Monday, March 21, 2011

Brody's Scribbles... Gay Liberation Front: Manifesto. Have We Made Progress Since 1971? (Part 16)

By Tim Trent (Dartmouth, England) MAR 21 | I think it's probably obvious that I hold some of the Gay Liberation Front 1971 Manifesto in some contempt. The real issue is the revolutionary language. They seem to have confused left wing revolutionary politics with making forward progress.
Let's have a look at today's segment:
Many gay men and women needlessly restrict their lives by compulsive role playing. They may restrict their own sexual behaviour by feeling that they must always take either a butch or a femme role, and worse, these roles are transposed to make even more distorting patterns in general social relationships. We gay men and women are outside the gender-role system anyway, and therefore it isn't surprising if some of us - of either sex - are more 'masculine' and others more 'feminine'. There is nothing wrong with this. What is bad is when gay people try to impose on themselves and on one another the masculine and feminine stereotypes of straight society, the butch seeking to expand his ego by dominating his/her partner's life and freedom, and the femme seeking protection by submitting to the butch. Butch really is bad-the oppression of others is an essential part of the masculine gender role. We must make gay men and women who lay claim to the privileges of straight males understand what they are doing; and those gay men and women who are caught up in the femme role must realise, as straight women increasingly do, that any security this brings is more than offset by their loss of freedom.
Gay men and women are not outside the 'gender-role system'. Yet the key statement is that they are.
Also the manifesto seeks to remove free will. I am different from you. You are different from each of them. We are each unique. I may wish to enjoy my life one way, you another. Nether of us is correct, or both of us are. But neither of us must seek to impose our will upon the other.
Indeed, the manifesto seeks to tell me how I, a gay man, should act. I have transgressed in two ways at least:
  • I am married, and to a woman. This is my right.
  • I am neither, to use their words, 'butch' nor 'femme'. I'm just a man who is gay. Were I to be partnered with another gay man I see no male or female roles for either of us, not sexually and not in the role we would play in our home.
The whole document seems to be about resentment of some form of undefined privilege. Perhaps that's where we've made the progress. We've shed the ethos of the 1970s:
The working class can kiss my arse,
I've got the foremans' job at last.
I'm out of work and on the dole,
You can stuff the red flag up your hole.
[Anon. Sung to the tune of The Red Flag]
That seems to me to be progress indeed. But it has damn all to do with The Gay Liberation Front.


Desmond Rutherford said...

My interpretation of the manifesto's intention, both when it was released and now, was that it tried to create, through its revolutionary language, a culture where a person would no longer feel it was necessary to adopt a butch or femme persona in order to justify their existence.

Rather than shedding the ethos of the 1970s, I think the manifesto's objective is justified and indeed has enabled Tim to claim that:

"I am neither, to use their words, 'butch' nor 'femme'. I'm just a man who is gay. Were I to be partnered with another gay man I see no male or female roles for either of us, not sexually and not in the role we would play in our home."

This statement seems to me to be part of the desired result of the manifesto.

However, I am so far to the left that I think the revolutionary language is today, misconstrued and not appreciated for its attempt to correct what it (and I) see as an historical cultural aberration handed down to us by religious control freaks who have long since stopped being useful, if they ever were.

Rather than homosexual people being absorbed, assimilated, integrated into the current mess called, 'society,' the manifesto in my opinion sought to lead the whole human race away from the psycho-societal role-playing which challenges the individual's inherent right to pursue and discover, the real happiness of being who they are.

It also tried to imbibe the revolutionary stand of the 1960-70s in fighting against the "Establishment," the status quo which had instigated and pursued the horrors of homosexual persecution under rule of law.

There are still some of us who believe that the manifesto not only got it right, that it was justified, but that it also was a far reaching vision for humanity which encompassed the struggle for Gay Liberation.

Humanism is often left bleeding when the revolutions for peace and love are corrupted by cultural avarice.