The recent mass shooting at the pulse night club in Orlando opened up an interesting aspect in the queer liberation movement. Unlike the manipulation we saw from the capitalist ruling class and mainstream media to try to paint this incident as the product of Islam, we immediately saw queer activists and LGBTQ groups around the U.S., Canada and Europe out on vigils with signs declaring “Queers Against Islamophobia.”
Islamophobia and Homophobia Are Sides of the Same Coin
The queer and Muslim community joined together to mourn the death of the 49 Orlando victims and to stand strong against violence and hatred. Suzanne Barakat, sister of one of the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting were three young Muslims were gunned down in cold blood, spoke at a Vigil for Orlando, here is some of her powerful words: "We stand here to express our shared humanity, and our everlasting love, and say to those consumed by hatred, you will not define us, you will not mold us in your image, you will not sow the seeds of discord among us."
As the mainstream media kept spinning the narrative of presenting Islam as being the reason of this criminal act in Orlando, more and more queer and trans* activists came out to speak against islamophobia. In her column for the Guardian newspaper, whistle blower, trans women, antiwar and queer rights activist Chelsea E. Manning said “We are not safe and secure when the government uses us as pawns to perpetrate violence against others. Our safety and security will come when we organize, love and resist together.” The full article by Chelsea is published in this issue of Fire This Time Newspaper on page 22.
Also on page 38 of this issue we are printing a moving post that went viral on social media by blogger and Gender queer advocate Jacob Tobia. Jacob’s words are an important call for the queer community to not give up to the fear mongering and anti-Islam rhetoric. “Today, it is our obligation as a queer community to remember that islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia work together.
Today, it is our obligation as queer people to proclaim that the same forces that marginalize queer people in the United States are used to marginalize Muslims.”
As working and oppressed people we need to unite and reject homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia. One form of hate can't justify another. We can’t let the ruling capitalist class divide us further and use the horrible mass shooting in Orlando as an excuse to further expand their policies of war and occupations in the middle east and north Africa.
We cannot forget that the Stonewall rebellion and the LGBTQ liberation struggle that ensued has its own roots in the civil rights and anti-war movement. The Stonewall rebellion were a series of protests and demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place on June 28, 1969, at the gay bar the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village in New York City.
When the Gay Liberation Front GLF was founded in 1969 in the aftermath of Stonewall, it was just as central to fight for LGBTQ rights as it was to fight against the war in Vietnam. An excerpt from the Los Angeles GLF statement of purpose cites: “we oppose the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and are in total opposition to wars of aggression and imperialism, whoever pursues them. We support the demands of Blacks, Chicanos, [Asians], Women, Youth, Senior Citizens, and others demanding their full rights as human beings. We join in their struggle, and shall actively seek coalition to pursue these goals.”
Today the queer and trans* liberation movement is far from being over! While in advanced capitalist countries such as the U.S. and Canada, the LGBTQ community enjoys some degree of right, however fundamentally queer and trans* folks are still denied fundamental human and democratic right.
According to an article on the Miami Herald: “In the six months before the weekend massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, more than 200 bills had been introduced at the state and local levels to restrict the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
The case of institutionalized homophobia and transphobia is not limited to the United States; at different degrees we see similar restrictions on LGBTQ rights in Canada.
Take the example of Steinbach a city located in Manitoba. In May a parent of a 12-year old son who was harassed in school for having two moms, tried to bring change to the school board curriculum that bans teachers from discussing about sexual relationships and gender identity in elementary and middle-school classrooms. Her request was refused by the majority of school trustees with one of the trustees going as far as trying to link the rise of sexual education in schools in Toronto to an increased risk of cancer!!!
Unfortunately, the situation in Steinbach is not an isolated incident, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association LGBTQ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than heterosexual peers.
Revolutionary Cuba Sets Example
This story from the school in Steianbach is a huge contrast to what I saw on my recent trip to Cuba. I had the opportunity to visit schools and cultural centers for youth, in every classroom I visited I noticed a billboard dedicated to sexual education and health and a variety of posters against homophobia and transphobia. With the intervention of Cuba’s revolutionary socialist government and the work of LGBTQ activist and organizations such as the National Center for Sex Education CENESEX, Cuba is opening a new era of rights and freedoms for the queer community. To learn more about Cuba’s achievements and continuous work on LGBTQ rights, check page 24 in this issue of Fire This Newspaper for an interview with Cuban LGBTQ activist, Isel Calzadilla Acosta. Isel is the founder of “Las Isabelas”, the first lesbian group in Santiago de Cuba. She collaborates and works with CENESEX in different projects to combat against homophobia.
No Freedom Without A Struggle
Although nowadays the queer community in advanced capitalist countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, enjoys different degrees’ of rights, we have to remember that the struggle started with the Stonewall rebellion has never been completed or finished. Solidarity and unity among the working and poor people and all other oppressed and marginalized layers of the society is necessary to continue the revolutionary struggle for true liberation.
In the words of Chelsea Manning: “We need to send a powerful message to the world in a unified voice: that we can fight for social justice for everyone, everywhere and change the world, not just get married. We can continue to build our communities and address the root causes of queer and trans poverty and deaths. We can work to get queer and trans people out of the prisons and jails and off the streets, and to improve our access to housing, education, employment and gender-confirming healthcare.”
Follow Azza on Twitter: @Azza_R14
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