First Published: In Struggle! No. 141, January 16, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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After working with IN STRUGGLE! in Operation Liberty support work in Toronto, I feel compelled to ask your paper for a clear indication that IS! supports the democratic rights of gay people.
Although The Body Politic and The Body Politic Defence Fund were two of the handful of organizations to consistently work on the Operation Liberty Support Group in Toronto, at the IS! meeting on political repression held in this city, not a word was said about recent State attacks against the gay press and against gay people in general. Not a word, that is until the chairperson made an unfortunate reference to gay issues as a distraction introduced by Trotskyists. For your readers’ information, the gay movement pre-dates the founding of the Trotskyist “international” by over sixty years. I am also confident that we will outlive it as well. To be fair I must mention that the main IS! speaker subsequently tried to correct the impression that the chair had given.
After reading your recent article on Anita Bryant, however, it occurred to me that the chair’s remarks may have been more than an indiscretion. I was astonished by the fact that an article could be written on Bryant without one even passing reference to gay people.
The gay movement is aware of the tremendous danger Bryant poses for women and her thoroughly reactionary positions on a whole host of issues. But it is indisputable that Bryant’s rise to fame originated through her successful efforts to obliterate the basic democratic rights of homosexuals in Dade County Florida and in other US cities.
Your silence in regards to gays absolutely thunders when you write “And anti-Bryant committees have been founded mainly in the southern states, composed of citizens of varying political opinions, including the American Psychiatric Association”.
I should remind you that it has been lesbians and homosexuals from the gay movement that in every case, have spearheaded anti-Bryant activities in defense of our democratic rights. It is we who have stood and many times stood alone against the taunts, insults, and fists of the Ku Klux Klan thugs that so often serve as her bodyguard.
You picture Bryant with pie on her face but you forget to mention who threw it. I am not suggesting that IS! jump on the Trotskyist bandwagon and go charging back and forth through our movement to corral us into some mass party. It is clear that correct relations between communists and the gay movement have not yet been worked out. I only imply that it is very difficult for gay people to take seriously IS!’s concern about our democratic rights when your paper so conspicuously and consistently writes us out of the struggle, even our own.
A correspondent from Ontario
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Ed. note: The fact that the newspaper has not often talked about the acts of resistance by homosexuals for the recognition of their democratic rights does not mean that we have the intention of keeping silent on this struggle. IN STRUGGLE! supported the gay movement’s participation in Operation Freedom and, in the past few issues, our paper has tried to give accounts of this resistance (see our article in this issue on page 7).
Our weakness is really more a question of lack of information.Your letter reveals certain aspects of the struggle against Anita Bryant that were unknown to us until now. Not only is the Group IN STRUGGLE! in disagreement with discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians, but it also calls on gays to unite with all strata of the people to counter mounting repression everywhere in the country. We encourage you to continue corresponding with our newspaper and especially to send us information which we are lacking to concretely illustrate the resistance of the gay movement.