I'm here and I'm queer and I won't be erased.
Queer Anarchism/Anarcho-Feminism/Pink Anarchism (whatever you so choose to call it) is a type of anarchism that I really, really gravitate toward Y'know, being queer and all that.
Anarchy is a big scary word that gets a lot of people pissed off. Depending on you ask, that is either a bug or a feature! I personally am of the opinion that a majority of people agree with some anarchist principles- until you tell them that they're anarchist, of course! I'll break down some queer-centric anarchist texts (for pride month:)) to make it all a bit less overwhelming. Also I'll add some of my own thoughts and tie it into today's world because I think it's more fun (for me) that way.
...that being said, I also have the attention span of a rat so a lot of the texts I link will be lighter to begin with.
"The Queer Nation Manifesto"
This was a manifesto passed out by ACT UP in New York in 1990, right in the AIDS crisis. I think, in the US right now- which is my frame of reference, because I live here; of course, a lot is happening in other places, as well, but I'm not educated enough to speak on that here today- it is more relevant than ever. We may not have the AIDS crisis (to the same extent it once was. Black and brown communities still suffer from HIV/AIDS at higher rates than others.), but we are facing an incredible wave of anti-trans, anti-gay, anti-queer legislation that can and will get people killed. It's awfully scary.
Of course, this manifesto is angry. And it should be! It goes into how straight people are the enemy, which sounds dramatic at first, but it makes sense.
"They are your enemy when they don't acknowledge your invisibility and continue to live in and contribute to a culture that kills you."...
As silly as it may sound today, this manifesto makes a point to say that gay sex is a rebellion! Queer sex, in ways that the mainstream decries and bans under sodomy laws, is a rebellion against all the straight people who are able to have sex casually without the fear of being legislated away and killed and ostracized in the same ways.
The author, however, does go a bit further with this. Some of the ways they describe their sexuality are... upsetting, at best. Including the passage about seeing a lesbian on the street and immediately thinking of fucking her. Kind of weird! Don't like that!
That is, of course, not the extent of the anger. Why do we have to watch people like us, our friends, our family, die off and be reduced to nothing one by one? Why do we have to fight tooth and nail for the bare minimum of dignity in death? The author of this manifesto obviously talks about those lost to AIDS, but I look at the suicide rates for trans children and I look at the assault rates on black trans women and I look at the deaths of gay high schoolers and I think how far have we really come?
Politicians call for us to be gunned down, publically, on Twitter! And nothing, nothing, nothing is done. Of course we're fucking angry.
"Families having children assures consumers for the nation's products and a work force to produce them, as well as a built-in family system to care for its ill, reducing the expense of public healthcare systems."
And there's the 'anarchy' part of queer anarchism. It all just comes down to capitalism, doesn't it? One of the things that people find so threatening about gay people is they cannot make babies to continue the status quo. This, obviously, ignores trans people, and advances in science- but these people really don't care for either of those things, either.
If we queer the family unit- using queer as a verb, here- how will we maintain the capitalistic status quo? There's a whole other text on this exact topic that I'm struggling to find, but this is just a little sample. A tasting, if you will.
Now, just as before, it is important to scream to the world that we are queer. The manifesto lists a few prominent-at-the-time figures they wish would drop dead. I don't think I can do that on the internet, but I'm sure you can take a few guesses. :)
"I am out all the time, everywhere, because I want to reach you."
This is sort of my mindset. The manifesto decries queer people- in this case, lesbians- who aren't publically out. Who cry and beg for acceptance and for rights without doing any of the work that goes into it. I'm not sure I agree, but I understand the sentiment. I'm lucky enough to have a support system that loves me- therefore, being publically out is a way of showing the world that we're here. I wear my pronoun pins and my pride pins and, when I'm feeling especially brave, I correct people loudly and unashamedly.
I am lucky enough for this to be a relatively safe option. And when I'm in a situation where I can't be out and loud, well, I find comfort seeing those that can.
I understand the author, though, because it is so frustrating to have to wait for pride parades and GSA clubs in order to see people like me. I know we're all over! So where, where, where are you?! It's so exhausting to be the only one! But their insistence that those who are not out and loud are somehow lesser bothers me a bit. It was different in 1990, but even so, some people were/are in better places than others.
I don't think it should be a requirement or an expectation to put your life on the line to show off who you are. I think fighting for those who aren't out is a worthy cause, because, as the author states- when it works, we all benefit.
"You'd better learn that your life is immeasurably valuable, because unless you start believing that, it can easily be taken from you."
Why don't more of us fight back?
I do this myself, too. I've been trying to get out of this habit. The manifesto refers to queer people that just sit by and watch in abject horror at the violence that we face as "sitting ducks". If we don't stand up and fight back, then those who wish to do us harm will just keep going. They have to face consequences for their actions if we want any hope of peace.
Why are there not more riots? Why are there not more queer people fighting against the horror the supreme court and our governors and out families are putting us through? I want to riot, I want to fight, I want to strike back- but I live in a small suburban town, and even though I know there are many other queer people here, I know they would not fight with me.
Besides, I myself am a bit of a coward. I want to be able to scream and shout at people who shout slurs at my friends and I without curling into a ball and crying. I want to be able to kick homophobes and transphobes in the shins, to punch back without being laughed at for being comically weak.
The manifesto explains that, unlike gay or lesbian (or the lovely plethora of other labels we have now), queer is a sign of rebellion, of camaraderie, of the weird and strange among us that will never be accepted into a cisheteronormative society.
My dad often says "well, I like gay. Gay means happy." and that's all well and good. But we're not always happy, are we? I just spend paragraphs upon paragraphs explaining exactly why we're angry. Besides, gay has all sorts of other connotations. When I refer to myself as gay- and I do- people think that means I'm just exclusively attracted to girls (because I am not percieved as who I am). Maybe, if someone is feeling awfully nice, they'll assume I'm exclusively attracted to boys.
But I'm attracted to all genders, I'm bisexual as hell. And saying "I'm so bi" isn't quite as punchy as "I'm so gay", is it? Besides, sometimes gay feels too watered-down. It's the acceptable term. It's the one that doesn't make people uncomfortable.
Well I make people uncomfortable just by existing. By being who I am and not hiding away from the world, I make a lot of people very uncomfortable and upset. Why should I choose a word that negates that? I'm not gay as in happy, I'm queer as in fuck you.
"I hate having to convince straight people that lesbians and gays live in a war zone, that we're surrounded by bomb blasts only we seem to hear, that our bodies and souls are heaped high, dead from fright or bashed or raped, dying of grief or disease, stripped of our personhood."
This line is very powerful to me because I find a lot of relatability in it in my own life. How many of us have practically had to beg for our issues to be taken seriously? How do I explain the agony of being misgendered all the time to my cishet father?
The author says they hate straight people who constantly need their egos stroked- a constant reassurance of "oh, not you, you're the good straight". As if every single damn aspect of society doesn't already do that. You see yourselves in media, on the street, in bars, and never once have to worry about if you will be assaulted for it. Isn't that good enough?!
Let yourself be angry!!
Respectablity politics gets us nowhere. You can be the most demure, over-achieving, respectful and self-hating queer in all the world, and the state will still try and kill you just for being. Our communities suffer from suicide, substance abuse, physical and emotional violence at rates that would floor the straights. We have every right to be angry about it.
Don't let the cishets dismiss you. Don't let them say "oh, it's worse in other places", or "you have rights", or "at least you're not one of the ones on the street". Because it doesn't matter! Not when we're still dying in droves! An attack on one is an attack on all- that's what the manifesto is all about!
The Human Rights Campaign is nowhere near the level that ACT UP once was. We need another rebellion, another strong push for queer rights, because they're being ripped from us with little resistence.
Anarchism, Sexual Liberation, and Bisexuality
I found this short article really interesting, especially with how... our right to Gay Marry seems to be in quite a tenuous spot right now in America.
The author, Peter Principle, discusses how in order to achieve real freedom, one must overcome and understand issues of class, race, gender, sexuality, and disability. Many people (anarchist and otherwise) seem to focus on only one section, or go all-in without giving it real thought- and that is why they like to be able to take things as they are.
Similar to the last article, they are vehemently against "respectability politics"- in this case, it is about our right to marry. In this, instead of calling out an enemy that consists of straights who don't care to help us, the author calls out liberals. Those who only care about gay rights when it's convenient, who tell us how to fight nicely for our rights. It argues against those closeted (or even out!) queer people in press and government who fight against us in hopes of being one of "the good ones". ...
"Their new found (and short-lived) interest in gay rights had little to do with acceptance of our common humanity, and everything to do with a self-appointed gay voice who shares their class and cultural assumptions."
These sort of respectible queer people- in this case, the author calls out Andrew Sullivan, but I'm sure you can think of a few more that we have nowadays- cannot and will not understand the struggles of the 'weirder' type of queer people out there. This, of course, incldes queer people of color (notably black), bisexual people, and (while it is not explicitly mentioned in the article) trans people who don't fit into the binary and/or don't pass.
Really, it all just comes down to not wanting the status quo to be challenged.
One of the cruxes of the argument presented here is about marriage. Anarchists, by principle, decry marriage as an institution. It is yet another tool used to uphold the status quo- it does not allow any room for polyamory, it did not until recently allow room for those of the same legal sex to marry, and it does not allow room for those in need of disability benefits to marry.
Unfortunately, because of (or perhaps as a result of?) our society's high placement on marriage, that also means that those who cannot marry for any of the aforementioned reasons are missing out on many things that may be necessary. The author gives examples of pensions, immigration, property rights, and, most painfully, the right to see your loved one in the hospital or care for them after death.
In the Christian psuedo-theocracy we live in, the ideal of 'one man and one woman' in marriage is entirely disrupted by queer people. If two halves make a whole, what does that mean for gay people? What of bisexual people, for whom the gender plays no role?
"There is more to be gained in embracing free unions than the symbolic refusal to recognise the church and the state."
The question of military is also an important one that came to a head a bit more recently than marriage, considering transgender people were only allowed to serve starting in 2017. By principle alone, I personally oppose the military and everything it stands for.
That being said, the author points out that by banning queer people from serving in the military, it is just another way to label us as second class citizens. The United States puts serving for one's country as a basic right, and yet we are not afforded that. Whether or not serving the military is a worthy goal is, therefore, not entirely relevant.
Gay panic laws- allowing many people to get off with lesser or no charge for murdering queer people just because they were 'scared' at 'advances being made'- are still in effect in many states. There's a whole lot to fight for, and it doesn't involve going across the ocean to be another cog in a dehumanising war machine.
"If people need to fight for something other than the interests the state upholds, they can do it as people, and therefore as themselves, not as cogs in the killing machine."
The final thing I will touch on from this article is, again, the importance of intersectionality. Class, race, gender, sexuality, and disability are all intertwined. If we give rights to, for example, a white, able-bodied, cis, upper-middle class homosexual man, do those rights then help out those of a black trans woman? What about a gay man in a wheelchair, a lesbian living in poverty? Nothing exists in isolation, after all.
"Liberation means changing the society which needs your oppression to maintain itself..."