March 3, 2018 – BACK IN ’78 AND 40 YEARS LATER QUEERS REVOLTED AND QUEERS WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO
WE STAND AGAINST ALL OPPRESSIVE INSTITUTIONS & CORPORATIONS APPROPRIATING AND CAPITALISING ON OUR CONTINUING STRUGGLE
In 1978 queers took to the streets of Darlinghurst to denounce the intersectional oppressions we have faced for centuries. Queers with legitimate political critiques of the homophobic, patriarchal, capitalist status quo used a diversity of protest strategies to defiantly celebrate our identities and genders. Some danced, some kissed, and some carried placards, but most significantly, militant queers, fed up with being criminalized (and subject to various forms of physical, sexual, verbal abuse), literally fought the enemy, the notoriously violent, homophobic Darlinghurst cops, for our right to exist.
Now, 40 years later, queers continue the struggle against ongoing and diverse examples of state sanctioned anti-queer violence, and the capitalist pink-washing of what Mardi Gras represents as a significant moment in queer revolutionary resistance. Remember, ‘they’ only gave us ‘rights’ because we rioted!
40 years ago, staunch queers deliberately took to the streets to assert our rage as causalities of socially sanctioned violence by the mainstream establishment: police, religious bodies, authoritarian state-run institutions (prisons, psych wards etc) and homophobic “upright citizens”.
Today, in tribute to the original political nature of Mardi Gras, we continue to denounce state tyranny in all it’s forms – not just in the name of freedom and liberation for queer communities – but in solidarity with all those who are subject to ongoing criminalization due to their ethnicity/nationality, migration status, non-mainstream lifestyle choices, occupations, gender identities, class, species, and radical political praxis.
We stand against all institutions and corporations who seek to appropriate, dilute or profit from the ongoing struggle for genuine queer and trans liberation – which we recognize as a rejection of the heteronormative “gay lifestyle” being pushed upon us. Hence, we utterly reject the rainbow assimilationism of the multi-million dollar corporate (parasitical) conglomeration which has become the a-political Mardi Gras spectacle.
Although we recognize and acknowledge that struggle gains have been made, and they indeed should be celebrated; all around the clouds of oppression loom imminently and ominously. On an international level, fascism is on the rise, and while “they” may not come first for the queers this time, they will surely come one day, under new guises. Our head in the sand hedonism is not only an insult to those who fought in the past, and an insult to those who suffer now, but it is also the victorious manifestation of deliberate social conditioning by a dominant and oppressive system that has never been defeated, only wounded. We have been distracted by glitter and bright lights, bought off by the mundane promises of festivity and consumption, while all around us others live in misery and the planet is being destroyed.
The struggle can and must no longer be just about ‘our’ rights. We as queers must show our support and active solidarity with the ‘others’, who are the burning witches and faggots of our age. By embracing the heteronormative values and morality of nationalism and capitalism, we only perpetuate norms which have done nothing but marginalize and oppress us and those we stand in solidarity with. We believe that homo-nationalism is akin to pink fascism, and that we all have a duty to ensure that the assimilationism so many of us are celebrating is critiqued through an anti-fascist and anti-capitalist lens.
As radical queers, we struggle for true and all-encompassing liberation. Selling queer culture is not “liberation”. A continuation of colonization, First Nations genocide, land dispossession and theft of indigenous land is not “liberation”. A continuation of a border regime that routinely punishes queer refugees through indefinite “detention” in immigration prisons, and regularly deports queers back to unsafe countries is not “liberation”. The over-representation of queers and trans people in state prisons and/or psychiatric institutions is not “liberation”.
Embracing capitalism is not “liberation”, not for queers and not for anyone else. We stand against the inherent inequality and injustice of a capitalist system, which normalizes patriarchal and kyriarchal systems of authoritarian power. Further, we vehemently renounce the capitalist take-over of our struggle, our passion and our very identities. Embracing the violent and oppressive institutions of this colonialist, racist government is in direct conflict with genuine notions of liberation (which we recognize as inherently involving principles of mutual aid, solidarity, collaborative struggle, direct action and the freedom of our sexuality and our lives from internalized straight, capitalist, religiously inspired values).
Cop violence against queers and trans people continues today and our identities are repeatedly erased and criminalized by the in-justice system and the prison/industrial/military complex. There is nothing to “celebrate” about the inclusion of rainbow cops at a commemoration of our struggle. A rainbow baton is still a weapon. At no point were the cops accountable for the outright violence of the past and the continuing violence of today. The inclusion of the Australian “Defense” Force at a commemoration of our struggle for freedom is nothing short of offensive and inappropriate, particularly given that our struggle transcends ‘national’ politically constructed borders, and the A.D.F. is complicit in both imprisoning and deporting queers while war itself is the anti-thesis of liberation and freedom. In recognizing the original nature of Mardi Gras as a political event, involving direct action against oppression, we utterly disavow the participation of state and corporate entities. There is no space for the Liberal Party which upholds the homophobic, transphobic and racist status quo, to pretend that they are anything different simply because they have a few token assimilationist rainbow members. Similarly, there is no space here for corporations complicit in our suffering, such as Qantas – which is active in deporting queer refugees to danger, or ANZ Bank – that is profiting from investing in environmentally destructive coal mining.
Mardi Gras for too long has come to embody all the values that are anti-ethical to queer and trans liberation. The Mardi Gras parade itself personifies the vapid, farcical face of capitalist pink washing with just a token nod to genuine queer and trans grassroots groups. This is why tonight we – a loose collection of radical queers who sometimes use the banner of Pink Bloc
– symbolically interrupted this narrative, by briefly halting the march to draw attention to the fact that many of us view Mardi Gras assimilation as something to revolt against. This self satisfied festival not only effectively papers over but includes all the foul aspects of society that oppress us. We say no to corporatization of our lives and struggle. We say no to cops and politicians gaining PR milage off our backs.
For a queer, anti-capitalist, future!
Revolt, rebel, and reject!
First we riot, then we celebrate!