GayManifesto_OppressorShallNot

GayManifesto_OppressorShallNot - IV I GAY LIBERATION AND _...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–14. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: IV I GAY LIBERATION AND _ LESBIAN-FEMINISM M We date the birth of contemporary lesbian and gay politics at 1969, the-year of the Stonewall riots in New York City. We choose this date not because of Stonewalt, however, but because 1969 is the year of the for- mation in New York of the Gay Liberation Front. With a name suggested by Martha Sheiley, GLF represented the union of New Left politics with homosexual oppress‘ion.'For our purposes, “gay liberation" is important as the name fora distinctive moment and analysis of lesbian and gay Oppression that blended New Left politics with the attempt to build'a gay counterculture. Gay liberationists generally agreed on the oppressive nature of capitalism and drew connections to repressive sexuality as well as to racism" and imperialism. They suggested that full expression of sex- uality, especially homosexual desire, would undermine existing structures _of power and privilege. The different angles and dimensions of this per- spective are represented here in the selections by Wittman, Red Butter— fly, Shelley, Third World Gay Revolution, the Black Panthers, Gay Libera- tion Party, Hocquenghem, and Mieli. Most of these writers are strongly influenced by Marxism and the New Left, but they go on to deveiop analy- ses specifically addressing the relations between capitalism, imperiaiism, and sexuat repression. From New York, “gay liberation" spread in 1970—71 throughout the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and Western Europe. By the mid—19705, gay iiberation waned with the gen- eral decline of leftist activism. Although gay poiitics would continue to grOW, it would become increasingly dominated by reformist voices. TObY Marotta, in his book The Politics of Homosexuality, made a useful distinction between “radicals” and “revolutionaries” in GLF. In his terms "radicals" were those who focused on cultural change, while the primary concern of “revolutionaries” was political and economic. The disagree- ment between these two groups about aims and needs persists into the GAY LIBERATION AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM 377 present. GLF, and gay liberation in general, was in the United States a “radical” movement virtually from the beginning. We might hypothesize that this is related to the lack of a strong socialist movement in the U.S.; the “radicals” could talk about the crimes of capitalism, but their real energies were focused on the American quest for personal liberty. in other countries the balance has not always gone to the individualist impulse; as Mario Mieli and Guy Hocquenghem demonstrate, gay libera- tion could indeed remain strongly wedded to apolitical left tradition. And i for some, the blend of political and cultural analysis is what continues to give the unique acuity of gay liberationist thought. While gay liberation as i a movement has died, there are still remnants of those earlier arguments i present in the work of many contemporary writers. Dennis Altman, John _ Preston, and Pat Califia are among these more recent voices. Gay liberation embodied another, related but distinct, conflict. Although most in GLF were thoroughly suspicious of any formal institutions, some wanted to intervene in mainstream politics. That minority left to form the Gay Activists Alliance, the predecessor of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in the U.S. Their politics may be distrusted by some, but many of the greatest concrete gains for lesbian and gay people have come as a result of their actions. Politicians such as Harvey Milk provide inspiring examples of how to “get into the system” and use power both for issues of sexuality and for larger matters of social justice. Although many women were active in early gay liberation, their early euphoria was replaced with a growing disappointment. Their gay “broth- ers" who had proclaimed that sexism was theproperty of heterosexuals often proved to be no less misogynist or patronizing than any others. Lesbian-feminism grew out of this disillusionment as well as the rejection of lesbians by most feminist groups in the 19603. Lesbians were chased ' out of the National Organization for Women and asked to remain in the closet “for the greater good" of women. As a distinctive analysis, les- bian-feminism combined the radical feminist claim that sex oppression was the original prototype-for all other oppressions with the analysis of 'heterosexuality as the vehicle for sex oppression. First fully articulated in . . _"the Woman-identified Woman," this position developed over time to account more fully for racial and class oppression. Indeed, many tes— bian-feminists came to reject the early privileging of sex oppression, insisting that we examine and challenge each as co—equal. Charlotte Bunch, Robin-Morgan, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Frye, and Irena Klepfisz are only a few of the many lesbian-feminist writers of the 19705 and 19805. Through journals such as Sinister Wisdom and Lesbian Ethics lesbian-feminism continues to develop and grow. Although few women _ seem to accept the most stringent claims about the priority of sex _ oppression and the love of women for one another, lesbian-feminist cri: ‘ tiques of existing institutions remain invaluable. Many women came. out j in lesbian-feminist communities and became politicized through those communities. Lesbian-feminists such as Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich -_ are among the greatest contributors,- not only to the lesbian and gay movements, but to the literature of the late 20th century. Through the 19705, lesbian-feminist writers had increasingly moved to view lesbianism not as primarily a matter of sexual desire, but rather saw ,' . 378 GAY LIEiERATlON AND LESBIAN-FEMJNISM . it as a matter of loving women in a range of ways. “Political lesbians” Were . women who identified as lesbians out of feminist solidarity with and loVe ' for women even though they might have had no sexual experience with or desire for women. On the other hand, lesbians who identified as butch or femme were treated as pre—femihist relics. This movement was given fullest voice in Adrienne Rich’s 1980 article, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” Rich argued for a “lesbian continuum” that ranged from 19505 bar dykes to Chinese marriage resisters to nuns. All were bound by their rejection of compulsory heterosexuality and their love for ' women. As powerful as this view was, it came under fire by many women _who found the historical specificity of lesbian struggles erased. They . argued that it was not just “resistance” that got them beaten up, taunted, and fired from jobs; it was their sexual desire for women, and especially ' the self-presentation of butches, that threatened patriarchy. ~ in the 19805 lesbian-feminism came under fire for dogmatism and a nar- ' row view of lesbianism. There were two major issues in these critiques: 5 raCe and sex. Lesbian-feminism’s confident division between men and _ women was less tenable for womenof color, who felt the need to work with men of color against racism even as they challenged their sexism. Writers such as Audre Lorde and Gloria Anzaldua refused to deny their ' 7 connection to their brothers or (as the reading from Lorde demonstrates) straight sisters. in the “lesbian sex wars," women who had been ignored ' or derided in lesbian-feminist circles, especially women doing S/M or women in butch/femme relationships, began to speak up. Led by les- . bians such as Pat Califia, Joan Nestle, Cherrie Moraga, and Gayle Rubin, the “sex radicals” set out to reclaim a value for their sexual practices as potentially valuable and transformative.-In so doing, they reopened alliances with gay men that had lain dormant. Finding more support among gay men than among lesbian—feminists, S/M lesbians were among the first to move past the Segregated seventies. As AlDS became an issue in the 19803, these alliances would expand to reshape the terrain of homosexuality in the U.S. The predominance of US. writers in this section is reflective of the explo- sion of U.S. writing and activism in the period. This should not be taken . to mean, however, that other countries lacked gay and/or lesbian move- ments. In Canada, the journal Body Politic has offered a valuable left per- spective on lesbian and gay politics for over twenty years. in Britain, Gay i Left offered some of the earliest and best liberationist writing. Our selec- tions here aim at presenting the range of ideas rather than representing all the spheres and locations of debate. We open our history of gay liberation with Carl Wittman’s “A Gay C A R L W I T T MA N A N D Manifesto." Written in San Francisco, the manifesto points to T H E R E D B U T T E R F LY many of the differences that gay liberation had with its homophile contemporaries. It is important to remember that in 1969 the homophile organizations were still active and represented the dominant face of homosexuality. One of the aims of gay liberation was to replace that face with a rad- ical, confrontative vision. One aspect of the shift from homophile to liberationist politics is the refusal of a "ghet- to" for homosexuals. Although ghettos can feel comfortable, Wittman argues that ghet- tos keep us marginalized and ineffective. The challenge of gay liberation is the call to spread homosexuality throughout society, to fight sexual repression. Doing that requires that everyone examine their own behavior and motives. Thus gay liberation is much more than thedemand for "our own space"; it is a demand for the transforma- tion of all of society. For Wittman this includes the end of “male chauvinism," marriage, roles, and racism. Also important in this document is Wittman's mention of the sexuai rigidity of political radicals; as the Cuban documents demonstrate, this is not an iso lated problem but a continuing theme in heterosexual leftist movements. 7 Red Butterfiy's comment on Wittman‘s "Manifesto" is included for the cogency of the issue of “coming on " and for their insistence on connecting sexual oppression to eco- nomic inequality and domination. In gay liberation, and increasingly today, many argue that coming out is in itself a political act. Coming out lessens our invisibility and also removes the personal constriction that goes with hiding. Red Butterfly suggests that coming out is valuable but it is not inherently liberatory. Personal "liberation" can only occur to the extent that it leads beyond the comforts of the ghetto to changes in social structures that have made “liberation” an imperative for gay men and lesbians. W A GAY MANIFESTO (1969-1970) Carl Wittman San Francisco is a refugee camp for homosexuals. We have fled here from every part of the nation, and like refugees elsewhere, we came not because it is so great here, but because it - " I was so bad there. By the tens of thousands, we fled small towns where to be ourselves would endanger our jobs and any hope of a decent life; we have fled from blackmailing cops, from ' I ‘ families who disowned or ‘tolerated’ us; we have been drummed out of the armed services, ; thrown out of schools, fired from jobs, beaten by punks and policemen. And we have formed a ghetto, out of self—protection. It is a ghetto rather than a free ter— A ritory because it is still theirs. Straight cops patrol us, straight legislators govern us. Straight _ employers keep us in line, straight money exploits us. We have pretended everything is OK, u because we haven’t been able to see how to change it—we’ve been afraid. In the past year there has been an awakening of gay liberation ideas and energy. Howit " " ' began we don’t know; maybe we were inspired by black people and their freedom move— : I ' If: ment; we learned how to stop pretending from the hip revolution. Amerika in all its ugliness ' _ 380 GAY LIBERATION AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM has surfaced with the war and our national leaders. And we are revulsed by the quality of our ghetto life. , ‘Nhere once there was frustration, alienation, and cynicism, there are new characteris- tics among us. We are full of love for each other and are showing it; we are full of anger at What has been done to us. And as we recall all the self—censorship and repression for so many years, a reservoir of tears pours out of our eyes. And we are euphoric, high, with the initial flourish of a movement. . We want to make ourselves clear: our first job is to free ourselves; that means clearing our heads of the garbage that’s been poured into them. This article is an attempt at raising a number of issues and presenting some ideas to replace the old ones. It is primarily for our- 5elves, a starting point of discussion. If straight people of good will find it useful in under- standing what liberation is aboat, so much the better. ' ' It should also be clear that these are the views of one person, and are determined not only by my homosexuality, but my being white, male, middle class. It is my individual con— sciousness. Our group consciousness will evolve as we get ourselves together—we are only ‘ at the beginning. . ' I. On Orientation 1. What homosexuality is: Nature leaves undefined the object-of sexual desire. The gen— der of that object is imposed socially. Humans originally made homosexuality taboo because they needed every bit of energy to proditce and raise children: survival of species was a pri— ority. With overpopulation and technological change, that taboo continued only to exploit us and enslave us. ‘ ' ' . ' As kids we refused to capitulate to demands that we ignore our feelings toward each other. Somewhere we found the strength to resist being indoctrinated, and we should count that among our assets. We have to realize that our loving each other is a good thing, not an unfon tunate thing, and that we have a lot to teach straights about sex, love, strength, and resistance. ‘ Homosexuality is not a lot of things. It is not a makeshift in the absence of the opposite . sex; it is not hatred or rejection of the opposite sex; it is not genetic; it is not the result of " 1 broken homes except inasmuch as we could see the sham of American marriage. ‘ Homosexuality is the capacity to love sonieone of the same sex. 2. Bisexuality: Bisexuality is good; it is-the capacity to love people of either sex. The rea~ son so few of-us are bisexual is because society made Such a big stink about homosexuality that we got forced into seeing ourselves as either straight or non—straight. Also, many gays got turned off to the ways men are supposed to act with women and vice—versa, which is pretty fucked-up. Gays will begin to turn on to women when 1) it’s something that we do because we want to, and not because we should, and 2) when women’s liberation changes the nature of heterosexual relationships. . . We continue to call ourselves homosexual, not bisexual, even if we do make it with the opposite sex also, because saying “Oh, I’m Bi” is a cop out for a gay. We get told it’s OK to sleep with guys as long as we sleep with women, too, and that’s still putting homosexuality down. We’ll be gay until everyone has forgotten that it’s an issue. Then we’ll begin to be complete. 3. Heterosexuality: Exclusive heterosexuality is fucked up. It reflects a few people of the same sex, it’s anti—homosexual, and it is fraught with frustration. Heterosexual sex is fucked up, too; ask women’s liberation about what straight guys are like in bed. Sex is aggression for the male chauvinist; sex is obligation for traditional woman. And among the young, the modern, the hip, it’s only a subtle version of the same. For us to become heterosexual in the sense that our straight brothers and sisters are is not a cure, it is a disease. GAY LIBERATION AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM 381 II. On Women 1. Lesbianism: It’s been a male—dominated society for too long, and that has warped both men and women. So gay women are going to see things differently from gay men; they are going to feel put clown as women, too. Their liberation is tied up with both gay liberation and women’s liberation. ' This paper speaks from the gay male viewpoint. And although some of the ideas in it may be equally relevant to gay women, it would be arrogant to presume this to be a mani— festo for lesbians. ‘ , We look forward to the emergence of a lesbian-liberation voice. The existence of a les~ bian caucus within the New York Gay Liberation Front has been very helpful in challenging male chauvinisrn among gay guys, and anti—gay feelings among women’s lib. ' 2. Male Chouvinism: All men are infected with male chauvinism—we were brought up that way. It means we assume that women play subordinate roles and are less human than ourselves. (At an early gay liberation meeting one guy said, “Why don’t we invite women’s liberation—they can bring sandwiches and coffee”) It is no wonder that so few gay women have become active in our groups; ' ' Male chauvinism, however, is not central to us. We can junk it much more easily than straight men can. For we understand oppression. We have largely opted out of a system which oppresses women daily—our egosare not built on putting women down and having them build us up. Also, living in a mostly male world we have become used to playing dif- ferent roles, doing our own shit-work. And finally, we have a common enemy: the big male, chauvinists are also the big anti—gays. _ But we need to purge male chauvinism, both in behavior and in thought among us. Chick equals nigger equals queer. Think it over. _ 3. Women’s liberation: They are assuming their equality and dignity and in doing so are challenging the same things we are: the roles, the exploitation of minorities by capitalism, the arrogant smugness of straight white male middle—class Amerika. They are our sisters in struggle. . Problems and differences will become clearer when we begin to work together. One major problem is our own male chauvinism. Another is uptightness and hostility to homo— sexuality that many women have—that is the straight in them. A third problem is differing views on sex: sex for them has meant oppression, while for us it has been a symbol of our freedom. We must come to know and understand each other’s style, jargon and humor. _ III. On Roles 1. Mimicry of straight society: We are children of straight society. We still think straight: that is part of our oppression. One of the worst of straight concepts is inequality. Straight (also white, English, male, capitalist) thinking views things in terms of order and comparil son. A is before B, B is after A; one is below two is belowithree; there is no mom for equali— ty. This idea gets extended to male/female, on top;r on bottom, spouse/nOt spouse, hetero— sexual/homosexual; boss/worker, white/black and richfpoor. Our social institutions cause and reflect this verbal hierarchy. This is Amerika. _ ' ' We’ve lived in these institutions all our lives. Naturally we mimic the roles. For too long we mimicked these roles to protect ourselves—a survival mechanism. Now we are becoming free enough to shed the roles which we’ve picked up from the institutions which have imprisoned us. ' ‘ ' “Stop mimicking straights, stop censoring ourselves.” 2. Marriage: Marriage is a prime example of a straight institution fraught with role play; 382 GAY LIBERATlON AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM mg. Traditional marriage is a rotten, oppressive institution. Those of us who have been in heterosexual marriages too often have blamed our gayness on the breakup of the marriage. No. They'broke up because marriage is a contract which smothers both people, denies needs, - and places impossible demands on both people. And we had the strength, again, to refuse to capitulate to the roles which were demanded of us. ' - _ " - Gay people must stop gauging their self respect by how well they mimic straight mar- riages. Gay marriages will have the same problems as straight ones except in burlesque. For - the usual legitimacy and pressures which keep straight marriages together are absent, e.g. kids, what parents think, what neighbors say. - To accept that happiness comes through finding a groovy spouse and settling down, I showing the world that “were just the same as you” is avoiding the real issues, and is an expression of self-hatred. . ' 3.'Alternatives to Marriage: People want to get married for lots of good reasons, although marriage Won’t often meet those needs or desires. We’re all looking for security, 'a flow of love, and a feeling of belonging and being needed. , - These needs can be met through a number of social relationships and living situations. Things we want to get away from are: 1. exclusiveness, propertied attitudes toward each other, a mutual pact against the rest of the world; 2. promises about the future, which we I have no right to make and which prevent us from, or make us feel guilty about, growing; 3. inflexible roles, roles which do not reflect. us at the moment but are inherited through mimicry-and inability to define equalitarian relationships. ' We have to define for ourselves a new pluralistic, role free social structure for ourselves. ' It must contain both the freedom and physical space for people to live alone, live together for a while, live together for a long time, either as couples or in larger numbers; and the abil— ity to flow easily from one of these states to another as our needs change. Liberation for gay people is defining for ourselves how and with whom we live, instead of measuring our relationship in comparison to straight ones, with straight values. 4. Gay ‘stereotypes’: The straights’ image of the gay world is defined largely by those of us who have violated straight roles. 'There is a tendency among ‘homophile’ groups to deplore gays who play visible roles—the queensand the nellies. As liberated gays, we must take a clear stand. 1., Gays who stand out have become our first martyrs. They came out and Withstood disapproval before the rest of us did. 2. If they have suffered from being open, it is straight society whom we must indict, not the queen. 5. Closet queens: This phase is becoming analogous to “Uncle Tom.” To pretend to be Straight sexually, or to pretend to be straight socially, is probably the most harmful pattern i; of behavior in the ghetto. The married guy who makes it on the side secretly; the guy who " i Will go to bed once but who won’t develop any gay relationships; the pretender at work or school who changes the gender of the friend he’s talking about; the guy who’ll suck cock in the bushes but who won’t go'to bed. _ If we are liberated we are open with our sexuality. Closet queenery must end. Come out. But: In saying come out, we have to have our heads clear about a few things: 1) closet queens are our brothers, and must be defended against attacks by straight people; 2) the fear of coming out is not paranoia; the stakes are high: 1055 of family ties, loss of job, loss of StFaight friends—these are all reminders that the oppression is not just in our heads. It’s real. Each of us must make the steps toward openness at our own speed and on our ov'vn impuls— es. Being open is the foundation of freedom: it has to be built solidly. 3) “Closet queen” is a 7 r broad term covering a multitude of forms of defense, self-hatred, lack of strength, and habit. We are all closet queens in some ways, and all of us had to come out—very few of us were GAY LIBERATION AND tESBlAN-FEMINISM 333 384 ‘flagrant’ at the age of seven! We must afford our brothers and sisters the same patience we afforded ourselves. And while their closet queenery is part of our oppression, it’s more a part of theirs. They alone can decide when and how. IV. On Oppression It is important to catalog and understand the different facets of our oppression. There is no future in arguing about degrees of oppression. A lot of ‘movement’ types come on with a line of shit about homosexuals not being oppressed as much as blacks or Vietnamese or workers or women. We don’t happen to fit into their ideas of class or caste. Bull! When peo- ’ pie feel oppressed, they act on that feeling. We feel oppressed. Talk about the priority of black liberation or ending imperialism over and above gay liberation is just anti-gay propaganda. 1. Physical attacks: We are attacked, beaten, castrated and left dead time and time again. There are half a dozen known unsolved slayings in San Francisco parks in the last few years. ' “Punks,” often of minority groups who look around for someone under them socially, feel encouraged to beat up on “queens” and cops look the other way. That used tobe called lynching. - . Cops in most cities have harassed our meeting places: bars and baths and parks. They set up entrapment squads. A Berkeley brother was slain by a cop' in 'April when he tried to split after finding out that the trick who was making advances to him was a cop. Cities set up ‘perverf registration, which if nothing else scares our brothers deeper into the closet. One of the most vicious slurs on us is the blame for prison ‘gang rapes’. These rapes are invariably done by people who consider themselves straight. The victims of these rapes are us and straights who can’t defend themselves. The press Campaign to link prison rapes with homosexuality is anattempt to make straights fear and despise us, so- they can oppress us more. It’s typical of the fucked-up Straight mind to think that hornosexual sex involves tying a guy down and fucking him. That’s aggression, not sex. If that’s what sex is for a lot of straight people, that’s a problem theyhave to solve, not us. ‘ . 2. Psychological warfare: Right from the beginning we have been subjected to a barrage of straight propaganda. Since our parents don’t know any homosexuals, we grow up think- ing that we’re alone and different and perverted. Our school friends identify‘queer’ with any non—conformist or bad behavior. Our elementary school teachers tell us not to talk to strangers or accept rides. Television, billboards and magazines put forth a false idealization' of male] female relationships, and make- us wish we were different, wish we were ‘in’. In fam— ily living class we’re taught how we’re supposed to turn out. And all along, the best we hear if anything about homosexuality is that it’s an unfortunate problem. ‘ 3. Self—oppression: As gay iiberation grows, we will find your uptight brothers and sisters, particularly those who are making a buck off our ghettohcoming on strong to defend the sta—' tus quo. This is self—oppression: ‘don’t rock the boat’; ‘things in SF are OK’; ‘gay people just aren’t together'; ‘I’m not oppressed’. These lines are right out of the mouths of the straight establishment. A large part of our oppression would end if we would stop putting ourselves and our pride down. ' 4. Institutional: Discrimination against gays is blatant, if we open our eyes. Homosexual - relationships are illegal, and even if these laws are not regularly enforced, they encourage and enforce closet queenery. The bulk of the social worklpsychiatric field looks upon homosex— uality as a problem, and treats us as sick. Employers let it be known that our skills are accept— able only as long as our sexuality is hidden. Big business and government are particularly notorious offenders. ' The discrimination in the draft and armed services is a-pillar of the general attitude GAY LIBERATION AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM . toward gays. If we are willing to label ourselves publicly not only as homosexual but as sick, then we qualify for deferment; and if we’re not ‘discreet’ (dishonest) we get drummed out of the service. Hell, no, we won’t go, of course not, but we can’t let the army fuck us over this way either. ' ' V011 Sex 1. What sex is: It is both creative expression and communication: good when it is either, and better when it is both. Sex can also be aggression, and usually is when those involved do i not see each other'as equals; and it can also be perfunctory, when we are distracted or pre— occupied. These uses spoil what is good about it. I like to think of good sex in terms of playing the violin: with both people on one level seeing the other body _as_an object capable of creating beauty when they play it well; and on a second level the players communicating through their mutual production and apprecia- tion of beauty. As in. good music, you get totally into it—ancl coming back out of that state of consciousness is— like finishing a work of art or coming back from an episode of an acid or mescaline trip. And to press the analogy further: the variety of music is infinite and varied, depending-on the capabilities of the players, both as subjects and as objects. Solos, duets, quartets (symphonies, even, if you happen to dig Romantic music!) are possible. The varia- tions in gender, response, and bodies are likeldifferent instruments. And perhaps what we have called sexual ‘orientation’ probably just means that we have not yet learned to turn on . to the total range of musical expression. _ 2. Objectification: [n this scheme, people are sexual objects, but they are also subjects, and are human beings who appreciate themselves as object and subject. This use of human bodies as objects is legitimate (not harmful) only when it is reciprocal. If one person is ' always object and the other subject, it stifles the human being in both of them. Objectification must also be open and frank. By silence we often assume or let the other per— son assume that sex means commitments: if it does, ok: but i£ not, say it. (Of course, it’s not all that simple: our capabilities for manipulation are unfathomed—‘all we can do is try.) . Gay liberation people must understand that women have been treated exclusively and ' dishonestly as sexual objects. A major part of their liberation is to play down sexual obj ecti- fication and to develop other aspects of themselves which have been smothered so long. We respect this. We also understand that a few liberated women will be appalled or disgusted at the open and prominent place that we put sex in our lives; and while this is a natural response from their experience, they must learn what it means for us. For us, sexual objectification is a foals of our quest for freedom. It is precisely that Which we are not supposed to share with each other. Learning how to be open and good With each other sexually is part of our liberation. And one obvious distinction: objectification of ‘ sex for us is something we choose to do among ourselves, while for women it is imposed by their oppressors. _ . _- 3. On positions and roles: Much of our sexuality has been perverted through mimicry of Straights, and warped from self-hatred. These sexual perversions are basically anti—gay: "‘I like to make it with straight guys” “I’m not gay,__but I like to be ‘done”’ “I like to fuck, but don’t want to be fucked” _ “I don’t like to be touched above the neck” _ This is role playing at its worst: we must transcend these roles. We strive for democrat— ic, mutual, reciprocal sex. This does not mean that we are all mirror images of each other in bed, but that we break away from roles which enclave us. We already do better in bed than straights do, and we can be better to each other than we have been. 4. Chickens and Studs: Face it, nice bodies and young bodies are attributes, they’ re groovy. They are inspiration for art, for spiritual elevation, for good sex. The problem aris-' es only in the inability to relate to people of the same age, or people who don’t fit the plas— tic stereotypes of a good body. At that point,.objectification eclipses people, and expresses self—hatred: “I hate gay people, and I don’t like myself, but if a stud (or chicken) wants to make it with me, I can pretend I’m someone other=than me.” A note on exploitation of children: kids can take care of themselves, and are sexual beings way earlier than we’d like to admit. Those 6f us who began cruising in early adoles- cence know this, and we Were doing the cruising, not being debauched by dirty old men. Scandals such as the one in Boise, ldallo—Fblaming a “ring” of homosexuals for perverting their youth—are the fabrications of press and police and politicians. And as for child molest— ing, the overwhelming amount is done by straight guys to little girls: it is not particularly a gay problem, and is caused by the frustrations resulting from anti-sex puritanisrn. 5. Perversion: We’ve been called perverts enough to be suspect of any usage of the word. Still many of us shrink from the idea of certain kinds of sex: with animals, sado/masochism, dirty sex (involving piss or shit). Right off, even before we take the time to learn any more, there are some things to get straight: 1. We shouldn’t be apologetic to straights about gays whose sex lives we don’t under- stand or share; 2.1t’s not particularly a gay issue, except that gay people probably are less hung up about sexual experimentation. ' 3. Let’s get perspective: even if we were to get into the game of deciding what’s good ' for someone else, the harm done in these ‘perversions’ is undoubtedly less danger— ous or unhealthy than is tobacco or alcohol. 4. While they can be reflections of neurotic or self—hating patterns, they may also be enactments of spiritual or important phenomena: e.g. sex with animals may be the beginning of interspecies communication: some dolphin-human break— ‘ throughs have been made on the sexual level; e.g. one guy who says he digs shit during sex occasionally says it’s not the taste or texture, but a symbol that he’s so far into sex that those things no longer bug him; e.g.‘sado/masochism, when con— sensual, can be described as a highly artistic endeavor, a ballet the constraints of which are the threshold of pain and pleasure. VI. 011 Our Ghetto We are refugees from Amerika. So we came to the ghetto—find as other ghettos, it has its negative and positive aspects. Refiigee camps are better than what preceded them, or peo'—. ple never would have come. But they are still enslaving, if only that we are limited to being ourselves there and only there. - Ghettos breedself-hatred. We stagnate here, accepting the status quo. The status quo is- rotten. We are all warped by our oppression, and in the isolation of the ghetto we blameour— selves rather than our oppressors. - _ _ Ghettos breed exploitation: Landlords find they can charge exorbitant rents and get- away with it, because of the limited area which is safe to live in openly. Mafia control of bars and baths in NYC is only one example of outside money controlling our institutions for their profit. in San Francisco the Tavern Guild favors maintaining the ghetto, for it is- through ghetto culture that they make a buck. We crowd their bars not because of their merit but because of the absence of any other social institutions. The, Guild has refused to let us - 386 GAY LIBERATION AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM collect defense funds or pass out gay liberation literature in their bars—need we ask why? Police or con men who shake down the straight gay in return for not revealing him; the bookstores and movie makers who keep raising prices because they are the only outlet for pornography; heads of ‘modeling’ agencies and other pimps who exploit both the hustlers and'the johns—these are the parasites who flourish in the ghetto. SAN FRANCISCO—Ghetto or Free Territory: Our ghetto certainly is more beautiful and ' larger and more diverse than most ghettos, and is certainly freer than the rest of Amerika. That’s why we’re here. But it isn’t ours. Capitalists make money off us, cops patrol us, gov» ernment tolerates us as long as we shut up, and daily we work for pay and taxes to those who oppress us. To be a free territory, we must govern ourselves, set up our own institutions, defend our- selves, and use ourown energies to improve our lives. The emergence of gay liberation com— munes, and our own paper is a good start. The talk about a gay liberation coffee shop—dance V hall shbuld be acted upon. Rural retreats, political action offices, food cooperatives, a free school, unalienating bars and after hours places—they must be developed if we-are to have even the shadow of a free territory. VII. On Coalition - Right now the bulk of our work has to be among ourselves—self educating, fending off attacks, and building free territory. Thus basically we have to have a gay/ straight vision of the world until the oppression of gays is ended. _ ‘ _ But not every straight is our enemy. Many of us have mixed identities, and have ties with other liberation movements: women, blacks, other minority groups: we may also have taken on an identity which is vital .to us: eCology, dope, ideology. And face it: we can’t change Amerika alone: " Who do we look to for coalition? 1. Women’s Liberation: summarizing earlier statements, 1) they are our closest ally; we must try hard to get together with them; 2} a lesbian caucus is probably the best way to attack gay guys’ male chauvinism, and challenge the straightness of women’s liberation; 3) as males we must be sensitive to their developing identities as women, and respect that; if we know what our freedom is about, they certainly know what’s best for them. ' 2. Black liberation: This is tenuous riglit now because of the uptightness and supermas- ’ cuiinity of many black men (which is understandable). Despite that, we must support their 7 movement, particularly when they are under attack from the establishment; we must show them that we mean business; and we must figure out which our common enemies are: - police, city hall, capitalism 3. Chicanos: Basically the same problem as with blacks: trying to overcome mutual ani- mosity and fear, and finding ways to support them. The extra problem of super up-tightness and machismo among Latin cultures, and the traditional pattern of Mexicans beating up “queers”, can be overcome: we’re both oppressed, and by the same people at the top. 4. White radicals and ideologues: We’re not, as a group, Marxist or communist. We haven’t figured out what kind of political/economic system is good for us as gays. Neither capitalist or socialist countries have treated us as anything other than non grata so far. But we know we are radical, in that we know the system that we’re under now is a direct source of oppression, and it's not a question of getting our share of the pie. The pie is rotten. We can look forward to coalition and mutual support with radical groups if they are able to transcend their anti-gay and male chauvinist patterns. We support radical and mili- tant demands when they arise. e.g. Moratorium, People’s Park; but only as a group; We can’t GAY LIBERATEON AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM 387 compromise or soft—peddle our gay identity. - Problems: because radicals are doing somebody else’s thing, they tend to avoid issues which affect them directly, and see us as jeopardizing their ‘work’ with other groups (work— ers, blacks). Some years ago a dignitary of SDS on a community organization‘project announced at an initial staff meeting that there would be no homosexuality (or dope) on the project. And recently in New York, a movement group which had a coffee-house get—togeth— er after a political rally told the gays to leave when they started dancing together. (It’s inter- esting to note that in this case, the only two groups which supported us were Women's Liberation and the Crazies.) _ ' Perhaps most fruitful would be to breach with radicals their stifled homosexuality and ' the issues which arise from challenging sexual roles. 5. Hip and street people: a major dynamic of rising gay lib sentiment is the hip revolu- tion within the gay community. Emphasis onlove, dropping out, being honest, expressing yourself through hair and clothes, and smoking dope are all attributes of this. The gays who are the least vulnerable to attack by the establishment have been the freest to express them- selves on gay liberation. We can make a direct appeal to young people, who are not so up-tight about homosex— uality. One kid, after having his first sex with a male, said “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, making it with a girl just isn’t that different.” ' ' The hiplstreet culture has led people into a lot of freeing activities: encounter/sensitiv- ity, the quest for reality, freeing territory for the people, ecological consciousness, com- munes. These are real points of agreement and probably will make it easier for them to get their heads straight about homosexuality, too. ‘ 6. Homophile groups: 1) reformist or pokey as they sometimes are, they are our broth- ers. They’ ll grow as we have grown and grow. Do not attack then in straight or mixed com- pany; 2) ignore their attack on us; 3) cooperate where cooperation‘is'possible without essen- tial compromise of our identity. ' conclusion: An Outline of Imperatives for Gay Liberation _ 1. Free ourselves: come out everywhere; initiate self defense and political activity; initi- ate counter community institutions. ' 2. Turn other gay people on: talk all the time; understand, forgive, accept. 3. Free the homosexual in everyone: we’ll be getting a good bit of shit from threatened latents: be gentle, and keep talking 8: acting free. - 4. We’ve been playing an act for a long time, so we’re consummate actors. Now we can begin to be, and it’ll be a good show! ' ' 388 GAY LlBERATION AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM Throughout early gay liberation, the relation between gay liber- T H I R D W0 R L D G AY ation and other liberation movements was a major issue. As R E V O L U T | 0 N Wittman’s Manifesto notes, politically “revolutionary” move- - ments have often been sexually conservative. Lesbians and gays of color have had to fightfor equality within national liberation movements and - anti-racist struggles. This fight has not. by and large, led to abandonment of racial solidarity, simply because the weight'of racism is an inescapable reality in the lives of people of color. Unlike =for white middle—class gays and |esbians,struggle against racism is not a luxury. Thusmany of the most complex and thoughtful writing of the past twenty-five years has come from gays and lesbians of color. The next several selections document some of that thinking and writing. The following statement was issued by Third World Gay Revolution. a group of New York Black and Latino homosexual men. it specifically challenges heterosexual men of color to confront their fears and transform their sense of mascr‘ilinity in order to challenge homophobia. - N THE OPPRESSED SHALL NOT BECOME THE OPPRESSOR ‘ ' (1970) Third World Gay Revolution Sisters and Brothers of the. Third World, you who call yourselves “revolutionaries” have failed to deal with your sexist attitudes. Instead you cling to male-supremacy and therefore to the conditioned role of oppressors. Brothers still fight for the privileged position of man—on-the-top. Sisters quickly fall in line behind—their-men. By your counterrevolutionary ' struggle to maintain and to force heterosexuality and the nuclear family, you perpetuate out— moded remnants of Capitalism. By your anti-homosexual stance you have used the weapons of the oppressor thereby becoming the agent of the oppressor. It is up to Third World males to realistically define masculinity because it is you, who throughout your lives have struggled to- gain the unrealistic roles of“men”. Third World men have always tried to reach this precarious position by climbing on the backs of women and homosexuals. “Masculinity” has been defined by White society as the amount of possessions (including. women) a man collects, and the amount of physical power gained over other- men. Third World men have been denied even these false standards of “masculinity”. Therefore stop perpetuating in yourselves and your community the white-supremacists’ notions which are basic to your own oppression. We, as Third World gay people suffer a triple oppression: 1) We are oppressed as people because our humanity is routinely devoured by the car— nivorous system of Capitalism. 2) We are oppressed as Third World people by the economically inherent racism of white Amerikan society. ' 3) We are oppressed by the sexism of the white society and the verbal and physical abuSe ' of masculinity—deprived Third World males. 400 GAY LIBERATION AND LESBIAN-FEMINISM _ ' The right of selfjdetermination over dominion of one’s own body is a human right and this'right must be defended with one’s body being put on the line. By the actions you have taken against your gay brothers and sisters of the Third World you who throughout your lives have suffered the torments of social oppression and sexual repression, have now placed yourselves in the role of oppressor. Anti—homosexuality fosters sexual repression, male—supremacy, weakness in revolution— ary drive, and results in an inaccurate non~objective political perspective. LOS OPRIMIDOS N 0 SE CONVERTIRAN EN OPRESORES Hermanas y hermanos del 3er Mundo: Uds., que se llaman reolucionarios,‘ no se han enfrentado a sus actitudes sexis tas. En cambio, se han aferrado a1 machismo y en conse- cuen'cia a1 papel de opresor.A1’1n Uds. luchan por la posicién privilegiada del machismo, y cada una de Uds., hermanas, sigue detras de los “hombres”. Por vuestra lucha contrarrevolucionaria para mantener (y forzar) 1a heterosexualidad Y e1 nucleo familiar, Uds. perpetuan las viejas ideas remanentes del capitalismo. Por vuestra pOSicion anti—homosexualhan usado las armas del opresor, en'consecuencia convirtiéndose en agente del mismo. Esta en Uds., hombres del 3er mundo,—definir la masculinidad de un modo mas real- ista', Porque son Uds. quienes a través de sus vidas han luchado para alcanzar esta posicién precaria poniéndosepor encirna de las mujeres y los homosexuales, en consecuencia perpet- uando en Uds. mismos y en la comunidad las nociones capitalistas blancas del machismo, las cuéles se encuentran basicamente en vuestra propia opresion. Nosotros, genre homosexual del 3er Mundo, sufrimos una triple opresion: _ l) Estamos oprimidos corno personas, pues nuestra humanidad esta sistematicamente devorada por el sistema carnivore capitalista. ' 2) Estamos oprirnidos corno genre del 3er Mundo por el racismo derivado del sistemas econémico de la sociedad americana—blanca. - ' 3) Estamos oprimidos por el sexismo de—esta misma sociedad blanca y a menudo ma noseados verbal y fisicamente por el machismo de los hombres del 3er mundo. El derecho de autodeterminacién sobre el propio cuerpo es un derecho humano y este derecho sera defendido con la Vida. ' -A consecuencia de las acciones que Uds. han tomado contra sus hermanos y hermanas homosexuales del 3er mundo, Us, que a traves de sus vidada sufrieron los tormentos de la Opresién social y la represion sexual, se han puesto ahora en el papel de opresor. Antihomosexualidad alienta y promueve represion Sexual, machismo, debilidad en el empuje revolucionario, y una inexacta no-objetiva perspectiva politica. ...
View Full Document

Page1 / 14

GayManifesto_OppressorShallNot - IV I GAY LIBERATION AND _...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 14. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online