Monday, October 12, 2009

HRC: Quit Leaving Queers Out

Although i think the problem is deeper than an establishment organization "leaving queers out", it brought a smile to my face this morning to read that the HRC had been graffittied by some self-styled "Queers Against Assimilation" last night.

The HRC, or Human Rights Campaign, is the largest LGBT lobby group in the united states, and made the news when prez Obama addressed their fundraiser (live on CNN) Saturday night. While many might think of the HRC as a force opposed to homophobia, within the queer liberation movement the organization has come to symbolize the shift from oppositional activism to lobbying, and the related mainstreaming of gay america.

Which is a pretty typical movement dynamic.

The HRC and its chosen issues - gay marriage, "don't ask don't tell" and hate crimes legislation - are all part and parcel of the retreat from radicalism that activism around sexual issues has undergone over the past fifteen years. Pretty much since the Clinton presidency - he being the first president to address the HRC, incidentally.

In part this is co-optation, in part it's betrayal, but mostly it's just the result of unprecedented success around many of the demands of the movement of the 80s. Most of the demands of that period were oriented towards acquiring certain minimum legal protections, greater medical resources devoted to HIV/AIDS, and more positive representation in popular culture. While the movement was radical in its methods - think ACT UP, Queer Nation, etc. - its main goals were reformist, and they have largely been met, or else the Democrats have indicated that they are working on it and we'll get there soon...

That these victories are inadequate goes without saying: in large swathes of america it remains dangerous and potentially very nervewracking to be "out" - but for people with the financial means and cultural assets to integrate into their chosen liberal middle class enclave, things really never have been better.

That's why i wonder about the slogan "Quit leaving queers behind" - to be "queer" normally refers to something cultural or sexual, but i think for it to make sense here it has to be taken to also have a class dimension. In this sense "queers" are those on the street, in prison, in jesusland or in the hood, and perhaps not able or at least as likely not wanting to move to "safer" (saw through that lie!) quarters. It's not the normal use of the word "queer", but it's the way a militant segment of the movement is using it.

Here's the "communique" from Queers Against Assimilation, who carried out the paint job, courtesy of Bash Back! News:

Communique from the Forgotton:

Human Rights Campaign HQ Glamdalized By Queers Against Assimilation

HRC headquarters was rocked by an act of glamdalism last night by a crew of radical queer and allied folks armed with pink and black paint and glitter grenades. Beside the front entrance and the inscribed mission statement now reads a tag, “Quit leaving queers behind.”

The HRC is not a democratic or inclusive institution, especially for the people who they claim to represent. Just like society today, the HRC is run by a few wealthy elites who are in bed with corporate sponsors who proliferate militarism, heteronormativity, and capitalist exploitation. The sweatshops (Nike), war crimes (Lockheed Martin), assaults on working class people (Bank of America, Deloitte, Chase Bank, Citi Group, Wachovia Bank) and patriarchy (American Apparel) caused by their sponsors is a hypocrisy for an organization with “human rights” in their name.

The queer liberation movement has been misrepresented and co-opted by the HRC. The HRC marginalizes us into a limited struggle for aspiring homosexual elites to regain the privilege that they’ve lost and climb the social ladder towards becoming bourgeoisie.

Last night, Obama spoke at the HRC fundraising gala and currently the HRC website declares, “President Obama underlines his unwavering support for LGBT Americans.” The vast amount of organizing resources the HRC wastes on their false alliance with the Democratic party leaves radical queers on the margins to fend for themselves. Our struggle has always had to resist the repression of conservative tendencies in government and society to gain liberation in our lives.

The gourmet affair was sponsored by 48 corporations including giants Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and Wachovia Bank. At $250 dollars a plate the HRC served our movement a rich, white, heternormative atmosphere that purposefully excludes working class queer folks.

REMEMBER THE STONEWALL RIOTS! On the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, pigs raided a queer bar in Texas, arrested and beat our friends, and we looked towards politicians and lawyers to protect us. This mentality is what keeps the money flowing to the HRC and their pet Democrats, and keeps our fists in our pockets.

Most of all we disagree that collective liberation will be granted by the state or its institutions like prisons, marriage, and the military. We need to escalate our struggle, or it will collapse.

~~Love and Solidarity~~

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