Bring back Pride's radical roots!

Submitted by Matthew on 25 June, 2014 - 10:33

As Pride season kicks off, it looks like the majority of festivities will be more establishment-focused than ever.

Part of London Pride (28 June) will continue to the Cenotaph for Armed Forces Day and the police will be a prominent part of the parade.

Our movement seems to have a very short memory. Our acceptance as LGBT+ people into institutions has been very, very recent and is also not consistent or inclusive of all of us.

Sex between two men wasn’t legalised in Scotland and Northern Ireland until 1981 and 1982 respectively. During the miners’ strike in the 1980s, we gained sympathy from straight, cis working-class people as they became aware of the levels of police violence and harassment that we were subject to through working with Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

While the British establishment is now smug about their perceived progressiveness on the rights of LGBT+ people, the homophobia and transphobia that many suffer across the world is often, at least in part, a consequence of British colonialism and the evangelical Christianity of missionaries in the nineteenth century.

And today, LGB+ asylum seekers are told to “prove” their sexual orientation in order to be able to stay in this supposedly welcoming, LGBT-friendly state.

LGB (and to a lesser extent, T, I, etc) people are the cause du jour of the more liberal minded elements of the ruling classes, but only the right kinds of LGBT+ people: immigrants, poor queers and people with less well-understood identities are still ignored or reviled.

Historically, capitalism reinforces the oppression of women and LGBT people because the nuclear family was (seen as) better for the social reproduction of the labour force, and women’s unpaid labour in the home could be relied upon. Alongside straightforward bigotry, this led to state discrimination and violence against us.

The heroic struggles of LGBT people have changed our status in many parts of society. Pride should connect us with our radical roots, with queer anti-capitalism, and with those in our community whose right to exist is under attack.

• Paul Penny, (London Transport RMT LGBT Officer, Workers’ Liberty) and a speaker from the African Out and Proud Diamond Group will be speaking at Ideas for Freedom on the International Fight for LGBT rights. 12.55pm, Sunday 6 July, University of London Union, Malet Street.

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