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Putting ‘liberation’ back into ‘gay liberation’

Published Jul 3, 2006 3:15 PM

Speech given by WW Managing Editor Leslie Feinberg at the 2006 San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade.

Members of Trans/Gender Variant in Prison
and Leslie Feinberg, center, protest
district attorney speaking at San Francisco
Trans March.
WW photo

It’s time! It’s time! It’s time to put the “liberation” back into “gay liberation”—into lesbian and bisexual, transsexual and transgender, intersexual and queer liberation.

No politician is gonna do it for us. The Democrats and Republicans have declared war on same-sex marriage. We need to be the ones to fight this state discrimination against our families. At the same time, imagine how we could electrify the country if we declare that people shouldn’t have to get married in order to have health insurance—we demand health care for all!

Frederick Douglass said it best: “With out struggle, there is no progress.” And solidarity is what unites us in struggle.

Those who fought the police at the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Rebellion and the 1969 Stonewall Uprising knew that in their bones. Asian and [email protected], Black and white, trans and gay, lesbian and bi—when they united against a common enemy, they gathered the storm clouds of their power.

We need to gather our power today.

Our movement was born out of struggle against police violence. Let us unite today with those whose communities are occupied by police the way Pentagon troops occupy Baghdad. Let us offer our deepest solidarity to the families and communities of Black and [email protected] and Asian and Native and Arab youth gunned by cops, like Asa Sullivan, killed by police here on June 6. We want money to rebuild our cities, not more prisons and police terror.

In the 1970s, many of us in the gay liberation movement organized in defense of Chicano farm workers struggling to create a union—the United Farm Workers—in the California fields. And Cesar Chavez and the UFW have defended gay rights. Today, the UFW is asking us to help stop union busting by boycotting Krug and Mondavi grapes. Let’s tell the UFW: We support you!

Let’s show solidarity with the life-and-death struggle of embattled Colombian trade unionists by supporting their call to boycott all Coca-Cola products.

Let’s truly mobilize our movement in support of undocumented immigrant workers. As the federal and state governments scrutinize identification documents, many LGBT bodies, lives and loves will be scrutinized and policed as well. The government is sowing the seeds of racism. Let’s tell them: No human being is illegal! Stop deporting our loved ones! There are no borders between our struggles.

Our South Asian, Arab and Muslim immigrant co-workers and neighbors are being locked up without charges by the government in secret locations. For those who ask: How could Japanese-Americans have been interned in WWII here in California—this is how it begins! Let us raise our voices to demand: Stop the round-up of Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants!

In the Middle East, Wall Street and the Pentagon have been funding the brutal occupation of historic Palestine with our tax dollars. Let’s organize to build the boycott of the World Pride March in Jeru salem. There is no pride in occupation!

And beware when Big Oil and Wall Street say they’re going to war against Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran in order to liberate women or liberate gay people. Since when was the Pentagon a vehicle for women’s and gay liberation? Our job here is to demand: No wars for oil! Bring the troops home, now!

And what about the racist war right here? Look at New Orleans—an African American and LGBT capital. You know why the levees broke? Because the money to fortify them was channeled into the war drive. Now tens of thousands of Black people have been forced into yet another Diaspora, while real estate developers in New Orleans are popping champagne corks as they plan to gentrify the city for wealthy whites. Let us demand the right of all Katrina survivors to return home.

The same real estate interests are displacing the Black population of Bay View/Hunter’s Point here. We want affordable housing for all, not war!

We want money for AIDS and breast cancer funding—not war. We want Deaf and disabled access, not wars that kill and maim. We want reproductive rights, not a war on women’s bodies. We want jobs at decent wages, not an economic draft.

In order to fight for rights, as well as for liberation, we have to make the struggle against racism and sexism, and for greater and genuine respect for the leadership of people of color and youth and women the top priority of the agenda for movement building.

Can we build the kind of unity that we need to win our liberation? ¡Sí se puede! ¡Sí se puede! Long live the spirit of Gwen Araujo!