That awkward moment when you’re casually browsing Twitter and come across this shit:
Obviously, the irony (and sheer gall) of an organization, literally named after a riot, condemning any and all violence as protest is the first thing that pops out. Even more so, since the incident that sparked their response was Trans women responding in self-defense to anti-Trans activists…much like the very historical event that this organization named itself after. And this was swiftly pointed out by much of Twitter. Myself included:
But I’d like to go a step further and talk about the respectability of these liberal, white-run organizations that claim to center LGBTQ equality and activism. Specifically, how their position can actually make them a hindrance to the very causes they claim to exist for.
I’ve touched on how capitalism is inherently anti-LGBTQ (see linked thread), just as it’s anti-Black. Capitalism affirms the idea of LGBTQ people because it’s socially trendy to do, and easy to profit from. But actually affirming us as complicated, nuanced, possibly sexual human beings? HA! Corporations will rainbow the fuck out of everything for a month and march in parades, while still perpetuating oppression. Capitalist companies routinely deny opportunities to LGBTQ people who don’t perfectly fall in line with respectability. They also push gentrification, which sees the most marginalized sectors of the LGBTQ community being pushed out of spaces that once centered them. The list goes on and on.
But we don’t always talk about how the most notable LGBTQ organizations are run with similar capitalist, corporate structures. They literally profit from the continued oppression of the communities they claim to serve. Now, granted, I can give this a certain amount of leeway, in and of itself. Fact is, we have to be able to survive and navigate in capitalism in order to subvert it. The issues come up when combining this with other factors.
What makes these orgs more insidious is that they’re also run under a liberal ideology. Anyone familiar with me and/or my work knows that I’ve spent years dressing down liberalism’s complicity in white supremacy. Liberation will never happen via liberalism because it only seeks to reform oppressive systems and/or assimilate into them. Liberalism doesn’t care to divest from and dismantle them. So, since they’re run under an ideology that would never eradicate bigotry and oppression, these systems will always be in place for them to “fight” (and, in turn, continue making money). The whole point of any activism-based organization should be to eliminate the need for itself to exist. Your Stonewall UK’s, GLAAD’s and Human Rights Campaigns of the world don’t operate in that way, though. They operate in a way that only helps maintain these systems…therefore, as long as the system is in place, as it currently is, they’re less likely to ever risk folding.
The Stonewall uprising is consistently cited as one of the most important moments in the advancement of LGBTQ rights. This implies that that violent forms protest are actually a necessary tool of activism. After all, we’re responding to a system that oppresses people through various forms of violence every day. So, if we know that violent response is actually a necessary part of liberation, but true liberation means these organizations no longer exist? Then it makes sense they’d jump to condemn violence from the very communities they claim to do work for.
Now, because it’s me, I also think we need to take this an additional step further and explore the racial dynamic at play. At this point, it should be common knowledge that race heavily influences an LGBTQ person’s experience with sexual/gender-based oppression. Basically, any anti-LGBTQ oppression will hit Black & Brown LGBTQ people the hardest (oh, look! An example that I’ve already covered, in detail!). Also, consider that WhiteGayze™ are the primary demographic that make up most of the leadership of these “pro”-LGBTQ organizations, and that most of the gains we’ve made are ones that are more likely to benefit affluent, white LGBTQ people. And, of course, the few people of color who are involved are generally given that space because they either fall in line with the liberal agenda, or they’re not actually granted space to push back against it. Ergo, if most any anti-LGBTQ systems hit poor Black & Brown people the hardest, and organizations that capitalize off of half-assed efforts to “fight” those systems are mostly run by WhiteGayze™? Then that means we have another instance of affluent, white, cisgender people, directly benefiting from the ongoing oppression of Black & Brown people.
Given the sociopolitical times that we’re in, if you’re still interested in a passive, neutral, “all sides are valid” approach to activism, then you might as well be siding with Trump. Many folks in our community don’t have the time, resources or privilege to be passive and dismissive about how dire things actually are in this system. We owe it the most marginalized among us to better center them in our work. Hence, all the more reason not to continue supporting or trusting these organizations.
If you’re truly interested in supporting organizations serving the people and communities hit hardest by anti-LGBTQ systems, look into local groups that are actually run by the people who are directly affected. Or at least sees them being centrally involved in its operations. Look into organizations that don’t deliberately attempt to silence and step on the very people they claim to be doing work for.
If you know of organizations going great work for LGBTQ folks that you’d like to mention, please do so in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post or any of my other work, consider buying me a beer and/or bourbon!
Also, reminder that I can now be found @_hoemo on Twitter!