Sunday, November 26, 2023

From Stonewall to Gaza: What it Means to be a Queer for Palestine

 When you are granted the awkward misfortune of being raised in the wrong gender in a conservative small town you get used to being the butt of every limp-dick breeder's stupid fucking jokes. I've heard them all before and they ceased being funny sometime between the pedophile priests and the exorcists. 

With that being said, in order to survive and organize as a radical Queer anarcho-populist amongst the rural poor in MAGA country, I have had little choice but to grow a thicker skin than most, even going so far as to take vulgar insults in stride and repurpose them as weapons of radical pride. Depending on my mood, my response to words like 'tranny' and 'faggot' generally fall somewhere between "Yeah, so what?" and "You're goddamn right I am!"

But some jokes go too far even for me. In the wake of the Al-Aqsa Flood attacks and Israel's subsequent mass slaughter of civilians in Gaza, the notion of "Queers for Palestine" has become the joke and it isn't just neckless yocals at the local filling station making it. 

It's self-proclaimed allies like Bill Maher and the staff of Reason Magazine. Supposedly enlightened liberals and libertarians who find the very idea of freaks like me marching for Muslim savages in the Levant to be silly. Let me make myself crystal clear right here and right now that these people are racist assholes, and I wrote this post to tear them a new one.

Like 99.9% of all anti-Zionists, I make zero attempt to defend the cowards of Hamas or even the corrupt fucking gangsters of Fatah. However, I do think that it needs to be pointed out that in spite of what the pro-Israel propaganda may tell you, Palestine is not quite the Queer hell that these bigots paint it as and Israel is far from Fire Island. LGBTQ rights actually very greatly throughout the Palestinian territories. 

Same sex sexual activities were decriminalized in the West Bank in 1951 and while they remain prohibited in the Gaza Strip under a code left over from the British Mandate carrying a sentence of up to ten years, there exists very little evidence that this law has ever actually been enforced and it appears to be largely obsolete in practice. In fact, the only record of anyone even being charged with this post-colonial relic came in the form of threats to silence the author of a book with a few Queer characters in 2017. 

This isn't to say that Palestine is some kind utopian bathhouse either. Hate crimes are not unusual and Queer rights groups like Al Qaws remain targets for legal harassment by the Palestinian Authorities, but we do in fact exist in Palestine and Queer organizations have been out and active since the Second Intifada in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa and the West Bank with many in our ranks finding shelter and solidarity among left-wing secular movements like the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine. 

Israel, for their part in this charade, only plays nice with Queer folk when they're trying to get away with bombing the brown ones. Same sex marriage remains illegal there as does interfaith marriage and as late as 2008 polls have shown that over half of all Israelis still view homosexuality as a disease that needs to be cured.

This noxious practice of using the illusion of liberal tolerance to dress up colonialism in the drag of progress is known as pinkwashing and it isn't just being used as a license to kill Arabs, it is being used to destroy the very fabric of what it means to be Queer. 

My identity is more than just a collection of cultural tropes to be assimilated into the global neoliberal hivemind. We are a tribe, a complex social construct that is defined by our resistance to colonial repression and losing sight of this fact won't just mean complicity in Palestinian genocide, it will mean our own erasure as anything more than domesticated poodles at the foot of our master's bed.

Before the Romans hijacked Christianity and used it to revive the same flailing empire that killed Christ, Queer people existed openly in pagan communities across the globe, from the genderfuck priestesses of Cybele to the Hindu Hijra. The world was a complicated and at times violent quilt work of diverse and largely stateless indigenous cultures, with every tribe and every village holding their own interpretations of what gender and sexuality meant to them. 

This had to change once the Vatican was built in order to use the weapon of forced cultural universalism to consolidate every tribe beneath a single governable vision of social purity. Rural Europe was first to go with peasant heathen holdouts like my Druid ancestors being burned at the stake during the Inquisition for venerating gods who transgressed Catholic gender boundaries.

The "New World" followed. Before the Conquistadors, over 150 Indigenous American tribes acknowledged the existence of at least three genders, with many recognizing as many as six and some practicing a completely fluid approach to expression altogether that left the very notion of gender virtually irrelevant. 

The Spaniards responded to this display of diversity by feeding my people alive to their dogs. Similar atrocities were taken against the Bakla in the Philippines and the British Empire picked up where the Pope left off in South Asia, Africa, and Oceania, erasing the Mahu from Hawaii, the Mugwe from Kenya, and Brotherboys and Sistergirls from Aboriginal Australia.

The Muslim world was not untouched either. Islamic culture has a long and complicated history with gender diversity, but many pre-modern Islamic societies accepted the existence of third genders like the Mukhanath, later leading conservative revivalist imams like the Ayatollah Khomeini to grant fatwas protecting the right to gender confirming surgery. 

This isn't to say that things were perfect in pre-colonial times, but they were diverse, and diversity has always been the enemy of imperialism because diversity threatens the establishment of the single global order that empires depend on. This diversity that our masters fear most is also what came to define the very concept of Queerness. Purged from our original tribes and granted zero place to exist beneath the beige yoke of Victorian colonialism, sexual and gender minorities built a unique quilt work culture of our own in the shadows from the fragments of our pagan pasts.

But we only came out of the closet and into the streets during the maelstrom of the sixties when we were inspired by Black Power and other Third World uprisings to bash back with furious uprisings like the Stonewall Riots. It was by the light of those flaming cop cars that we found our way and forged a new identity defined by our open resistance to empire and we weren't the only ones. 

The Palestinians were another shattered people of many tribes who came together during this era to resist annihilation at the hands of puritanical European overlords. You see, despite what certain killers may tell the Queer folk of the west and the conservative Muslims of the Gaza Strip, we are not each other's natural born enemies, and I refuse believe that it's too late for us to become allies once more, especially not when there is so much at stake for all of us.

I don't have to agree with every Arab or every Muslim to find solidarity in our shared struggle against assimilation into a hostile foreign culture and I don't need the trinkets of tolerance chucked at my feet like scraps to a beggar by conquistadors like Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu. These baby killers can keep their marriage contracts and their military service papers. They aren't worth the price of our soul or our agency. 

And you elitist secular Europhiles sitting on your corporate pedestals can make any fucking joke you want. My people don't need your goddamn approval either. What we need is the vision to see through the pinkwashing lies of the same neoliberal order that fed our ancestors to the dogs and continues to let our sisters get raped in men's prisons while children are bombed in our names by the same putrid state. We need to break out of our safe spaces so we can rejoin a dangerously diverse coalition of anti-imperialists in the direct democracy of the streets.

But most of all, Queer people need to remember who we are and that means standing with all oppressed people from Appalachia to Palestine regardless of whatever differences we may have because it is in fact those very differences and the right to live them freely and openly that defines our shared resistance. Our diversity is our weapon and I say we use it to smash this fucking empire once and for all. 

All power to all the people from Stonewall to Gaza with unconditional solidarity from my tribe to yours. Together we will win.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana

* Heroes by David Bowie

* Champions of Red Wine by the New Pornographers

* Why We Fight by the Decemberists

* Working for the Man by Roy Orbison

* Ahead by Wire

* Spitting Off the Edge of the World by Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Perfume Genius

* Sin by Nine Inch Nails

* What Have You Done for Me Lately by Janet Jackson

* Oblivion by Grimes

* Pretend We're Dead by L7

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