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Homophobia on the Left:
The Autonomous Zone's
Challenge to the
October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality
by Darrel Gordon

 

The Problem:
The national October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality annually holds a march and rally against police brutality. During the planning of this year's event there was a struggle from within the Chicago chapter over whether or not to include a speaker from the lesbian-bi-gay-transgender liberation movement. The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) position on queer liberation is that "gayness" is a disease of the capitalist system that will be "cured" with reeducation after the revolution. The RCP, lead organizers of the event, tried first to avoid the issue of having a queer speaker, then used the argument that "there were too many speakers on the program" to allow queer representation. RCP members even said that having anyone from the Young Womyn's Day of Action Coalition was sufficient representation for both womyn and queers. Eventually it was agreed that a speaker from the queer community would be on the rally program.
But attitudes lead to actions. At the rally a member of a group called the Hebrew Black Israelites - an organization affiliated with the Gang Truce Movement - was added to the program on the day of the event. This individual made anti-gay statements on the day of the event. There were some boos and hisses from the listeners, but not enough.


Response:
The Autonomous Zone, a resource center for radical, anti-authoritarian organizers and activists, takes the position that a narrow fight against police brutality in which some issues are highlighted and others ignored or relegated to "middle-class identity issue" status is not the best strategy for building a movement. A radical front against police brutality must be anti-racist, -sexist, -heterosexist, and -agist while being class conscious if it is to become a movement, and especially a movement that will win. Queers and womyn and queer womyn and poor queers and african womyn queers (etc.) can be and are victims of oppression and police brutality. They don't need "reeducation."They demand liberation against the hierarchies of capitalism, religious institutions and other agents of oppression.
The October 22 Coalition should be a vehicle for all victims of police brutality, not just heterosexual men of color. Consciousness-raising and conscious action is required for any true, united front anti-racist, -sexist, -heterosexist, and -agist mobilization against police brutality.

 

Update:
Since the time the above was written, the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality met with representatives of the Autonomous Zone Collective. Proposals were made to invite queer people into the Coalition, to tell their stories of brutality by cops; and to establish a dialogue with the Young Womyn Day of Action Coalition. The October 22 Coalition recognizes that they made an error by not making a public response to the anti-queer statements made by the Hebrew Black Israelites at last year's rally.
Members of the Autonomous Zone and Anti-Racist Action Coalition will help see that true reflection of diversity in the further work of the October 22 Coalition.

 

[Editors' note: the Revolutionary Communist Party, which sets much of the agenda within the October 22 Coalition, has had problems in areas other than its attitudes towards homosexuality. In the early '80s, the RCP claimed that native peoples of the Americas ate their own shit prior to the arrival of the enlightened Europeans - a racist notion through and through.]


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