Gaza Roundup 21: Whose Pride?

Fabulous video on the reversal of PrideTO’s decision to exclude QuAIA:

And if you think the QuAIA thing is anything new, or unique to Canada, here’s some required reading. It’s the story of a black South African named Simon Nkoli, who grew up, was imprisoned for anti-racist work, and came out as gay, during the age of apartheid. He died in 1998, but his activism proved an inspiration to all who knew him. Here’s what he had to say about why he chose not to be a single-issue activist, but to fight against oppression in all its forms:

My co-defendants came to me and said they didn’t realize gay people could be so concerned about apartheid. Of course they didn’t! How would they know in South Africa if all of us are in the closet? There are lots of gay activists involved in political organizations, but because of the pressure put upon the gay and lesbian community, we are afraid to come out. “What will people think if they know I am a gay person? I’d better fight against apartheid in a hidden way.” The danger of that is that when South Africa is liberated, we as gay people will seem never to have taken part in liberating our people. What will we say when people ask, “What did you do to bring about change in this country, where were you during the battle?” We’d have to come back to them and say, “We were with you but we didn’t want you to know we were there.” That would be a foolish answer.

We in the gay and lesbian community in South Africa are also to be blamed because those people who have come out of the closet then want to fight for lesbian and gay rights only. We must say that is not enough, because if we isolate the gay and lesbian struggle it will be the same as women isolating their struggle, or the youth, or workers, and then everybody will have lots of struggles within apartheid. So let’s bring all these struggles together, as we are doing, and united we will go somewhere. When South Africa is liberated, there will be no question of anyone saying, “those people were not part of us.”

And Simon Nkoli said that on a tour of Canada in 1989. Right around the time the big push was on to end South African apartheid for good through boycotts, divestment and sanctions. He lived long enough to see that goal formally realized.

Clearly Simon was well ahead of his time as a broad-spectrum activist; even today, a lot of gays are single-issue activists and voters. That’s why QuAIA’s efforts to gain justice for all became a target for a censorious element in the Pride Week organizational committee. Apparently gays are only supposed to celebrate their own victories and drink a lot of beer, march flamboyantly, and not fret themselves about the lack of human rights for non-queer others in faraway lands!

When DID Pride become so apolitically correct? I’m guessing the seed was planted around the same time as same-sex marriage became legal up here. That was the Big Issue. It was widely assumed that equality was now achieved, what with hate crimes legislation also being on the books. After that, gays were supposed to be content, and guzzle the Molson Canadian, and party hearty. The notion that there was still human-rights work to be done on other fronts was unfashionable. Unfabulous, you might say. Gays were only supposed to worry about their own. (Remind you of anyone?)

But the good folks at QuAIA, to their credit, refused to take that notion lying down. And when Pride tried to muzzle them, they raised hell. The result speaks for itself–freely, openly, and using unfabulously unfashionable words that just so happen to be true. Which is a fabulous thing.

And speaking of fabulous, the tables have now been turned on the pro-apartheid forces–in Detroit. The odious “Stand With Us”, who were attempting to gaywash the Wall of Shame and the pincer action against Gaza, have been kicked out of a social forum. Seems that hasbara isn’t as fashionable or as fabulous as its pushers want us to think it is. And at least one lame attempt to appeal to gay self-interest has fallen on its hastily-rainbow-flagged ass.

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