Many communist parties have embraced the wrong line with regards to queer liberation. Their erroneous understanding of homosexuality as a “bourgeois” phenomenon has lead many communist parties to a position that, at best, does not view queer and trans struggles as part of class struggle. Toronto’s Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee (PRAC), however, believes that queer and trans liberation must be part of any proletarian revolution. The history of the gay liberation movement reveals the links between the struggle for queer and trans liberation and the struggle for communism.

In July 1969, in the immediate aftermath of the heroic Stonewall Riots, people in the gay community in New York City formed the Gay Liberation Front. The Gay Liberation Front did not simply limit their political programme to one of “Gay Power,” but also sought to fight against racism, imperialism and capitalism. They attacked the model of the nuclear family, and traditional gender roles. They would align themselves with other radical organizations like the Black Panther Party, some of whom would return the solidarity.

However, because of internal contradictions with the LGTBQ movement in 1970, the Gay Liberation Front movement split, and resulted in the formation of a number of revolutionary organizations including the Radicalesbians, Third World Gay Revolution and the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

These organizations, though short-lived, did important work linking the different identities that capitalism uses to divide us. The Radicalesbians struggled against the sexism in the Gay Liberation Front and the homophobia in the women’s movement. Black and Latino members of the Gay Liberation Front formed Third World Gay Revolution, correctly arguing that they experienced a triple form of oppression, capitalism, racism and sexism. They lead a gay delegation to the Black Panther Party-sponsored Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention, and regularly attended rallies organized by the BPP and the Young Lords Organization (Puerto Rican revolutionary nationalists). The Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) was formed in the aftermath of an occupation of New York University’s Weinstein Hall, where members of the Gay Student Liberation abandoned the occupation when the police were called. Activists who went on to form STAR were outraged, and decided to form an organization that would not run away and demand its rights.

Toronto’s own Pride festival has its roots in similar action —people taking to the streets en mass to demonstrate against the 1981 Bathhouse Raids, considered to be Canada’s equivalent to the Stonewall Riots. This year, however, Toronto Pride failed to be anything more than a parade designed make money, “pink-wash” the banks and the police, and most of all to sedate our politically-oriented rage at the capitalist system which makes life terrible for queer and trans people. We refuse to take pride in marching with cops that would have beat us up at Stonewall, the Bathhouse Raids or any of the innumerable times that the police —as the bludgeon of the bourgeoisie— have targeted queers and trans people (especially those of us that are racialized and proletarian).

In place of Pride, we call for queer/trans actions that strike at the root of our oppression: the capitalist system. Capitalism is built on unpaid labour and low-wage labour, usually done by marginalized people, including women, racialized minorities and queer and trans people.

Often, homophobia and transphobia manifest as exclusion from the job market, forcing queer and trans people to be part of the “reserve army of labour” which is there to buffer capitalism’s booms and busts, all the while driving down wages. Queer and trans folks are forced to channel their activism in bourgeoisie-approved advocacy where all of our rage and dissatisfaction is funnelled into non-threatening, not-for-profits —like Pride Toronto! For these reasons, members of PRAC Toronto marched with Ladies Anarchist Solidarity Society (LASS) for a political pride, on Sunday July 1st.

We are not satisfied with a profiteering and policed parade —queer and trans liberation will only be won when we destroy capitalism for revolutionary communism!

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