First Published: In Struggle! No. 281, February 24, 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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1. Who are we? Four years ago, some gay/lesbian members of IS! spoke out about their oppression. Since then, the feminist trend within our ranks and the general climate of questioning things made it possible for us to come out of the closet and meet for the first time at the January conference. We have decided to form a caucus in order to defend our rights as gays/lesbians and struggle so that the organization takes a firm, clear, progressive and militant stand on homosexuality.
2. Repressive silence...: From 1972 to 1977, when gays and lesbians all over the world organized themselves against the rise of the Right and to defend their rights, IS completely ignored this movement. In 1977, when some of us decided to get together to develop a Marxist-Leninist position on homosexuality, the leadership condemned our meetings, confiscated our texts and took disciplinary measures against participants. The stubborn refusal of the Organization to take a stand on homosexuality opened the door to a certain form of “psychological war” against gays and lesbians. By negating our specific oppression, the Organisation made life impossible for us.
We come from the 1977 faction and our determination to state openly and freely live our sexual orientation has developed in opposition to a pseudo-socialist puritanism which has demoralized many male and female activists. The liberalization in IS’ perspective which followed our painful “coming out” is but a tiny flicker where there must be light. The stance amounts to reducing the whole issue to a question of democratic rights like the right to religion. Homosexuality is not a dogma, it is a form of sexuality, and sexuality is an integral part of human life. From repressive silence to polite tolerance, the record is not very impressive.
3. Heterosexism must be struggled against; The feminist trend has correctly denounced the sexist values and forms of organization within IS. We denounce the heterosexism which unfortunately still exists in our Organization.
What do we mean by heterosexism?
– The view that homosexuality will disappear under socialism.
– The continued indifference to the gay and lesbian struggle in and outside the Organization. This is evidenced by the paper’s silence on the events surrounding the raid on the Truxx bar, one of the most important mass arrests in Canada.
– Repression, contempt, and the refusal to include the struggle against this oppression in the programme at the Third Congress (1979).
– Discriminatory interference in the sexual life of gays and lesbians. The Organization has always required homosexuals to detail their situation when they applied for membership.
– Forced to “admit” to our sexuality, the Organization never admitted that this might require special measures of support. No children, no spouse, therefore, no problem. After all, sexuality and loneliness are of secondary importance.
– The attitude of homophobia includes seeing us as people who are looking to exercize a simple right whereas sexuality is more than that, its life! Today, the Organization is willing to denounce repression but it is not actively supporting our demonstrations and, even less, our efforts to promote a more positive outlook towards homosexuality (the pride days). For example, when last year in Toronto there was a raid on bath parlours which resulted in mass arrests in numbers almost never seen before in Canada, the Organization did not call on its people to support the struggles that followed the arrests.
We are not saying that there hasn’t been any improvement but we are saying that there hasn’t been enough, especially given that whatever progress there has been has come in the wake of the demobilization and resignation of many. We think it is about time for IS to counter the internal patriarchal moralism that puts us down.
What we want now is the recognition of our caucus; support (including financial support) of our research and activities; tangible involvement in the struggles of the gay/lesbian movement. Only then will IS truly be headed in a more realistic direction in contrast to the past. For us this is a non-negotiable minimum which, if not accepted, may result, for many of us, in a definite break from the organization.
4. What do we plan to do? This declaration is the first concrete action taken by our caucus so that we may he recognized and supported by all sectors of the Organization. Our next step will be to prepare a motion for the 4th congress. It will be based on an historical and political analysis of our oppression and this research may be continued in the future. Simultaneously, and in an effort to make the members and sympathizers of the Organization aware of our experience and our struggles, we are inviting the caucus and committees to put the examination of this statement on the agenda of their upcoming meetings.
Patriarchy is not the source of homosexuality but it has been the root cause of the repression of homosexuality. Homosexuality is a political matter that can no longer be ignored.
Let’s put an end to the situation where there are socialists who sneer and snicker at gays/lesbians. Without a solid and effective struggle against patriarchy there will never be a socialist or a communist society.
The IN STRUGGLE! caucus of gays and lesbians
February 12, 1982