On Queer Liberation vs. LGBTQ Rights

I have mixed feelings on assimilation. On the one hand, to borrow from Harry Potter lore (as I so often do), I am a Slytherin. I prefer to blend into crowds rather than risk my own safety. On the other hand, I am a self-confessed radical who seeks to change the malfunctioning systems around me (albeit preferably from the relative safety of a pack of like-minded individuals).

I am increasingly uncomfortable with a trend I'm seeing in the larger queer community of late. Given the growing consensus in Western industrialized nations that same-sex marriages and relationships are valid, queer individuals in positions of privilege are becoming more and more okay with the dominant cultural hegemony. If being queer becomes less of a stigma, the logic goes, then I have less incentive to work to change the system that privileges me.

This is not my own personal conception of the struggle. In fact, I'm increasingly uncomfortable with saying that I work for LGBTQ rights. My focus, even when I haven't understood it fully, has always been on queer liberation. “Rights” presuppose and work to reinforce or call into existence a structure wherein some other group is in a position superior to you and can grant you rights. Liberation, for me, means recognizing that no one should have that kind of power over your worth and how you choose to live your life. Liberation is inherently intersectional. As long as any group is oppressed, its clear that our work isn't finished. Working for recognition or granting of rights allows for convenient points where moderates can get off the proverbial train as soon as their personal threshold for rights is recognized. Personally, I don't intend to get off this train until the structures of oppression and supremacy have been fully dismantled. This means working for real economic and structural equality rather than hiding issues behind rainbow-colored corportate logos.

In a country where black men are put in prison disproportionately to their white peers, there is more work to be done. In a world where trans women of color are being murdered with very little media attention, there is more work to be done. In a country where rural folks can be ignored by their economically-advantaged peers in cities, there is more work to be done. In a world where everyone has money stolen from them by the wage labor system, there is more work to be done. Personally, I don't like leaving jobs half-finished.

IWW member speaks out on arrest at Glasgow Pride