Posts Tagged ‘lesbians’

“The lesbian and gay community has been particularly susceptible to random “picking off,” a form of terrorism that makes […] a particularly effective deterrent to above-ground organizing. Bars frequented by lesbians and gay men have always been subjected to police raids where customers are beaten up by recreational pugilists who lie in wait for their gay prey. To many lesbian and gay organizers (particularly middle-class ones with greater access to private spaces, such as apartments) bars were bad for the lesbian/gay community because they encouraged alcoholism. Bars have promoted destructive individual patterns, but even in the largest cities entering a lesbian or gay bar is an act of self-declaration, and a necessary social focus for lesbians or gay men who have nowhere else to meet.

Bars and baths have been particularly subject to fires, a bizarre hazard wrought by the inadequacy of rundown facilities. Like the media image of black rioters in the 1960s who were portrayed as self-destructively burning their own ghettos, local media hype the angle that disgruntled customers or just crazy lesbian/gays have burned up their own spaces. Within the criminal justice system, lesbians/gays are labeled firebugs, vindictive and vicious people who attack their own community.

Persistent media images (including the controversial movie Cruising) make much of the supposedly “repressed” or self-hating gay man and his potential for destroying other gay men. Society is not blamed for driving gay men crazy, and lesbians and gay men, presumably programmed for self-destruction, are imagined to be doing each other in. […] The lesbian/gay community fights back against disasters perpetrated by negligence or active attack with a veritable “Red Cross” volunteer effort. When gay or lesbian churches, bars, or other establishments have been destroyed, furniture, food, money, clothing, and solace appear without even a request, with the donations coming from all segments of the community. There is a regenerative quality to lesbian and gay “institutions” that transcends the physical space. Amy Hoffman, speaking on behalf of Boston’s Gay Community News after their 1982 fire — set by a ring of ex-firemen from Boston — summed up the ethos of community: “We still have ourselves.”

Lesbians and gay men know that, like any marginal community, theirs is at the mercy of property-owners who would be happy to cash in their insurance policy at their expense. Yet, the image of self-destruction that is part of every U.S. lesbian and gay man’s socialization makes each “victim” wonder whether one of “us” may have done it.”

— Cindy Patton, Sex and Germs: The Politics of AIDS (1985), Ch. 11

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Monique Wittig in “The Category of Sex,” Feminist Issues 1982, p. 64; “The Straight Mind,” Feminist Issues 1980, p. 110.

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Christopher Street Liberation Day, New York City, June 24, 1978

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