Lavender & Red

Book Cover: Lavender & Red

Leslie Feinberg’s series on LGBTQ history, “Lavender & Red,” appeared in the Workers Worldnewspaper in 2004-2008.


Pride & struggle a century ago

Rise of German Homosexual Emancipation Movement

By Leslie Feinberg

Winds of change will fill the banners of Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Pride this June, lifting them to new heights.

After decades of fierce and unrelenting struggle, same-sex love has been effectively decriminalized and many gains have been won. Organizing, rolling civil disobedience has helped push back state denial of equal rights of same-sex couples--a form of institutionalized discrimination that is a pillar of class society.


Millions of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and trans people across the United States will take to the streets in Pride events in cities and towns this June, as they do each year to recall and honor the 1969 Stone wall uprising against police repression. And millions of people of all nationalities, sexualities, genders and sexes will line the streets to applaud and cheer these celebrations of individual courage and collective struggle.

The 1969 rebellion in New York's Greenwich Village was led by the most oppressed of the LGBT communities--people of color,
teenagers, transgender and transsexual, homeless, impoverished and so marginalized in the work force that prostitution was the only source of income for many.

The uprising was the spark that ignited a large-scale movement. It galvanized quantitative fighting back into qualitative mass resistance. It did not develop in social isolation. The Stonewall Rebellion--which marked the birth of what became the modern LGBT movement--rose in the wake of social upheaval against imperialist war and rampant racist repression.

Marchers will draw on the lessons of how the left wing of early gay liberation found its way into the anti-war movement, took part in and defended the national liberation struggles, helped develop women's liberation, and took part in labor battles from the shop floor to organizing in support of the Chicano farm workers' union drive.

If they look to accurate historical accounts, today's activists will also find that the young gay liberation movement received support from the most revolutionary sectors of the political left wing.

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