I AM PROUD to support ACTUP FOR LOVE in Trafalgar Square on the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot in New York. Stonewall marked a vital stage in the emergence of queer identities, community and culture, an outburst of new, self-affirming energy that marked the moment the visions of Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter, and of Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society, began to manifest throughout the western world.
ACTUP in the 1980s and 90s was the continuing embodiment of the most radical, pioneering spirit of our queer tribes. Governments and pharmaceutical companies were forced into action. When queer people focus their power things get done. But every time that political and social attitudes towards lgbt people improve, there are many of us queers who assimilate into the mainstream, lose the fighting spirit and forget how much there is still to be done.
This happened in the 1950s, when the socialist leanings of the Mattachine Society in the USA were soon dropped, in the 1970s when after a degree of political freedom, having as much as sex as possible became, for gay men, the, understandable, preoccupation. In the 80s we had to fight back and we did… against Section 28 and against government inaction on AIDS. We learnt that the establishment, despite the legal sweeteners, was still not our friend. We learnt to ACT UP. We knew that SILENCE= DEATH.
From the late 90s the atmosphere changed for us dramatically. The end of the epidemic, age of consent reform, civil partnerships, adoption rights, rights at work and in the military, increasing trans visibility and acceptance… gay marriage! No wonder most of us today are buying into the capitalist dream, giving our blessing to the military-industrial-political machine by marching at Pride in corporate teams bearing company logos, in military uniforms, our parade led by a team of bankers (with blue wings..er), Red Arrows flying overhead. A lot of blessings have come our way in the last two decades and we are paying them back by buying into, without critique, the very system that has attacked, imprisoned and medicalised us for hundreds of years.
I fully acknowledge how far society has come, what a good and positive signal it is that we can be out and proud at work and even in the military. I am grateful to the system for what it has given us but I must ask… is that system serving the freedom and liberation of us and all people? Or is it keeping the population locked in darkness, conflict and servitude? Is it really anybody’s friend?
The UK is falling apart, even England’s football team demonstrated the despair that has hit the nation. We have pulled ourselves not only economically – but judging by people’s reactions to Brexit – somehow spiritually – out of sync with the rest of the continent. And perhaps it’s a divine intervention that there has been a pro-EU rally called in Trafalgar Square at the same time as the long planned ACTUP FOR LOVE action. The Spirit of Stonewall lives on…
At GAY PRIDE on Saturday I saw the whole world marching together – every race, every religion, every sexuality. All of us able to get along, smile and even LOVE each other. This I know is the future. A future that lgbt people could do a lot to bring about by seeing ourselves as a global people, as a manifestation of the unity energy of the Age of Aquarius, born to drag the portion of humanity that is obsessed with conflict and money into a new paradigm of love, cooperation and sisterbrotherhood. That’s what Walt and Edward Carpenter foresaw us doing. Where we queers put our energy, we put our blessings. And we have blessings to give because we are in fact a spiritual, not sexual, people, an emerging reality that some queers explore in secret radical faerie groves and castles, queer tantra retreats and this summer the faeries are coming out of the forest …..
I am one of a team bringing QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL to planet Earth this summer. In Wiltshire August 17-21 a few hundred folk will gather for 5 days of exploring and celebrating who we are as Queer Souls finding the way to love, community and AWARENESS – to liberation of the mind, heart and spirit. Until the gay universe realises that our liberation will never be complete until it includes the spiritual as well as political and sexual aspects of Who We Are, there will be a need for some of us to ACT UP and make a noise, for many will be drawn to assimilate and their radical spirit die in the mainstream melodrama. As the United States is waking up to right now post Orlando, We are a people that can change the world. What kind of world is it that We want?
SILENCE = ASSIMILATION = DEATH