Intersectionality and LGBT Inc.

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.

army private Chelsea Manning freedOut 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.

10 thoughts

  1. I left the so-called “community” after they completely betrayed me. They betrayed me when I found that everything they fought for was all in the name of conformity, conformity to the system when it needs to be deconstructed. I should have known something was wrong when the majority of them were so lenient towards their oppressors.

    Thankfully, though, this taught me a lesson.

    The lesson was to proudly plant my feet on the ground and say to my oppressors face “Fuck your beliefs.”

    1. After the comments you have left here, I must say I am very curious to know what has happened to you to cause the sense of betrayal that you feel. If you ever decide you want to share I’m sure there are many who would like to hear.

  2. Another thing the LBGT community is strong and I don’t see them supporting other causes outside of LBGT. Can’t watch a show these days without being forced to watch two men or two women have sex, what about heterosexual sex? Is that outlawed?

    1. I see quite a bit of heterosexuality on tv myself. I definitely agree with you that the LGBT does not show enough concern for causes other than their own, or doing much of anything constructive in regards to dismantling mass incarceration.

  3. This is not going to be a popular comment but an honest one.

    I can’t feel too sorry for Manning, reports of torture pales in comparison to what is done to black men and women daily. She served less time than a black man convicted for possession of two joints. Yeah I know Federal prison.

    For Christ sake, Americans paid for her to undergo a sex change, how many prisoners get that luxury at tax payer’s expense? She also had access to a computer so she could blog about her conditions in prison. That is not torture but privilege. The hooker came when she had the audacity to complain about Obama who pardoned her. Remember it was own her big mouth that landed her in prison to begin with.

    1. I’ll have to disagree with you on this one Angela. I think what landed her into prison was the exposing of horrible atrocities that the U.S. was committing in Afghanistan and Iraq. And while certainly you are right that Manning did not suffer nearly as much as Black political prisoners (and there are many) or most prisoners of color in general, I think at the end of the day Manning was a political prisoner because she was imprisoned for exposing the secrets of the empire. Also being subjected to solitary confinement is torture no matter what in my opinion, although I am not 100% sure of the conditions of Manning’s confinement. As always though I appreciate your comment and respect your opinion.

      1. I understand what you are saying but it was her telling her lover what she did that brought about her arrest. Granted she was naive and had all good intentions in alerting the public to the US govt atrocities. I respect and admire her courage for exposing the govt.

        Now that she is free, I’m interested in what’s next for her. She will have many opportunities.

        1. True enough. I can only hope she’ll speak out against US atrocities on the regular, though after the ordeal she went through it’s highly doubtful she’ll be too critical of the US government. I think if i were in her shoes I might want to go somewhere where the US gov. wouldn’t have access to me, though sadly there aren’t many places on earth beyond the empire’s reach.

    1. In the earliest days of the gay liberation movement, it was most certainly in my view leftwing in its outlook. However, as time went on there was an alliance with the Democratic Party that killed anything subversive about it.

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