what the word “moral” means. And if giving these acts my support, through patriotism, means that i am a “decent” member of the society then i’m good. I ain’t never liked how being a “moral” or “decent” person sounded no ways. 

On Going to Pride

Image

I think, as queers, we can have alternative festivals that celebrate our culture and histories. We don’t need a celebration, sponsored by the same Capitalist corporations and people who are exploiting our image to sell products, which we dont need, to back us. These people don’t know what Stonewall was, they don’t know about the Compton Cafeteria, or why there are always drag queens on pride floats (there’s a historical significance to that) These are the same people who don’t care if we live or die. When did you last see Wells Fargo, Bud Light, or the rest calling for a “free CECE” campaign… its capitalism where there profit from comodify-ing our cultures. I want to commune with my folks but not in some corporate sponsored meat fest where body politics are based in the Euro-centric, love politics are based in unhealthy fucks and life politics are based on assimilating to the straight world by saying “look let us marry, we’re citizens too.”

Ive never been a citizen. Was I a citizen when the society enslaved me? Was I a citizen when my sex was made illegal? Was I a citizen when my school was closed leaving me with no where to go? Was I a citizen when had to wait in line at 4am to have my teeth pulled, along with the majority of Oakland because we don’t have healthcare?

Of what citizenship can I attest to have? Queers, Blacks, and other non white, non rich, non men have never had the privilege of citizenship. Only a terrifying oppression from above. And so I refuse to believe that this same society- for once a year- cares so overwhelmingly about my life.

What about Cece? Duana? Anthony? Brandi? or even Matthew? (even he’s barely mentioned anymore) Where are their floats and coverage?

PRIDE was a historical celebration of an outsider culture. Queers- excluded from the society and the culture- made their own festivals. Where we celebrated Drag Queens for their courage, and each other for our uniqueness and wonder. It was a political statement saying that we intended to remain visible in the society and that we opposed fascism, imperialism, sexism, racism, and the nuclear family- all which seek to destroy us and the globe.

PRIDE now is a overdone celebration of a liberal gay identity that emcompasses fucking, assimilating, and drug abuse.

Im not against a party. Girl, lets do this, lets get lifted but lets also be conscious. Lets realize that “equality” and other buzz words are just that: words. Gays need not worry about marrying when we are dying from lack of healthcare, unemployment, the war, housing, violence, etc. . . who has the privilege of sitting and thinking about getting married- accessing a number of rights that should be free to all. And why are we glorifying this one way to love- monogamy. Last time I checked, placing monogamy as the only valid relationship model was damaging and harmful the full expression of human life and the exact vehicle that created the nuclear family, which oppress us and supports capitalism- which kills us

When I was younger and I didn’t know how to be queer in the ways I wanted I saw PRIDE as something special. I needed to be with my people but I think now that I can/ coulda been/ desire to be with them in another way. Maybe in the streets ACTing up, maybe in a dance hall where I am not groped or stalked by white men, maybe in the same area as lesbians and trans folk who are very much apart of the community… until then though, ill only be at PRIDE to flyer and funnel us into something greater. Something that can save our lives.

otherwise … Sorry, honey. Im good

Queers and Capitalism Part One: The Dialectics of Moving Towards A Larger Social Acceptance

“. . . the waters around you have grown “

I remember the first time I saw a B.Scott video. I sat in my freshman dorm and listened to this very flamboyant, very androgynous, bi-racial man rant and rave about Shemar Moore’s penis being exposed online. A moment like this sounds very mundane and trivial, but has profound meaning when placed into context. As a queer person it is very rare that I see myself reflected, even if it is slight, in media and this doubles when we’re talking about queer people of color, who are all but invisible in the culture. So when we see representations of ourselves it becomes something spiritual, something affirming, something that touches us and says: “you are worth attention and love.” The 7-minute rant did that for me. Move ahead 5 years and we get this . . .

The same B.Scott I knew and loved is now a bonified star complete with music videos, red carpet appearances and celebrity interviews. Looking at this very feminine, queer, man of color on the screen brings all kinds of questions to the surface for me:

“Has society come to a place where we can accept queers as people?”

“Does capitalism need homophobia (patriarchy) to exist?”

and “What does this mean for queer struggle and activism?”

I want to think out loud a bit about these things . . .


“Has society come to a place where we can accept queers as people?”

For someone like this and many other gay figures to come to such prominence in our time means that there is a large shift in society. Homo-life is a commodity now, something being placed onto the pedestal of consumer culture and devoured: your favorite pop singer has probably stolen swag from the ballroom, and there is a gay plotline on just about every show. In addition to that, more and more states are sanctioning some degree of union between gay couples and DADT is becoming smaller and smaller in the rear view. The state and big business are slowly adapting to a shift in public opinion. I believe that much of the work of 60’s queer activists to prove that gay culture was just as legitimate as others paved the way for certain aspects of the culture to take center stage in the way that they have thus influencing public consciousness. I also believe that the majority of this “gay is okay” push comes from capitalism’s understanding that it cannot afford for the queer population to be isolated in total from the whole of society.

I’ve always said that queer people represented a very particular threat to capitalism, especially in the United States, because of their positioning in the society. Queer folk prior to many of the movements of the 60’s and 70’s had little to no material connection to the American melting pot. And it can be argued that in certain communities of color the nature of queer oppression had a different character because of the fact that people found themselves already segregated and marginalized. Thus, many queers of color a.) Identified more with their racial caste and were kept in the embrace of their families because of their shared oppression and/or b.) weren’t given access into larger queer spaces because of the segregation.

However, I believe that the generalization can be made that queer folks challenged the stability of capitalism because of their status as people pushed outside of the nuclear family, which is one of the most basic oppressive structures of society and patriarchy. It becomes too dangerous to have pockets of the society that have no material attachment to it. It is also dangerous for capitalism to have spaces in which the development of such a critique can be developed and shared.

In addition, radical queer politics, much like feminism challenged many of the assumptions of the culture and capitalism. What does it mean for white supremacist hetero capitalism when the nuclear family, male/ female socialization and personal identity are challenged? Many older, less fabulous, leftists would say that it means nothing or very little because the means of production, the material ways in which capitalism operates, are not immediately being challenged. But they would be wrong on multiple fronts.  The challenging of patriarchal social relations not only means liberating womyn from unwaged labor but also brings the political and the personal together. Something desperately missing from a lot of movements of the past has been the revolutionary observation and transformation of gender identities. By this I mean, that feminism and anti-patriarchal ideology have never really been taken seriously by groups involving a straight male majority and that’s because it strikes at the most guarded and unchallenged of our identities; our gender. Feminist and queer movements of the past have sought to turn this on its head by placing an emphasis on personal development along these lines along with organizing in the workplace.

Slowly and subtly, queers have been brought into the fold. One interesting moment in this history was in the wake of the 60’s and 70’s, in the middle of the AIDS crisis-we saw thousands of gays –revolutionary or otherwise- pass away at epidemic levels. This crisis had varying effects on gay communities, some of which are relevant to this post and some aren’t. Something that is important to recognize is that the effect of the AIDS epidemic and the response to it not only left a vacuum of leadership in queer spaces but it also paved the way, in part, for queer struggle to be co-opted through the nonprofit industrial complex. This is important because we see a very distinct change in the character of queer activism around this time.  Friendlier, more passive things like quilt making and appealing to the state for sympathy became more prominent. A little later on, queers became more attached to the causes of DADT repeal and marriage rights, the latter can be understood partially in the context of having to watch loved ones die without any recourse or protection from their biological families. I would argue that this more identity based activism, and less aggressive stance in the mainstream, had a less alienating and more tolerance inducing effect on the some of the population.

So I think the boost in queer visibility can be attributed to a push and pull between forces. I think that movements against patriarchy and capitalism paved the way for aspects of oppressed peoples humanity (specifically queers here) to be accepted in the mainstream and capitalism, by it’s very nature and need to survive, adapted to this shift by exploiting and incorporating what it could.

“Does capitalism need homophobia (patriarchy) to exist?”

For me, a struggle against homophobia must mean one that addresses capitalism. I see my oppression as a Black, gay male as one whose roots are intrinsically linked with the beast of capitalism. In order for the power structure to maintain itself it needs to suppress certain parts of the population. Does this mean that we will never see wealthy gays? No, San Francisco is proof of that. However, it does mean that the majority of queer and trans folk, especially those of color, can bet that they will never be apart of the ruling class. The very nature of the society cannot allow for that. Queer folk, being a one of the more vulnerable parts of the population, find themselves subordinated into lower levels of the working class through homophobia or excluded entirely as seen in the case of trans folk. This strengthens the elite and their machinery because the horizontal violence (homophobia) maintains a division of labor and permanent caste position. We also see the building of a surplus army of labor (the unemployed) to be used against working people who may feel the need to challenge their abuse at the hands of the elite. Workers who seek to withhold their labor (strikes) until better conditions arise are quickly met with the leagues of unemployed folk who will scab (break the picket and replace the strikers) and that makes sense in a society where there is no space for the entirety of the population to work for a decent wage.

Also, just as in the case of race, socialized gender is a one of the pillars of capitalism. In using patriarchy as one of it’s stepping stones, capitalism has created the conditions under which it’s demise cannot come without attacking the gendered division of labor, homophobia, etc . . . This means that our ascension into the utter fabulousness of liberation means that gender, and capitalism must be destroyed because the destruction of such a poisonous ideology (patriarchy) would mean the crumbling of walls built between working people. The system needs us isolated into paranoid fractions.

“What does this mean for queer struggle and activism?”

It is in the best interest of capitalism to bring queers into the fold (through a very narrow, white supremacist, patriarchal view of course) the potential to expand capital through an exploitation of queer images and culture is vast. At the same time this gay assimilation dulls the blade of radical queer politics. Because capitalism’s veil of justice and equality is kept in place through the façade of acceptance and limitless upward mobility, embodied in the emerging queer ruling class, it becomes harder for queer militants to argue for the necessity of a revolution against capitalism itself. Reform to the system is popular when the connection between class oppression and patriarchy isn’t clear. If I believe that patriarchy is something completely separate from the otherwise redeemable capitalist world order then it makes no sense to seize the means of production as apart of liberation because my conceived liberation is tied to the eradication of an ideology within certain people and not connected to a material struggle against the bourgeoisie (the top 10% of people who own everything) to end the totality of oppression. Radical queers, in this historical moment, find themselves struggling to articulate the need for a queer struggle that includes a radical class analysis and positive program that reflects such. We must also win people away from bourgeois delusions like equality under capitalism.

I think it’s exciting to be alive right now, and to organize right now.  We have an opportunity to present a new proposition and deconstruct past failures with the intent of building a movement that can win.  For me, radical queer organizing looks like many things: the building of safe spaces where we can heal and build self determination, the challenging of straight and male privilege, and the inverting of gender roles with the intention to create the conditions where all beings can fully express themselves are a few of those. The incorporation ideas such as self-care, and consciousness raising around gendered dynamics are some others. The appropriation of queer identities by the mainstream has, in an unintentional way, given us the opportunity to observe and reflect on our organizing and position in struggle. It also has made the ground fertile to plant revolutionary seeds. More queers are out and engaging in some form of political activity than we’ve seen in a while. (Maybe ever, I would wager that the amount of queers campaigning for reform and the amount visibly/verbally opposing the reformist queers out numbers the activists of 40-50 years ago) And that means we have some work to do. We have some questions to pose. We have some ideas to raise. And we have some consciousness to change.

When My Brother Fell: A Letter To David Kato

David,

 

Like many, I never heard the power and beauty of your voice until it was amplified by death. I knew little of you, to me you appeared to be one of the many suffering Afro-Queers that line the globe, all dreaming of forever fields and life without ceilings.  I did know that earlier this year, your brave face was printed on the front page of a news paper with the words “hang them” sprawled out next to you and I was scared for you, just as I am for the other 99 queers who’s faces and addresses were given to the lions. My heart broke to hear of your passing, to hear of the brutality you suffered, to hear that you were still denied peace after death when they refused to bury you. I am sorry, David. Sorry that we come into a world that makes our existence, hell from the moment we are bold enough to articulate, to ourselves, that we are homosexuals.

After learning of your murder I have found myself paralyzed with grief. It is hard to hear this news because I know that many will be unmoved by it, in fact, many will applaud it. The fascists are numerous and our allies, often indifferent to our murders, more content with the sexier politics of revolution. And so this morning I woke up wiping the tears of my face with a resolve to pick up the weapons dropped to absorb this moment and allow it to motivate me.

In this world, we must look out for one another and while I cannot expand my embrace across the globe for all queers, I can stand up in the places I inhabit. I can organize in the places I inhabit. I can press truth to the earth I stand on until many more David Kato’s blossom. At the moment, queer persecution is often an after thought. Something that is thought about by professional activists and revolutionaries after the horns of revolution have sounded.  We know that this is incorrect, that any revolution on this wretched earth must be done so in the name of the liberation of the gender oppressed in conjunction with people of color and the working class.

I hear your voice in that last interview you gave and I hear your fear as the interviewer inquires about the newspaper printing your name. I see the worry in your eyes. I also see a courage and fire that has yet to go out and the words of Fred Hampton come to mind:

“You can kill a revolutionary but you can never kill the revolution.”

Your spirit lives on David. And your weapons will be picked up.

A LUTA CONTINUA!

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.