The Spirit of Stonewall Lives!

Youthful protesters outside the Stonewall Inn.
Youthful protesters outside the Stonewall Inn. (Photo by Fred. W McDarrah)
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Fifty years after drag queens, bull dykes, and trans folk rioted in the streets of New York City, we’re here together to take Pride back to its uncompromising roots. The patrons of the Stonewall Inn — fed up with police raids and brutality — exploded in anger on June 28, 1969. The riots lasted two nights, and out of it emerged early gay liberation organizations. They sparked a full-blown movement that spread across the world and continues today.

Lavender radicals
Queer liberation was never about just one part of our identity. The early, radical gay and lesbian movement was about total liberation. That’s because queer people are every color and are on the front lines of every fight for freedom. We have always rejected the capitalist culture of categories, division and war.

Many early queer organizers were veterans of the Black civil rights movement, participants in anti-war marches, and leaders of women’s liberation protests. Inspired by Asian brothers and sisters under attack by U.S. imperialist war, those early activists named the Gay Liberation Front after Vietnam’s National Liberation Front.

A rainbow of issues
Today, queer people are fighting back against Trump’s attacks on migrants trying to cross the Mexican border. Young gender-benders are standing up to stop gentrification and police violence, because what does liberation mean when the Black community continues to be targeted by corporations and cops? Lesbians and trans folk are defending abortion rights, because it all comes down to a person’s right to control their own body.

No one’s freedom can survive as a bubble within a world still rampant with inequality. The ultra-right, whether it’s Trump in the White House or Nazis in the streets, are trying to turn back the clock by attacking every bit of social and economic progress made in the last 50 years.

Unity, power and pride
A gutsy united front of all the right’s targets — LGBTQ organizers together with people of color, feminists, climate activists, the homeless, and unionists — would be a force to be reckoned with. But how to get there?

Revolutionary socialist feminism offers a road map for unity and radical change. It stands in direct contrast to narrow identity politics that have splintered our movements. The experience of oppression can either keep people divided and cynical — or it can be a gift, a bridge that connects us to each other.

This patriarchal profit-driven system thrives on divide-and-conquer and exploitation. Let’s use these turbulent times as a spring-board for creating socialism, a new humanistic, multi-hued, non-binary society based on sharing.

Stonewall was a riot — now let’s make a revolution!

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