Bay Area socialist feminist, educator and author Merle Woo, of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, delivered the following poem as a featured rally speaker for San Francisco’s International Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day in June 1981.
On the Front Line of Freedom
And who will be with me on the Front Line of Freedom?
Will it be the white lesbians and gays who oppress
people of color,
the poor and disadvantaged?
Will it be the people of color,
my Asian brothers and sisters who hate and despise gays?
who look with disgust upon me,
who see my lover as a ghost? a devil?
Will it be working men who are sexist? Who treat me with disrespect,
call me names because I am a woman?
An Asian woman?
A Chinky China Doll? A Slant Cunt?
Comparing me to a pug dog? with buck teeth?
Will we be on the Front Line Together?
I don’t think so.
And yet, I am fighting for the rights of just these people
who oppress me.
Because I am a lesbian mother, an Asian, and a worker.
I stand with those who are the most enslaved —
who have no say in the determination of
their bodies’ choices;
their minds’ wills.
Face to Face:
The Right Wing on the Front Line of Slavery calls their
Family Protection Act
the Moral Majority —
Just listen to the White House Fathers on the Human Life Amendment.
On the Front Line of Freedom. . .
I march and stand with all the women of color who have
80% of the tribe in Oklahoma
so that the U.S. will inherit (in one generation)
the earth, rich with Uranium,
gold for nuclear weaponry;
42% of all Native American women,
35% of all Puerto Rican women,
25% of all Chicanas — have been sterilized —
(And of course you know that in 1945, a motion was up
before Congress to have all Japanese American women,
who were interned, sterilized; it lost by only one vote.)
Those poor young women of color who go in to
deliver a baby and come out sterilized.
Those who go in for an abortion and can’t have one.
I stand with the Black mothers and fathers of the children
The Black parents in Oakland whose babies are dying;
I march with the poor lesbians and gays who have
no legal aid;
who don’t know what it’s like to eat Veal Piccata and
Chocolate Mousse Torte at Fife’s on the Russian River;
The ones who hurt the most —
Who can’t keep cool on summer days,
picking shells by the seashore,
Who can’t keep warm winter’s nights, with chestnuts
roasting by an open fire —
Who don’t know what it means to have a regular
The old who are poor and sick and lonely, shunted from one
hospital to another.
Maybe a hip broken, and sometimes the spirit.
MediCal gals and guys.
I stand with the physically disabled.
And the clerical workers who type in asbestos offices (as if
they had a choice),
the factory workers who get brown lung disease
the electronic production workers who are slowly dying
in the Silicon Valley, because of constant exposure to
I stand with political prisoners, and those falsely accused and
confined to penitentiaries
because of the laws which protect the rich.
Because of the history of my people in this country,
I stand with those who cannot immigrate because of race,
sexuality, lack of profession, political persuasion.
We are called the Undesirables.
Finally, I stand with those who may not be oppressed because
of their race, sex, sexuality, physicality, class, or age,
but who know why discrimination exists and will attack
the source: Capitalism.
I love the word “socialism”
because of the root, “social”
a focus on social relationships, community
and the freedom to associate, recreate,
rather than on capital and class, profit and not people.
I love the word “feminism”
because when I say, think, and act it,
I mean multi-issue
Revolutionary Feminism, which attacks
models of hierarchy and exploitation
that hold all women, men of color, poor, and gay men
back and inferior,
and with unfulfilled potential.
I march, stand, and fight with socialist feminists because
in its purest
most fulfilled definition
in theory and action,
it is Revolutionary Feminism which is a
fight for everyone who is oppressed
in one way or another
and which has as its goal
the certainty that
Those on the Front Line of Freedom will inherit the Earth.