"What's the world if you can't make it the way you want it?" - Toni Morrison
"Feminism, queer liberation, anti-racism and economic justice require us to challenge power—not access it. The fight for gay rights has evolved from the stonewall riots and physical confrontation with the violent agents of the state—the police, to a fight for equal access and opportunity to participate in the violence of the state. This struggle made a local appearance when The Alliance of Queer & Ally Students at Michigan State University invited openly gay american infantry soldier Lt. Dan Choi to speak about his discharge from the military after coming out on The Rachel Maddow Show. Though scheduling conflicts ultimately killed his planned appearance, The Alliance made sure to drop an e-mail, praising and admiring Lt. Choi for his “passion and devotion to service (sic) his country and opposing the oppressive Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy”.
It’s unclear who the “we” are that admire and praise Lt. Choi’s “service”. It’s certainly not the Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis being bombed, killed, tortured, impoverished and displaced as a result of Lt. Choi’s “service” to the american empire. The Alliance retweeted the following Nancy Pelosi tweet: “While our troops fight for the American ideals of freedom and equality, no senate R(epublican)s voted for fundamental fairness”. Queer Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis may have a thing or two to say about the “fundamental fairness” of Lt. Choi’s “human right” to join a woman-hating institution that has devastated millions upon millions of people worldwide at the expense of brown peoples’ human right to a life of dignity. Lt. Choi can now prove to the larger racist, homophobic american public that queers can kill too. See, no need to hate us fags, we’re just like you. We hate bad people, we can drop bombs on Pakistani civilians operated by robot planes from computers at a military base in Nevada as good as the next guy. Sure, we fuck a little differently, but what’s a little deviance among friends?
Rather than extend solidarity to other oppressed and exploited groups, the struggle to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell attempts to win (largely white, male) gay rights on the backs of people of color around the world. Just as the feminist movement has learned (and is learning) that woman cannot be liberated in a vacuum irrespective of other racial, economic and sexual categories of identity, we must simultaneously fight all systems of domination because oppressions like racism reinforce the hegemonic power of the status quo. Just as racism reinforces male power, war also reinforces patriarchy and sexism; women disproportionately suffer from the violence and impoverishment of war, even facing rape as a systematic tool of war.
If The Alliance of Queer & Ally Students wants to publically praise and admire American ideals like war, racism and sexism against the millions of people living under american military occupation and rule, there’s still the queer people of color on campus to consider—a demographic The Alliance at least feigns concern for. Has it dawned on The Alliance that there are queer people of color at this school, in their classes, living in their dorms who come from countries being devastated by american imperial policy? Are queer Arabs and Muslims suppose to check their national and religious identities at the door?
Queer youth, particularly queer youth of color face violence, homelessness, inadequate access to healthcare and high rates of suicide. Rather than fight for universal healthcare, shelters, resources for educational opportunities and counseling, The Alliance and gay rights groups across the country are focused on access to the patriarchal institutions of marriage and the military. We can’t win queer liberation without defeating war, racism, sexism and capitalism which reinforce white, heterosexist, male power and privilege.”