The Queerness of Solidarity
It is legal for doctors to deny me medical treatment on grounds of my sexuality and my (lack of) gender. In many states it is legal for an employer to fire me on the same grounds, and legal for business to refuse to sell to me on those grounds as well. These are not simply personal issues, of course, but policy initiatives embraced by the United States government and sustained by the support of the ruling sections of the capitalist class. Neither are these issues new. The institutionalization of homophobia and transphobia has long been a staple of the capitalist system and is one of the mechanisms by which the bourgeois retains its wealth and power. As Marxists have always explained, the maintenance of the ‘traditional’ family and the enforcing of rigid gender roles serve to increase social stability within an oppressive system and silence dissent. Yet many LGBTQ+ people are moving to dissent, to reject both the system that oppresses them and the poltical parties that defend it. In the United States, as in other countries, a powerful protest movement is developing as LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies take to the streets to defend the rights they have won and to push forward to new conquests. For revolutionaries, this understanding must lead to two conclusions: First, in final analysis, an end to the oppression of LGBTQ+ individuals can only be brought about by the overthrow of the capitalist system and the establishment of a socialist world order. Second, it is necessary to fight for every reform that will improve conditions for LGBTQ+ individuals within the context of capitalism and to agitate and organize around those reforms in such a way as to highlight their connection to the revolutionary movement as a whole.
In the struggle for a universal healthcare system, revolutionaries must emphasize how such a system would serve to combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and how it would extend coverage to transition-related care, birth control, and abortion. The recognition that LGBTQ+ individuals suffer from disproportionately high rates of homeless do to religious bigotry and discrimination must be met with the demand to end homelessness for all. In a country where there are many times more empty homes than homeless people it seems an absurd cruelty for the question to exist at all- yet such situations are part a parcel of a capitalist economy, which puts profits before people. Likewise, corporations will always defend discriminatory practices of hiring and firing as a way to maintain their power over employees and only the unbreakable solidarity of the movement for LGBTQ+ rights and the union movement can compel them to abandon such policies. The establishment of socialism will not end homophobia and transphobia overnight, nor are revolutionaries somehow immune to being influenced by the bigotry present in capitalist society, but socialism will undermine the material basis for such forms of oppression and can only be achieved by the united struggle of all exploited and oppressed groups. It follows from this, that the revolutionary party must be a tribune of the people, protesting every instance of oppression and organizing the masses to fight for their own liberation. The organization, and the unbreakable solidarity it represents, will be the key to the overthrow of capitalism and the ushering in of a new era of human liberation.
There will, of course, be those who believe that LGBTQ+ liberation is possible within the confines of capitalism and, following from that premise seek to undermine the solidarity of LGBTQ+ individuals with the revolutionary movement. Noting the presence of police offers at pride parades and forgetting the Stonewall was a riot, they will claim that LGBTQ+ individuals do not need to join the Black Lives Matter movement in struggling against police brutality. Seeing that some corporations produce tacky rainbow-themed rubbish, they will overlook workplace discrimination and claim that LGBTQ+ rights have nothing in common with unionism. These efforts will fail. They will fail because LGBTQ+ individuals are working class, black, immigrants. They will fail because accommodation to the prevailing social order is something only those in position to present themselves in the context of traditional family and gender roles can aspire to. They will fail because capitalism will not reform itself away and any reform achieved today will be under attack again tomorrow. And they will fail because solidarity is not something that can be bought and sold, but a commitment fundamental to all revolutionaries.