Activism Beyond Stonewall
This type of mutiny is about redefining a movement. You don’t have to be LGBT to be involved.
QUEER. Adj. An inclusive, unifying, political umbrella term for people whose orientations, decisions, or gender identity inevitably lead to confrontation with society.
LGBT. Adj. Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender
‘Queer’ is not, as the mass media and government would have you believe, just another neat category to aid assimilation into mainstream culture. It is a term for those who don’t fit into categories. Confrontation is the key word here – engaging in this kind of activism is about making people in general realise and accept individuality and alternative lifestyles, of pushing not just for tolerance, or even acceptance, but celebration.
One group who are aiming to enlighten uninformed folk are Queer Mutiny. The commercialisation of the movement has prompted ordinary people to make their own groups. For someone like me, still on the edge of politics, an event hosted by these good people was the perfect opportunity to widen my horizons. Last Thursday, roughly 50 people gathered in an empty four-floored in Headingly, Leeds, to turn it into a working, safe social space. The squat was entirely legal and the landlord even turned on the water and electricity for us. So I went to have a nosey.
There were a number of workshops available, from dance and DIY tattoos to erotic writing and polyamorous relationships. It was lovely to sit on the grass and discuss queer history, or pummel foam pads in self-defence, or my absolute favourite; how to hold a protest line against police. There was even an evening performance by Tiny Tin Lady and in the hallway were loads of leaflets, stickers and flyers.
We discussed how events like Gay Pride were being ruined by corporate sponsorship, where what used to be an unashamed statement of difference and power was being manipulated into a harmless little parade, a far cry from the original Stonewall rioters. We thought about where the movement needed to go next. The aims and tactics applicable thirty years ago are different from the ones today. We talked over the need to stay in the spotlight, to resist assimilation.
It was all about building confidence and expanding horizons. I’m not LGBT (another wonderful example of pigeon-holing), but my lifestyle does differ a lot from ‘normal’. The whole point is to defy categorisation and control.
Ordinary people like me and you can do a tremendous with little to no funds and a lot of creativity. It’s so easy to get involved with stuff like this. A Google (Or Scroogle ) search can turn up lots of resources.
It’s just a matter of exploring and finding out what’s happening locally. Which you really, really should. Even if your original plan is to sit on the sunny grass and try your hand at a steamy writing workshop for the hell of it, it can lead to so much more.