In the early ’70s, when Gay Lib blasted onto the political scene, gays, lesbians and trannies demonstrated against the repressive institutions of the Church and State. A police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York sparked two nights of riots. This, coupled with the mass arrests at Sydney’s first Mardi Gras, are credited with setting the movement in this country on a radical course. But three decades on, it’s the fight for queer acceptance within these institutions which is grabbing the headlines!
Homophobia not yet history. A bunch of evangelical zealots is threatening to split the Uniting Church, after 75% of delegates to the church’s recent National Assembly voted to officially allow gay and lesbian clergy. This follows a bitter struggle in the Anglican Church over the appointment of gay bishops. The Liberal Party was also shown up recently when Opposition leader, Robert Doyle, spoke out against a transgendered recruit joining the Victoria Police. He said that it is not “appropriate” to recruit transgendered police officers, likening it to signing up criminals!
Full equality now! We defend the openly lesbian minister, Dorothy McRae-McMahon, against the likes of arch-homophobe, Fred Nile. Discrimination against transgendered people in the workforce is an epidemic. Why should transgendered people be confined to work as entertainers or join the dole queue? Not only is Doyle exposed as an outrageous bigot, his proposal to discriminate in police recruitment on the grounds of gender identity is also against the law!
The early gay radicals were right to protest the Church and the State, which exist to protect the status quo. Admittedly, their fundamental purpose will not be altered as a result of queers out-manoeuvring homophobic gatekeepers. But it just might give these institutions a good shake-up. For example, the U.S. anti-war movement is rallying around a young gay Filipino-American marine reservist, Stephen Funk, who is charged with desertion for refusing to join the carnage in Iraq. Conservatives grimly predict that welcoming queers into the church, the police, the military — or allowing same-sex marriages — will undermine these institutions. Socialist feminists say “Bring it on.” Bigots have branded Funk a “gay chicken.” In contrast, queer insiders should support his example!