Neoliberalism, corporations, and the LGBTQ movement
May 15, 2017 8:33 AM   Subscribe

The LGBTQ movement is an intersectional fail "One would think that youth homelessness and joblessness, simultaneously affecting the most vulnerable and potentially most dynamic sectors of the LGBTQ movement, would be top priorities of the movement. [...] But we live in a neoliberal age where the only reforms acceptable to the Democrats are those that don’t cost the system any money. [...] Taking its lead from the Democrats, Gay Inc. gives lip service, if that, to the class issues directly bearing on the overwhelming majority of those whom they purport to represent." posted by AFABulous (48 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 


I'm not sure that Chelsea Manning (a white, privileged, well educated trans person) is the best example to point out the failure of LGBTQ movement folks to address intersectional issues.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:44 AM on May 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Chelsea Manning (a white, privileged, well educated trans person)

A Navy forensic psychiatrist (that is, someone not found by her defense team) said she showed signs of fetal alcohol syndrome and early-life malnourishment. She had one semester of college but dropped out after failing an exam. She's spent the last four years in special confinement. She seems like a pretty good example of intersectionality and the complex web of privilege.
posted by Etrigan at 8:53 AM on May 15, 2017 [64 favorites]


I also wouldn't say that banning police from Capital Pride would be a particularly effective way of addressing an intersectional issue. The demands being made are completely unreasonable, and divorced from reality.

I will gladly concede that many of the attendees of Capital Pride have very good reasons to distrust the police. However, DC probably takes these issues more seriously than any other jurisdiction in the country. The Metropolitan Police's Gay and Lesbian Liason Unit is widely cited as one of the most effective examples of community policing in the country. Virtually all of the officers on duty at Capital Pride are LGBT themselves, and are volunteering their own time to be there.

It is literally the least-threatening police presence that I have ever witnessed at a large event.

Last year, there was also a very large police presence at the vigil for the victims of the Pulse attack, which also included a large number of un-uniformed and off-duty officers. Before attending the event, I was legitimately concerned about my own safety -- the police presence was a small, but comforting reassurance. They knew that they were to protect a group of very scared and vulnerable people.

DC is also a majority-black city with [arguably] the highest percentage of LGBT people in the USA. This is reflected in our police force and our political leadership. While we are sadly no strangers to racial tensions, I'd like to say that we take these issues very seriously. [As I am not black myself, I will not comment any further on this particular facet, as my perceptions are irrelevant.]

I've been trying to avoid commenting on this particular controversy, but I'm starting to become irked by how much traction it's getting. As far as policing goes, Capital Pride, DC, and MPD have done all of the right things, and really deserve commendation for it.
posted by schmod at 9:00 AM on May 15, 2017 [16 favorites]


Not to derail the conversation, but after a few years of reading Counterpunch, I began to find their reliably contrarian anti-progressive agenda (under the pretense of being more progressive) a little tiring.
posted by kozad at 9:03 AM on May 15, 2017 [20 favorites]


Well, I suppose it's comfort in a sense that even as the rights of LGBTQ people are under coordinated assault by various governments, we can still find time for good old fashioned infighting
posted by happyroach at 9:17 AM on May 15, 2017 [27 favorites]


One would think that youth homelessness and joblessness, simultaneously affecting the most vulnerable and potentially most dynamic sectors of the LGBTQ movement, would be top priorities of the movement.

hasn't this contradiction existed since the very founding of the movement? san francisco's queer community has long been a split between upscale young professionals and street kids who ran away from bad family situations to a "progressive city" that has no place for them.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:25 AM on May 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


But we live in a neoliberal age where the only reforms acceptable to the Democrats are those that don’t cost the system any money.

Yes. This is a special case of what I see as the general problem with the Democratic Party. Yes, American conservatism has become something monstrous and barbaric, so voting for Democrats is the only moral alternative. But that doesn't say much about the Democratic Party. Right now, they sail over what is frankly a pretty goddamn low bar and think that makes them champions.

There was a time when the Republicans were the party of capital, and the Democrats were the party of labor, and unions were in a position to hold Democrats' feet to the fire. This balance worked well for a while. But unions are barely managing to exist, much less exercise any political clout, and this has allowed capital to essentially seize both parties. The Republicans are the party of capital and foaming barbarism for rural voters and Democrats are the party of capital and social justice (as long as the corporate class isn't threatened by it, as noted) for urban voters.

That's got to change. I'm hopeful that new candidates will start to drag the party back toward a more progressive version of economic populism. Candidates like Quist - in Montana, oddly enough - and Tom Periello in Virginia, strike me as positive signs.
posted by Naberius at 9:26 AM on May 15, 2017 [33 favorites]


This is a really nice collection of pieces, thanks. I especially liked the last Vice piece.
posted by PMdixon at 9:26 AM on May 15, 2017


If you're not paid to do so, you're carrying rich people's water for free.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 9:32 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Naberius: I'm hopeful that new candidates will start to drag the party back toward a more progressive version of economic populism. Candidates like Quist - in Montana, oddly enough - and Tom Periello in Virginia, strike me as positive signs.

I'm hopeful too, because that's the only thing that will work. When I see people I know, who should otherwise know better, say "I'm going to vote third-party" over the Democratic party's failures, I bang my head on my desk. We need to get more involved and pull the damn Democratic party to the left, not abandon it. That's a recipe for being trampled by the Right.
posted by SansPoint at 9:38 AM on May 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


I'm hopeful that new candidates will start to drag the party back toward a more progressive version of economic populism. Candidates like Quist - in Montana, oddly enough - and Tom Periello in Virginia, strike me as positive signs.

You have causality backwards. Individual candidates may be more pro labor than the party platform, but the reason labor has no voice is that labor has no political capital to offer. Without unions, there is no vehicle for labor to act in an organized fashion in the political sphere. You want Democrats to be union friendly, you have to resurrect unions first - on the ground, without the benefit of giant factory floors that make organizing logistically easier. Unless labor can change the outcome of elections, elections aren't going to change the outcome for labor.

This is all of course completely far afield from the original topic - I thought the headline piece would have been stronger if it had pointed towards the bipartisan consensus on bombs as a driver of Manning's treatment, both because I think there's a more direct line of causality and because I think there's a lot less movement away from the bipartisan consensus on bombs happening now than there is from the bipartisan consensus on right wing economics, so you both have a much stronger indictment of the various establishment groups and are covering less well-trodden ground. It's actually a little odd to be criticizing a Counterpunch article for being insufficiently foreign policy focused but there we are.
posted by PMdixon at 9:59 AM on May 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure that Chelsea Manning (a white, privileged, well educated trans person) is the best example to point out the failure of LGBTQ movement folks to address intersectional issues.

Huh? It is really really weird to claim that someone who has spent a large proportion of their life in solitary confinement is privileged. I suppose she is more privileged than a black trans woman in military solitary confinement would be, but pretty darn underprivileged compared to most anyone else.

The military, war, and incarceration are valid and important intersectional axes for many people.
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:03 AM on May 15, 2017 [34 favorites]


Actually, taking a step even further back, I think the first link's point would have been much much stronger if instead of taking marriage equality as the foil, it contrasted advocacy for Manning against the other cause célèbre of the last 2 decades: repeal of DADT. Particularly because in a certain light, Manning's story hurts certain of the arguments that inclusion in the services improves national security.

It's frustrating because the version of that article in my head does a much better job of demonstrating its point by pulling apart the contradictions in what one might call the establishment advocacy orgs' actions than the existing one does.
posted by PMdixon at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a friend of mine sent some HRC hand wash from the Human Rights Campaign's own online store to the leaders of the HRC to protest the HRC washing their hands of opposing the invasion.
posted by larrybob at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


Re: infighting. This is a strange thread in which to quote the Bible, but Matthew 25:45 applies here. "[The Lord] will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"

Trans people of color are the least privileged in the LGBT community; if Gay Inc. isn't listening to and uplifting them, their entire raison d'etre is compromised. Might as well just take the T out of the acronym. I propose a new one: WGPH. White Gay Professional Heteronormatives.
posted by AFABulous at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2017 [41 favorites]


Pretty much since the beginning of the modern day gay rights movement, people of color, trans and gender-nonconforming people and women have been accused of instigating infighting if we point out that things aren't that great for a lot of us and can we take a look at that.
posted by rtha at 10:18 AM on May 15, 2017 [53 favorites]


I'm too grumpy now to want to try and articulate my own predictable thoughts and feelings on this (i.e. what AFABulous and rtha said), but this is a good thread and thanks for posting it. Let's all try to be more thoughtful and less knee-jerky than past iterations on this and related topics.
posted by byanyothername at 10:24 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Ok, the Counterpunch article is... well it's wrong and unfair about a number of things but it is completely and totally right about Chelsea Manning.

Lambda Legal has supported Manning's care (including by bringing trans* prisoner treatment lawsuits throughout the U.S.) and campaigned for her release. Same with NCLR and Immigration Equality, to a lesser extent. (Or, well, NCLR has been really really useful in trans prisoner's rights cases, but not for Chelsea specifically.)

Comparatively, HRC commented on the case twice that I could find. Once, they demanded that the news give her her proper pronouns and speak respectfully about her transition. The second time, they commended Obama on commuting her sentence. I also see a few solicited quotes in news stories from HRC saying that they want her treatment in prison to be gender-appropriate but declining to comment on the length of her sentence. That's essentially what GLAAD also did--happy to defend her pronouns, not happy to defend her case.

tl;dr Counterpunch is not fostering infighting by pointing out that HRC and GLAAD and Pride marches can suck, and they're not being unfair to call them the face of the movement, either. Gay rights is not a liberationist movement, and it should be. Until all of us are free. Etcetera.

To be more responsive to the Pride part of this post: that's a really interesting example, because SF Pride is still very corporate but heeeeck it could be a lot worse, and the reason it's not is specifically Chelsea Manning's horribly disrespectful treatment. The apology and restructuring that followed changed a lot of things. And made it more fun: it is not really all that enjoyable to drink cheap beer and get marketed to for three hours during an endless parade.

(I do have a question though. It is "who the hell is the National LGBTQ Task Force"? Like, seriously: who are they? They... have not had any messaging, legal, or political victories ever. What are they doing? Do people give them money??)
posted by peppercorn at 10:33 AM on May 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Infighting seems to be human nature because it trickles all the way down to the least powerful. In my local scene, it's (oddly) trans men that are the "angry instigators" because we're often silenced and made invisible. Why can't we all just get along? Because we're not listening to each other.
posted by AFABulous at 10:34 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


who the hell is the National LGBTQ Task Force?

It's been around since the '70s but used to be called the National Gay Task Force, then the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The've been involved in a number of issues, but I think their heyday was in the early 90s with AIDS activism. They organized the 1993 March on Washington, which I attended, and that was heavily focused on AIDS and DADT. I don't hear too much about them nowadays, but then again I'm involved almost exclusively with trans stuff.
posted by AFABulous at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have a problem with saying "LGBT" movement has failed, and then only talking about the ways in which the big corporately-tied entities or the huge non-profits are failing at XYZ goal. Of course they are. They're enormous companies, built within a capitalist system with the goal of sustaining that capitalist system. They are, in no way, the entirety of "LGBT movement" the author tries to tear down.

I'm not saying that things are great for the marginalized fringes of LGBT. I'm nonbinary, and fuck, even in some 'queer' spaces I have a hard time convincing people (trans and cis alike) that gender isn't binary. I know we have problems with gender and race within the 'community'. I just think it's weird that, when talking about "Gay Inc" as he puts it, he decides to turn around and blame the whole LGBT community instead of, you know, blaming capitalism.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:41 AM on May 15, 2017 [17 favorites]


Oh, thanks AFABulous. I didn't know that history.
posted by peppercorn at 10:44 AM on May 15, 2017


Task Force (which is what they used to put as the return address on their mailings) also organizes the annual Creating Change conferences.
posted by larrybob at 11:16 AM on May 15, 2017


Pretty much since the beginning of the modern day gay rights movement, people of color, trans and gender-nonconforming people and women have been accused of instigating infighting if we point out that things aren't that great for a lot of us and can we take a look at that.

Heh. My undergraduate senior thesis (1991) was about the women's suffrage movement in the US, and how black women had a hard time being heard.
posted by Melismata at 11:16 AM on May 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


But we live in a neoliberal age where the only reforms acceptable to the Democrats are those that don’t cost the system any money.

Isn't that true of pretty much everything now?
posted by Beholder at 1:37 PM on May 15, 2017


The vibe of these pieces is (almost) exclusively focused the mechanics and dysfunction of big city events. It's a headline fail, at the very least, to draw that line out to the conclusion that the queer rights movement "is an intersectional fail." When I read pieces like this, my first thought tends to be: writers, y'all need to hop in the car and drive a few miles outside of SF/LA/NYC/Chicago/etc for perspective. My hometown in the rural south had its first public pride parade two years ago. It's easy to forget the catharsis and value of such a thing if your only frame of reference is the LA festival and "its naked devotion to the almighty dollar." Because people in rural Arkansas will tell you that you're nuts for expecting change without a bill attached to it--even if that bill is for promoting the local hair salon that's happy to have LGBTQ+ clientele and not, you know, Bank of America.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:09 PM on May 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Your local hair salon is probably not lobbying Congress, though.
posted by AFABulous at 3:36 PM on May 15, 2017


Lesbians of colour are the least privileged in the LGBT community but all I have to say about Manning is that the utter brutality of American prison systems and our manufactured indifference toward (if not celebration of) that fact is the root of countless societal problems and violence. For anyone who doubts this, I recommend a google search for "prison slavery" and reading everything that comes up from any even passably credible outlet.

[Please don't waste time by pointing out that military prisons are a separate system and risk appearing to pretend that ones treatment within is unrelated.]
posted by seraphine at 3:42 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that Chelsea Manning (a white, privileged, well educated trans person) is the best example to point out the failure of LGBTQ movement folks to address intersectional issues.

Let's not suggest trans people are particularly privileged, please. That's actually super gross.

Of course, the rest of us who might like to call ourselves the "LGBT movement" have been over hear jumping up and down waving our arms about this for a while, but it's not like anyone was listening.
posted by hoyland at 4:45 PM on May 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure that Chelsea Manning (a white, privileged, well educated trans person) is the best example to point out the failure of LGBTQ movement folks to address intersectional issues.

Jeebus Cripes on a cracker! You're depicting Chelsea Manning as neoliberal bourgeois sellout? Chelsea Manning has suffered the full force of the repressive apparatus of the United States government in ways that I would not wish on my worst enemy. She has done all Americans a service by revealing the horrible things that have been done to civilians with our drone warfare program & she did it while having to deal with a military that was still operating under Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Here's a MeFi thread from 2013 about a Wikipedia edit war conducted by contributors who refused to refer to Chelsea Manning by her rightful name. (The MeFi includes multiple examples of deadnaming, BTW. My how norms have changed...) Chelsea Manning had to put up with all these indignities & now you're calling her a sellout.

This more-left-than-thou bullshit is precisely why we can't have nice things.
posted by jonp72 at 4:53 PM on May 15, 2017 [18 favorites]


Naberius: I'm hopeful that new candidates will start to drag the party back toward a more progressive version of economic populism. Candidates like Quist - in Montana, oddly enough - and Tom Periello in Virginia, strike me as positive signs.

SansPoint: I'm hopeful too, because that's the only thing that will work.


Economic populism will not make a difference to minority identities unless social justice is held as an equal, if not higher priority than it. People who vote against their own economic interests do not do so because they don't understand the benefits of social support systems, they do so because they believe others who receive benefits are not deserving of them.

This ties into LGBTQ movements because there are plenty of conservative voters who would prefer to not have healthcare or welfare if having it means paying for someone's transition or supporting queer homeless kids who would be welcomed back into their communities if they only "chose to not be gay."
posted by schroedinger at 6:15 PM on May 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Chelsea Manning has suffered the full force of the repressive apparatus of the United States government in ways that I would not wish on my worst enemy. She has done all Americans a service by revealing the horrible things that have been done to civilians with our drone warfare program & she did it while having to deal with a military that was still operating under Don't Ask Don't Tell.

The Americans whose classified activities she revealed (and whose lives were therefore placed at risk) would disagree with you. But, perhaps more relevant to MeFi, her behavior legitimized an organization which later played a major part in electing Trump.

And, on the gripping hand, her treatment has only tangential relevance to the economic issues that the LGBT community is accused of ignoring.

(In general, I find these articles somewhat eye-rolling. Very few LGBT groups -- like very few feminist groups and very few [insert minority group here] groups -- have tried to overturn capitalism because overturning capitalism isn't actually as popular as most leftist groups would like to pretend it is. It's arguable that Christianity is a major cause of the systematic oppression of LGBT individuals (which, in turn, results in their lower socioeconomic status), but, last I heard, destroying religion isn't something on the official Gay Agenda either.)
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:19 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Americans whose classified activities she revealed (and whose lives were therefore placed at risk) would disagree with you.

This claim gets repeated by security apologists like you all the time, but it has never been substantiated, including in the tribunal that prosecuted Manning and considered this very issue.

But, perhaps more relevant to MeFi, her behavior legitimized an organization which later played a major part in electing Trump.

Yeah, and Dan Ellsberg helped legitimize a newspaper that later played a major part in the Iraq War.

For the rest of us: we are very quickly coming to a point where this kind of argument passes for "liberal." Let's see if we can stop that from happening.
posted by grobstein at 9:02 PM on May 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


I know that hating on same-sex marriage from the left is super popular around here but it really pisses me off.
I have lost my shit about this before so I will try not to this time.

If you are opposed to same-sex marriage from the left:

Did you always feel that Loving v. Virginia was wrongly decided?
Was your reaction to the Lily Ledbetter Act "Laydeez, fuck equal pay for equal work. We need to smash capitalism."?
Given that same-sex marriages are majority female (link) why are the same-sex marriage boogeypeeps always two dudes?

Bonus stat: Same-sex couples are twice as likely to be interracial as opposite-sex couples (link) but I can't find any stats on same-sex _marriages_. But if I could I'd ask why the same-sex marriage boogeypeeps are always two _white_ dudes.

My feeling is, of course, that this is all just untreated homophobia and/or self-hatred. But only you know your own heart.

Look, I swear to you, I have no intention of ever getting married. But it's just tedious to listen to this shit.
posted by great_radio at 10:07 PM on May 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


> But, perhaps more relevant to MeFi, her behavior legitimized an organization which later played a major part in electing Trump.

What is this horseshit? You're holding her responsible for what Wikileaks did years later while she was locked up in Leavenworth? And using the Trump angle to tap into anti-Trump sentiment in the hopes that it bleeds into contempt for Manning?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:31 PM on May 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


I know that hating on same-sex marriage from the left is super popular around here but it really pisses me off.

Who the heck is doing that? Literally no one has mentioned it in this thread. I can't believe you're seriously suggesting that people here would be against marriage equality or interracial marriage. Please demonstrate.

The problem has not been marriage equality in and of itself; it's been that the large LGBT organizations' focus on it eclipsed other issues and marginalized people were shoved aside to "wait their turn."
posted by AFABulous at 10:43 PM on May 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm okay with advocacy groups prioritizing issues that impact more people of course, but..

Chelsea Manning is a hero. She may have lacked the paranoid tech savvy or carefully considered relationship with journalists of Edward Snowden, but she is still a hero who did an amazing amount of good for the world and great personal cost.

In fact, she is exactly the sort of hero you want because her story only becomes more unambiguously good with the passage of time. Ignoring her for political gain say that you do not have the movement's long term interests at heart.

Real leadership would put forward Manning as an example of an LGBTQ person whose miss-treatment by society inspired them to do something about the miss-treatment of others. Real leadership would attempt to leverage the Manning story to gain better treatment for LGBTQ people in the Islamic world too.

As an side, I know Berlin has an alternative Pride parade which helps address some concerns. It's smaller than the big one, but looks way more fun. I'd think other cities do too.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:23 AM on May 16, 2017


last I heard, destroying religion isn't something on the official Gay Agenda either.

Oh good, my secret agenda is still secret! Uh, I mean...
posted by bile and syntax at 8:09 AM on May 16, 2017


Look, I swear to you, I have no intention of ever getting married. But it's just tedious to listen to this shit.

Maybe it would help if you actually listened "to this shit"; the lead article is in no way a radical critique of same sex marriage but a callout of advocacy orgs.
posted by PMdixon at 8:54 AM on May 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I wish every centrist cisgay with an HRC sticker on their car would read these articles.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:02 AM on May 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


I wish every centrist cisgay with an HRC sticker on their car would read these articles.

I wish people would not assume cisgays who support HRC are automatically transphobic neoliberal centrist monsters instead of people who were interested in keeping a VP who promotes conversion therapy out of the White House

but that's just me
posted by schroedinger at 8:19 PM on May 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


HRC=Human Rights Campaign, not Hillary Rodham Clinton, in this context.
posted by PMdixon at 8:31 PM on May 16, 2017


As a centrist poc cisgay who cancelled his recurring donation to the HRC for its idiotic endorsement of Mark Kirk (while still being ambivalent but somewhat favorable to some "neoliberal" economic policies), I'm now tempted to put that sticker up.

I read these.

I'm still disturbed by how there was a rush here to try to claim who was "least" privileged. Obviously, some are hit harder by multiple axes of discrimination, but like I said earlier, before it was deleted, there is something grotesque about trying to say who has it worst instead of pointing out that any discrimination should be fought tooth and nail, not just the easy shit.
posted by anem0ne at 8:31 PM on May 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, most of the critiques about the marriage equality movement I've seen have revolved around how it's given any other concerns of queer communities, primarily those that aren't middle class or above and white and overwhelmingly male, short shrift.

Things like access to affordable health care, or aiding homeless, or stopping conversion abuse. Or, you know, telling trans individuals that they should take one for the team so everyone else could get a mockery of rights, without realizing that when anyone is marginalized, no one is safe.
posted by anem0ne at 8:39 PM on May 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


*begins to tuck into a table full of crow*

HRC=Human Rights Campaign, not Hillary Rodham Clinton, in this context.

Strike the previous statement and replace with "fuck them".


(uh, sorry about that, I have been just a liiiiiiittle on edge for the past, uh, year)
posted by schroedinger at 8:41 PM on May 16, 2017


This claim gets repeated by security apologists like you all the time

For the record, one of the two of us works in a field involved with national security.

Yes, I am a "security apologist." I know what the stakes are. And I know what Manning did. And I know that Manning should have known what she did to this country.

She's not a hero.

For the rest of us: we are very quickly coming to a point where this kind of argument passes for "liberal." Let's see if we can stop that from happening.

Nice othering, there.

I'm just going to bow out now and add your statements to yet another reason I don't consider myself anything other than a mid-center liberal.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 4:35 AM on May 17, 2017




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