This article is as it appears in the July 2017 edition of GCN Magazine (Gay Community News Ireland) with a few additions. Find it on the GCN website here (page 61).
In the 34 years since a small group of queer people first marched through the streets of Dublin to celebrate their pride in the face of an establishment that had tacitly endorsed the murder of a gay man in Fairview Park, the Dublin Pride celebrations have changed beyond all recognition. For years LGBT+ organising has pushed in a reformist direction, seeking to accommodate us within the framework of the capitalist state. Inevitably Pride has become politically sanitised and intensely commercial.
The members of the Working Class Queeroes believe that our struggle against oppression must be based upon building the strongest possible movement. This requires bringing our various activist groups together in common struggle. There needs to be a resurgence of LGBT+ liberation politics which can challenge cis heteronormativity, commercialisation, and capitalism itself.
WORKING CLASS QUEEROES
Last year, we brought together various different groups of activists to march together. As recently as 2010, Sex Workers were banned from participating in Dublin Pride. Last year, however, Sex Workers’ Alliance Ireland (SWAI) carried a ‘Queers for Sex Workers’ Rights’ banner to the front and we are happy to be joined by them again this year to continue that pro-decriminalisation message.
Pinkwashing is the use of supposed concern for LGBT people to cover up harm done to others. Last year also saw Dublin’s first strong anti-pinkwashing contingent, supported by the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), criticising ‘Brand Israel’. Similarly we drew attention to the attendance of Airbnb who list stolen Palestinian homes on their site.
Housing is a queer issue and queer liberation is a working class issue and last year we were joined by The Irish Housing Network who marched down the route to huge applause. It is our intention to build on this bloc and look forward to being joined by many more groups, including anti-racism and pro-choice groups and Action against Secret Internment Camps for Gay Men in Chechnya Activists.
YOU ONLY GAVE US RIGHTS ‘CAUSE WE GAVE YOU RIOTS
These days Dublin Pride is raucous with colour but is otherwise a straightforward parade. However, too few know that the origins of Pride were anything but proper. They were radical, the impetus for Queer Pride globally being the five-day Stonewall Riots.
We still need to draw on those radical roots. In the year since last Dublin Pride, we have seen gay bashings on our streets – most notably the gay bashing of a migrant gay man in Phoenix Park last year; we have seen the fascist attack on the façade of The George; the massacre of queers in an Orlando nightclub; and the sentencing of queers to internment camps in Chechnya. We have seen the rise of far-right, bigoted, xenophobic ideas since the financial crisis.
Since the theme of Dublin Pride 2017 is ‘Find Your Inner Hero’, we will be marching as the Working Class Queeroes. We are the “Fucking Dregs” Bloc, like the dregs of Stonewall 1969 and Fairview 1983. This being a reference to the ongoing Jobstown trial, and the contempt shown for us by the establishment.
L-G-B-T = LINKEDIN – GOOGLE – BANK OF IRELAND – TWITTER
Clearly Pride is a gasp for freedom by the gutter people, a fist raised in defiance of a social order which seeks to destroy us, forcing pink triangles onto our bodies and inside our own minds.
Yet today what is Pride contributing to the pursuit of our freedom? An observer could reasonably mistake it for a business promotion festival. Whatever slim queer agenda is being pushed can scarcely be heard above the glee of corporations, not to mention Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, the Social Democrats, the Greens, and Sinn Féin.
‘What’s wrong with acceptance?’ one might understandably ask. We all know the rainbow is a profit-turner and a vote-winner for corporations and parties and that shows how much things have changed, but Pride nowadays is little more than an attempt to make peace with that establishment on their terms. It’s a marketing opportunity, convenient for them now just as it was convenient for them before to let Declan Flynn’s homophobic killers walk free in 1983. Do we want to be the flamboyant PR managers of the powerful?
QUEER LIBERATION IS A WORKPLACE ISSUE
Political organisations pay lip-service towards our rights yet won’t take a stand against religious discrimination. In the year where babies were found buried in a septic tank on Catholic church property, we still have the bigoted church discriminating against us, through reproductive rights, and through Section 37.1, which although amended has not been repealed.
The Equality Employment Act 1998 was supposed to protect workers from discrimination but this legislation contained a discriminatory exception clause (Section 37.1) which allows institutions with a religious ethos to discriminate against queer people.
Furthermore, we will see many corporations at Pride that refuse to let workers unionise and whose desire is to capitalise from our movement yet display very different class interests when it comes to queer workers’ rights.
JOIN US FOR DUBLIN PRIDE
Advocacy for LGBTQ equality needs to move out from the offices of lobbying groups and onto the street to pose a direct threat to the system that oppresses and divides us. We call on all anti-capitalist radical queers to form an anti-assimilation and anti-homonormative left bloc of “fucking dregs” and march together. Join our bloc on the parade on Saturday, June 24, at 1:15pm, HedgeServ, south of St. Stephen’s Green.
Find our Facebook Event Page here.