The Stonewall Rebellion began on 28 June 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood that catered primarily to gay men, but also to some lesbians and transgender people. Unlike previous raids, this time the patrons fought back. The Rebellion grew to involve 2,000 protesters doing battle with 400 police officers over several nights. The chant of “Gay Power!” became a rallying cry for oppressed sexual minorities worldwide.
Some of the participants were Black or Hispanic, placing the Rebellion firmly in the broader context of the social uprisings of Black and Hispanic people against oppression in 1960s America. Black and Hispanic trans women like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were among the notable participants.
Some activist groups formed in the immediate aftermath of the Stonewall Rebellion, like the Gay Liberation Front groups in both the US and Britain, were also anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist, arguing that the liberation of LGBT people, and the sexual liberation of all people, could only happen as part of a broader class liberation struggle.
The idea of LGBT liberation has slowly been lost as marches commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion began dropping “Liberation” and “Freedom” from their names, replacing them with the less radical “Pride.” Today, most of these events are sponsored by corporations, and LGBT identities have been commodified and absorbed into the ideology of the bourgeois social order.
We must demand full equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people in all spheres of life, while recognizing that equality under the current unequal system is not liberation. Further, rights and privileges must ultimately be detached from marital status, so that family relationships are defined by the people in them, not the state or the church. People’s rights should not be determined by their willingness or ability to participate in state or church sanctioned arrangements.
We must recognize that LGBT liberation requires a revolutionary change in society. Full sexual and gender liberation for all people can only happen if existing social institutions, and the mode of production that props them up, are abolished and the archaic values they represent are swept aside with them.
Religious bodies have exerted their influence to oppose civil laws promoting LGBT equality, while promoting homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. This is an example of the archaic values which must be swept aside.
We must demand an end to all homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic religious bodies attempting to impose their beliefs on society as a whole. We must stand against theocracy and for secularism. Religion must not be imposed on anyone nor used to justify the dehumanization of LGBT people.
Revolutionary change will affect our understanding of family, relationships, sexuality, and gender, as those all reflect the nature of the society they exist within. Under capitalism, relationships and sexuality are commodities. Marriage and family reflect existing property relations. Under socialism, they will reflect new social relations.
We must condemn all physical and legalistic attacks against LGBT people, and we must stand in solidarity with the victims of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic violence. We must demand an end to all violence and intimidation against LGBT people, including mistreatment by police and other authorities.
Further, we must recognize that LGBT people of color are doubly oppressed in the United States by white supremacism (including within the LGBT community), which must be condemned and combated.
We must demand an end to biphobia from some gays and lesbians, and we must demand an end to transphobia from some gays and lesbians, and trans-exclusionary radical “feminists”.
We must demand that all people regardless of age have free access to information about their bodies and sexual health, unfettered by political and religious doctrines that transform natural human bodily functions into matters of “sin” or disease.
We must demand that the medical and psychiatric establishments stop enforcing sex/gender apartheid through the creation of false diseases and the denial of medical care. We must oppose so-called “reparative therapies” that propose to “cure” sexual and gender diversity, as they are merely another form of violence against LGBT people.
Further, the social pressures placed on people to conform to narrowly defined gender roles must be combated and eliminated, to advance the liberation of all people.
Each human being has an inherent right to define their own sexuality, whether it’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, asexual, or whatever label they choose to apply to themselves, and each human being has an inherent right to define their gender and to make decisions about their bodies based on those definitions.
Neither the state nor the church should have the authority to deny these rights.
Further, these rights are non-negotiable. No concessions should be made to bigots, no matter who they are or how they cloak their prejudice.
Onward to full liberation for all sexual orientations and genders!