A new opinion piece written by Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network claims that mainstream LGBT organizations in the United States have been a colossal failure when it comes to the critical issue of intersectionality, and he offers plenty of evidence to back up this notion. In essence, Thayer is insisting that by cozying up with establishment Democrats (not to mention the police) over the years, non-profits such as the Human Rights Campaign have betrayed the spirit of the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, widely recognized as being the spark that lit the fire of the modern LGBT movement as we know it today.
Out of the ashes of the Stonewall rebellion against police brutality nearly five decades ago emerged the Gay Liberation Front, a movement made up of sexual minorities that weren’t afraid or ashamed to show solidarity with other liberation struggles at home and across the globe, such as the National Liberation Front of Algeria, the National Liberation Front of Vietnam, and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. In 2017, however, there is no sense of solidarity in mainstream LGBT circles with other marginalized communities, and the radicalism that was once its hallmark has been rendered utterly meaningless. Nothing better illustrates this than the reaction of these non-profit groups to the sordid, inhumane ordeal of army private Chelsea Manning. Over these past seven years Manning has been arrested, tortured, sentenced to 35 years in federal prison (only to recently have her sentence commuted by President Obama), and then tortured again all because she blew the whistle on horrific American atrocities being carried out in Afghanistan and Iraq. Manning should have been embraced as a hero for her service in awakening the conscience of the world, and LGBT civil rights organizations should have been at the forefront of pushing for the transgender soldier’s release. Instead, they chose to either ignore her plight or flat-out reject her, as organizers of a San Francisco Pride parade did in 2013 out of fear of offending the American Military Partners Association.
Thayer also makes sure to note the history of how these non-profit organizations often kept silent on issues of importance to their own communities, issues like marriage equality and workplace discrimination, until it was considered politically feasible or socially acceptable to do so. That’s hardly leadership. Thayer writes:
For many years almost all of the large organizations of LGBTQs opposed pushing for equal marriage rights (the one exception being the Metropolitan Community Church). As late as at its 2005 “Creating Change” conference, for example, the Task Force had only anti-equal marriage speakers at one of the conference’s two plenaries – with no opportunity for proponents to rebut.
More recently, of course, Gay Inc. mercilessly mined the marriage issue for donations, not unlike how they have done with Transgender issues for the last couple of years. The cynicism in both instances is quite breath-taking, especially when you consider, for example, the Human Rights Campaign’s well-documented betrayal of Transgender employment rights under the tutelage of gay Congressman Barney Frank.
After reading Thayer’s piece, what do you think? Are mainstream LGBT organizations too close to the political and financial establishment to offer any effective means of resistance to the system? Sound off in the comments section below.