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Author Topic: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991  (Read 7947 times)

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Mogul

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #18 on: Sun, Apr 30, 2006, 08:38 »

To preserve the original issue of this topic, some replies were split off and merged to the thread Gay Realpolitiks.

8[
"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!" Salvor Hardin

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #17 on: Fri, Apr 28, 2006, 05:40 »

During the brief blossoming of Queer Nation I was unavoidably distracted by my charming (and totally hot) new husband, so I experienced their activities only as part of the background noise of politics at the time. They had two chief faults (which may be inter-related). Foremost was their Utopian organizational model--all accounts agree that their comparatively spontaneous protest actions were both exhilarating and effective, but that their meetings were chaotic, seemingly endless, and ultimately useless. Second, they arose, as did most gay movements, out of the most Leftist streams of political thought in the US. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall, so also collapsed any hope for the Left or it's ideologies in the United States. The populace here simply no longer wants to hear the thoughts of "the losers." That the ideas may well be fundamentally in error also enters into the picture.

The political left was traditionnally an ally of ours.Of course,and by a flaw of human nature which is not fundamentaly socialistic,the left took advantage of us and exploited our human ressources for its own and sole ends,which were heterosexual.And we were partly to blame for this,for
we had forgot to deal with heterosexuals - leftists as much as they want - as foreigners.We didn`t dealth with them on the basis and procedures
- some of them precautionary - of political independence.We had forgotten who they were and who we were,two sets of entirely different earthly interests which no leftist theory or dream can make identical or equivalent.

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #16 on: Fri, Apr 28, 2006, 05:06 »

Marxism was only one part of the entire socialist spectrum, and like it s, some ideas were definitely wrong, and some seem right. Any political movement is well-advised to pick out usefull suggestions and build them into its own concept. Gay/queer nationalism e.g. might include the notion of basic social standards and adequate wages, as well as good medical support for all. There is a difference between the economical and social organization of a society - which meens, a society with market economy very well is free to establish social welfare state.

What is to be nationalized in a country of ours is to be decided solely on the basis of our own interest.Not based upon some theoretical universal interest for which no one would move to another country let alone stake his life,like the interest embodied in marxism.If we are to remain politically independent,our demography - notably at the level of the replacement of our human ressources - is to be entirely nationalized.As for economy,where a system of private enterprise serves society as everyone else does,let there be a sector of private enterprise.Where the system of private enterprise does not serve society,where especially it refuses to do so,let`s have along with State intervention some measure of socialism.

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Mogul

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #15 on: Fri, Apr 28, 2006, 02:21 »

[..] The aims and illusions of marxism are of no interest to us.Its tactical methods,however,may be of use and thus worth being studied.They should form part of the curriculum of political studies of any consequent gay separatist.If a gay secession leads to some results with vague ressemblences with socialism,like a demography under State control unlike organized heterosexual societies,it will be only incidental and not part of any strategic aim of ours. [..]

Marxism was only one part of the entire socialist spectrum, and like it s, some ideas were definitely wrong, and some seem right. Any political movement is well-advised to pick out usefull suggestions and build them into its own concept. Gay/queer nationalism e.g. might include the notion of basic social standards and adequate wages, as well as good medical support for all. There is a difference between the economical and social organization of a society - which meens, a society with market economy very well is free to establish social welfare state.

[..] Our headackes will come from such ideologies like islam,fundamentalist christianism,or secular and stateless economic systems like neo-liberalism,which all seek in a way or another the abolition of the nation-State. [..]

The nationalist's world view is based on the assumption, that a people can best develope (both culturally and economically) in a nation-state on its own. Naturally, any ambitions from other movements/entities to abolish the nation-state are contrary to the ideology of nationalism. Unlike it is commonly believed, any international cooperation and supranational structures do not contradict the idea of a nation-state - on contrary, the nation-state is the basis of all such activities! Of course, one may rightfully question the real role of the nation-state in a world where certain concerns have larger budget than the most states members of the UN. Nevertheless, even the richest corporation may be disowned by any particular state - money is nothingl against a group of resolute men with AK-47.

[..] While one could point to any number of "sparks," Queer Nation was the spark that ignited gay identity politics, and as such, this spark is hardly extinct. Nationalism is, I think, identity politics taken to it's greatest (or purest) extent. [..]

Whereas e.g. Michael Denneny raised the issue of gay identity for an individual, Queer Nation raised the issue of gay/queer identity for us as a collectivum. Others have called later for a gay/queer state - I see here just stages (important ones!) of the same process - discovering our identity as a people. Consequently, the vital and worthy existence of our people is the ultimate purpose of gay/queer nationalism.

The failure to establish a true nation can not be lasted upon the the queer nationals alone. A nation is based on local communities, whos leaders must unquestioned support national institutions. Our main problem is that we barely have organized local communities - here we must start. The impact of Queer Nation on the gay/queer identity was indeed very valuable.

P.S. An idea does not necessarily require immediate organisatory structures to change the world - the idea itself and its implementation are quite different pairs of shoes. Once an elaborately expressed idea is set free into the wide world, it takes its place in the hearts and minds of the people - who might or might not put it into realization.
« Last Edit: Fri, Apr 28, 2006, 02:32 by Mogul »
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Feral

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #14 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 19:41 »

Quote
Queer Nation was one spark of gay national movement - a spark which has unfortunately become extinct. So what? While setting a fire, many strikes on the ignition stone are required. As far as I can judge from the limited sources, that early "Queer Nationals" were indeed not "nationalists" in the literally meaning of the word (this is rightfully noted in this article by Paul Treanor [chapter 6.13]). It seems, the guys were not that far with their identity as a people - or the time was not come yet.
 

During the brief blossoming of Queer Nation I was unavoidably distracted by my charming (and totally hot) new husband, so I experienced their activities only as part of the background noise of politics at the time. They had two chief faults (which may be inter-related). Foremost was their Utopian organizational model--all accounts agree that their comparatively spontaneous protest actions were both exhilarating and effective, but that their meetings were chaotic, seemingly endless, and ultimately useless. Second, they arose, as did most gay movements, out of the most Leftist streams of political thought in the US. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall, so also collapsed any hope for the Left or it's ideologies in the United States. The populace here simply no longer wants to hear the thoughts of "the losers." That the ideas may well be fundamentally in error also enters into the picture.

Although its existence was brief, Queer Nation had a profound impact. The slogan "We're here, we're queer, get used to it" is known by almost everyone, even if it's source is not. It even appears on the Simpsons cartoon on occasion. While one could point to any number of "sparks," Queer Nation was the spark that ignited gay identity politics, and as such, this spark is hardly extinct. Nationalism is, I think, identity politics taken to it's greatest (or purest) extent. Queer Nation used the word "nation," and for many young men like myself, that usage prompted the realization that we ARE a nation, even if that realization was at odds with the stated aims of Queer Nation and the Left at the time.

I find two things in Queer Nation's effects: a great deal of political thought that pertained only to the times and a (I think) misguided urge to Socialist revolution, and a remarkable and sudden up-swell of passion for their identity. Much of what they said was entirely true, even if they themselves missed the point. "There is nothing about identity politics that necessarily leads to activism," says Mr. Sears, and he is right, so long as he is discussing Socialist activism (as he surely is). Identity politics and gay nationalism serve neither the left nor the right--it is no surprise that existing political parties have little use for it. What faces us is the question of who we are and what we will become--there is no legitimate role for "others" in these discussions.
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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #13 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 13:29 »


Alan Sears critics aim the very nature of Queer Nation Movement, namely the burgeoning new queer identity, whatever it might be. He regards entire identity/separatism thing merely as mishap tactics, whereas it was the centerpiece of the enterprise! As a true socialist, he falsely assumes that gays/lesbians are just another part of the oppressed working class, whereas in truth gays and lesbians permeate all classes of society and therefore their common interest is of a different nature.


Marxism as a political idea is dead.There is no longer any significant country with a marxist regime in power.In places like Cuba or North Korea,marxism survives only because it has found national hosts and causes on which to feed,thus being contaminated by the very idea of a world divided in different States it condemns and wants to see abolished.A quarter of a century ago,marxism would have posed us a problem as a significant rival political cause.Nowadays and in the future,we will be faced with mere successors of marxism in a similar political enterprise of world unification doomed to the same failure.Our headackes will come from such ideologies like islam,fundamentalist christianism,or secular and stateless economic systems like neo-liberalism,which all seek in a way or another the abolition of the nation-State.The aims and illusions of marxism are of no interest to us.Its tactical methods,however,may be of use and thus worth being studied.They should form part of the curriculum of political studies of any consequent gay separatist.If a gay secession leads to some results with vague ressemblences with socialism,like a demography under State control unlike organized heterosexual societies,it will be only incidental and not part of any strategic aim of ours.Some hethro socialists will fall for such an idea,while having no hethro constituency capable of implementing it.

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Mogul

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #12 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 11:25 »

[..] Mr. Sears' critique is most interesting to me in that I find nearly every single point he makes to be fundamentally in error, but then he is a Socialist and I am not. I draw your attention to this article not so much to enter into a debate about Socialist politics, but to point out the absence of any sense of nationalist identity in any of it. Nationalism (or anything resembling it) does not enter into Mr. Sears' critique of the movement, nor is nationalism (or even any spirited defence of separatism) a feature of the letters in response to the article included on the web site. [..] While I cannot speak specifically to the situation in Toronto that Mr. Sears describes, as far as the collapse of Queer Nation in the US goes, it seems to me that Sears is gravely in error: Identity politics were most certainly the heart of Queer Nation, but it was organized around the most avant garde principles of Leftist thought available to them. [..] And herein lies Queer Nation's fatal flaw--they actually thought they could change the world with tools that can only transform themselves. The sudden collapse of Queer Nation in the face of these difficulties suggests that they never had any real interest in defining themselves.

Queer Nation was one spark of gay national movement - a spark which has unfortunately become extinct. So what? While setting a fire, many strikes on the ignition stone are required. As far as I can judge from the limited sources, that early "Queer Nationals" were indeed not "nationalists" in the literally meaning of the word (this is rightfully noted in this article by Paul Treanor [chapter 6.13]). It seems, the guys were not that far with their identity as a people - or the time was not come yet.

Alan Sears critics aim the very nature of Queer Nation Movement, namely the burgeoning new queer identity, whatever it might be. He regards entire identity/separatism thing merely as mishap tactics, whereas it was the centerpiece of the enterprise! As a true socialist, he falsely assumes that gays/lesbians are just another part of the oppressed working class, whereas in truth gays and lesbians permeate all classes of society and therefore their common interest is of a different nature.

In one point I must agree to him, though: it makes little sense to fight eachother while trying to establishing a tight definition of "who is queer", istead of stepping forward and living the community. It must be clear from beginning that there are no exact definitions of "who is queer" as there will be always individuals who still deviate a little bit but not enough to be excluded from the peer group. We must understand one thing: it is fully sufficient to establish a definition encompassing 95% of our people, and the remaining 5% will for sure not endanger the identity of the people.

The gay/lesbian national movement is probably not that much about the confrontation with straights - it's more about ourselves and the way we are determined to live as gays/lesbians. Not the aversion against the straights is decisive, but the cohesion withing our community. Some of us might be separatists, some might be integrationalists - but we all shall be united as a people.

"The problem was that Queer Nation lacked the political perspective to build on that anger and militancy."

I would say, the problem was indeed in the lack of political and cultural perspective - one cannot build one's identity solely on "anger and militancy". On contrary, an entire indifference to straights might yield more cultural output - if gays only have managed to care for their own business. 
"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!" Salvor Hardin

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #11 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 08:32 »

And herein lies Queer Nation's fatal flaw--they actually thought they could change the world with tools that can only transform themselves. The sudden collapse of Queer Nation in the face of these difficulties suggests that they never had any real interest in defining themselves.


Attempting to change the world or society without reference to sexual orientation would excede by far our strengt and potentialities.Russia did
so during its soviet era.And it lost in the process,along with its status as a world superpower,all the westward territorial conquests of the Russian nation since the times of tsar Peter the Great.Nazi Germany also had the pretention to shape and mold the world,and only ended up in uniting it in a deadly coalition against her.We should not try to change heterosexual societies,nor waste time with any proposal to the effect of remaining under hethro rule indefinitely.It`s for the heterosexuals themselves to change their own societies.If they do not approve of their own governments,they possess the power to overthrow them by going on strike biologically.As long as heterosexuals provide unconditionnally future citizens to regimes which thus are of their own and sole making,there is nothing that we gays could do about it,except perhaps outlining our absence of responsability in the continuation of the said regimes.

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #10 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 08:13 »

It seems the guys were serious on their way...

In this article from the Canadian magazine Socialist Worker, Alan Sears offered many observations about the demise of Queer Nation in Toronto, along with these observations on identity politics and separatism:

Quote
At the heart of the problem was that Queer Nation was organized around identity politics.

The focus of this political perspective is on the assertion of identity - the ability of people who are discriminated against to define themselves. If others define "queers" as bad, our job is to redefine ourselves proudly and confidently. A good example was the Queer nation slogan, "We're here, we're queer and we're not going away."

Identity politics led to a tremendous focus inward on how we define ourselves, rather than on outward on changing the world. The meetings became attempts to develop a "perfect" anti-heterosexist, anti-sexist and anti-racist mind-set rather than organizing to fight actively against sexism, racism and anti-gay bigotry.

There is nothing about identity politics that necessarily leads to activism. Indeed, there is no basis within identity politics for distinguishing between the relative political impact of a man wearing a pink dress on the street, a women making an explicitly sexual lesbian video, or a mass demonstration in the streets. All involve the assertion of "queer" identities, and all are therefore seen as equally subversive.

Yet, Queer Nation Toronto did have an activist orientation. But identity politics is a very poor guide to action. It provides no standard for concentrating energies on activities which can be the crucial next step in building the organization and the cause. As a result, Queer nation tried to do everything.

Identity politics is also tinged with separatism. After all, if it is a question of getting "queers" to redefine ourselves, there is not much of a role for "straights." Even though Queer Nation did attempt to reach out and make alliances, it developed  no basis for mobilizing straight people who support lesbian and gay liberation.

In short, identity politics dissipated the impressive activism of Queer Nation Toronto. Despite the efforts of many good activists, the organization could not overcome this deficiency.

Socialist politics offers a different approach to building the struggle for lesbian and gay liberation. The starting point is not identities, but the way capitalist society is organized into conflicting classes. This means struggles against oppression must focus on changing class society as a whole.

Mr. Sears' critique is most interesting to me in that I find nearly every single point he makes to be fundamentally in error, but then he is a Socialist and I am not. I draw your attention to this article not so much to enter into a debate about Socialist politics, but to point out the absence of any sense of nationalist identity in any of it. Nationalism (or anything resembling it) does not enter into Mr. Sears' critique of the movement, nor is nationalism (or even any spirited defence of separatism) a feature of the letters in response to the article included on the web site.

It was my perception in the early 90s that Queer Nation used the word "nation" as a rhetorical device, and that John Stine used the word 'nationals' much as posters to this site might use the phrase "gay republicans." Should someone actually use that phrase, it would be a mistake to assume they meant to align themselves with the Republican Party of the US.

While I cannot speak specifically to the situation in Toronto that Mr. Sears describes, as far as the collapse of Queer Nation in the US goes, it seems to me that Sears is gravely in error: Identity politics were most certainly the heart of Queer Nation, but it was organized around the most avant garde principles of Leftist thought available to them. Mr. Sears phrases it well when he says that "angry and effective demonstrations were followed by boring inward-looking meetings in which nothing was accomplished."

"Identity politics led to a tremendous focus inward on how we define ourselves, rather than on outward on changing the world. The meetings became attempts to develop a "perfect" anti-heterosexist, anti-sexist and anti-racist mind-set rather than organizing to fight actively against sexism, racism and anti-gay bigotry."

And herein lies Queer Nation's fatal flaw--they actually thought they could change the world with tools that can only transform themselves. The sudden collapse of Queer Nation in the face of these difficulties suggests that they never had any real interest in defining themselves.
Stonewall was a riot.

Feral

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #9 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 07:23 »

According to the Wayback Machine (a most ingenious web site), QRD's earliest update (it's creation) was in 1999. The document "State of the Queer Nation" was present from the beginning. It looks like it was uploaded long after the fact.

I shall look into it further.
Stonewall was a riot.

Mogul

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #8 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 06:46 »

This interesting call for papers I have discovered at Queer Research Directory:

QN/National Capital is beginning work on the first issue of "State of the Queer Nation," to be mailed to folks on our current mailing list. There's been much talk about QN collapsing, and we're here to say that there is still room for direct action groups like QN, and there's still lots of hatred and bigotry which stands in the way for our ultimate liberation.

I'm seeking your inputs for this first issue.  Do you have a story about your community (irrespective of whether you have a QN chapter) that might be of interest to Queer Nationals across the nation?  If so, please take a moment to drop the article to me via the net.  I'll have a PO box set up in the next few days, so if you've got a hardcopy of something and you don't feel like typing it in, you'll be able to make submissions via snail mail soon.

Currently, I'm investigating whether we'll be able to offer this publication electronically.  I'll let you know.  If you're interested in getting a subscription to this publication, please drop me a line. Subscription fees will only be levied for postage and reproduction costs - I'm estimating fifty cents per issue.

I need your help if this project is to be a success.  This publication will be by us and for us.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
John P. Stine                                            jstine@cap.gwu.edu
Queer Nation/National Capital
Box 34773, Washington, DC 20043                              (301) 294-4358
---------------------------------------------------------------------------


It seems the guys were serious on their way... Does anyone know whether the report has ever been published? Unfortunately, this call for papers is not dated in any way.

P.S. The e-mail adress does not work...  :Y  The document seems to be uploaded to QRD in October 1993
« Last Edit: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 06:56 by Mogul »
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Feral

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #7 on: Fri, Nov 11, 2005, 13:32 »

This newspaper article may shed some light on the ending of Queer Nation.
« Last Edit: Tue, Jan 17, 2006, 03:15 by Feral »
Stonewall was a riot.

Mogul

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #6 on: Thu, Nov 10, 2005, 06:24 »

Here some more information about the "Queer Nation" (from http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/queer_nation.html ) :

"Queer Nation erupted into being in the summer of 1990, when militant AIDS activists at New York's Gay Pride parade passed out to the assembled crowd an inflammatory manifesto, printed on both sides of a single newspaper-sized piece of newsprint, bearing the titles I Hate Straights! and Queers Read This! Within days, in response to the brash, "in-your-face" tone of the broadside, Queer Nation chapters had sprung up in San Francisco and other major cities.

Described by activist scholars Allan Bérubé and Jeffrey Escoffier as the first "retro-future/postmodern" activist group to address gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender concerns, the short-lived organization (lasting only two years) made a lasting impact on sexual identity politics in the United States. To a significant degree, the relative frequency and acceptability of glbtq representation in mass culture in the 1990s and early twenty-first century can be dated to the emergence of Queer Nation."


They existed for 2 years? That's much intriguing, we should make more research on this. An interesting article by Rebecca Lavine reveals some of the background history :

http://www.bostonphoenix.com/alt1/archive/1in10/12-95/ACTIVISM.html
"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!" Salvor Hardin

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #5 on: Wed, Oct 26, 2005, 20:36 »

You should try to see this man speak in person (or on film). He is remarkable. At times he is so reasonable, yet at others he screams, shrieks, and howls with rage.
Stonewall was a riot.

Mogul

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Re: "Queer Nation" Manifest from 1991
« Reply #4 on: Wed, Oct 26, 2005, 18:40 »

Thanks a lot!  :T

I read the contribution till the end and was much attracted by Larry's direct way to speak about topics which are so much important that they seldom come to speech at all. Sure, by times he exaggerates to the pain barrier, but he makes people think.

"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!" Salvor Hardin
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