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Full text of "Gay liberation and socialism : documents from the discussions on gay liberation inside the Socialist Workers Party (1970-1973) part 2"

■t »rote the following for the pamphlet, Gay Liberation, 
fcc^shed by the Red Butterfly on February 13 1970 
mc :ne national SMC conference held in Cleveland: ' 

p. P^-ysical Attacks 

;:red and fear of homosexuals is so strong among 
= ----- of the population, particularly the police, that we 
WTi subject to a summary death sentence, for no other 
Li-on than being gay. Dozens of gay people have been 
Tiered m New York and San Francisco alone during 
last few years. Thousands are beaten every year. 

Archaic Legal Codes 
fcen private homosexual acts between consenting adults, 
' harm no one, are illegal in every state except II- 
Some state laws call for life imprisonment. 



■ "f'V.- ll^l 



W ^ L Hf J -- ^^^,A, «y C 



LS. Sc 




■ Occ-upational Exclusion '- ' 

few gay people are hairdressers, interior deco- 

etc, and not all of these are gay. Gay women 

men can be found in all occupations. But very few 

anywhere are open to anyone who is known to be 

A gay person can only find and keep employment 

■---ng in secrecy and falsifying his own life. 

'hological Oppression 

people can be slandered by all of the media, public 
■-ons, organized religions, and every part of the 
'shment. 

hatred of society can be internalized in a selfnatred 
poisons every aspect of an individual's relations 
sself and others. 

adolescence of a gay person . . . Have you ever 
I laugh at a joke ridiculing what you are? 

ekmail ' ' ' ' • 

wising 

ed by our openness. 



dam to Assemble 

the only places we can safely meet each other are 
ray ghetto bars and restaurants owned by criminal 



flings could be added to this list: for example, 
::•! of elementary protection under the law, as re' 
.-monst-rated by the Michael Maye affair. See Ken- 
yan's contribution (Vol. 30, No. 4) for numerous 

of economic discrimination, 
oppression of gay people transcends isolated in- 
of discrimination, persecution, etc. To understand 
:;ne must realise that a gay in Judeo-Christian 
: America is an "abomination," the y/orst and most 
ihing in the world. 

-1 writes: "... gays play no special subordinate 
- -e. . . . " I reply that gays play a role as in- 
y criminals, outcasts and pariahs. If that isn't 
late, what is? 

zrxist Ouerview 
'-^ ^-e can agree that gays in America are oppressed, 

. and severely. 
i ae this phenom.enon historically, as a 3000-year 
-zon corresponding in time and place with the 



55 



triumph of the patriarchy and class-domination societies 
then as Marxists we have some explaining to do Ob- 
viously, something like this doesn't perpetuate itself by 
accident for 3000 years. Historical materialism requires 
us to find a material basis for the oppression of gay 
people. It requires us to explain how sexual repression 
supports class rule. 

Marxism is holistic. The overall view is always kept 
m mmd, and aspects of reality are seen as organically 
mterrelated. This is opposed to the method of the bourgeois 
social sciences, which split things into separate and iso- 
lated compartments. For example, bourgeois economics 
IS stripped of all social, political, and historic content 
From time to time every major Marxist has had to 
argue against some variety of "vulgar" or "mechanical 
Marxism" which would reduce the forces of history to 
simple, cause-effect economic issues. Weinstein's hangup 
over "exploitation" and rigid yet far-fetched quality of 
nis logic perfectly exemplify mechanical Marxism. 

Most of Lenin's polemic, What Is To Be Done? is directed 
against the Economists, mechanical Marxists who deni- 
grated theory and intellectual activity, who idealized the 
'average worker," and who neglected the larger radicahza- 
tion of the period by confining themselves to trade-union- 
ist activity teaching "the sellers of labour-power to seU 
their 'commodity' on better terms and to fight the pur- 
chasers over a purely commercial deal." (What Is To 
Be Done7) 

Lenin insisted that: "To bring political knowledo-e to 
the loorkers the Social-Democrats must go among all 
classes of the population; they must dispatch units of their 
army in all directions:' ( What Is To Be Done - emphasis 
in original) 

True historical materialism as distinguished from vul- 
gar economic determinism is well represented by Enpels 
in his letter to Joseph Bloch (1890): 

"According to the materialist conception of history, the 
ultimately determining element in history is the production 
and reproduction of real life. More than this neither Marx 
nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this 
into saying that the economic element is the only deter- 
mining one, he transforms that proposition into a mean- 
ingless, abstract, senseless phrase. The economic situation 
is tlie basis, but the various elements of the superstructure 
-political forms of the class struggle and its results, to 
wit: constitutions estabhshed by the victorious class after 
a successful battle, etc., juridicial forms, and even the 
reflexes of all these actual struggles in the brain of the 
participants, political, juristic, philosophical theories, re- 
hgious views and their further development into systems 
of dogmas -also exercise their influence upon the course 
of the historical struggles and in many cases preponderate 
in determining their form. There is an interaction of all 
these elements in which, amid all the endless host of ac- 
cidents (that is, of things and events whose inner inter- 
connection is so remote or so impossible of proof that we 
can regard it as nonexistent, as negligible) the economic 
movement fmcilly asserts itself as necessary. Otherwise 
the application of the theory to any period of history 
would be easier than the solution of a simple equation 
of the first degree. 

"We make our history ourselves, but, in the first place, 
under very definite assumptions and conditions. Among 







(Vol. 30, No. 6) 



■ IN DEFENSE OF MARXISM 
.. AGAINST COMRADE WEINSTEIN 

by John Lauritsen, Upper West Side Branch, 
New York Local 



Comrade Weinstein concludes his bulletin, A Contribu- 
tion To The Discussion On Gay Liberation: "More impor- 
tant, by drawing all the correct lessons from this whole 
chapter we can give a new dimension to the understanding 
of the younger comrades in what a class approach to 
politics is all about." 

One modest aim of the present contribution is to give 
a new dimension to Comrade Weinstein's understanding 
of Marxism, as philosophy and as method of analysis. 

A difficulty presents itself, however, in Weinstein's method 
of presentation. Much of his bulletin has the character 
of shadow-boxing — specifically, when Weinstein presents 
an argument to be refuted, one does not know who said 
or wrote it. There are no attributed quotes in the entire 
contribution, and one cannot tell if these ideas came from 
private conversations in California, from things I or others 
have written, or from Weinstein's head alone. 

By setting up and jabbing at various straw dummies, 
Weinstein presents a viewpoint or viewpoints on the quahty 
and extent of gay oppression; he concludes with a negative 
assessment of the role gay oppression plays in the revo- 
lutionary movement and of the desirability of recruiting 

gays- 

I believe Weinstein's major points can fairly be stated 
in the following two propositions, which I hope to show 



are incorrect: 

1) Gay people are oppressed — if at all — only trivis 

2) This oppression (real or imagined) plays no 
preciable part in the class struggle. 

Is Gay Oppression Real? 

It is difficult to believe that anyone in America wit 
modicum of common sense could deny that gay peof 
are oppressed. Ask people if they would like to be ho: 
sexual. Ask them if they'd like their sons or daugb: 
to be homosexual. Ask them if they are homosex. 
Most would answer "no" to these questions, but I'c" 
they'd communicate a lot more. New York City Coui 
man Ribustello recently said, "If one of my sons w; 
homosexual, I'd hang him!" a not untypical sentin:: 

Huey Newtom stated that gay people may well be 
most oppressed section of American society. In Cls 
land, Philadelphia, and New York, I have heard 
Black men discuss whether they felt more oppressec 
Blacks or as gays. Almost all felt far more oppre 
as gays, and I assume they knew what they were tall 
about. Gay oppression is not the same as Black opf 
sion, but both are real. 

Apparendy it is necessary one more time to spell 
some concrete aspects of the oppression of gay peo 



54 



these the economic ones are ultimately decisive. But the 
political ones, etc., and, indeed, even the traditions which 
haunt human minds, also play a part, although not the 
decisive one." (In Marx and Engels on Religion, Schocken 
Books, New York, pp. 274-5) 

A mechanical approach like Weinstein's is useless in 
explaining the major events in history. Take such an im- 
mense social upheaval as the Protestant Reformation. 
Suppose Weinstein had been in 16th-century Germany. 
Would he have explained to the Reformers that the Burgh- 
ers were the revolutionary class destined to lead in the 
overthrow of feudalism and the establishment of capitalist 
democracy? Would he have told them to restrict them- 
selves to economic demands relating to markets, credit, 
property, etc? He would no doubt have considered irrele- 
vant the demands of the Reformation itself: Abolish the 
priestly class! Every man his own priest! The Bible in 
plain German!' Down with the superstitions about mira- 
cles, relics, etc! End ritualism! No more indulgences! 

As Weinstein wasn't there to offer advice. Brother Luther 
on October 31, 1517, posted a Ust of 95 theses for aca- 
demic debate on the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg 
— all 95 theses revolving around the single topic: indul- 
gences. One thing led to another, though not in a smooth 
upward spiral; human reason came out of hiding; and 
soon, capitalist democracy was on the order of the day. 

Now, with gay liberation we can't necessarily make 
simple one-by-one analogies between gay Hberation and 
the unionist struggles that are sometimes incorrectly iden- 
tified with the class struggle as a whole. We wouldn't 
want to. We do not need to understand everything about 
how gay liberation makes — and is made by — the socialist 
revolution. To fully explain such aspects of social psy- 
chology may be the task of socialist scientists far in the 
future. 

Every struggle for reason is now a struggle for so- 
cialism. One does not have to devise mechanical one- 
by-one analogies to demonstrate this any more than to 
show that the Copernican astronomy revolution and the 
bourgeois-democratic revolutions reinforced each other, 
and that the same forces that burned Giordano Bruno 
at the stake threw all their weight against the newly emerg- 
ing property and political relations. 

Gay liberation is part of the class struggle and it is on 
our side of the class barricades. On the other side are 
the enemies of gay liberation: fascists, Stalinists, big busi- 
ness, feudal religionists. ... , 

Marxist Economics and Gay Liberation: 
Class Definitions 

Weinstein writes, ". . . workers are generally the vic- 
tims of the worst prejudices perpetuated by the capitalist 
rulers and their agencies." I feel this is condescending, 
and should like to know which class or classes have 
less prejudice than the working class. Marxists from Trot- 
sky to Reich have tended to regard the intermediate strata 
(petty bourgeoisie) and the little-businessman mentality 
as the sources of the greatest philistinism and prejudice. 

Weinstein implies that, because of their prejudice, the 
workers will be turned off if they know we support gay 
liberation. He then, after an explanation of the reserve 
army of labor, comes to the extraordinary conclusion 
that since no economic interest is involved for the workers, 



we should not ask them to give up tlaeir antigay pr^ 
udice. 

It is obvious that when Weinstein says "worker," 
really has a stereotyped "blue-collar worker" in mi 
This is wrong. Because of the advancement of the pr 
ductive forces themselves, an ever-increasing proporti( 
of the working class consists of skilled and educated wor 
ers. "Blue-collar" workers are now a minority within 
working class itself. 

It is unadulterated idealism to define the working els 
in terms of clothing, life-style, education or the lack of j 
skill or the lack of it, prejudice or the lack of it, or phy 
cal characteristics. A Marxist defines a working-class 
son as someone who creates value, works for wages, 
is at the mercy of the market for his or her type of wed 

The socialist revolution must bring into motion 
working class as a whole and must involve persons fra 
every layer of the proletariat. For purposes of recr 
ment to the revolutionary vanguard, however, you 
• people destined to enter the educated portion of the wc 
ing class are especially desirable. As Lenin pointed 
". . . really capable agitators, etc., are not often promc 
from the ranks of the 'average.'" (What Is To Be Dor. 

We cannot afford to cater to backwardness on the ba 
of some idealised picture of an "average" worker. This 
an insult to the working class itself, and to the rev: 
tionary vanguard that will lead it. 

Most Gays Are Working Class 

If about 80 percent of the American population is w; 
ing class, then about 80 percent of gays are workd 
class. Gay women and men belong to every econci 
class and are found in every layer of the working cli 
approximately in the same proportions as straights. 

When Weinstein writes, "This absence of a daily gri 
ing exploitation and overt physical oppression in 
people's lives in contrast to the lives of Blacks, Broi 
women and workers," we can see that his image ; 
"worker" is so stereotyped that a gay person coi: 
even be one. Nevertheless, most gays are working 
as such they are exploited, and in addition they sa 
real oppression far worse than anything experience 
straight workers, either male or female. 

The Reserve Army of Labor 

Marx's "reserve army of labor" is a permanent poa 
unemployed persons who through their active compe: 
on the labor market keep the wages of employed wcrij 
in check. If this reserve army did not exist, it woi; 
theoretically possible for wages to rise to a point at 
the accumulation of capital — and the system itseK— i 
be tlireatened. 

Weinstein makes the point that women and oppra 
nationalities make up a disproportionate share ccj 
reserve army of labor. The oppression of womer 
oppressed nationalities is thus tied in with the exa 
tion of the working class as a whole, through the I 
they play in the reserve army of labor. 

This is a very good point. However, Weinstein 
goes on to claim that gay workers, though exploirs 
workers, are not exploited as gays and furthermor 
no role in the reserve army of labor analogous ^ 
roles of women or oppressed nationalities. 

Needless to say, the case for gay liberation dcs( 



56 



- ■ - -hether or not gays play a special role in the 

— V of labor. It is only Weinstein's "mechanical 

■ ---at would imply this. Nevertheless, I think 

tjjt i--eihing here. I think gays play a very pro- 

in the reserve army of labor and in the threat 

t X ie employed workers. 

Green's article (Vol. 30, No. 4) illustrates the 

usiness and government will go to in hunting 

I— detective companies, government witchhunts, 

: company investigations, military discharge pa- 

TVeinstein seems to feel an ordinary gay person 

= :ay in the closet and avoid being known. But 

ays that easy. 

■ s are found out and fired, they not only join 

army of labor, they join it permanently. Either 

rv find employment only in a lower paid or 

Trent field than the one they left. Women, etc., 

n periods of prosperity and let go during de- 

- That's how the reserve army works. But gays, 

--d out and fired, are finished. Whether or not 

! of gays is analogous to the roles of women and 

r: nationalities depends upon the factor of being 

:: r.ot being known. The threat of being discovered 

r:-.r.g a marginal person is always there. 

xiner level, the threat to gay people affects the con- 

of all workers. A white male worker is not 

3B2£) a Black or into a woman. He has 

however, that he will never be labeled as 

workers can see their company investigating their 

cuality, when they see gays hunted out and fired, 

faction will be to act as straight as possible. Straight 

conforming. Queer equals stepping out of line. To 

sraight, workers support the war in Vietnam. They 

American flags as badges of their heterosexuality. 

-^e of fear and prejudice revolving around gays, 

i-pport capitalism, in which they have no objective 

"^h atever. 

as thousands of American boys have given their 
::: the imperialist war in Southeast Asia rather than 
their "manhood" to be questioned — in the same 
pr millions of workers remove doubts about the system 
consciousness so they won't be "queer." In this way, 
oppression of gay people aids in the exploitafion of 
{"workers. : ■. ■.,.'■- 

-siting ' -■.' , ; ' ■ y . '■ Ji. , , .. 

stein doesn't feel the gay liberation movement has 

Es potential for involving masses of people. At the 

time, his main qualm about recruiting gays is that 

it prove too successful. A peculiar stand for a revo- 

st, to say the least. 

:'s take this issue head on. I think if we intervene in 

Liberation with a correct analysis that we can recruit 

"£ numbers of gays, and gays of the highest revolu- 

sry caliber. It is entirely possible that in the future 

part of the membership and leadership of our 

rement might be gay. We should not be the least bit 

lid of this possibility. 

iv people can be found in all layers of the proletariat 
yet are sharply oppressed. This dual fact is of the 
itest significance for recruifing a revolutionary van- 
rd. 
The capitalist system has a network of interlocking 



institutions designed to coopt the most capable members 
of the working class. Elite universities, for example, exist 
not only to train the educated proletariat, but also to 
recruit the brains of the working class to act as managing 
agents, ideologues, etc., for the capitalists, who can't run 
things for themselves. In return for certain real and imag- 
ined privileges, some of the most capable young people 
enter the service of the enemy class. 

Gays are not so easily coopted. Gay people are sharply 
aware of their own oppression, and I think most gays 
feel genuine rage at the injustice which is done them. When 
we have established the link between gay liberation and 
socialism, there are large numbers of highly capable gay 
people who will stop at nothing to abolish the system 
which is the source of oppression. 

Of course, gay people should be recruited on the same 
basis as anyone else— acceptance of a socialist program. 
Gays will join our movement because they agree with our 
one great goal: the abolition of private property! 

Science and Gay Liberation Theory '• " • ' -' ^ ' - ' ''■ 
Throughout his contribution Weinstein uses the straw 

dummy of "psychological oppression," as though some 

theorist (of our movement?) had pushed the absurd Une 
that gay oppression is predominantly or entirely "psycho- 
logical" (perhaps even imaginary?). As materialists we . 
can say that when society persecutes us in concrete ways, '' 
then it does things to us psychologicaUy. It makes us 
suffer; it gives us hangups; it makes us angry; it toughens 
us up. But gay oppression itself is not just m the head 
— it is real and concrete. : 

Weinstein claims the "psychological oppression" premise ■ 
means, "We would also find a greater necessit>' to refer 
young people to psychiatric writers of treatises — some 
of dubious scientific credibility— explaining these psycho- 
logical phenomena, than to the traditional Marxist classics 
in order that the comrades could be 'armed' to try to 
defend this vulnerable line." 

It is true that psychiatric treatises are often of "dubious 
scientific credibility." The fact is that the gay liberation 
movement recognizes the psychiatric quacks as a major 
enemy, an enemy who has carried forward Judeo- Christian 
superstition under a pseudo-scientific cover. No gay per- 
son in our movement has suggested that psychiatry is the 
discipline to consult for a scientific understanding of 
sexuality, and it is infuriating that Weinstein should be 
so oblivious to what we have written on the subject I 
presented a concensus of scientific opinion regarding homo- 
sexuality in my first article (Vol. 30, No. 1). The dis- 
ciplines I used were history, anthropology, and statistical 
research — disciplines which Marx, Engels, and Lenin used 
and felt at home with. 

If Weinstein wishes to express a scientific opinion on the 
nature of human sexual behavior, then he's got some 
homework to do. At the very least, he should read 
Churchill's Homosexual Behavior Among Males and Ford 
and Beach's Patterns of Sexual Behavior. 

If he doesn't feel competent to express a scientific opm- 
ion on the subject, then he should step aside for those 
of us who are competent. 

I, for one, have an academic and professional back- 
ground in the social sciences, have spent years shidying 
the literature on homosexuality, and have been an ac- 
tivist for gay liberation. I am prepared to debate any- 



57 






one — from a bourgeois shrink to a backward comrade 
— on the naturalness of homosexuality, or related topics. 
Others have also done research and thinking, and we 
are eagerly awaiting the go-ahead to prepare Trotskyist 
literature on gay liberation in its many aspects. We can- 
not afford. to be held back by amateurs. 

The time has come to talk about serious things in a 
serious manner. The present discussion has serious the- 
oretical and strategic issues to deal with, and we should 
not be reduced to pleading with recalcitrant comrades 
to give up their prejudices. 

David Keepnews' "Intervening In The Gay Liberation 
Movement" and Sudie and Geb's "Concerning An Inade- 



quate Compromise" (Vol. 30, No. 4) treat in a se: 
way the theoretical and practical aspects of an interver. 
Sudie and Geb's article is written witli their custor. 
flair— I hope this does not prevent comrades froir. 
predating the high level of analysis in their exec 
contribution. The questions which Sudie and Geb 
in "Concerning An Inadequate Compromise" are 
tions which we must be able to answer. 

I am convinced that our orientation towards gay 
eration has farreaching implications. It will demons: 
whether the course of our movement is determined by i 
principles of scientific socialism or whether it is determi 
by catering to the subjectivity of individuals. 

• . ,, August 4, 11 



■■=■.!? 



(Vol. 30, Fo. 7) 



CONCERNING THE GAY LIBERATION 

MOVEMENT AND BARRY SHEPPARD'S 

PROPOSED ORIENTATION TO IT 

by Roland Sheppard, San Francisco Branch 



t 



:_, -. /.. 'It; 



As socialists, we stand opposed to all forms of oppres- 
sion which exist under capitalism. As principled revolu- 
tionists, we support the democratic rights and the struggle 
for the extension of the rights due all from the capitalist 
revolution. This, as far as I am concerned, is the starting 
point for discussion on gay liberation. 

I agree with Comrade Barry Sheppard that, unlike 
workers, oppressed nationalities, and women, gays are 
not oppressed because of the social role they play in 
society — Barry Sheppard correctly states that gay people 
play no special social role. 

The special social roles played by oppressed nation- 
alities and women are the basis for the divisions within 
the working class on these questions. As the struggle 
unfolds and deepens, with the proper leadership of the 
party, these prejudices can and will be overcome because 
of the economic and political force of these special roles. 
Otherwise the unitj' of the class to the degree necessaiy 
for a successful revolution wiU not be achieved. It is, 
therefore, necessary that the party take these prejudices 
of the class head on and with absolutely no compromise. 
Any independent movement of these special forces within 
the class lays the basis for a more rapid development 
of this unity and our ability to educate the class on these 
questions. We can clearly show to the class that it cannot 
win unless it subordinates these prejudices, which em- 
anate from capitalist society, to the general overall needs 
of the class. 

With the prejudices against gays, since they play no 
special social role, there is no basis to convince the class 
that it cannot win unless it takes these prejudices head 



on. No special role means that there is no special :i 
stacle requiring a subordination by the class of tht 
prejudices. 

The question, at the present time, is whether to activ-i 
intervene to take these prejudices head on. It must n: 
be forgotton that we are a very small propaganda gr; ^ 
party with no mass base and isolated from the c-- 
in general. I have not yet seen anything written wL.: 
would demonstrate that we would not be further isok' 
from the class if we take up this struggle, or that we wc ^ 
not have any needless barriers to the party when the cl 
starts to radicalize. To me, this is a very important q 
tion, for it deals with our ability to compete with : 
opponents for the leadership of the class, and to ef 
tively intervene at the moment when openings app 
within the class. 

Since there is no clarity within the party leader; 
and the party itself on the question of gay libera: 
or on the questions I've raised, the order of priorL 
of the party on this question is obscure. To leave 
question to the individual branches to decide, as s 
gested by Comrade Barry Sheppard is indefensible, 
sets an orientation as if we were a federation of bran 
with a possibility of a multiplicity of approaches to 
question, if not in theory then in deeds, which are 
guided by any orientation of the party as a whole 
is up to the national leadership to provide the lea 
ship on this question; to set the guidelines nationally 
the party; and to begin by writing a political expl 
tion of where they stand on this question. 

August 21, 1 




58 



■ ■■ ■ A CLARIFICATION 

(Vol, 30, No, 7) by Lee Smith, Upper West Side Branch, 

New York Local 



Conversations with a number of comrades at the So- 
lit Activists and Educational Conference have con- 
me that the "Comment on Comrade Nat Wein- 
I's Contribution" I submitted to the discussion July 28 
too cryptic. This article will as briefly as possible 
2pt to clarify the points I tried (and evidently failed) 
-ake in the earlier article. 

^'einstein 

earlier article was in no way intended as an en- 

lent of Comrade Weinstein's views on gay oppres- 

and the potential of the gay movement. His views 

iiese questions I believe to be absolutely v/rong. My 

pose, however, was not to answer his errors. I be- 

they must be answered, but I am confident they 

I be answered. 

the same time, as wrong as his answers are, Com- 
Weinstein addressed himself to the right questions. 
jc he called on the party to clear up the confusion re- 
Isd by the discussion so far. 

Zhe Discussion 

rjLz.out singling out specific articles, the character of 

of the discussion so far has been appalling. It has 

Uy approached the issue in a highly subjective 

an. Enormous emphasis has been placed on an issue 

cannot be settled by the party, and, in my opinion, 

not belong before the party in this discussion: that 

±e issue of whether or not homosexuality is a nat- 

and normal part of human sexuality. 

izy little has appeared so far about the dynamic and 

don of the gay liberation movement — around what 

mds does an action campaign seem lilcely to de- 

that will have a significant impact on the class 

Je. (My own opinion is that when the movement's 

crystallize to the point where we can discern 

zed movement toward an action campaign of na- 

proportions, those demands will be for full civil 

iuman rights, specifically for the repeal of all anti- 

fjaws.) 

little attention has been given to the question of 
-i=jurces the party has avaDable to commit in an 

- ;-:ion, an important factor in weighing the gay 
-rTt's current stage of development, and what is 

- of the party at this stage. 

-: making excuses for anyone who has written, 

ist comrades who have made contributions pre- 

stand by them, a share of the responsibility 

- - iharacter of the discussion so far must rest with 
ii-3nal leadership. Comrades Sheppard and Wein- 

ize the only two National Committee members to 
iad any articles appear in the discussion so far. 

lendous demands are placed on the party's na- 

leadership's time and energy by responsibilities 

±an participation in the literary discussion. This 



is no doubt the reason for the lack of participation by 
national leaders in the discussion. Nevertheless, the dis- 
cussion has unquestionably suffered from the lack of con- 
tributions by comrades in the leadership that could have 
helped orient the discussion in a more productive direc- 
tion. 

On The Question "Is Gay Good? ' 

Many of the comrades who have written so far argue 
that the party must take the position that gay is good. 
The slogan is not an extremely precise one, and some 
of those who have written have given it a content that 
makes it something impossible for the party to take a 
line on. The nature of human sexuality is a subject on 
v.'hich science is far from having said the last word. What 
constihites a normal, healthy human sexuality is some- 
thing we cannot know. It is certainly nothing to be found 
in this society among either heterosexuals or homosexuals. 
Comrades can certainly have opinions on such ques- 
tions, but it would be absolutely wrong to adopt a Ime 
on a scientific question to which the answer is not known 
and which cannot be decided by vote. 

I believe it is an error for comrades to maintain that 
without tciking a position on whether homosexuality is 
a natural and normal part of human sexuality we can- 
not effectively participate in the gay movement. If that 
were true, it would say something about the gay move- 
ment. The main thrust of the movement will be, I think, 
against discrimination — against laws and the selective 
enforcement of laws, against forced therapy that often 
amounts to plain torture and is meted out to people who 
do not seek to be treated but have treatment Oiru'st upon 
them by the state. It is also likely, of course, that struggles 
v/Ul develop around the teaching and preaching of the- 
ories that homosexuality is a sickness. But in order to 
support such a struggle, the parby need not have a line 
on what is the origin of homosexuality or what sexual- 
ity will be like in a socialist society. We can oppose the 
idiotic notion that such a thing as healthy sexuality exists 
in a sex-repressive class society simply on the basis that 
all sexuality in class society is distorted. Opposing reac- 
tionary theories need not depend on putting forward any 
complete theory of our own. 

On The Party's Orientation 

I believe the gay movement will develop into an im- 
portant and potentially massive campaign to get rid of 
anti-gay laws and other forms of anti-gay discrimina- 
tion. However, I am not so confident of this that I would 
advocate the adoption of a line around which we could 
intervene based on what is still largely a specxilation. 
To say that this will be the course of the movement's 
development is at this time too abstract to work out a 
line anyway. A line of intervention will have to be based 
on concrete developments that are not yet in the offing. 

In the meantime, at the current stage of the movement's 



59 



development, which is uneven nationally, the party's cur- 
rent position allows participation to the extent the local 
situation warrants it and branch resources make it re- 
alistic. I believe most branches have failed to take max- 
imum advantage of the available opportunities in the 
period since the last party convention because of wide- 
spread confusion and uncertainty in the party as a whole 
about what limits are placed on our participation in lo- 
cal struggles, conferences, and defense cases. This has 



not had any disastrous consequences, but it has cai 
dissatisfaction and it has meant some missed oppoa 
nities. If the discussion can clear up the confusion 
the uncertainty, I think most comrades will agree 
continuing the party's present course is what should | 
done at this time. If it appears to be necessary to 
tend the discussion beyond September 1 to achieve 
clarity, I hope that will be done. 

, . ; ' ;' August 22, la 



(Vol, 30, No. 7) 



REVOLUTIONARY POTENTIAL 
OF GAY LIBERATION DEMANDS 

by Kendall Green, Upper West Side Branch, 
New York Local 



The revolutionary socialist program for the labor move- 
ment, the struggles of oppressed nationalities, and the 
women's movement emphasises the need to advance demo- 
cratic and transitional demands in these movements. We 
have analyzed a number of slogans for these movements 
to determine their revolutionary potential. In the course 
of the discussion on the gay liberation movement, it is 
important to analyze the current and future demands 
of this movement. Comrade Weinstein, for example, con- 
siders gay liberation a struggle for democratic demands 
with limited potential. Sudie and Geb (Vol. 30, No. 4), 
on the other hand, consider that the gay movement goes 
beyond just a democratic struggle to a "gay power" strug- 
gle. 

What Are Transitional Demands'? 

Transitional demands were initially raised by Karl Marx 
and Fredrick Engels in The Communist Manifesto. They 
were abandoned by most of the parties of the Second 
International in favor of a "minimum-maximum" program 
which concentrated all of the energy of these parties on 
obtaining minimum reforms of the capitalist system while 
using the maximum program of socialism only for cere- 
monial orations. The Bolshevik Party and the early Com- 
munist International revived the use of transitional de- 
mands which the Trotskyist movement carried on after 
the Stalinist bureaucratization of the Communist parties. 
Trotsky contributed much on the character of transitional 
demands and was responsible for the founding document 
of the Fourth International— TAe Transitional Program. 

In Trotsky's discussion with leaders of the Socialist 
Workers Party in 1938 about the Transitional Program, 
and in the program itself, he outlined the criterion for 
transitional demands as simple slogans which could bridge 
the gap between the consciousness of the masses and the 
need for socialist revolution. The demands can only be 



fully implemented in a socialist society because they 
directed at the base of the bourgeois society. Thus 
preserve their revolutionary force through various effa 
at compromise. 

The classic example of transitional demands is the 
mand for a sliding scale of wages and a sliding scalej 
hours to solve the problems of unemployment and 
flation. These demands stril:e at the "righf of capital 
to maintain a permanent army of unemployed to ke 
wages down and to decrease the standard of living thror 
inflation of prices. 

What Are Democratic Demarids? 

Democratic demands are those which were part of 
bourgeois democratic revolutions of the previous centu 
or those that flow directly from such demands. Based i 
Trotsky's analysis, in the Permanent Revolution, the st 
gle for such demands can take on a revolutionary potenc 
in the twentieth century. The capitalist class is opposed I 
new struggles around these demands. For example, 
demand for a nation-state which was part of the Gere 
and Italian bourgeois revolutions would logically ji 
a united Ireland, a separate Black nation and independ 
Aztlan in the United States. Of course, the capitalists 
not going to follow this line of logic, which gives 
demands their revolutionary significance. 

The demand of women for the right to control 
own bodies was not specifically advanced by any of 
bourgeois revolutions, yet it is a logical extension of 
demands for a laissez-faire state, the separation of chur 
and state, the abolition of privileges based on social ra 
and the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness, 
this demand is a democratic one which cannot be fu 
realized under capitalist society because of the serio 
damage its realization would have on the nuclear far 
structure. 



60 



-t IS instructive to note that we also raise demands 
»-:ch are neither transitional nor democratic. The de- 
Inzand for a labor party is not transitional because it has 
^^n realized in the majority of bourgeois democracies, 
^e bourgeois revolutions were fought around the de- 
latind for the right to form political associations but not 
iKcifically for the working class. The important point 
: ±at transitional and democratic demands as weU as 
hers will play important roles in the coming American 
rolution. We do not despise certain demands because 
E%- are just democratic demands. The struggle for many 
. these demands will not be consumated untU after the 
■dalist revolution. 

en Gay Oppression Be Ended Under Capitalism? 

£ gay oppression could be eliminated under capitalism, 

ka the demands to end that oppression would have 

1 more limited significance in the revolutionary struggle. 

fevid Thorstad in his contribution entitled "Gay Libera- 

" and Class Struggle" oudines the arguments as to 

gay oppression cannot be ended under capitalism. 

says, "Homosexual behavior threatens the proper 

ictioning of the patriarchal family." Since the patriarchal 

i-ily is a necessary institution for capitalist society a 

teat to it is a threat to the society. 
-Vat Weinstein in his contribution considers this threat 

" the family an idealistic, counterculhiral concept 
states that "the bourgeois family cannot be educated 
abolished out of existence. It, like money, will wither 
d disappear when it is no longer necessary." Such an 

i-Iysis would lead to declaring the demands for repeal 
^ntiabortion laws, restrictive contraceptive laws, forced 
nlization, and demands for free 24-hour childcare centers 

^ equally idealistic and countercultural since they weaken 

- family struchire which Weinstein believes is invincible 
li after the socialist revolution. The truth of the matter 
■-nat the famUy is already beginning to weaken and 

r-=ax up due to the fact that, unlike money, the famUy is 
« -onger an important economic unit of capitalist society 

-i disintegration of the family can be hastened by agi- 

lun and mobilization of the masses around demands 
. ae women's movement and the gay liberation struggle 
fcourse the final elimination of the family institution will 
ay take place in a socialist society but this only makes 
•>: point that gay oppression, rooted in the famUy struc- 

=i wUl also only be finally eliminated in a socialist 

:ety. 

-ological Role of The Family *!.' .'='■-■■'■ 

Ead Nat Weinstein chosen to argue the opposite point - 
^behavior is compatible with the family and therefore 
5 not threaten capitalism -he would have gotten no 
her. We realize that capitalist society needs an insti- 
M which trains young people for the eventual roles 
.-.orKers, housewives, parents, and consumers. The 
y provides such early training. It teaches young 
pie to obey authority, to suppress their sexual desires 
to work at undesirable tasks for a later reward (de- 
gratification). These attitudes are necessary for the 
Jists to have a workforce at home and in the shop 
can be controlled. Housewives and workers must 
authority, they must limit their heterosexual desires 
-me, place, and manner, and they must be willing 

- ork for paychecks that come days and weeks later 
^r than demand desirable jobs that would give im- 



61 



mediate satisfaction to the worker. 

The family also trains young people to accept sex roles 
assigned to them by patriarchal society. Men are assi^S 
to do dangerous, heavy work, to be sexually promiscSS 
with women and to purchase certain consumer item. 
e.g., cars, because of the aura of sexual promi cS 
associated with them. Women are assigned Ve rolTS 
childbearers, chOd raisers, faithful companTon to one mall 
s^ave and manager of a household, and the purchaser of 
most consumer items which are often portrayed as havlni 
the power of keeping husbands and children^Lt homr 

Homosexual behavior is destructive to this sociological 
function of the famUy. It undermines authority becfusi 
It IS atypical behavior which has no place in the patri 
archal family. While heterosexual behavior is J^sffi d 
by the church, tax laws, and official moralists by the child 
It can produce Cdelayed gratification), homosexual b^ 
bavior allows no such ratlonateatron. It can only be 
carried out for the immediate gratification it gives to 
.the participants and thus its existence undermines the 
delayed gratification concept. Homosexual behavior is 
supposed to be limited to no place, at no time, and in 
no manner. Therefore, to act upon homosexual desires 
weakens the concept of limiting sexual desires and the 
family system that demands such limitations 

Homosexual behavior weakens the concept of sex roles 
If men are only supposed to have sex with women and 
vice versa, and that part of the sex roles is challenged 
by homosexual behavior, then the whole role is chal- 
lenged and weakened. As sex roles weaken, men cannot 
be motivated to do dangerous tasks-such as warfare- 
by appea s to their masculinity; nor women to drudgery 
oy appeals to their maternal instincts. Consumer pfj. 
nets would be more difficult to seU if men questioned 
Xrhiig. ''-'^' -- - -°-" ^- ^ou'se Beal 

Reproductive Role of The Family 

The family also exists to continue the reproduction of 
the species under certain conditions. First it is necessary ^ 
to guarantee the capitalist that the child his wife bea^ 
IS genetically related to him so that he can feel at ease 
m transferring the wealth he has obtained to diat chUd 
at death. Secondly, it is necessary to saddle one worker 
either ma e or female, with the responsibUity for the S . 

wife, always female m this society, with the physical re- - 

n ort f •'°:-/^" ""^ ^^" '°^^"S °f this household. 
In order to justify this forced altruism, the capitalist apol- 

hfrT/'^Tl \b\°^°S^^a^ relationship between the mem- ' 
bers of this household. 

To maintain these conditions for the reproductive role ^^ 
of the family requires not only the suppression of homo- 
sexual behavior, but also the suppression of all erotic 
behavior outside of procreative sex in marriage. Official 
morality of class society has fought against the hedonistic 
concept that erotic behavior is sufficiently justified by 
the pleasure it brings to the participants. Church and state 
moralists, by praising motherhood, taxing chUdless cou- 
ples and individuals heavier, and passing laws against 
any other form of sexual activity, have enforced the idea 
that procreation is the only justification for erotic behavior 
Homosexual activity is a direct challenge to this official 
morality as well as the delayed gratification concept dis- 
cussed earlier because it is nonprocreative, in any and 



all forms. 

Since homosexual behavior is a threat to the family, 
and the family is both a necessary institution for cap- 
italism and one which will continue up to and after the 
overthrow of capitalism, we can conclude that the attempt 
to suppress homosexual behavior — gay oppression— will 
continue until a socialist society is established. Thus gay 
liberation demands can have a very revolutionary po- 
tential in the overthrow of capitalism. 

Civil Rights Demands 

As David Thorstad points out, the immediate aim of 
gay liberation is to obtain civil rights for gay people 
(Vol. 30, No. 2). A number of demands have been raised 
in this regard including: repeal of "sodomy" laws, so- 
licitation, lewd behavior, and impersonation laws which 
are used exclusively to victimize gay people. Civil rights 
demands also include the end to discrimination against 
gays in civil laws such as marriage laws, immigration 
laws and proceedings, and in adoption and child custody 
cases. Legislation to end discrimination in all phases 
of public life: employment, housing, public accommoda- 
tions, insurance, loans, and other public services are in- 
cluded as civil rights demands. Demands for preferential 
treatment to make up for centuries of discrimination have 
been raised by women and national minorities and are 
usually included under civil rights type of demands. 

A particularly disgusting example of discrimination in 
civil law recently occurred in California where for the 
first time in legal history a lesbian mother was given 
custody of her children, but only on the condition that 
she end her t"wo-year relationship with her lover. The 
fact that this was the first time that a lesbian mother 
was even considered fit enough to care for her own 
children is disgusting enough, but the gall of the court 
in attempting to dictate to this woman whom she can 
love is beyond words. 

A little-known federal statute passed in 1952 bars homo- 
sexuals from admittance to the United States. Although 
a federal court did grant a known gay person citizenship 
in 1971, the law still stands on the books to be kept 
as a threat and used when needed. The strength of that 
threat can be seen from the fact that Diego Vinales, an 
Argentine national arrested in a raid on a New York 
gay bar in 1970, leaped from the second story of the 
police precinct house onto the spiked fence below in a 
vain effort to escape. 

History of Civil Rights Demands for Gays 

The history of the struggle for repeal of antigay laws 
goes back to the French revolution. As Thorstad indicates 
in Vol. 30, No. 3 , the first step in bringing civil rights 
to gay people was the elimination of the sodomy statutes 
by the Constitutent Assembly in 1791. This revolutionary 
development was codified in 1810 and extended through- 
out most of Europe by the victorious French army. Al- 
though homosexuals have enjoyed the absence of sodomy 
laws for almost 200 years, they are still far from being 
accepted by French society. As David points out, the 
age of consent is higher for homosexual relationships 
than heterosexual throughout most of Europe. The French 
government considers gay people a social plague and 
is committed to trying to prevent the spread of homo- 
sexuality. There is an active gay liberation movement 
in France combatting this and other forms of gay op- 



pression there. 

In the United States, the repeal of sodomy laws in 
states has come about through general legal reforms ra 
"than specific agitation of gay groups. Illinois was 
first state to drop its sodomy statute when it ado 
the recomendations of the Model Penal Code of the Am 
can Bar Association. Gay people in Illinois are freque 
entrapped by police and arrested for solicitation. 
a curious sihiation where homosexual activity is le 
but responding to a police officer who suggests it 
crime. It was also in the Chicago 7 trial where the g ^j, 
ernment prosecutor called the peace movement a "freak jjt 
fag revolution." Little additional evidence is necessi»i 
to show comrades that gays have not gained their libe-» 
tion in Illinois even eleven years after the removal i| 
sodomy laws from the books. i 

Idaho adopted a reform penal code which did 
mention sodomy on January 1, 1972. However, 
resentative Wayne Loveless and the Mormon Chu 
.quickly accused the new code of "encouraging immor 
and drawing sexual deviates to the state." Major sup 
for the new code came from sheriffs, judges, and pri 
•ecuting attorneys because of other provisions dealing 
gun possession, bad check writing, and rustling. A hyst' 
was built up until the legislature three months' later 
pealed the entire new code. State Senator William Ro 
principal architect of the reformed code, stated, "I d 
think there'll be another effort to change the code or 
a re-study of it for six to ten years." Idaho is not : 
to this type of campaign — in 1955 a witchhunt was be 
against a supposed ring of homosexuals whowereseduc: 
the young men of Boise. Before this mockery of jus 
was over, 1500 people were questioned and eight c 
victed for a total of 54 years for sexual activity bet%v 
consenting adults. 

Bills to end discrimination against gays in employ 
have recently been passed in San Francisco, Ann 
and East Lansing, Michigan. The East Lansing bill 
plies only to city jobs, and San Francisco exte: 
coverage to employment with companies that con: 
with the city government. However, such legal ef: 
will not end job discrimination against gays as sh 
by the statement of Pacific Telephone and Telegra: 
which said that it would ignore the ordinance until 
of the "serious legal problems" in it were resolved, 
cific Telephone has previously stated that it will not kr. 
ingly hire or retain homosexuals. 

In New York City, Intro 475 includes all employ 
as well as forbidding discrimination against gays 
landlords and owners of public accomodations. The 
has been introduced into committee twice. The first 
it failed because Mayor Lindsay refused to bring 
pressure to bear on the city council even though he '; 
promised to do so. On the second try one of the cou 
men who had promised to vote the bill out of comm:3sJ„ 
changed his mind. Behind the failure of Intro 475 :j 
the reformist approach of Gay Activists Alliance, thelar 
gay group in NYC, in refusing to mobilize gays to dem 
its passage. 

Revolutionary Potential of Civil Rights Demands 

Sodomy, solicitation, lewd behavior, and impersona 
laws are the major legal mechanism that is used by 
state to suppress homosexual behavior. Of course, 
are other mechanisms used by the state for this purp 




EV^ 




62 



I 



c 



-quack psychiatrists, educational institutions, stereotyped 

IT^fif" ^ ? ^^^' '" *^' "''^^^' ^^'^^ ^^^"y of these other 
methods have a more direct effect on gay people, but the 
laws serve as a back-up and justification for the other 
forms of gay oppression. 
The capitalist state tries to maintain repressive laws 

?h'nrr\ ?^ 'T ^' "''^ ^""""^ ""^'^^ ^^^^'d against 
those who threaten the state. Since the capitalist staTe wiU 
continue to try to supress homosexual activity in order 
to strengthen the family, the struggle against these laws 

ZtL^- ""1 '"'P^'^'^"' P^-^f °f the struggle against cap- 
talism m the commg period. This is not to say that these 
laws cannot be changes, for they have been partially 
clianged m five states, and further victories are very likely 
The s ate will be loath to abolish all of these laws, as they 
were to abolish the Jim Crow laws, and will do so only 
after a major struggle on the part of gay people. 

Enactment and enforcement of laws to eliminate dis- 
crimination against gays in housing, employment, public 
accomodations, and civil laws and proceedings would 
eliminate the economic mechanisms of suppressing homo- 
sexual activity. Sexual orientation would then not be a 
bais for discrimination and exploitation as it is today, 
(bee Gay Economic Exploitation" Vol. 30 No 4) Of 
course the difficulty ~ aside from getting such laws passed 
-is that the capitalist state is in charge of enforcing them 
Ihousands of cases pile up behind slow-moving bureau- 
cracies and courts. The Civil Rights Commission bargains 
with the oppressive institution without any representation 
ot the oppressed group and arrives at a "compromise" 
which may take years to implement. Also, action bv one 
sectar of the government increasing unemployment,' may 
nuUiiy the efforts of the Civil Rights Commission. 

Thus, control of the enforcement apparatus for civU 
rignts legislation, and eventually control of the entir*^ 
state apparatus becomes important questions in the realiza- 
tion of civil equalitJ^ In this sense the demand of civil 
rights for gays is similar to the demands of civU ri-hts 
for women. Blacks, or Chicanos. '^ 

Other Demands, Gay Bars and Institutions '' ' 

Because of the discrimination against gays by most 
of capitalist society's instihitions, gays are closely tied 
to hose mshtutions which cater to them. Gay bars, baths 
restaurants, cruising areas, etc., have a dual character 
Because of the distortion of sexuality which they present 
they tend to isolate gays -making them feel that they 
are competing with each other for sexual partners. How- 
ever, ^because these institutions bring large numbers of 
gays together, they have a potential for rapid politicaliza- 
tion and mobilization of gay people. Already many bars 
have been forced to allow posters and leaflets for Chris- 
topher Street demonstrations in their establishments. In 
New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago 
gay bars have organized contingents and built floats 
for the marches. This activist role of gay social institutions 
can be expanded through pressure of gay groups. Gay 
liberation social events, like the weekly GAA Firehouse 
dances, can help in expanding this activist role by pro- 
viding an alternative to oppressive bars. Establishing 
such control over these institutions would deprive the 
capitalists, especially the xMafia, of billions of dollars profit 
each year and be an important way of mobilizing the 
millions of gays who attend these instihitions. 
The existence of these few institutions which cater to 



gays does not provide the basis for the demar 
times raised by ultralefts for a gay nadon Ma 
ghettos" are too dispersed, too intermingled with sa 
and lack any group identification for the demand] 
control of the "gay community" to be raised aside 
nationalist implications of such a demand. 

Police - ■■ . 

Because homosexual activity is illegal and ve 

subject to police harassment, the role of the po: 

crucial issue for gay people. In addition to de ' 

the repeal of all antigay laws, gay groups can 

the elimmation of entrapment and the vice squai 

are often subject to physical attack by the poj 

hooligans, therefore the demands of removal of th, 

from cruismg areas, bars, etc., and the organiza 

gay defense squads to protect these areas can be lesi 

ly raised. Of course the capitalist state would na 

the police to be dismantled and another body of 

individuals to take their place, even in just a fe, 

of a city. 



63 



Media 

The stereotyped presentations of gay people in 
TV, movies, literature, theater, newspapers, etc i 
haps the most frequent examples of gay oppressior 
is hardly a stand-up comic in America without a r= 
of faggot jokes. Some of these insults will be >' 
by the increasing m.ilitancy of gay people ch-^-.- 
public consciousness about homosexuality. Howe.* 
examples of the Black, Chicano and women's movl 
against simUar stereotypes indicate that direct 
against the media will be necessary to force them 
sent homosexuals in positive self-affirming roles. S' 
media is a tool of indoctrination and social contr 
ruling class wUl resist any changes which harno 
two functions. V/e can expect that the media will 
to moUify the anger of gay people through ' 
measures and use the image of the "new horr 
for a more sophisticated putdown. 

Education ' ■ ' - ' ; • •■ • 

A crucial institution for young people during ths ■ 
m which they acquire much of their knowledge s.: 
perience in sexual matters is the educational svi 
grade school, high school, and college. The educs 
system tries to suppress homosexual activity throug 
ination of obvious or suspected gay teachers, ig 
homosexuality or dismissing it as a sickness in sc- 
sex education classes, ignoring the homosexualitA- 
portant literary and historical persons, lechiresonav; 
"strange men," rumors, gossip, and physical haras 
and attacks on suspected gays. Thus gay people r 
tremendous stake in changing the educational systen: 
warps the sexuality of so many individuals. Dsz 
that can be raised center around the concept that s 
should present a positive view of homosexuality ar 
uality in general in an atmosphere which allows ■ 
people to experiment and work out their own sexual' 
tation without interference by adults. Specific de- 
include: 

• Sexual education with a positive view of honi: 
ality and sexuality in general at all levels of educ 

Open homosexuals teaching at all levels. 

Inclusion of homosexuality as an important ch 



St 







^ 



tif individuals in literature, the arts, history and 

specifically studying the sociology', psychology, 
artistic, scientific contributions of gay people. 

li-ion of such courses in a gay studies pro- 
of age of consent legislation — realization that 

Dple have the right to make their own decisions 

; sexual matters, 
quarters for young people away from adult 

on. 

.^se, such demands would be admittedly opposed 
[ruling class since their realization would destroy 
Jicational system created to supply docile, specif- 
rained workers. The first gay studies program 
r;idy been started at California State College in 
i!fz:o. Gay teachers' caucuses have been formed 
f as high school gay groups. Repeal of age-of- 
iegislation flies in the face of the capitalist no- 
voung people as children without any rights, in- 
rs. or human dignity — scarcely more than prop- 
; not accidental that the basis of the attack against 
^ rights plank at the recent Democratic Party na- 
'convention was the need to protect children and 



F.ightsfor Young People 

Socialist Workers Party campaign has taken the 
principled position of demanding the repeal of 
restricting sexual behavior between consenting 
not just consenting adults. However, there has 
fle discussion of sexual rights for young people. 
Ford and Frank Beach in Patterns of Sexual 
T.:- have documented that a large majority of "prim- 
reoples" allow young people full erotic freedom. 
_/-::ha of India even believe that young women 
.:: mature without sexual intercourse and they reg- 
sngage in it from age eleven on. The Lepcha con- 
- amusing that older men sometimes copulate with 
as young as eight. Sex life for the Trobrianders 
» at six for women and ten for men. Such activity 
Eclarly observed in subhuman primates and among 
of lower mammals. Ford and Beach go on to 
E that "if they [humans] are ever to derive max- 
^tisfaction from sexual relations, individuals who 
reared under conditions that prevent or seriously 
: experimentation during childhood will be forced 
through the essential learning process after adult- 
has been obtained. This type of adjustment may 
«edingly difficult for young adults of either sex 
Jarly if they belong to a society which inculcates 
old sexual inhibitions in the developing individual." 
ey's studies indicate that pre-adolescent sexual be- 
is more common in this society that commonly 
.i. 70 percent of males recall engaging in some 
play prior to adolescence (40 percent heterosexual 
14 percent homosexual play).. 22 percent actually 
rted coitus during those years. 48 percent of fe- 
_- reported sex play (30 percent hetero and 30 per- 
-omosexual play) and 24 percent reported being 
.-ached by an adult male during pre-adolescence. 
than one percent actually had coitus with an adult 
Kinsey theorizes, "If the child were not culturally 
rioned, it is doubtful if it would be disturbed by 



the sexual approaches of the sort involved in these his- 
tories. 

". . . the emotional reaction of the parents, police of- 
ficers, and other adults who discover that the child has 
had such contact may dishirb the child more seriously , 
than the sexual contacts themselves." 

Of course, demands such as repeal of age-of-consent 
legislation and private quarters for young people evoke 
strong emotional response in many adults due to their 
belief that sex is basically vile and that young people 
are incapable of rational decisions. Gay youth groups 
have organized around these and other questions affecting 
them and the Southwest Conference of the National Co- 
alition of Gay Organizations backed the demands of the 
Los Angeles Gay Youth Group which were similar to 
these. 

Demands of Other Movements 
■ Other transitional and democratic demands formulated 
and raised by labor, women's, and national liberation 
movements are also relevant to the gay liberation move- 
m.ent because gays include women, members of oppressed 
nationalities, as well as in their overwhelming majority, 
workers. Gay groups have readily responded to the caU 
for gay contingents in antiwar demonstrations, for they 
understand the discrimination against gays in the mil- 
itary and the sex-role stereotyping of the antiwar move- 
ment are issues that link the two struggles together. Lilie- 
wise, the discrimination against lesbians both as women 
and as gay, both inside and outside the gay movement 
and women's movement link these struggles together. In 
the Black movement, writers like James Baldwin have 
been put down because of their homosexuality while prom- 
inent gays like Jean Genet have spoken out against po- 
lice victimization of the Black Panther Party. The Black 
Panther Party was one of the first movement organiza- 
tions to speak out on the oppression of homosexuals. 
In the labor movement, queer-baiting has often been used 
to discredit labor organizers. Since gays tend to occupy 
the lowest paying sectors of the economy, militant labor 
struggles would be of great importance to them and we 
could expect many militant labor organizers coming from 
these sectors. Thus, despite Nat Weinstein's assertion to 
the contrary, there are effective links between the gay 
movement and ' the other movements for social change. 
These links provide for united struggles between and 
among these movements. _ ' ■ 

Conclusion 

With respect to the controversy about whether gay lib- 
eration demands were just democratic or more than dem- 
ocratic, we have seen that it is really unimportant. Both 
democratic and transitional demands have revolutionary 
implications. Most of the demands of the gay movement 
are democratic in that they logically flow from the de- 
mands of the bourgeois democratic revolutions of the 
previous centuries. However the demand to CI£ale gay 
defense squads has transitional characteristics, but this 
does not mean that it is more revolutionary than the 
other demands. 

In answer to the rhetorical questions asked by Nat 
Weinstein about how can we compare the gay libera- 
tion struggle to those of women, Blacks, Chicanos and 
workers; we have shown that there are several ways in 
which they are comparable: they occupy the bottom rungs 



64 



demani 
ion. M( 
! with SI 
iemand 
aside fr^ 



ihe economic ladder, they have independent movements 

ELlch are raising demands which cannot be realized under 

iritalism, and there are definite links between these move- 



ments. The purpose of showing such similarities is to 
argue for a similar serious treatment of the gay move- 
ment by the revolutionary vanguard party. 

., ■ s- August 24, 1972 



nd ver:>ii 
he polia 
to demai 
> can dag 

squad.) 
le poll. 
1 of the 
ganizati 
be legitii 
!ld not 
dy of 

a few I 









(Vol, 30, ¥o. 8) 



THE PARTY'S ORIENTATION TOWAED 
GAY LIBEEATION 

by George Novack, Lower Manhattan Branch, 
New York Local 



>le in 

'■tc, art 
ssion. 
a rep( 
i elimi 



lowevi 

move 

rect 

tem 

s. Sin 

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ill a 

I half- 

mos 



to 



the It 

i andl 

syste 

Jcatiq 

Jgh, 

ignoE 

so-ca 

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assn 

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mv/h 
emaa 
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yoL 
i oria 
?mari^ 

iosexn 
catioa 

hara 



:ree main questions are involved in tlio current party 
:u3sion on gay liberation. The first pertains to ihe 
ial and historical significance and political weight of 
movement. The second concerns the manner and extent 
the party's intervention in the organized struggle of 
fs against their oppression at the present time. The 

is the party's attitude toward homosexuality. 

Hie resistance of female and male homosexuals to the 

srility and discrimination they suffer is a phenomenon 

riout parallel in modern society. Although homophile 

F -.-Uganda groups have been known since tlie 1880s, 

-er before has their movement been so broad, open, 

rrressive and well organized. It has emerged as tlie 

i:ed manifestation of a drive for democratic rights 

a hitherto terrorized and atomized section of the op- 

3ed. 

The many-sided struggles for equality and emancipation 

off by the bourgeois democratic movement began cen- 

ries ago. It has since moved fo:r'A'ard on a broad front 

in a highly irregular manner. In the present period 

capitalist decadence it is proceeding at an accelerated 

Lce. The vanguard of homosexuals has corne upon the 

rena long after other humiliated and neglected forces 

re made known their grievances, demanded justice, and 

jht for their demands against the vicious instibations 

• capitalism and the church. 

The gay liberation movement is an outgrowth of pro- 

rjid changes in family relations, psychological and cul- 

iral attitudes, and mortil standards, that are transforming 

lal customs and judgments. It is an integral aspect 

the youth radicalization and the women's liberation 

lovement, an irrepressible expression of the opposition 

aU forms of oppression and repression instituted and 

lintained by class society. The gays want to obtain 

right to determine their own sexual life and affirm 

ieu- dignity as human beings without being subjected 

:: any penalties for their way of life. 

As yet the gay liberation movement is in its formative 
:age and limited in scope and num.bers. But it has been 
rowing in the groping way new social struggles do. 
.'ke other components of the current radicalization, tliis 



sector of protest has a dynamic of its own. It ca.n be 
expected to spread nationally and internationaUy and 
draw into its ranks hitherto silent and passive people; 
awaken, activize,- and mobilize them against the prejudices 
and discrimination that afflict them. 

It is one of the tenets of the theory of permanent revo- 
lution that demands for democratic and civil rights by 
large groups of people may be partially conceded but 
their needs cannot be fundamentally and fully satisfied 
and reftlized under imperialist auspices. Tlie struggle of 
homosexuals for an end to flieir victimization is no eiicep- 
tion. The removal of certain legal mequities and disabilities 
will not suffice to give them the dignity they seek. The 
changes they aspire to bring about not only affront deeply- 
lodged prejudices of bourgeois society and tlie churches, 
but call into question auxiliary props of the nuclear family 
and tlie marriage code. 

Tlie attacks upon such institutional arrangs;ments of 
the established order imparts an anticapitalist tendency 
to the gay struggle, even if many of its participants fail 
to recognize the underlying social and political implications 
of their challenge. 

Except for the International Socialists, ours is the only 
organization on tlie left in this country to take a positive 
■■tttitude toward the gay liberation movement and view 
it as a legitimate component of the rising radicalization. 
Its development indicates how certam novel phenomena of 
radicalism and democratism can spring forth in &e highly 
advanced capitalism of North America sooner than else- 
where. 

Some comrades dispute this evaluation of the significance 
of gay liberation, assign little weight to it as a social 
and political factor, and are dubious of its prospects. 
The actual growth rate of the movement as it takes more 
definite shape over the next years should settle this issue. 



The second question to be considered is the party's 
orientation toward tlie movement Tliis is a tactical matter 
that has to be decided on a rounded view of the present 



65 



situation. 

The premise from which the party proceeds is its prin- 
cipled position as a defender of democratic rights. The 
SWP is opposed to all forms of the oppression of homo- 
sexuals and vigorously supports the struggles for their 
rights, as we are doing. This is one of the planks in 
our national election platform. 

This statement of policy and purposes does not, how- 
ever, dispose of the tactical decision that has to be made: 
what Oie party should do in this area at the present con- 
juncture. 

In Barry Sheppard's opinion, it would be inadvisable 
to engage in a concerted national intervention in gay 
liberation activities nov.?, in view of the dispersed state 
of tlie movement and the schedule of political and or- 
ganizational priorities of the party. Our participation as 
an organization should not go beyond support to the 
initiatives of gay groups around issues of their rights, 
sympathetic reporting of developments, and disseminating 
our ideas among them. 

This is a more restricted approach than the one being 
implemented in the antiwar and other movements. Some 
comrades urge a full-scale participation iia gay liberation 
on the same order as our work among the feminists. 
They want us to become the leaders and best builders" 
of the movement This does not seem warranted under 
the given circumstances. The orientation proposed by 
Barry Sheppard is adequate for the present. What further 
steps the party may take will depend upon the further 
development of the movement. - , . „ 



The third point at issue, which has been raised in sev- 
eral contributions to the discussion, concerns the party's 
attitude toward sexual relations and activities, and homo- 
sexuality in particular. Tliis question is sometimes confused 
and fused with the second question, although the two 
are quite distinct and should be separately treated. 

The jurisdicHdn of fhe revolutionary party does not 
encompass everything; it is not totalitarian. There are 
areas in which the Marxist vanguard takes positive and 
unambiguous positions. These embrace all aspects of the 
struggles of the exploited and oppressed against class 
domination and victimization. On this basis the SWP 



staunchly defends full democratic rights for homosexuals 
and the removal of all disabilities from them. Freedom 
from sexual repression and oppression is an essential 
element of humanity's efforts to cast off the ills of class 
society. 

At the same time there are many areas where the party 
does not assert an official opinion or exercise its authority. 
These include, for example, the conflict of rival concepts 
and theories in various branches of the natural sciences 
and in mathematics, the competition of artistic schools, 
and literary tendencies, matters of dress, diet, amusement,! 
etc. Individuals have the right to make up their own minds 
on all such matters so long as their conduct does no: 
contravene party needs. 

Some comrades insist that the SWP go beyond its. 
present position to advocacy of the virtues of homo- 
sexuality in unblockmg the full potential of sexusliTy. 
The parfy especially refrains from inferfefing in one of 
the most sensitive and intimate realms of personal rela- 
tions, erotic life. It cannot be called upon to set a sea 
of approval or disapproval on any specific type of sexual 
relations or activities. Such matters belong to the sphere 
of personal preference and individual decision. 

While the party does not prescribe norms of sexual 
practice for its members or anyone else, it does have 
one categorical ' imperative that applies to the conduc; 
of its members in all areas. The interests of the collective 
take precedence over the actions of any single individual 
whose behavior may adversely affect the party's work. 



Our party is the first to encounter and grapple with 
the problems presented by this novel feature of the radical- 
ization processes. We should therefore proceed with a 
certain care in working out our policy. The lessons of 
our experiences and discussions can be helpful to other 
sections of our world movement in dealing with gay lib- 
eration. 

Our work with dnd in the gay movement has essentially 
fhe same aims as in other sectors of the radicalization 
We support their just struggles for democratic rights and 
seek to win ove? the best gay activists to our program 
for total human liberation throiigh tlie socialist revolu- 
tion. 



► 



August 28, 1972 



\t 



66 



■ — ^-»^=^-^ 



homosexucJi 
-m. Freedci 
ail , essemiil 
■ iJls of dai 



(Vol. 30, No. 8) 



CONCERNING THE DISCUSSION 
by Barry Sheppard 



•re the pai 
ts authoriW 
val concep; 
iral scienci 
Stic school 
amusemei 
own mim 
ct does n< 

beyond i 
of homo 

' sexuciIitT 
I'n one a 

3onaI rela 
set a sea 

- of sexue 

the sphen 



1972 



1 



11 I 



The literary discussion on the gay liberation movement 
has tended to center on criticism of proposals I made 
in an article in Vol. 30, No. 1 of the Discussion Bulletin. 
On the one hand, a number of comrades have argued 
that the party should go beyond tlie proposals I made, 
both in terms of taking a position on a whole range of 
questions dealmg with sexuality, and in terms of the ex- 
tent of party involvement in the gay liberation movement 
as it now exists. On the other hand, Comrades Wemstein 
and Roland Sheppard are opposed to any party involve- 
ment in the gay liberation struggle, if I read Oiem right 
Some of the questions raised about my own position 
seem to be based on misunderstandings, possibly caused 
by the brevity of my first comments. Others, however, re- 
flect genuine differences. 

Comrade Fred Feldman accurately characterized as a 
diversion from the purpose of the discussion the position 
developed most eitensively by Comrades Gebert and Trip- 
pet, but also by other comrades, that the party must adopt 
a position on the nature of human sexuality and homo- 
sexuality in order to arrive at a correct party-building ap- 
proach to the gay liberation movement, and his article 
developed the point well. I would like to comment on 
hvo things relevant to this question. 

First, the party is a political organization. Its aim is 
a political one: to construct a mass revolutionary so- 
cialist political partj-- tliat will lead in the conquest of 
state power by tiie working class, opening the road to the 
construction of socialism. In keeping witli its aim, the 
party adopts political positions that guide its work. It 
does not take positions on a Vv'hole range of scientific, 
cultural and other questions-— to do so would cut across 
its purpose, dilute its nahire as a political organization, 
transform it into an organization advancing one or an- 
otlier scientific or cultural viewpoint, narrow its aEp_eal, 
and cripple its abiJity iQ.jaiQMlizfi- ihe^raasiLe,<L on political 
questions. 

Secondly, this particular problem is further complicated 
by the fact that the whole question of tlae scientific in- 
vestigation of sexuality and the related one of psychol- 
ogy is still in its mfancy llspecially concerning homo- 
sffiiuality, little is known, anci it is difficult to ascertain 
what is objectively based and what represents prejudice 
in what knowledge is available. If we were to attempt to 
adopt a particular viewpoint on the nature of homosex- 
uality, we would become embroiled in a hQp.eless tangle 
of opinions, prejudices and personal preferences with lit- 
tle hope of reaching any scientifically valid conclusions, 
even if that were witliin the purpose of the SWP, which 
it is not 

Look at some of the more ludicrous aspects from tlie 
political viewpoint, of this d-l5scu3sion: are we really go- 
ing to allow ourselves to become diverted into a debate 
over the sex lives of cows, insects and chimpanzees? Over 
whether heterosexual love is even sexual (Comrades Ge- 
bert and Trippet apparenOy dismiss heterosexual love 
as merely the "reproductive act",')? Over whether tlie future 
liberated human will include liaisons v/ith animals" in 
its sexual repertoire? Can w^* definitively answer even 



the more germane questions, like the nature of sexui 

orientation among the communist humans of the fuhirc 

While some comrades seem to have very defmite opinior 

about the nature of sexuality among fuhire communi 

humanity, I assume that most comrades find themselv( 

in the same uninformed position I am in — we can't te 

what future sexuality wHl be like. The socialist revolutio 

wUl lay the foundations for the transformation of huma 

culture in all spheres, including sexual and other person? 

relations, but exacfly how this will affect sexual relation 

can only be a subject for speculation at Uiis stage, as i 

true of a whole range of aspects of the future classics 

society. We can say that, in sexual relations as in ever 

other sphere, we can expect future communist humaiiltj 

to be superior to present day humanity. We cannot g< 

much beyond tJie assertion that the present sexual miser' 

of m.asses of people wUl be overcome. And If we extrapo 

late further, we run a strong risk of merely projecting ou 

own personal preferences, losing sight of the" fact that ead 

and every one of us has been formed (and deformed' 

under capitalism. And hi any case, what we say or thinl 

about the subject, as Comrade Feldman has pointed out 

will certainly be ignored by the free people of tlie com.- 

munist future! 

. If a note of utopianisrn has crept into, the discussion ir 
the form of speculation on the nature of sexuality m the 
classless society, it is also present in tlie corollary thai 
some comrades seem to draw from their conviction thai 
bisexuality is the wave of the future — that gayness is in 
and of itself, per se, progressive right here and now. 
Comrades Trippet and Gebert are tlie most definite on 
this, assertmg that gay is better. Their argument is two- 
fold: bisexuality is the "natural" state of humanity, and 
bisexuality and even exclusive homosexuality in the pres- 
ent are progressive because they represent some kind of 
revolt against tlie bourgeois family instihition. Tlie ar- 
gument that bisexuality is the "natural" state of human 
sexuality falls mto the area of speculation dealtwith above. 
There is no definitive scientific proof eitiier that this is so, 
or is so in the sense that present-day bisexuals preview 
-what communist humanity will be like. 

The argument that bisexuality and homosexuality are 
progressive because tliey imply sexual activities that fall 
outside hhe framework of the family instihition, is falsa 
Comrade Weinstein correctly refuted this argument, point- 
ing out that it falls into the category of attempting to build 
a "counterculture." Homosexuality and bisexuality are no 
replacements for the family — sexual activities of any kind 
in no way replace the social functions of caring for tlie 
young and old, performing labor such as cooking, laun- 
dry, etc. The reactionary msUtutions of the patriarchal 
family will wither away in the process of the construction 
of socialism, as the social functions it now performs are 
progressively taken on by society as a whol& And it 
certainly remains to be seen whetlier homosexuality is an 
"answer" to the sexual problems of the masses. 

All personal relations in capitalist society are \varp?d ^jid 
distorted, including relations among bisexuals and ho~o- 
sexuals. It is patently false to assert that homosoraals 



I 



t 



or bisexuals in this society have superior personal rela- 
tions to heterosexuals, including heterosexuals in family 
units. There are no personal solutions to the problems 
generated by capitalism, including intimate problems of 
personal life. No sexual orientation is revolutionary per 
se — the only criteria for determining what is revolutionary 
or not are political, and the only revolutionary people are 
those who are fighting for a revolutionary political pro- 
gram. A comrade who has a miserable personal or dis- 
tressed sexual life but finds the energy to help build the 
party is a revolutionary. A bisexual, heterosexual, or homo- 
sexual totally immersed in the persuit of thewill 'o the wisp 
of a harmonious personal life under capitalism, coming up 
for air long enough to vote for capitalist candidates or 
otherwise support the system, is not. 

The party should take no position at all on the nature 
of sexuality or homosexuality, nor try to determine what 
is "good" or 'Tsad" about heterosexuality or homosexuality, 
and not advocate any specific sexual orientation. 

Related to the question of the nature of the party is the 
one concerning the party's position on transvestism that 
Comrades Gebert and Trippet have raised. First, it should 
be clear that the party has no ban on membership of 
transvestites. It does have a concern with the image of 
the party in the eyes of its constituency as projected by the 
dress and decorum of individual members that would in 
fact prohibit certain female clothing, like dresses, from 
being worn_ by male comrades. This comes und'ei' -the 
general guideline of not conducting ourselves as far-out 
types. If our image were to become exotic, that would 
stand in the way of recruiting and influencing masses 
of people justifiably suspicious of people that are obviously 
extremely eccentric. A political person who deviates too far 
from the social norm in questions like tliat of dress has 
lost or never had a sense of proportion about what is 
politically important and what is secondary, and this is 
immediately apparent to anyone she or he is trying to 
influence. The wearing of this or that kind of clothing 
has nothing to do with being a revolutionary, and re- 
sponsible members should subordinate personal whims 
or desires in this regard to the political objective of not 
placing unnecessary obstacles in our way. Our general 
rule should be to dress within the socially accepted styles, 
and the party units have tlie responsibility to see to it 
that individual members do not abuse the party by pro- 
jecting an exotic image of the party. 

We have been talking about a tendency of some com- 
rades to lose a sense of proportion in the course of this 
discussion. I think this is evidenced in another way, on 
the field of theory, which relates to the writings of Wil- 
helm Reich. Comrade Lauritsen, for example, mentions 
Reich along with Trotsky as a representative Marxist. 

WiJhelm Reich was a disciple of Freud who developed 
psychoanalysis along the lines of Freud's early thinking. 
From his experience as a psychoanalyst, as well as from 
conclusions he drew from Freud's theory, Reich became 
convinced that emotional illness and sexual misery were 
widespread in the population as a whole, that they were 
fundamentally socially caused, and that therefore the in- 
dividual treatment possible in psychoanalytic technique 
could never get at the root of the emotional problems of 
the masses. He became a socialist, seeing the necessity of 
a socialist revolution before the foundations for a healthy 
psychological and sexual life for the masses could be 
laid down. He first joined the Social Democracy and 



68 



then the German Communist Party, before the triump 
of fascism. 

He rejected Freud's view that psychoanalytical id. 
and methods could explain history or society. He ai 
cepted the Marxist view, during this period of his lii 
of the origin of class society, the dynamic of the clai 
struggle, the necessity for the socialist revolution. He a 
cepted in general Engels' views on the origin of the famil 
as having gone hand in hand with the rise of class societ] 
He developed the theory that the place of psychologica 
investigation as developed by psychoanalysis was to ei 
plain the psychological impact of the family upon the in 
dividual, especially the results of sexual repression roota 
in the family that psychoanalysis had unearthed. This in 
vestigation, he asserted, could reveal part of themechanisn 
by which the family institution instills reactionary morali 
a tendency to submit to authority, etc., in individuals 
and that this knowledge could help revolutionists bette 
understand the prejudices they are up against. It is mi 
own opinion that there are important insights and foo« 
for thought for Marxists in many of Reich's earlier writing] 
along these lines. 

However, with -the consolidation of Stalinism , and tbi 
victory of German fascism, Reich became disillusioned withi 
the proletarian revolution. He lost sight of and denied 
that tlie objective interests of the working class could ircr 
pel it to struggle for power, and that this struggle could 
win, given the proper leadership. He retreated from ths 
historical materialism of Marx back into phychologv. 
finding the reasons for the defeat in Germany and the 
rise of Stalinism in the intrinsic psychological defects oi 
the masses. He thus became an opponent of Marxism, 
refecting our analysis of the factors leading to these de- 
feats suffered by the proletariat. He became entrapped 
in a vicious circle, believing that the salvation of humanity 
could come about only through a social revolution, bu: 
that the social revolution was precluded as long as human 
sexuality was distorted, and it would remain distorted 
as long as there was no social revolution. 

We can learn something from Reich's description of how 
reactionaries can use the sexual morality instilled in peo- 
ple by the family, religion, etc., to bolster their own rule, 
but only if we keep such insights in proportion, i.e., with- 
in the framework of Marxism, and not makfe the mistake 
that Reich did of elevating this one aspect of reality into 
the key factor, obliterating the class struggle in the process. 
Concerning the theoretical question of developing a ma- 
terialist explanation for the oppression of gay people, 
some comrades took exception to my statement that dis- 
cussion about why homosexual impulses exist, or why a 
section of the population prefers homosexuality, need no; 
concern us in trying to understand the nature of tlie op- 
pression of gay people. These comrades assert that we 
must develop a full tlieory. of sexuality in order to under- 
stand the oppression of gay people. Besides the difficulties 
in doing so already discussed, it is not necessary, although 
if such scientific knowledge were in fact developed by 
science, even under bourgeois auspices, it would shed 
light on this question. 

I put forward the outline of a hypothesis that gay peo- 
ple are oppressed as a byproduct of the ideology and 
morality upholding the family system. However, in care- 
fully reading the ideas of comrades on why homosexuals 
are oppressed, including comrades who took exception 
to my remark that we can discuss this question without 



:y 

ex-| 
tedf 



t 



first fully understanding the nature of homosexuality, their 
viewpoints generally fall within the hypothesis I outlined. 
They find the roots of gay oppression in the ideological 
and moral superstructure of society. 

Only Comrade Maggi has taken direct exception to 
this. However, I cannot follow his argument, for he points 
to the contribution by Comrade Thorstad to buttress his 
position. But Comrade Thorstad, too, traces the roots 
of the oppression of homosexuals to the ideological and 
moral superstructure. 

There is not a one-to-one correspondence between the 
superstructure of society and its economic base, and this 
is especially true in relation to ideas, morals, etc. In the 
case under discussion, we can see tliat different class so- 
cieties have taken very different attitudes towards homo- 
sexuals, although all have been class societies and had 
one form or another of the male-dominated family. In 
any case, an analysis of the causes of the oppression of 
gay' people must be done in the concrete. We can expect 
that in time, our views on this can become more clarified, 
and we can afford to take that tima 

The important thing now is the political conclusions to 
be drawn. Comrade Maggi agrees with me that the strug- 
gle for gay liberation is a democratic struggle. Some com- 
rades have taken umbrage at this characterization of the 
nature of the gay liberation struggle, apparently feeling 
that it disparages that struggle. Comrade Maggi effective- 
ly answered them, and there is no need to repeat his 
arguments. 

Comrades Weinstein and Roland Sheppard also agree 
with the position adopted by out last convention of full 
support to the struggles of gays for their democratic and 
human rights against all the forms of oppression and 
discrimination they suffer under capitalism. But the course 
they appear to favor would lead to relegating it to a file 
marked "positions adopted but better forgotten." 

If Comrades Gebert and Trippet, based on their own 
views of human sexuality', present the dubious notion that 
gay people will soon be in the majority. Comrade Wein- 
stein, through a few verbal sleights of the hand, has the 
mass of gay people not oppressed at all, except "psy- 
chologically." In the first place, the psychological oppres- 
sion of gay people is real. We don't have to invent theories 
about this — many gay people have eloquently described 
it. We have dealt with this category of the psychological 
aspects of oppression and exploitation in relation to other 
spheres: Engels in the Conditions of the Working Class 
in England, Marx in Capital, and the speeches of Mal- 
colm X are examples. 

Secondly, while it is true that open gays suffer more 
direct discrimination tlian those concealing their sexual 
orientation, Comrade Weinstein draws too sharp a line 
between the two categories. Comrade Weinstein apparent- 
ly thinks that workers don't have the time and energy 
to pursue a fulfilling sex life. But they are known to have 
a thought or two about it once in a while, and if they 
happen to by gay, that means they have to be "open" 
with at least one other human being, and quite probably 
a lot more. Thus almost all gays, except the most seclusive 
and repressed, are forced to deal with the discrimination 
and oppression gays suffer. We can expect that the mass 
of gay people will increasingly identify with the gay lib- 
eration movement since it is detiling with questions that 
directly affect tlie real interests of most gay people, espe- 
cially as the movement matures, rejects the countercultur- 

69 



ism that is one trend within it (reflected, as we have noted 
even in our party), and concentrates more on tlie politica 
questions of opposition to the concrete forms of discrim 
ination gays suffer. 

Comrade Weinstein argues against those who equat( 
the social weight of the gay liberation struggle with othej 
more massive and central struggles, or who lose their 
sense of proportion in other ways, even to the point o' 
obliterating the class analysis of society. But the errc-^ 
of some proponents of gay liberation cannot by used a' 
a justification for rejecting the gay liberation struggle 
altogether. Because someone may falsely equate the fT|hl 
against the Vietnam war with the gay liberation stru<^-le 
does not imply that the gay liberation struggle is°not 
important 

Comrade Weinstein correctly points out that the dynamic 
of tlie gay liberation struggle is different from the Black 
struggle, for example. It is not as central to the dynamic 
of the coming American revolution. Starting with agree- 
ment witli the observation I made that gays play no 
special social role, neither in relation to tlie means of 
production, nor to the family as a social unit, as women 
do, nor in a way similar to an oppressed nationalitj^ 
he draws the incorrect conclusion that struggles like those 
of gays for an end to their oppression are of not much 
concern to us or to the anticapitalist revolution. 

While it is true that gays play no special social-economic 
role as gays, that in and of itself does not exhaust the 
question. The oppression of gay people is related to class 
society and its needs. The struggle of gay people for 
their rights is directed against the class enemy and is 
in the interests of the working class and of socialism. 
It does confront and help break down the reactionary 
morality that helps preserve class society. To point out 
tliat it is not necessary to the overthrow of capitalism 
does not lead to the conclusion that it has no anticapitalist 
role to play whatever. (And we should add, that it is 
necessary to win gay liberation before we can say that 
a classless society has been built) 

Comrade Roland Sheppard makes this error in an even 
clearer way. He says that we take positions in favor of 
the oppressed nationalities and of the struggles of women 
only because this must be done to achieve the necessary 
unity of the class for the class to win. That is not so. 
Revolutionary situations have arisen time and again with- 
out the majority of the working class understanding the 
woman question, for example. Such situations will arise 
again — certainly in Bolivia and Argentina in the recent 
past diere have been revolutionary sihiations, without 
the question of women's oppression coming to the fore. 
We must not confuse the question of what may be nec- 
essary for the taking of power by the workers, and the 
program of the vanguard party that intends to lead not 
only the taking of power, but the mobilization of the work- 
ing class and all its allies in the historic task of rebuilding 
society from top to bottom, eliminating every vestige of 
discrimination and oppression spawned by class society. 
And, while power will be taken by the working class 
around the most burning issues of the class struggle, 
which are part of our full program, power is much more 
likely to be taken by the working class to the extent that 
it succeeds in mobilizing the widest layers of the oppressed, 
convincing them by its deeds tliat the taking of power 
by the working class will in fact end all forms of op- 
pression. 
Tliat's why the party which must be built to lead the 



I class has to help educate the class to fight capitalism 
on all fronts, as Lenin explained in What Is To Be Done? 
t We do this through the vanguard party itself seekmg 
ho champion all struggles against discrimination, oppres- 
sion all people kicked around by capitalism and its state. 
^ rnmrade Weinstein lists "repressed religious sects, pacifists, 
- atheists proponents of defense of the right to bear arms 

■ and drug culture cultists," raising the red herring of the 
rhetorical question of whether or not these should be 

■ nlaced on the same level as the working class, oppressed 
: nationalities and women, and concluding, apparently, that 
'whether these people are victunized is of no concerri to 
J the revolutionary party. (I don't understand his including 
: "proponents of the right to bear arms" in this list-aren t 
t we -proponents of the right to bear arms"?) Like I^mn 
I we ^ould say that, if pacifists suffer at the hands of the 
': capitalist state, we should come to their defense -the specific 
' character of that defense of course depends on all kinds of 

■ factors in any given situation. 

- What about repressed religious sects? We have a political 
positon in favor of religious freedom -we're against them 
I being kicked around. In certain countries today, this is 
la very important question -it was a key question m the 
I bourgeois revolution, and remains a key question today 
I in Israel, flie Arab countries, the Soviet Union, and Ceylon, 
I to mention just a few. 

' Comrade Roland Sheppard and Comrade Weinstem vir- 
I tually exclude breaking down the prejudices of the mass 
I of workers against gay people. In a certain sense, it is 
r true that these prejudices will not be completely broken 
\ down until some time after the creation of a workers 
[; state But it is not true that workers cannot be won to 
- a position that gay people should not be oppressed. 
■ What interests do workers have m the oppression of gay 
I people? If students can be by and large won to tlris posi- 
Ition, in spite of their prejudices, why cannot workers 
I be won to this position? 

I Comrade Roland Sheppard says that the prejudices 
I against the oppressed nationalities and women held by the 
I working class (obviously he is talking only about the white 
'^ male section of it), can be subordinated to the needs for 
\ unity of the class, but this is not the case for gays. He is 
; correct in stressing that it is the class interests of the work- 
J ers that will lead them to act in ways that objectively 
I overcome their prejudices, but he has too narrow a defini- 
''': tion of class interests. Tliese interests include not only a 
\ calculation of what degree of unity is necessary to win 
• power, but also of the need of the working class to win 
I the widest possible support in all layers of the population. 
Let us assume for example that a labor party develops 
in the near future, based on a radicalization of the work- 
\ ing class. It wUl be confronted by the issue of gay lib- 
eration, as the capitalist politicians already have. What 
would our policy be? Wouldn't we have to stand for the 
adoption of a plank supporting the rights of gay peo- 
ple? Couldn't good and reasonable arguments be ad- 
vanced for our position, arguments which would find 
! support among radicalized workers? 

Tliis leads to anoUier question. If Comrades Weinstein 
; and Roland Sheppard support tire position adopted at 
; the last convention, do they think that position should be 
smade known to the public? If we should, like the CP, 
I not be identified in any way with gay liberation because 
I we would be "further isolated from the class if we take 
I up this struggle," should the party have adopted this posi- 



Tl! 



tion? Further, given that this is the position of the party, 
what should we do when an organization is formed to 
fight to carry it out? Do we support the objectives of that 
organization, insofar as they coincide with our position? 
Do we support concrete struggles against the oppressio 
of gays? We can't have it both ways. We don't past p- 
litical positions to file them away. 

Comrade Weinstein points out correctly that the gaj 
movement does not have the same direct links with thi 
class struggle that the Black movement and other move 
ments have. The movements of the oppressed nationahtia 
in the United States -both because their national-demo 
cratic demands cannot be met except through the prol 
tarian revolution, and because of their overwhelming pro 
letarian composition- raise almost from the begmnm 
demands of the working class as a whole. The women 
movement, also, because of women's role in the famu; 
and work force, raises class demands. The gay movemen 
is much narrower in the scope of its demands, which as 
essentially limited to democratic rights for gay people 
(But it cannot be concluded from this that gay liber atio! 
is of no importance to the class struggle.) 

The gay liberation movement does not have the poten 
tial mass of either the women's. movement or the mov 
ments of the major oppressed nationalities, nor the socr 
weight of these movements, which result both from tha 
mass and the scope of the questions tliey raise. The ga; 
liberation movement clearly does not raise such a centra 
question of world politics as the antiwar movement doei 
In our long-term strategic priorities, then, it is certain! 
more peripheral to the central issues of the class strugg] 
than either the women's movement or the movements c 
the oppressed nationalities, or the struggle against imi^ 
rialist wars. But this estimate of relative proportions an 
priorities does not negate the significance of the movema 

for us. , ^. r 

This brings me to the final point, the question ot oi 
tactical approach to the gay liberation movement at ti 
present time. Given our political position of support 
the struggles of gay people against their oppression h 
we carry out that support is a tactical question. I feel t 
much of the matters raised above, from both sides, h 
obscured the real issues concerning our tactical appro a 

First of all, we should recognize that in discussing ta 
tics we are attempting to determine what is the best thi- 
to do to advance our political program and build c 
party. We do this in the context of the specific situatia 
we face both objectively and in relation to our own force 
other campaigns we are involved in, and similar cc< 
siderations. On many questions we are able to interv 
only through Our press. Tnis aoes not mean that we c 
no-t support that particular issue. For example, we suppc 
the struggles of the Native Americans, but we do so pi 
marily through our press and election campaigns at prs 
ent. Comrades who insinuate that the party is prejudic* 
against Native Americans thereby, or has a position 
an "inadequate compromise" with prejudice, would 
wrong -we just do not have the strength at present 
do much more, given other key areas of work. 

Our conception of tactics implies flexibility. If the obj 
tive situation changes, our tactics may change also. IM 
tactical approach I outiined in my original article v 
based upon an assessment of the state of the gay libe: 
tion movement at the present time. On the basis of tifl 
assessment, and given our commibnent to other areas 

70 



work, 
for u 
the g 
comr. 
press, 
the p> 

I d. 
byth- 
as to 
there 
actioi 
natio 
of th( 
rade 
mari] 
on g: 
Com: 
into I 

Co: 
•iiat . 
a vii 
:ite \ 
en'sl 

W^e 
and 
50cia 
essen 
:o be 
No t 
.imoi 
:o bi 
of th 
-sridei 
-y tri 
We 

2Zld 

iave 
Togef 
iirua 
±e 1 
■all 







^:rk, I stated my opinion that it would be a mistake 
"nr us to organize a national fractional intervention into 
" gay liberation movement at the present time (Some 
-rades have misunderstood this to mean that the party 
s, national election campaign, etc., would not present 
^ party's position; clearly, this is not what is meant) 
: do not believe that new information has been revealed 
■-he discussion, or the objective situation has so changed 
to necessitate a re-evaluation. On tlie national level, 
re remains no national coalition formed to carry out 
ons around the issues of gay oppression. There is no 
ttonal organization of gay groups, with ihe exception 
' the National Coalition of Gay Organizations, as Com- 
Inie Maggi pointed out But this group is oriented pri- 
irily towards the elections, and our political position 
: gay liberation as expressed in our campaign is clear 
Comrade Maggi hopes that this coalition will develop 
to something more— if so, we can deal witli it then. 
Comrade Hillson and others have raised the argument 
bar our intervention could be the crucial factor in forming 
viable national gay liberation organization, and they 
-- the precedents of our work in the antiwar and wom- 
I's liberation movements. 

We have found from experience in both ilie antiwar 
-nd women's movement that any attempt by any of the 
Kialist tendencies to form antiwar or women's groups 
sentially around tlieir own organization are doomed 
_ be very narrow in the present situation in this country. 
!fo tendency has sufficient hegemony in the left, let alone 
-nong the broader layers such groups could appeal to, 
build any such groups on a viable basis. If this is true 
the antiwar and women's movements, which have far 
rkier appeal than tlie gay liberation movement, it is doub- 
V true of the gay liberation movement 
We have been successful in helping to build antiwar 
nd abortion action coalitions around key demands. We 
ave been instrumental in helping to hold these coalitions 
Dgether. But comrades must not misunderstand the real 
uation and slide over into flunking that, because of 
he role we have played in holding them together these 
oahtions are able to exist solely because we want them 

I. 

In the women's movement, for example, we saw die 

Ddependent development of action coalitions in a number 

rf states before WONAAC was formed. It was clear that 

he abortion question was becoming more and more im- 

P.-ortant, a focus of tlie women's movement The success 



that WONAAC has had -and the potential it continues to 
have- reflects this situation. Thousands of women have 
shown themselves ready in action to help build WONAAC 
m collaboration with us, in the face of not unimportant 
difficulties. Tliere is not yet an analogous situation in the 
gay liberation movement No clear issue or issues has 
yet emerged as the rallying point of flie gay liberation 
movement 

Under the circumstances, for us to attempt to build 
an achon_ coalition around issues of gay oppression, be- 
fore the issues are clear in the gay movement around 
which such a coalition would be built, before tliere is sig- 
nificant motion in the movement itself towards such an 
action coalition, would be premahire. The effort most 
ikely would fail in its objective and divert our energies 
trom more immediately rewarding tasks. 

The examples raised by various comrades of gay lib- 
eration struggles we would want to relate to have occurred 
on a local level. Thus, if the branches have the flexibility 
to relate to such developments as t!ie^ occur, withm our 
present priorities, we will not be missing the opportunities 
comraoes have pointed to. 

The kinds of struggles we should support include ac- 
hons lilie the Christopher Street demonstrations (inter- 
vemng with our political position), tlie defense case that 
occurred m Minneapolis, the struggle around Intro 475 
m New York -concrete actions and struggles. It would 
do us little good to have comrades assigned to parti- 
cipate m essentially social events, or in the counterculture 
equivalent of the "livingroom feminists" of tlie gay lib- 
eration movement 

Comrade Roland Sheppard and others raised the ques- 
tion of whedier this proposal to relate to gay liberation 
struggles on the local level, where they are occurring isn't 
m fact some kind of federalist concept No, for f,vo reasons. 
Any such decisions by the branches are withm the frame- • 
work of the political position adopted bv the party con- 
vention and in accordance with our priorities as decided 
upon nationally. This work, like all branch work, is under 
the supervision of the Political Committee and national 
office. 

This orientation on the tactical level would enable us 
to support concrete struggles and actions around issues 
concerning the oppression of gays and still keep our 
activihes in this area centered on tlie political questions 
and in proper proportion to the overall tasks of the party. 

■ . . .' August 29, 1972 



3 

It 



71 



(Vol. 30, No. 8) 



THE KEY QUESTIONS IN THIS DISSCUSSION 

by David Thorstad, Upper West Side Branch, 
New York Local 



Is homosexuality a normal and natural form of human 
sexual behavior? 

The gay liberation movement has responded to this 
question with the assertion that "Gay is Good." Tlie mean- 
ing of this slogan is the rejection of the notion that het- 
erosexuality is superior to homosexuality, or that homo- 
sexuality is a deviation, an abnormality, or a sickness. 
It is both a message to closeted gays that tliey should 
accept their homosexuality with pride and a notification 
to straight society that we will no longer allow it to use 
its warped norm of exclusive heterosexuality to deny us 
the humanity we share with heterosexually oriented 
persons. 

Before going any further, let me clear up one thing. 
That is the matter of whether or not it is proper or nec- 
essary for the revolutionary party to take a position on 
such a question. 

It is true that the party does not take a formal posi- 
tion on all social, scientific, or historical questions. So far 
as I know, for instance, it has never taken a formal vote 
on whether biology is women's destiny, on the matriarchy, 
or on whether Black is beautiful. I have heard such ob- 
servations used in an attempt to justify taking no po- 
sition on the "controversial" question of whether homo- 
sexual behavior is normal and natural. But the com- 
parison is misleading: In .spite of the fact that we have 
no formal position on these matters, there is no pretense 
in our propaganda of leaving aside or suspending judg- 
ment on whether biology is woman's destiny, on whether 
there ever was a matriarchy, or on whether Blacks are 
inferior to v/hites; if there were, our intervention into the ■ 
women's and Black liberation movements would be quite 
different from what it is. Yet it is precisely such a sus- 
pension of judgment on the normality of homosexuality 
that is implied by the argument that no position on the 
question should be taken. 

To suspend judgment on this question would be to place 
a question mark over the underlying assertion of the gay . 
liberation movement that gay is just as good as striaght, 
that homosexual behavior is as much a part of human 
sexual potential as heterosexual behavior. There is no ■ 
justification for such a question mark. 

An affirmative answer to this question is not only re- 
quired from a scientific point of view, it is also essential 
for a correct political appreciation of gay liberation. A 
negative answer to this question, or even a suspension of 
judgment on the matter, would not merely hamper, but 
actually damage any intervention into the gay liberation 
movement that the party should attempt to undertake. 
Indeed, if the party does not take a firm stand upon the 
concept that gay is good, it would probably be better 
off not attempting to intervene in the gay liberation move- 
ment at all. 

The scientific evidence in favor of an affirmative re- 
sponse to this question has been presented elsewhere in 
this disscussion and does not need to be repeated. So 
far no one has attempted to dispute it. I will not degrade 
the discussion at this point by adding to it a refutation 



If, on 

ndersti 
constitu 
•iiscrim 
natural 
once ai 
lively 
both tl 



of the various theories of quack psychiatrists and ol 
pseudo-scientists over the years as to the cause of ho*: 
sexual impulses (masturbation, degenerated genes, mi'"^'^^'^'' 
insanity, oversatiety with nahiral pleasures, "inverJ'^T ^", 
[man's brain in a woman's body and vice versa], h^ ^^ 
itary inferiority, "psychic hermaphroditism," failure ^f'^hoi 
evolve beyond a primitive state of bisexuality, distri vav r 
tion of genital nerves around the rectum, larghezza altogel 
solante [male aversion to the largeness of the hun -Jmt h( 
vagina, thus driving them to the tightness of the n^ .epare 
rectum], hormonal imbalance, prenatal stress, close-bi4 ;o grc 

strugg 

includ 

It fall 

liberal 

on ou 

This 

:ailur( 

[he oj 

result 

homo 

throu; 

•:"Con 

Orien 

He st 

discu; 

a sec 

need 

of th 

unde 

is to 

us. 

die c 

and 

is g( 

erati 

illusi 






ing-intunate mothers, etc.). For a general view of the i 
liberation movement's attitude toward the psychiatric 
fession's "sickness theory" of homosexuality, i refer ca 
rades to the excellent statement distributed to a mee; 
of the American Psychiatric Associadon last May wh 
follows this article 

The Stalinist-inspired theory that homosexuality ii 
product of a transitory period of history (class soci; 
I attempted to refute in my discussion of Wilheim R; 
("Gay Liberation and Class Struggle," SWP Discuss 
Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 2). This mystical and antiscieni 
theory, which I have never seen advanced with a sh 
of evidence, ought to be unceremoniously buried ale 
with the rest of the antihomosexual garbage churned ( 
in the name of science and Marxism during the past c 
tury. Certainly there can be no room for such a thee 
in the SWP's approach to gay liberation. 

If there are any comrades who believe these or 
other theories to the effect that homosexual behavior 
not as natural and normal as heterosexual behavior 
that it is a form of behavior that will disappear under 
socialist society free of sexual restraints, they should pi 
sent their arguments. The burden of proof, in my opinio 
would lie with them. In any case, the existence of su 
sexist notions cannot be allowed to get in the way of i 
party's effort to develop a proper orientation to the gr 
liberation movement. 

Why is an affirmative answer to this question necessar] 
Because it is a prerequisite for a correct grasp of the ro 
of homosexual oppression and the potential of the struj 
gle against it, as well as for a correct political interventia 
into the gay liberation movement. 

Even if gay people are viev/ed as social misfits, pathi 
logical perverts, or aberrations of class societ>', or 
judgment is suspended on the matter, their struggle ft 
equal rights could still be supported on the basis tha 
for instance, they are helping to stir things up and cha 
lenge the prevailing standards of capitalist societ>'. Bi 
such an approach would hardly lead the revolutiona: 
party to embrace, champion, and aggressively intervei 
in that struggle. On the contrary, it would logically resi 
in attributing a rather low priority to the struggle, 
addition, it would stunt the necessary task of develop 
a theory of homosexual liberation and sexual revolutio: 
and it would cripple any effort to intervene in that strug, 
with a socialist analysis of homosexual oppression at 
program for gay liberation 



1) 
is a 
imp I 
pres 
com 
tion; 
to V 
gay 
old 
qua 
pari 
anv 

2] 
and 
no 
libe 

cial 
abd 
nor 
car 



72 



s, inven 
versa], h 
'>" failun 
i'ty, diste 
'nrghej:z, 
' the hu. 
of the 
'. ciose-b. 
w of the 
chiatric 
I refer a 
3 a meel 
May w 



K, on the other hand, the struggle for gay liberation is 

derstood to be not merely the struggle of a presently 

nstituted behavioral minority ("gay people") against 

3crimination, but a struggle for a society in which the 

Btural homosexual impulses of the human animal can 

;ce again be expressed without the constraining exclu- 

r.'ely heterosexual norms of patriarchal society, then 

oth the character of the gay liberation struggle and its 

„„ Baaportance to the tasks of the revolutionary party will be 

genes rn ^ ^ »/ 

•s ";r.,'.„ J'^'^ '^"^ '^ qualitatively different light. 

A materialist approach to the struggle for gay liberation 
nust view it as a struggle for the freedom of expression 
;f homosexual behavior, not simply as a struggle of 
say people" for their rights. The "gay people" concept is 
iltogether too static and reflects the heterosexual myth 
Liat homosexually oriented people are some kind of special, 
separate variety of human being. It also reflects a failure 
:o grasp the dynamic and revolutionary potential of the 
struggle to regain humanity's freedom of sexual expression, 
including the freedom to engage in homosexual behavior. 
A falls far short of a proper appreciation of what gay 
-iberation is all about and would place severe limitations 
on our ability to intervene in the gay liberation movement. 
This somewhat static view of gay liberation and the 
failure to see that homosexual oppression is not merely 
iie oppression of "homosexuals" or "gay people," but the 
result of an attempt by patriarchal society to suppress 
homosexual behavior in all mem.bers of society runs 
through Barry Shepijard's contribution to the discussion 
("Concerning the Gay Liberation Movement and the Party's 
Orientation to It," SWP Discussion Bulletin Vol. 30, No. 1). 
He states this precisely when he proposes "leaving aside all 
discussion eibout why homosexual impulses exist, or v/hy 
a section of the population prefers homosexuality, v/hich 
need . not concern us in trying to understand the nature 
of the oppression of gay people. . . ." Yet if a proper 
understanding of homosexual oppression and liberation 
is to be achieved, such a discussion does indeed concern 
us. It cannot be "left aside." If we were to leave aside 
the question of the normality of "homosexual impulses" 
and fail to plant our feet solidly on the concept that gay 
is good, the nature of our intervention into the gay lib- 
eration movement would be adversely affected. Let me 
illustrate this point with a couple of examples. 

1) A refusal to recognize that homosexual behavior 
is a natural part of human sexual potential would make 
impossible any positive approach to homosexuality in our 
press or by party spokespersons. It would place such 
comrades — including those in gay liberation organiza- 
tions—in the awkward and absurd position of having 
to withhold judgment on an issue that is central to the 
gay liberation struggle or of having (in the style of the 
old SDS) to preface any analysis of the matter with the 
qualifier that they were speaking for themselves, not the 
party. Such comrades would be hooted off the stage by 
any self-respecting gay audience. 

2) Were the party to fail to recognize the naturalness 
and normality of homosexual behavior, it would be in 
no position to educate either its own ranks or the gay 
liberation movement on the relationship between the strug- 
gle against homosexual oppression and the coming so- 
cialist revolution. Indeed, such a failure would imply an 
abdication of the responsibility to develop a theory of 
homosexual liberation — a task that only Marxists can 
carry through. Even such an obviously necessary task 



as publishing a pamphlet explaining why Marxists sup- 
port gay liberation and why gays should be Marxists 
would become impossible without a correct position on 
this question. 

The practical effect of refusing to take a stand on this 
question would be to limit the party's relationship to and 
intervention in the gay liberation movement to sporadic 
involvement. Such a refusal would lead to a low priority 
being assigned to party intervention in gay liberation at 
the present time and to a suspension of judgment entirely 
on the overall potential and importance of gay liberation 
for the socialist revolution. (If one cannot be sure that 
homosexuality is normal, one can hardly be sure that 
the struggle for homosexual liberation has any more than 
a passing, and peripheral relation to the struggle for so- 
cialism. Such doubts do not constitute a basis for a serious 
intervention into the gay movejTient.) 

The net effect of refusing to take a stand on this ques- 
tion would be to restrict the party's intervention into the 
gay liberation movement to one of essentially supporting 
■ what the movement is doing (through news articles in 
The Militant, and perhaps even assigning some cadres 
where this did not conilict with party work in other areas 
with higher priority) rather than aggressively intervening 
with a revolutionary-socialist program for gay libera- 
tion and socialism with an aim of educating and provid- 
ing leadership (both on an organizational and political 
level) for that movement, as well as of recruiting the best 
gay liberationists to the revolutionary party. Such a re- 
striction would be consistent with the logic of "leaving 
aside" any discussion of, or failing to reach the correct 
agreement on, the central, underlying issue of the gay 
liberation movement: The equality of homosexuality with 
heterosexuality on every level and the contemptuous rejec- 
tion of any position that falls short of recognizing this. 

Such a restricted intervention would also appear to be 
consistent with both the cautious tone and altogether vague 
outline presented in Barry Sheppard's article initiating 
this literary discussion. Indeed, such a restricted interven- 
tion would appear to logically fl-ow from his determina- 
tion to avoid the question of "why homosexual impulses 
exist." (The very fact that he phrases the question in this 
manner suggests that he harbors doubts as to the nor- 
mality of homosexuality that he does not harbor in the 
case of heterosexual impulses [Why do heterosexual im- 
pulses exist?] If he does not, then why does he avoid 
this question? What, besides greater confusion, is gained 
by skirting it?) I have attempted to show that a proper 
intervention into the gay liberation movement will be 
impossible without confronting it head-on. 

I shall take up the question of the nature of a proper 
SWP intervention into gay liberation shortly. 

Should the SWP Intervene in Gay Liberation? 

The answer to this question must be an unequivocal 
"Yes" for the following reasons. 

1) Potentially very large numbers of persons can be 
mobilized in anticapitalist struggle by the gay liberation 
struggle. There are some twenty million homosexually 
oriented people in the United States. The new, but still 
small, gay liberation movement has already provided 
them with an unexpected hope for a world without dis- 
crimination and persecution on the basis of sexual orienta- 
tion. We, above all, can and must show them how to 



73 



make this hope a reality. This is a task for which we are 
better qualified than anyone else. 

2) Without intervening, we cannot hope to recruit con- 
scious gays to the party. We must be able to offer the 
gay liberation movement more than general support for 
its struggles for gay rights or statements by our candidates 
in support of gay rights. To have a credible approach 
to precisely the serious kind of gay activist whom we 
should want to recruit, we will have to go beyond our 
present policy of nonintervention or the wait-and-see, low- 
profile kind of intervention suggested by Barry Sheppard. 

3) The gay liberation movement confronts the revolu- 
tionary Marxist movement with a unique challenge. Never 
before has the Marxist movement seriously attempted to 
explain the links between the struggle against gay op- 
pression and the class struggle, nor has it attempted to 
integrate the struggle for gay liberation into the struggle 
for socialism. In other words, the challenge facing it is 
one of developing a theory of homosexual liberation. 
This is a challenge we must accept. 

4) Homosexual behavior is suppressed and gays are 
■ oppressed in ways that serve to buttress the antihuman 

values and institutions of patriarchal class society. The 
struggle against such oppression is one that it is in the 
interests of the revolutionary movement to advance. This 
question has been dealt with elsewhere in this discussion, 
notably in my article "Gay Liberation and Class Struggle" 
(SWP Discussion Bulletin Vol. 30, No. 2). 

5) Our intervention in gay liberation would provide 
us with a useful club against our opponents, none of 
whom— with the somewhat sporadic now-you-see-it-now- 
you-don't exception of International Socialists — are in- 
volved in gay liberation. Our intervention would be most 
useful in fighting our major opponent — Stalinism —whose 
line on homosexuality has not altered a bit since Stcilin 
branded it .a product of bourgeois decadence and began 
to purge gays from all areas of Soviet life, including 
the party', in 1933-1934. The very absence of most of 
our opponents from this field of struggle would, of course, 
in some ways offer us a wide-open field. 

We should not hesitate to utilize an aggressive interven- 
tion into the gay liberation movement as a weapon in our 
fight to gain hegemony over the current radicalization 
and the American left. 

6) Our task of constructing a revolutionary vanguard 
party at the head of the working masses and of all mass 
sectors struggling against capitalism would be damaged 
if we were not to intervene in this movement. Not only 
would we then have to explain to gay liberationists why 
the revolutionary socialist movement considers the strug- 
gle peripheral or incidental to the struggle to overthrow 
capitalism, but we would also have to explain why an 
intervention into gay liberation is not consistent with our 
own analysis of the current youth radicalization. Neither 
explanation would be persuasive. 

7) We have a duty not only to our own movement 
but to the Fourth International to take a correct, inter- 
ventionist approach toward this movement. Gay libera- 
tion is a rapidly growing international phenomenon. Gay 
groups exist in many countries where the Fourth Inter- 
national has sections or sympathizing groups. Some — as, 
for instance, FUORI (Fronte Unitario Omosessuale Rivo- 
luzionario Italiano) in Italy, and a group of Latin Ameri- 
can gays living in New York, who publish a Spanish- 
language magazine called /i/uera — are putting out very 

74 



attractive and radical-oriented publications 

Some steps have already been taken toward Internationa \^J^\„ 

coordmation bet^veen gay liberation organizations. In Sep- J'^l 

tember, for instance, a gathering of some t^vo dozen Eu- IZ t 
ropean gay groups is scheduled to occur at Aarhus Uni- ^,HfiP 

versity in Denmark to discuss future international coopera- '^:"' 

tion. sexua 

Discussion -not always correct -on gay liberation has! J^Z 
begun to find its way into the press of several Trotskyist ° . 
groups besides the SWP, among them those in Canada, '^'"^^ 
France, New Zealand, and Australia. In Canada a dis- 
cussion on gay liberation similar to our own is now 
being conducted. 

The SWP, in my opinion, has a crucial role to play in 
brmgmg the world Trotskyist movement to a correct ap- 
preciation of homosexual oppression and liberation and 
how they relate to the present and future taslcs of the 
international Marxist movement. This will not be an easy 
'role to fulfill, but while difficult, it is not impossible, and 
it is necessary. 



How Should the SWP Intervene in Gay Liberation? 

I think Steve Beren provides a very good general out- 
line of the kind of intervention the party should under- 
take at the end of his article "For National Party Inter- 
vention in the Gay Liberation Movement" (SWP Discus- 
sion Bulletin Vol. 30, No. 5). He proposes essentially 
the following: the assignment of comrades to gay work 
in each branch; the assignment of comrades to intervene 
in (whether by joining or by collaborating with) gay 
groups existing in their area, especially on campuses, 
and the initiation of actions around specific issues where 
openings exist; fractional intervention at local and na- 
tional gay conferences with not only our ideas on other 
movements and on socialism, but also with our ideas 
on building the gay liberation movement; increased efforts 
to build gay contingents in antiwar and abortion demon- 
strations; an aggressive propaganda campaign in our 
press and publications, through our forums, and in our 
election campaigns; internal party educational programs _ 
on gay liberation touching on the origins of homosexual 
oppression, the relationship of the gay movement to the 
rest of the radicalization, etc. 

I would like to add to and elaborate upon these propos- 
als. 

If the gay movement is ever to develop into a veritable 
mass movement, that is, if it is ever to fully realize its 
potential, society's right to victimize, persecute, and im- 
prison gay people must be taken away. So long as gays 
can lose their jobs or their apartments for being gay, 
and so long as they have no legal way of fighting back, 
a relatively small number of them can be expected to 
come out publicly as homosexuals. For it is still occupa- 
tional suicide for the overwhelming majority of gays to 
2ome out. 

And yet, you cannot build a mass gay movement unless 
gays have the choice of whether or not to come out; and 
as long as the present antigay laws exist, and as long 
as equal rights guarantees are not applied to homosexual- 
ly oriented persons, large masses of homosexuals cannot 
be expected to do so. W'inning this right to come out 
(to be who we are and to stop masquerading as hetero- 
sexuals in order to survive) seems to me to be the first 
major task of the gay liberation movement. 

Concretely, this means fighting to abolish the antigny 



the c 

gay 
comb 
such 
en ted 
their 
of th 
matii 
Bu 
respc 
have 
tion, 
ment 
stree 
terne 
who 
or u: 
Th 
only 
mov 
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•righ 
us t 
histc 
mov 
men 
Tl 
shoi 
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iws; to get city councils to adopt policies banning dis- 

•imination against persons because of sexual orienta- 

ion in employment, housing, and public accomodations; 
[and to have the Equal Rights Amendment — once it is 

.tified by the state legislatures — extended to include homo- 
sexually oriented persons. 

Such fights can be won and would gain the support 

:f the overwhelming majority of gays, I believe. Cer- 
:.iinly, achieving such yictories will not eliminate patri- 
archal society's built-in need for gay oppression. But in 
"he course of fighting for such prehminary goals, the 
-;ay movement will gain not only in numbers, but in 
combat experience and political understanding. And, until 
such goals are achieved, that is, until homosexually ori- 
ented person can come out without danger of losing 
their lives or their livelihood, the full potential and "weight" 
of the gay liberation movement in the coming transfor- 
mation of society cannot be felt. 

But most of these gays v/ill not come out sim.ply in 
response to exhortations from gay activists who already 
have. They must see coming out as a realistic proposi- 
tion, not as a suicide mission. The gay liberation move- 
ment must not only chant "Out of the closets and into the 
streets!"; it must develop a strategy for placing the al- 
ternative to hiding within the reach of the millions of gays 
who identify with the gay movement but are still afraid 
or unable to join it 

This is a task that we must help carry out, and it can 
only be done by getting involved in the gay liberation 
movement. It does not merely "remain to be seen" how ex- 
tensively gays will be mobilized in struggles for their 
^ rights, as Barry Sheppard states; what remains is for 
us to begin applying to the gay liberation struggle the 
historic knowledge and e:<perience of the revolutionary 
movement. Both the gay movement and our own move- 
ment will benefit from such a decision. 

Through our intervention in gay organizations, we 
should propagandize for and help organize coalitions to 
abolish the antigay laws (sodomy, cross dressing, soli- 
citation, impersonation . . .) and to struggle for the adop- 
tion of equal rights legislation by city councils (and even- 
tually by the (J. S. Congress, when the Equal Rights 
Amendment is ratified) prohibiting discrimination against 
persons in employment, housing, and public accomoda- 
tions because of their sexual orientation. We should be- 
gin to educate the movement to the necessity of eventu- 
ally forming a national coalition along these lines. Elim- 
inating such laws and winning equal rights for gays, 
are, it seems to me, a related, priority task for the gay 
liberation movement. It is a task that we should take the 
lead in expalining and, where action along these lines 
has already been undertaken by the movement (New 
York, California. . .), we should get involved and work 
toward the success of such struggles. 

One such struggle is currently going on in New York, 
where the city council still has before its Committee on 
General Welfare the bill Intro 475, which would ban dis- 
crimination against gays in employment, housing, and 
public accomodations. It has received a great deal of 
support, including that of the executive council of District 
Council 37 of AFSCME (whose president, Victor Gotbaum, 
personally appeared in public hearings to testify in sup- 
port of the bill), a number of legislators and congress- 
People, and, belatedly and under pressure from gay ac- 
tivists, Mayor Lindsay. 



75 



If this bill is defeated for good, it will be an important 
setback for gay liberation not only in New York City, 
but throughout the entire country. 

Our movement has done very little to support this strug- 
gle—certainly far less than it can or ought to do. Es- 
sentially, our support has amounted to perdiodic news 
reports in The Militant. Important though these are, we 
could have done more. We sent no representative of our 
election campaign to testify at the public hearings, for 
instance, nor did we even distribute a statement of sup- 
port at the hearings — both of which would have been 
possible even with our current position of noninterven- 
tion in gay liberation. To relate properly to this and other 
similar struggles, however, we will have to be directly 
involved in gay liberation. 

If we were intervening in gay liberation, our comrades 
would be able to join groups like GAA and campus gay 
groups and argue for our approach on how best to fight 
for such measures as Intro 475. Were we to join GAA, 
for instance, we would be active in the committees of 
the organization where we could be most effective, in- 
cluding the committee in charge of the struggle for Intro 
475. As activists in gay liberation, we would be in a 
position to present our ideas, our proposals, and our 
criticisms, both in committees and in membership meet- 
ings, with an authority we v/ill never acquire as observers 
of gay liberation. Even where our proposals were opposed 
by the reformist-minded leadership of the organization 
or where we might be defeated in votes of the member- 
ship, we would stand to make considerable gains for 
our movement as socialists committed to gay liberation. 

y\m.ong the things we would probably have wanted 
to do around Intro 475 as members of GAA are the 
following, in addition, of course, to covering the strug- 
gle in The Militant write articles outlining our strategy 
for GAA' 3 newsletter. Gay Activist, emphasize the need 
for mass demonstrations and not reliance on negotia- 
tions with public officials (the reformist leadership tends 
to view mass demonstrations as a last resort, and it never 
takes the task of building them as seriously as we do); 
take part in the Gx\A speakers' bureau; help organize 
an aggressive press and public relations campaign; pro- 
pose that G.'\A publish an educational pamphlet or brochure 
on the issues in the struggle; use the endorsement of Dis- 
trict Council 37 of AFSCME to attempt to get GAA rep- 
resentatives to address union meetings and to press other 
unions to come out in support of the bill, which would, 
after all, help provide job protection for many of their 
own members and potential members (among the non- 
unionized); propose some kind of coalition for homo- 
sexual rights to back the campaign, with the coalition 
to include both gay and sympathizing straight groups. 

Most of these steps could also be taken by comrades 
belonging to other gay groups in New York City, such 
as groups on campus. 

The GAA leadership's tendency to rely on negotiations 
with politicians has failed to galvanize New York's gay 
community in a true mobilization around Intro 475 (not 
to mention the sympathizing straight community, which 
is not small). Our intervention into gay liberation might 
very well have been able to alter that state of affairs 
somewhat. In any case, further abstention from struggles 
such as these is, in my opinion, beneficial neither to our 
own movement nor to the cause of gay liberation. 

While I believe an important focus of our intervention 



into gay liberation should be the elimination of the existing 
antigay laws and the adoption of equal rights legislation 
for gays, our intervention should not be limited to these 
issues. Obviously, we should be involved in other strug- 
gles of the gay movement as well, whether these be defense 
campaigns (such as the one at the University of Min- 
nesota last fall, or the case of Morty Manford .in New 
York this spring), gay pride marches, campus recogni- 
tion battles, gay studies fights, job discrimination fights, 
protests against news media discrimination, police harass- 
ment, or what ever. 

In addition to the activities and projects that have al- 
ready been mentioned, I believe that we should take a 
serious educational and propagandistic approach to gay 
liberation. Useful elements of such an approach would, 
it seems to me, be the following: 

© Teach-ins on sexual oppression and sexual libera- 
tion. A few years ago, the French antiwar movement 
staged huge teach-ins throughout France called "Six Hours 
for Vietnam." I thinlt we should propose that the gay 
liberation movement do the same kind of thing today. 
The teach-ins could be sponsored by united front coali- 
tions and could be called "Six Hours for Gay Libera- 
tion," or "Six Hours on Homosexuality" (or they could 
be given a broader scope and dubbed "Six Hours on Sex- 
uality," or "Six Hours on Sexual Liberation," and the 
women's liberation movement could be involved). Such 
teach-ins could consist of films of gay liberation demon- 
strations (there are now a number of these films), of 
films dealing with the topic of homosexuality ("Portrait 
of .Jason," for instance), short plays on gay themes (there 
are a growing number), gay entertainment, and speeches. 
Representatives of foreign gay groups and sexologists 
like Daniel Guerin could be invited to give the meeting 
an international flavor. Naturally, we should want to 
present our socialist analysis of gay oppression and gay 
liberation at such teach-ins (and should fight for our 
right to do so)— both as speakers and salespeople for 
Pathfinder Press titles on gay liberation (and other topics, 
to be sure). 

A mass meeting on the subject of homosexuality and sex 
would draw a lot of people. It is a popular topic. I see 
no reason why such teach-ins, properly organized, could 
not draw hundreds and even thousands of people (in- 
cluding many closeted gays who would feel safe turning 
out for such an event of the gay liberation movement) 
in a place like New York City, for instance, or even on 
some campuses. It would be to our advantage to help 
organize and present a socialist analysis at such teach-ins. 
Yet I doubt that they will ever take place on the scale 
that is possible without our intervention. 

® A publications program that includes gay liberation 
related topics in botli pamphlet and book form. Many 
bourgeois publishers already have their "token" gay title 
— the profit instinct has led them to do this despite what 
they may think of the question on its own merits. In my 
opinion, it is unthinkable that Pathfinder Press should con- 



tinue to be without any titles on gay liberation. Tlris is not 
only politically wrong, but it is unfortunate from a finan- 
cial point of view: gay liberation and homosexuality are 
subjects tliat sell. Sources for pamphlets could include some 
of the contributions to this discussion, some of the articles 
suggested below, etc. 

On books, let me suggest one in particular that would 
be useful for us to translate and publish: Daniel Guerin's 
Essai sur la reoolution sexuelle (Essay on Sexual Revo- 
lution). This book presents a tlieory of sexual revolution, 
basing itself essentially on Kinsey and Reich. In addition, 
it includes several short essays on Fourier, Shakespeare, 
Gide, and Proudhon, among otliers. This book was trans- 
lated into Spanish about a year ago, but it has yet to 
be translated mto English. I tliink it would make a positive 
addition to Pathfinder's catalogue. 

® An active intervention in the gay liberation movement 
through The Militant and the -ISR. We should regularly 
run feature and analytical articles, in addition to news 
articles, on topics relating to gay liberation. Among these 
should be reviews of books relevant to gay liberation, as 
well as articles on topics of which the following are only 
a few suggestions: the relationship between gay liberation 
and the class struggle; religion and the oppression of 
homosexuals; socialism and gay liberation; why Marxists 
support gay liberation and why gays should be Marx- 
ists; gay history and culture (including portraits of impor- 
tant gays in history, such as Walt Whitman, Magnus 
Hirschfeld, and tlie British Victorian socialist Edward Car- 
penter, who is destined someday to become a hero of 
gay liberation, etc.); feminism, lesbianism, and gay lib- 
eration; psychiatry as an instrument of gay oppression; 
Stalinism and antihomosexuality (taking up the degenera- 
tion of the Soviet revolution, tlie antigay witchhunt under 
Stalin, the decadence theory of homosexuality popularized 
by the Stalinists, and the potential for gay involvement 
in the political revolution in the degenerated workers 
states); a critique of the Cuban position on homosexuality; 
a history of the socialist movement and its relationship 
to the question of homosexual oppression and liberation; 
and a defense of our politics in the face of attacks in the 
gay press, of which there have been approximately a 
dozen during the past year that called for a reply, but 
which we have— incorrectly, I believe — ignored. 

When Should the SM* Intervene in Gay Liberation? 
■ One of the things that this discussion must make clear 
is that we support gay liberation not only in words but 
also in deeds, that we embrace the gay liberation strug- 
gle, and that we are determined to help build that strug- 
gle and integrate it into the overall struggle to overthrow 
capitalism. Tliere is nothing to be gained, and plenty to 
lose, by waiting any longer before beginning to get in- 
volved in gay liberation. We must recognize the relation- 
ship beKveen this struggle and the coming socialist revo- 
lution and begin to relate to it accordingly. The time to 
do so is now. 

August 30; 1972 



T6 



Jl 



(Vol. 30, No.. 8) 



to 



72 



A STATEMENT TO THE PSYCHIATRIC 
PROFESSION BY GAY LIBERATION 

by David Thorstad, Upper West Side Branch, 
New York Local 



The American Psychiatric Association met in Dallas 
May 1-5. Representatives of the gay liberation movement 
7;ere on hand with a gay information booth to attempt 
to inject a ray of rationalism and intelligence into the 
prevailing backwardness and pseudoscientific approach 
of an institution whose rabid antihomosexuality is backed 
up by medical titles, passed on to tlie American people 
as the autlioritative word of the scientific community on 
homosexuality, and used to buttress bigoted attitudes to- 
v/ard gays and to justify the oppression of homosexually 
oriented persons. A leaflet was distributed to psychiatrists 
succinctly presenting the position of the gay liberation 
on tliis mstitution. The text of this leaflet, in part, follows 
(as published in tlie June 12 issue of Gay). 



Central to the conflict between psychiatry and the homo- 
sexual community is the "sickness theory" of homosex- 
uality and the whole related comple:i of negative atti- 
tudes toward homosexuality, which try to make of 
homosexuality something inferior to and less desirable 
than heterosexuality. It matters not whether the word 
used be sickness, disorder, affliction, disturbance, dys- 
function, neurosis, immaturity, fbiation, character or per- 
sonality disorder, pathology, or any otiier — or whether 
homosexuality be considered as merely symptomatic of 
these— the effects are the same: 1) To support and but- 
tress the prejudices of society and to assist flie bigots 
in the perpetration and perpehiation of their bigotry; and, 
at least equally important 2) To destroy the homosexual's 
self-confidence and self-esteem, impair his or her self-image, 
degrade his or her basic human dignity. 

Before any theory having consequences as disastrous 
as these is accepted, there should be certainty tliat it rests 
upon a sound scientific basis. As anyone witli even a rudi- 
mentary scientific training is aware, the approach of psy- 
chiatry to homosexuality violates every canon of good 
scientific research. For psychiatry cavalierly to spout forth 
its characterizations of homosexuality as less than fully 
healthy represents utter irresponsibility. If the profession 
wishes to continue to take pride in its alleged scientific 
accomplishments, it had better be sure tiiat its "researches" 
really are scientific. Insofar as homosexuality is con- 
cerned, they could not be less so. They are the distilled, 
concentrated essence of bad science; they are a textbook 
illustration of "science" gone wrong. When the psychiatric 
position on homosexuality is examined, we find that we 
have been DEFINED into sickness and pathology by 
cultural, social, moral, teleological and theological value 
judgments, camouflaged and cloaked in the language of 
science, but with none of the substance of science. 

Deeply resented by the gay community are persistent 
efforts by psychiatrists to convert homosexuals to hetero- 
sexuality, instead of inculcating them with pride in their 
homosexuality. Increasingly, we hear psychiatrists piously 



declare that they attempt to convert "only those homo- 
sexuals who wish to be changed." That is an unaccept- 
ably simplistic, superficial, and shallow approach. When 
society generally, and psychiatry particularly, have 
"brainwashed" homosexuals into a belief in the inferiority 
of their homosexuality, the homosexual who asks to be 
changed is merely tlie creation of a self-fulfilling process. 
How many v/hites choose to try to "pass" as Black, and 
why is the number so small, and why do any Blacks 
at all choose to "pass" as white, and is it not better tliat 
now in an era of "Black is Beautiful," fewer and fewer 
Blacks .are trying to be untrue to themselves? We must 
investigate and often challenge tlie motives before we ac- 
cept the desire to change. The great majority of homio- 
sexuals desiring to change to heterosexuality should be 
mstUled with a belief that "Gay is Good," not blandly 
Vv'elcomed as candidates for change. 

The homosexual community looks upon efforts to 
change homosexuals to heterosexuality, or to mold young- 
er, supposedly malleable homosexuals into heterosexuality 
(the very existence of this "plastic teenager" is question- 
able at best) as an assault upon our people comparable 
in its way to genocide. We find offensive the entire vo- 
cabulary of the psychiatric literature, in which "help," 
"improvement," "success," "recovery" and similar terms re- 
lating to the therapy of homosexuals, is related to the 
extent of increase in heterosexual tendency and activity. 
The goals of therapy of homosexuals must be subjected 
to searching re-examination. 

Not only do we insist that homosexuals, as people, 
are in no way inferior to heterosexuals as people (a pre- 
cept to Vi^hich we are sure that most psychiatrists will take 
no exception) but we insist, equally uncompromisingly, 
that homosexuality — as a condition, a state of being, 
a way of life or lifestj'le, an expression of love and af- 
fection—is fully on par with and in no slightest way 
inferior to heterosexuality. 

We are working to create a sense of community among 
our people, to create, in turn, a sense of unity, solidarity, 
militancy, and activism, in order to assist us to achieve 
our full rights and status in a society wliich is ours as 
much as it is that of the heterosexuals. We are working 
with success to create among our people a sense of pride 
in their homosexuality and a sense of the Tightness of 
what they are and the goodness of what they do. 

In order to do this, it is necessary to extract homo- 
sexuality from the medical context in which it has long 
and persistently been placed, and to place it in a socio- 
logical context of minority group relationships involving 
prejudice, discriminadon, and bigotry. This is the only 
context in which the real problems of real homosexuals 
in our society today will be constructively and produc- 
tively addressed. It has been well and truly said that 
in our society there is no Black problem, there is a white 
problem. We say that there is no homosexual problem, 
there is a heterosexual problem. Psychiatry, as it presently 



77 



deals with homosexuality, is a major part of that problem. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: 

1. Both individually, and collGctively as a profession 
and an Association, re-examine your past positions on 
homosexuality. Discard the negative attitudes and the 
biases which have afflicted you in the past. 

2. Work for a public renunciation, by psychiatry, of 
the "sickness theory" of homosexuality in ANY semantic 
guise. 



3. Undertake an active, vigorous campaign to ame 
liorate and ultimately to eliminate popular prejudice on 
this question, both through work to change attitudes and 
in such specific areas as law reform, equal opportunity 
legislation, etc. 

4. Consult on an on-going basis with representatives 
of the homosexual community. 






August 30, 1972 



This 
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as a" 
any s 

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decisi 
tions 



(Vol. 30, No, 8) 



A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON AN IMPORTANT ISSUE 
■ ■ IN THIS DISCUSSION 

By Steve Beren, Chicago Branch 



In my first contribution to this discussion, I discussed 
the question "is gay good?" (Vol. 30, No. 5, pp. 8-9) 
I did so, not because I wanted the party to put its stamp 
of approval on homosexuality, but because I consider 
it a relevant political issue. 

I don't propose that the party take a yes-or-no vote 
on "is gay good?" But I do think that a correct political 
approach to this question is important in understanding 
the concept of gay pride. 

The Wrong Kind of Questions 

But some heterosexuals resist the notion that gay is 
good. They ask: "But how can you just say that gay 
is good? Where is your definidve proof?" The proof exists, 
but that is hardly the point. 

A friend of mine, who has never believed in God, as 
a youth always considered himself only an agnostic 
because he felt he had no way of "proving" that God 
did not exist. Tlien, one day, he realized that the burden 
of proof belonged to those who insisted there was a God. 
Since then, he has considered himself an atheist. 

Similarly, the burden of proof lies with those who say 
gay is not good. Those straights who ask, "But what 
causes homosexuality? It is perhaps an illness? Or some 
other threat to our society? Where is your proof?" etc., 
are asking the wrong kind of questions. 

In their introduction to Tiventy Questions About Homo- 
sexuality: A Political Primer, the Gay Activists Alliance 
of New York states: 

"It is important for our heterosexual brothers and sisters 
to understand that most of the questions they ask them- 
selves offend and oppress us, for they are not asked of 
other groups (in) our society, and they have little to 
do with our lives since they are based entirely on mis- 
information and myth. But these myths have often been 
used as excuses for the denial of our Constitutional and 
human rights. So — despite the fact that our lives need 
no justification — we are compelled to provide answers. 

"One major source is our own experience. We know that 



we are neither criminal, immoral nor sick. But we have 
also used the bulk of the most recent literature on homo- 
sexuality; objective information which proves our 
point. ..." 

Refuting the anti-homosexual mythology of class society 
is not only important because it is a question of scientific 
fact, but also as a directly political question because of 
the concrete social effects of anti-gay prejudice. 

A Correct Political Approach * 

Question 20 in GAA's pamphlet asks: "Is it better, in 
this society, to be heterosexual?" And GAA replies: 

"Is it better to be white? Or gentile? Or descended from 
the settlers on the Mayflower? These are questions that 
should never be asked seriously by anyone who believes 
in our Constitutional principles. But they are asked none- 
theless, and members of our oppressed ethnic minorities 
once wondered whether it wouldn't be better to 'pass' 
•if possible, or at least try as hard as they could to fit 
into the prescribed patterns. Now these minorities have 
come to understand that the only answer is to be exactly 
what you are and proud of it — that avoidance of insanity 
does not consist in conformity but in protest against in- 
justice. 

"Homosexuals too now realize that our first duty toward 
ourselves is to a^ccept nothing less than die same rights 
and dignities accorded others. We are no longer willing 
to accept the tyranny of the majority and we see the efforts 
to describe us a 'criminal' or 'unmoral' or 'sick' for what 
these efforts always have been, political maneuvers aimed 
at stripping us of our personal values, at constricting the 
human personality and at substituting conformity for 
social diversity. We are serving notice that we'll tolerate 
no more brainwashing or brutalization. . . ." (their em- 
phasis) 

This political approach to the question "is gay good?" 
is essentially correct and should be the approach of the 
Socialist Workers Party. 

August 30, 1972 



78 



to ame-l 
iudice on) 
-ides and) 
3ortunity( 



(Vol. .30, ¥0. 9) 



A CIVIL LIBERTIES APPROACH TO GAY 
LIBERATION IS INSUFFICIENT 

by Harry Ring, Los Angeles Branch - 



This article is intended to state my point of view in 
relation to the gay liberation movement. It is not intended 
as a "contribution" to the discussion in the sense of offering 
any significant analysis of the basic issues involved. The 
impending August 31 discussion deadline and — much more 
decisive— a very limited knowledge of many of the ques- 
tions being posed, preclude this. 



If the article by Comrade Barry Sheppard in Bulletin 
No. 1, June 1972, wore to be regarded, so to speak, as 
introdiictory remarks initiating the discussion, it could per- 
haps be accepted as sufficient. If, however, it is intended 
as the outline of a position to be approved by a coming 
plenum or convention I think it must be characterized 
as insufficient 

The article might suffice as the outline of a position if 
the party should decide on a very limited perspective 
in relation to the gay liberation movement— i.e., support 
of civil liberties for homosexuals and participation in 
the gay liberation movement on a local level around 
such issues. 

But I do not think we can or sliould limit our per- 
spective in this way. 

(In this regard, I tliink the response to Comrade Shep- 
pard's article by Comrade David Keep news in Bulletin 
No. 4, July 1972, makes a number of cogent points about 
the present scope of the gay movement, the political op- 
portunities effective intervention affords, and why Comrade 
Sheppard's proposal is insufficient for this.) 

1 believe that the development of an effective interven- 
tion in the gay movement is contingent on an adequate 
party discussion of the question. Such a discussion 
is needed to clarify several key questions and to resolve 
the differences that exist with tliose in tlie party who oppose 
an orientation toward the gay liberation movement. 

Comrade Sheppard is, in my opinion, unrealistic in 
contending that trying to understand the nature of gay 
oppression we can put aside "all discussion about why 
homosexual impulses exist, or why a section of the popu- 
lation prefers homosexuality." 

It would be Utopian and counterproductive to demand 
that the party acquire a full, rounded grasp of a 
profoundly complex subject about which there is only an 
extremely limited body of valid scientific information. I 
do not think we must answer all the basic questions in- 
volved as a precondition for a positive approach. 

But there are certain essentials which I am convinced 
cannot be avoided if we are to intervene effectively in 
tlie gay movement. 

I don't think that politically conscious gay activists will 
be particularly impressed by a political position which is 
limited to support of their civil liberties. 

Rather, I believe, we must have a position of support 
for gay rights within tiie context of clearly rejecting tlie 



nonmaterialist notion that homosexuality is an illness — an 
illness induced by class society which will be cured by 
socialism. 

Tliere are many individuals and groups that regard 
homosexuality as an illness but oppose oppression of 
gay people in much the same sense that they oppose the 
oppressive conditions that prevail in mental hospitals as 
well as the virulent prejudice against the mentally ilL 

But the gay liberation movement is predicated on a 
concept far more basic than tire demand for civil liberties. 
The very essence— and profound significance— of the 
development of the movement is precisely a rejection of 
the notion that homosexuality is an illness. Some contend 
that gay is better, but all are agreed that gay is good. 
They have emerged from the closet to fight for tlieir libera- 
tion because they have finally come to recognize that the 
terrible oppression they suffer is as unjustified as it is 
unjust They have taken a position tliat every political 
tendency will be compelled to relate to, one way or the 
otlaer. 

In their fight for civil rights, politically thoughtful gay 
people will accept the support of all fliose that offer it 
without regard to motivation. But in terms of being politi- 
cally influenced by those who may support their rights, 
it's unlikely that fliey will be seriously impressed by any 
but those who reject and oppose the notion that thev aro 
ill. 

Nor do I think it requires major research to rebut tlie 
prejudice-laden view tliat homosexuality is an illness. It 
is difficult for me to conceive how a materialist can charac- 
terize as "unnatural" a phenomona that appears m human- 
kind and anmials; in every known period of human his- 
tory; in all forms of societies; and flourishes so readily in 
conditions of sexual segregation such as prisons, armies, 
schools, etc. 

I would not venture to predict what the course or tempo 
of development of the gay movement will be. I think 
it is fairly apparent that it is in only a formative stage 
and that it will advance significantly. I thirJt tliat already 
it has demonstrated a social and pohtical import that 
can only be welcomed by revolutionaries. 

Revolutionaries respond positively to any group in soci- 
ety that rebels against the particular oppression visited 
upon it And when an absolutely unprecedented challenge 
is hurled against one of this society's deepest bodies of 
reactionary prejudice, the progressive connotations should 
be evident 

I have no prescription as to the extent or nature of our 
intervention in the gay movement except perhaps to com- 
mit myself as an unqualified supporter of -a balanced 
approach to all questions. Clearly we must utilize the 
yardstick indicated by Comrade Sheppard — weighing op- 
poi'tunities, available forces, other political priorities, etc. 
But I don't think this can happen in a meaningful way, 
even on a branch-by-branch basis, unless we have clarity 
on the essential political aspects of gay liberation and 
national direction for the work. 



i 



79 



I 



il 



Nor do I think there can be effective intervention, even 
on a local basis, unless this is adequately reflected in our 
nress and unless we assume toe responsibility to begin 
developing a minimal body of literature on tlae question. 

It would be politically inadequate for The Militant to 
restrict itself to reporting on, and supporting, specific 
nctions around civil liberties issues. Yet, if I read it cor- 
rectly that would in fact be the limit if Comrade 
Sheppard's article were to be, so to speak, the party 

*"on"the other hand, it would be entirely valid to argue 
that a more rounded treatment of the question m the 
press should await resolution of differences withm 
the party. But then we must address ourselves to such 
differences and not put them aside. 

I thinlc we must address ourselves to the viewpomt 
advanced within the national committee that intervention 
in the gay movement constitutes a diversion from our 
main political tasks and which characterizes that movement 
as a narrow sectarian cause without genume revolutionary 
potential. (Let me emphasize that I do not consider Com- 
rade Sheppard's article in any sense supportive of this 

view.) . , 

Similarly we need an educational discussion that would 
equip every comrade to rebut the kind of utterly false 
argumentation found in Comrade Nat Weinstein's con- 
tribution in Bulletin No. 4, July 1972. Frankly, I believe 
Uiat when a serious comrade can simply dismiss the 
reality of gay oppression with the quibbling assertion that 
it is merely "psychological oppression," we have evidence 
of the fact that antihomosexual prejudice runs so very 
deep in this society that it even manifests itself within 
society's most conscious vanguard. (And I can't help 
but commentmg that the New York city official who beat 
and stomped a gay demonstrator and went unpunished 
was no doubt waging "psychological warfare.") 
About fce only thing I could agree witli in Comrade 
! Weinstein's article was his concluding generality, albeit 
I my agreement stems from an opposite point of view. 
\ By drawing "all the correct lessons" from the develop- 
1 ments relating to the gay liberation movement and our 
i discussion of it, Comrade Weinstein advises, 'Ve can 
i give a new dimension to the understanding of the younger 
i comrades in what a class approach to politics is 
all about." 



Apropos of the arguments advanced by Comrade Wem- i 
stein and others that intervention in the gay movement | 
would constitute a diversion from our working-class pr^ 
spective, I would urge study of Lenin's What Is To Be 
Done, in which he squarely counterposed "Social Demo- 
cratic politics" to "trade union politics." 

In that work Lenin argued vehemently that those who 
did not relate to aU struggles against oppression were 
not discharging their responsibilities as revolutionists. 
Permit me a few quotations: 

"Working class consciousness cannot be genuinely politi- 
cal consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond 
to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence and abuse. 
no matter what class is affected." 

"Those who concentrate the attention, observation and 
consciousness of the working class exclusively, or even 
mainly, upon itself alone, are not Social Democrats . . . ' 
"Tlie Social Democrat's ideal should not be a trade 
union secretary but a tribune of the people able to react 
■to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no 
matter where it takes place, no matter what stratum or 
class of people it affects. ..." '- , 

■ "... for he who forgets that 'the Communists suppor: , 
every revolutionary movement' ... is not a Social Demo- 
crat. He who forgets his obligation to be in advance o; 
everybody in Fringing up, sharpening and solving every: 
general democratic question, is not a Social Democrat.' 
(All emphasis in original. ) 

In political argumentation, it has been observed, there is 
often a "good" reason and a real one. I don't thinlc the 
arguments advanced against a positive orientation toward 
the gay movement are even very "good" ones. And I 
don't feel I would be going too far afield in speculating 
that the real reason for such opposition is fear that identi- 
fication with the gay movement and significant recruit- 
ment of gay would impair our image among workers - 
straight ones, that is. ^ . . ■ 

The problem is not totally illusory even if the tear is 
exaggerated. But I think the only way we can hope to 
deal effectively with the problem of antigay prejudice 
among workers and others is by first divesting ourselves 
of that same prejudice. 

August 30, 1972 



0- 



( Vol. 30, No. 9) 



OUR INTERVENTION 

by John Lauritsen, Upper West Side 
Branch, New York Local 



n I 



Quality Of The Present Discussion 

I have been most impressed by the quality of contribu- 
tions to the present discussion. The articles (chronological 
order) by Sudie and Geb, David Thorstad, Jon Hillson, 
David Keepnews, Kendall Green, Steve Beren, and Michael 
Maggi show what Marxism is all about — comprehension 
of the living class struggle with a passionate commitment 
to changing the world. 



There are differences among the pro-intervenhon con- 
tributions; for that matter, formulations in my own article, 
with which- I am not now satisfied. But on the whole, e.- 
peciallv considering the difficulty of communication, carry- 
ing on'as we are dialogue through the medium of sporadi: 
and dilatory bulletins, the myriad aspects of gay liberation 
have been intelligently covered, from difficult areas of con 
sciousness and philosophy to practical aspects of an inter 



80 



i 



I 



ade Wein-^ 

novemeni 
:]ass pre-' 
Is To £'4 
al Demc- 

lose wh: 
ion weri 
tionists. , 

sly polit:-. 
' responij 
d abusii 

tion and 

or evea 

its . . 

a tradi 



to reac does it hav 



sion, n< 
atum o; 

suppor 
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Vance o 

mocrat' 

, there u 
hinlc th= 
1 towarc 
. And : 
culatinr 
-t identi- 
recruii 
)rkers 



-.ention. No other movement but ours could have produced 
iuch a discussion in the space of three short months. The 
intelligentsia of the world Stalinist movement are still 
;ound to infantile and reactionary banalities on the sub- 
>:<;t of homosexuality. Our small movement has applied 
:he fjhilosophy of Marxism to an area for which, though 
■Jiere were some socialist precedents (Edward Carpenter, 
■Jie Bolsheviks, Kurt Hiller), an extensive socialist analysis 
-as never been attempted. 

It is correct that this discussion has concentrated heavily 
on developing historical-materialist theory on sexuality, 
:-.s repression, and its role in the class-domination scheme 
"■f things. Marxism is nothing if it is not the insistence 
"iiat theory is an absolutely necessary guide to action. 

Some comrades have expressed Oie feeling that most 
of this discussion has been wide of the mark in that it 
did not focus essentially or even entirely on down to earth, 
'party building" aspects of an intervention, presumably 
answering such questions as: "What do we do?" and "What 



^ 




3, 1972 



e to offer us?" Yes, fliese questions ought to be 
answered, and I thinl< that they have been. Bui to imagine 
that fliese "objective" issues should be tlie only focus of 
tliis discussion is the antithesis of Marxism. 

If Karl Marx had felt that only what-do-we-do questions 
were v/orth addressing himself to, he would never have 
written Capital, The German Ideology, The Paris Manu- 
scripts, or more than a few hundred words of The Com- 
munist Manifesto. 

Correct theory is crucial to the success of the socialist 
movement and, as Lenin pointed out, it doesn't even 
hurt once in a while to dream. 

Grasping At Straios 

The arguments thus far pfesented against a vigorous 
iiiterventioa into gay liberation-- that gays are not really 
oppressed, that no econom^ic factor is invoh'ed, tliat gay 
liberation is not per se revolutionary, not in the center 
of the struggle for socialism, only a life-style issue, etc. — - 
have in my opinion been amply refuted in tills discussion. 
I recommend that comrades not only read but re-read 
all tlie contributions of this most exciting discussion. 

So far as I can tell, tiie last refuge of the antl-inter- 
'.•entionists seems to be the question of priorities, with a 
concern for tlie allocation of scarce resources. The "allo- 
cation of scarce resources" argument has been presented 



one form or another by Barry Slieppard 



)n con- 
articles 
ole, es- 
, carry- 
joradic 
eration 
of con- 
n inter 



\ 



small forces"), Lee Smith (" . . . (he allocation of our 
resources and energies vis-a-vis tlie gay liberation move- 
ment"), Fred Feldnien ("We must determine where our 
small forces should be concentrated") and Wesley Wein- 
hold (" . . . our allocation of limited resources"). 

At the same time that I recognize this as a necessary 
concern for our small movement, I find it highly ironic 
that the emphasis on flie "allocation of scarce resources" 
is one of the most characteristically bourgeois features 
of bourgeois economics. Paul Sweezy in his Theory Of 
Capitalist Development presents Professor Lionel Robbins 
as a typical representative of bourgeois economics, and 
quotes Robbins' definition of economics: "Economics is 
the science which studies human behavior as a relation- 
ship behveen ends and scarce means which have alterna- 
tive uses." Now, what is bourgeois about Robbins' defi- 
nition is that it effectively leads away from all interhuman 
relationships, political and historical, in favor of a reified 
and classless viewpoint. ,., 



In the same way, an undue concenbration on Uie allo- 
cation of our own resources may lead us away from 
appreciating the depth and significance of gay liberation 
and our revolutionary obligations towards it 

Gay liberation work in our movement deserves sufficient 
priority that it will not be shunted aside for every 
leafletting, paste-up, sales or whatever expedition might 
lay claim to our limited resources. 

Intervention As Socialists 

We should intervene nationally in gay liberation — that 
13, with a national strategy with clear guidelines, national 
coordination, and appropriate use of our press. 

National intervention should not, however, be construed 
as meaning anything like a "WONAAC or SMC single- 
issue coalition. Helping to build such a coalition would not 
only be unrealistic but impossible for us at this time be- 
cause we have not sufficient cadre, we have no roots in tlie 
gay liberation movement, and we have been subjected 
to an extensive slander campaign that we've made no 
effort to counteract Helping to build such a coalition 
may be possible in the future, but not now. 

The interventions we, can realistically carry out now 
have been elaborated by a number of comrades. 1 won't 
repeat what they have said, but merely wish to emphasize 
that a part of our intervention should be as people with 
socialist ideas. 

A prominent feature of the gay liberation movement 
has become numerous national and regional conferences. 
Typically such conferences hold workshops on a variety 
of topics, from political perspectives and organizing tech- 
niques to the mysticism of gay Christianity or conscious- 
ness raising. In addition to other forms of intervention 
at such conferences — sales, antiwar, campaign, etc. — tliere 
will be opportunities for us to present socialist ideas on 
gay liberation, either by holding our own workshops or 



intervening aggressively in other worl 



shops. As people 



with a long view of history, with a philosophy and method 
of analysis, we have a lot to say on such topics: 
religion, the Stalinist counterrevolution and the persecu- 
tion of gays, McGovern and the Democratic Party, the 
family, etc. Some people wUl want to hear our full social- 
ist program. Of course miany factors influence how we 
would handle a particular conference, including its for- 
mat and the qualifications of our available cadre, but 
when opportunities permit we shouldn't hesitate to come 
on as Marxists. 

A.gaui, the importance of theory should be apparent 
We must convhice the most advanced people that gay 
liberation is part of the class struggle, tliat a working- 
class victory is necessary for a truly free and human 
society. 

Our Press 

Our press should not be limited to mere news coverage 
of gay liberation. The ISR should publish theoretical 
articles, and The Militant should analyze developments 
in the gay liberation movement as v,'cll as print critical 
reviews of such books as Arno Karlen's Sexuality And 
Homosexuality. David Thorstad's review was not the 
one I'd have written (to me the outstanding feature of 
Karlen's book was its lies and distortions on every topic 
covered), but I think his review was valid and ought 
to have been published (see "A Review and a Comm.ent," 
Vol. 30 No. 5). 



%% 



r?-«-i=&-.jy-- 



Most important, we must get out some pamphlets on 
gay liberation. Here, the argument of "scarce resources" 
applies not at all. In a short time we could have out many 
excellent pamphlets which would make money for Pathr 
finder and gain a reputation for us as the people with 
the best ideas. 

The following are suggestions for pamphlets: 

1) Gaij 7s Good: An Anthropological Perspective. Tlais 
should present the scientific evidence that homosexual 
behavior is completely natural in the greater human per- 
spective, drawing upon anthropological, historical, zoo- 
logical, and statistical evidence. The Marxist viewpoint 
rejecting moral absolutes and mysticism should be clear. 

2) Religion: Its Role In The Persecution Of Gay People. 
Judeo-Christianity as the source of anti-gay prejudice 
and persecution. 'Hie history of Christian atrocities. A 
general Marxist view of religon could be presented along 
the lines of Comrade Edwards' pamphlet, Christianity 
And Marxism. I know this pamphlet will sell, as I sold 
six copies of Edwards' pamphlet at the Rutgers gay libera- - 
tion conference in about 5 minutes! 

3) Kurt HOler's Appeal to the 2nd International Con- 
gress For Sexual Reform, Copenhagen 1928, which I 
translated from German and which was published in the 
May 1971 ISR. This speech has considerable historic 
interest and is excellent in its own right. Though Hiller 
didn't know it, it is a polemic against Stalinism. We should 
provide an introduction for it summarizing generally The 
Revolution Betrayed, linking the crushing of the Left Op- 
position and the exile of Trotsky with the development 
of Stalinist anti-gay practices, and clearly distinguishing 
socialists from the betrayers of socialism. 

4) Homosexual Freedom— From Bolshevism. To Stalin- 
ism. This would expand on tlie section in my contribu- 
tion (Vol. 30, No. 1). This is an important part of our 
history as weU as that of the homosexual emancipation 



movement. Gay liberationists must become aware of it 
Most gay people, like most straights, think the Soviet 
Union represents socialism, which is therefore bad. We 
must correct this. 

5) Edward Carpenter— Grandfather Of Gay Liberation. 
The 19th century socialist, Edward Carpenter, is considered 
by some to have been the first gay liberationist. His book, 
Love's Coming Of Age, dealt with women's emancipation, 
Engels' theories on the family, "the intermediate sex," and 
presented a vision of love in a free society. Just as it was 
due to be published in 1895, the Oscar Wilde trial caused 
extreme reaction to set in, and his publisher broke con- 
tract. Six publishers refused to touch the book. Carpen- 
ter then turned to his own group whose Labour Press 
published Love's Coming 0/ ^S'e. ■ Tlie first gay liberation 
book was published by a socialist press. I have a copy 
of the book published in 1927 by the Vanguard Press 
in New York. On the inside covers are the slogans: 
"Solidarity of Labour" and "The Cause of Labour is the 
Hope of the World." By this time tlie book had acheived 
extensive popularity and been translated into many lan- 
guages. A biographical pamphlet on Carpenter will again 
establish the link- between socialism and gay liberation. 
His is an interesting life. 

6) The Politics Of Gay Ojopression. This could incor- 
porate aspects of Reich's and Marcuse's work to show 
how gay oppression supports class rule. Contributions 
by Jon Hillson, David Thorstad, myself and others have 
suggested ideas for this pamphlet. 

7) Tfie Gay Heritage. Covering great men and women 
who were gay. Just as the Black and women's movements 
did, we must recover our own history, our own heros, 
of which we have much to be proud. 

- September 1, 1972 



(Vol. 31, No. 3) 



MEMORANDUM ON THE GAY LIBERATION MOVEMENT 

[The general line of this memorandum was approved 
by the National Committee on April 29, 1973. j 



f: 



The plenum of the National Committee held last year 
adopted a motion that read in part, "To open immediately 
following the plenum an internal party literary discussion, 
for a three-month period, of the gay liberation move- 
ment and the party's orientation to it, leading to a de- 
cision by the subsequent plenum of the National Com- 
mittee." This is that subsequent plenum, and the pur- 
pose of this memorandum is to make that decision. 

1. The struggle against the oppression of gay people 
is a struggle for democratic rights. The party has taken 
a position in support of this struggle, and adopted 
the following position at the 1971 party convention; "To 
reaffirm the party's position stated in the Political Com- 
mittee motion of May 25, 1971, of unconditional support 
to the struggles of homosexuals for full democratic rights, 
including full civil and human rights, and against all 
the forms of discrimination and oppression they suffer 
under capitalism." The adoption of the general line of 
this report will include reaffirming this as thebasic political 



position of the party on the oppression of homosexuals. 

2. While we reject with contempt all forms of bourgeois 
prejudice against gay people, including quack psycho- 
logical "theories" labelling gays as mentally ill — preju- 
dices echoed by the Stalinists — the party does not and 
should not take a stand on the nature or value of homo- 
sexuality. . . ■ , 

The party should not do this for the following reasons. 

First, the party is a political organization. Its aim is 
a political one: to construct a mass revolutionary pro- 
letarian political party that will mobilize the working class 
and its allies, and lead in the conquest of state power 
by the working class, opening the road to the construc- 
tion of socialism. In keeping with its aim, the party adopts 
political positions that guide its work. It does not take 
positions on a whole range of scientific, artistic, cultural 
and other questions — to do so would cut across its pur- 
pose, dilute its nature as a political organization, trans- 
form it into an organization advancing one or another 



82 



re of 
e Sovi 
)ad. Wtf 



itific or cultural viewpoint, narrow its appeal, and 
3le its ability to mobilize the masses on political ques- 



'eratioTL 
isiden 
s bool 
ipation. 
3X," and 

> it was 
caused 

ke con- 
Ilarpen- 
r Press 
eration 
a copy 
i Press 
ogans: 
■ is the 
shelved 
ly lan- 
again 
ration. 

incor- 
show 

utions 

> have 

'omen 
ments 
Sieros, 



1972 



lis. 
ois 

10- 

ju- 
nd 

lO- 

is. 
is 
o- 
ss 
er 
c- 
ts 
:e 
al 
r- 
s- 



ond, this particular question is further complicated 

the fact that the whole question of the scientific in- 

igation of sexuality and the related one of psychology 

1 in its infancy. Especially concerning homosexuality, 

is known, and it is difficult to ascertain what is ob- 

ively based and what represents prejudice in what 

wledge is available. If we were to attempt to adopt 

particular viewpoint on the nature of homosexuality 

sexuality in general, we would become embroiled in 

hopeless tangle of opinions, prejudices and personal 

'erences with little hope of reaching any scientifically 

lid conclusions, even if that were within the purpose 

the SWF, which it is not. 

Xeither is scientific knowledge advanced enough on 

i question for us to be able to say what future hu- 

in sexuality will be Iflie in a classless society. The so- 

alist revolution will laj' the foundations for the trans- 

smation of human culture in all spheres, including sex- 

and other personal relations, but exactly how this 

ill affect sexual relations can only be a subject for spec- 

Eation at this stage, as is true of a whole range of as- 

ts of the future classless society. We can say that, in 

csual relations as in every other human sphere, we have 

rery reason to expect that future communist hvimanity 

ill be superior to present-day humanity, and that sex- 

ality v/ill be freed from all prejudice, superstition, mys- 

,sm, and religious morality. VV'e cannot go much be- 

c-nd the assertion that the present sexual misery of the 

asses of people will be overcome. If we attempt to ex- 

tapolate further, we run the strong risk of merely pro- 

;ting our own psychological makeups, losing sight of 

e fact that each and every one of us has been formed 

nder capitalism. 

We should reject the idea, propounded by somie in the 
ly liberation moveracnt, that homosexuality is more 
ogressive than heterosexuality because it involves sex- 
al relations that fall outside tJie family system, and thcre- 
e leads to liberation from that system. Sexual activities 
any kind outside the family — whether heterosexual 
r homosexual — cannot replace the family system. They 
no way replace the social functions of caring for the 
oung and old, performing such labor as cooking, laun- 
y, %ic. The reactionary institution of the patriarchal 
f^.rnily, and the ideology and morality that buttress it, 
vill wither away only in the process of the construction 
f socialism, as the social and economic functions it now 
performs are progressively taken on by society as a whole. 
The party should take no position on the nature or 
alue of homosexuality, nor try to determine what is 
cod" or "bad" about heterosexuality or homosexuality, 
snd not advocate any specific sexual orientation. 
1 3. We cannot abstract our consideration of this ques- 
:ion from the rise of the gay liberation movement itself. 
In fact, it has been the rise of this movement that has 

I made it necessary for the party to clarify its position 
concerning the oppression of homosexuals, and to dis- 
cuss our relationship to this movement. 

The gay liberation movement is an aspect of the current 
radicalization and developed out of it. There are a num- 
ber of factors which prepared the way for the develop- 
ment of this movement. 



First, there have been changes in the prevailing atti- 
tudes on homosexuality in society as a whole, together 
with changes in prevailing views on sexuality in gen- 
eral. While the prejudices against homosexuals remain, 
and they are deep, an attitude of greater acceptance of 
homosexuals as fully human has developed. At bottom, 
this reflects a loosening of the hold of traditional sexual 
morality that has accompanied the growing crisis of the 
social mores of capitalism in its decline. 

These changes towards lessening of prejudices concern- 
ing homosexuals is evident in many ways, in the cul- 
tural and information media, in the number of challenges 
to various legal aspects of the discrimination against 
gays, and even in statements by bourgeois candidates. 

The development of greater acceptance of homosexuals 
has been most pronounced amiong radicalized young peo- 
ple. One aspect of the youth radicalization has been a 
widespread and growing questioning of repressive sexual 
morality. This critical attitude towards traditional mo- 
rality undermines the ideological basis of the prejudice 
and discrimination against gay people. This shift in at- 
titudes has provided an atmosphere in which such a move- 
ment couid develop. At the same time, a layer of gay 
people, especially young gay people, have been affected 
by the radicalization. Seeing other oppressed layers and 
groups begin to fight against their oppression, young 
gay people v/ere inspired to begin to struggle for their 
rights too. 

Under the impact of movements such as a Black lib- 
eration struggle and the women's liberation movement, 
radicalizing young people have begim to reject any dis- 
crimina.tion against people for their physical or sexual 
characteristics. For many in this generation, opposition 
to the tradition-al repressive sexual morality and to dis- 
crimination based upon sexual characteristics is becoming 
the norm. This trend among youth was reinforced by 
the rise of the women's liberation movement. 

The women's mo'v'em.ent itself is concerned with sexual 
oppression, as women are oppressed as a sex. The lit- 
erature of the vvom^en's movement has analyzed and ex- 
posed the objectification of sex and the debilitating and 
reactionary character of traditional sexual morality, and 
the distortion of sexuality in capitalist society. The Marx- 
ist theory of the origin, structure and role of the family 
as the basis of the oppression of women has, for example, 
become m_uch more widely accepted. In this context, many 
in the v/omen's movement have begun to see the prej- 
udice towards homosexuals as another facet of sexist 
oppression. 

The women's movement not only helped pave the way 
for the rise of tlie gay liberation movement on the plane 
of ideas, it had to confront the question of the discrim- 
ination against homosexuals directly in the form of les- 
bian-baiting. This included baiting of lesbians in the wom- 
en's movement, and baiting of the whole movement with 
the charge that any woman who fights for her rights 
is stepping out of her place, is rejecting her "femdninity." 
The women's movement has by and large rqected lesbian- 
baiting as an attempt to divide and weaken the move- 
ment. 

While these developments in the radicalization lay the 
ground for the rise of the gay liberation movement and 
helped inspire radicalized young gay people to fight 
against their oppression, the movement itself has in turn 



a 



83 



brought about a higher level of understanding of and 
opposition to the oppression of gay people among rad- 
icalizing youth, and has already had a considerable im- 
pact on the society in spite of the movement's shortcom- 
ings. 

This development of the gay liberation movement is 
progressive. It confronts and helps break down the re- 
actionary morality that helps preserve class society. The 
struggle of gay people for their rights is directed against 
the capitalist government, and is in the interests of so- 
cialism, which can only be built by the mobilization of 
the working class and its allies in the historic task of 
rebuilding society, eliminating every vestige of discrim- 
ination and oppression spawned by class society, including 
the oppression of gay people. The party identifies with 
the aims of this struggle and supports it, and this is re- 
flected in the political position the party has adopted 
and reaffirmed in this report. 

4. Given our political position of support to the struggles 
of gay people against their oppression, how we carry 
out that support is a tactical question. 

First, let's look at the question of priorities in a stra- 
tegic long-term sense. The gay liberation movement di- 
rectly relates to a relatively narrow sector of the pop- 
ulation. The issue it raises is essentially limited to the 
struggle for the democratic rights of this sector. The gay 
liberation movement does not have the potential mass 
of either the women's movement or the movements of 
the major oppressed nationalities, nor the social weight 
of these movements, which result both from their mass 
and the scope of the questions they raise. The move- 
ments of the major oppressed nationalities in the United 
States — both because their national-democratic demands 
cannot be met except through the proletarian revolution, 
and because of their overwhelmingly proletarian com- 
position—raise almost from the beginning demands of 
the working class as a whole. The women's movement, 
also, because of the role of the family as a pillar of class 
society and the character of the economic exploitation 
of women, raises class demands. The gay liberation move- 
ment is much narrower in the scope of its demands. 

In our long-term strategic priorities, the gay liberation 
movement is much more peripheral to the central issues 
of the class struggle than either the women's movement 
or the movements of the oppressed nationalities. Neither 
does it raise such a central issue of world politics as 
the struggle against imperialist wars. Our propaganda, 
our election campaigns. The Militant, our forums, etc., 
must reflect the relative weight and importance of the 
gay liberation movement compared to other movements 
and issues of more central importance. The major is- 
sues we should be concentrating on are the big questions 
of the class struggle, and this must be reflected in the 
totality of the party's projection of its program. It would 
be a mistake to place equal emphasis upon the struggle 
of women or Blacks, and that of gay people, for example. 

Exactly how the party should orient towards this move- 
ment at the present time has to be considered in light 
of the concrete situation of this movement, and in rela- 
tion to other fields of work and tasks facing the party. 

The gay liberation movement is at present very dif- 
fuse, not organized into any single grouping or action 
front on a national scale. In 1969 and 1970, gay lib- 
eration organizations sprang up on campuses and major 



a more 

^nd a J 

I rule; 

^Jsuming 

way 

If our 

in the \ 



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from tl 
est or 
jolitica 

The 1 
:o do 
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gard t: 
r.bstacl 
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ni 



cities across the country. A number of demonstrati^ 
and actions were held — the largest have been the ann 
Christopher St. demonstrations in 1970, '71, and 
From what we can tell from the probe of the gay lii 
eration movement conducted by the party, and develoi 
ments since then, there has been an evolution of the ci . 

ganized gay liberation movement. A sector of the mo\-j- ' 
ment developed in an ultraleft and inward-turned directioa'^^"^ ^ 
This sector became part of the broader ultraleft and coa 
mune-oriented youth current. In some areas, this procei 
resulted in the virtual disappearance of any viable c- 
ganized expression of the gay liberation movement. 

There have been some notable exceptions to this. Ta 
most stable of the gay rights organizations is the Gat 
Activists Alliance in New York, which has continued :i 
carry out activities directed against gay oppression. Ci 
the campus, many groups have become essentially sociM 
groupings to provide social outlets and help for gaya 
although we can expect that these organizations coui| 
support struggles should they develop. 

Since the 1972 party literary discussion on the gaj 
liberation movement, there has been no significant step! 
towards the formation of a national framework of ga^ 
liberation organizations or a national focus of actici 
by gay liberation groups. In fact, the direction seenj 
to be the opposite at this time, with such a national fo 
cus or organization less likely. 

In view of the present state of the organized gay libl 
eration movement on a national scale, we should n^^ 
attempt to carry out a national party intervention 
the gay liberation movement or project a national part 
campaign on this question at the present time. Thus w 
should make no reallocation of our forces to generaU] 
assign comrades to this movement. Our support to thi 
movement will be mainly in our propaganda in the ne: 
period, as it has been. There is no national gay libera 
tion organization which could be a focus of our inter 
vention. There is no national action coalition aroum 
specific issues of gay oppression which we could sup 
port and help build. Any attempt by us to start fro: 
scratch and try to build such an organization or co 
tion would fail in the given conditions, where we do ni 
see much motion toward such formations. We cann 
attempt to substitute our own small forces, in any movi 
ment, for broader forces we might like to see organize 
but which are not at the present time. 

On a local level there has been somewhat of a droppii 
off of struggles for the rights of gay people in the pa 
period, but what struggles have occurred have been lo- 
cally organized. Where such demonstrations, defense case 
etc., occur, the party should support them. Branches haM 
the responsibility to carry out any such work within thi 
context of carrying out the major campaigns being con- 
ducted by the party. 

5. During the party literary discussion, an issue wai 
raised concerning the party attitude concerning dress &ni 
appearance of comrades. This question and others r* 
lated to it go beyond a discussion of the gay liberation 
movement, raising a more general question of the imagi 
and functioning of the party. 

The party does have a concern with the image of thi 
party as projected by the dress and decorum of individu 
members that would in fact prohibit certain clothing, lik- 
dresses, from being worn by male comrades. There 



84 



IL 



I more general question involved, concerning the dress 
)nstratia "^"^ appearance of all members. While we have no set 
he anna '^ rules concerning dress, we do have a tradition of as- 
and '7 ►'^'^irig 'hat SWP members will dress and act in such 
e gav U ' ^^^ '^^ ^'^ project the party as a serious organization. 
i devela ^ °'^'^ image were to become exotic, that would stand 
of the II '^ *^^ way of recruiting and influencing masses of people 
the mov 'ustifiably suspicious of people that are obviously ex- 
directio ^^''^^V eccentric. A political person who deviates too far 
and coi ^°™ *h^ social norm in questions like that of dress has 
is proce ^^^^ °'' never had a sense of proportion about what is 
/iable e Politically important and v;hat is secondary. 
^^ The wearing of this or that kind of clothing has nothing 

this 71 '** '^'^ with being a revolutionary, and responsible raem- 
. ^j^ P bers subordinate personal whims or desires in this re- 
itinued I d'^^'^ ^'-^ ^^^^ political objective of not placing unnecessary 
ssion i'bstacles in our way. Our general rule should be to dress 
12 gQ . pithin the socially accepted styles, and the party units 
"or a-avi -^'^'^ 'i^^ responsibility to see to it that individual mem- 
ins coul ■'^'"^ *° '^°* abuse the party by projecting an exotic im- 
age of the party, 
the ea There are other aspects to this general question. One 
ant stpr °^ tl^ese is a pressure upon the party from a small and 

^ „f oltraleft section of the women's movement that asserts 

^ ot ga 

Df actio ^'^^'' 'o be a "true feminist" a woman should be a lesbian 

M-, cQ«« or at least not live with a rnan, or must not wear certain 

. J , make-up, etc. Our conception of a feminist has nothing 

to do with an. evaluation of her personal life. It is of 



gay libT 
3uld n:« -^ 
;ntion ij 
al part] 
Thus w 
feneralli 
■t to thii 
the nesd 
/ libera 
ur inter 

arouns 
lid sup 
irt fro 
)r coali- 

do ni 

canni 
' move- 
^anized. 



a wom.an who fights politically for the liberation of wom- 
no n.iatter what liar personal life. .■ . ;. - ■■. " 



U 



Another question which has been raised concerns all- 
women functions organized by the party. In certain cases, 
all-women's classes, discussions, or more informal gather- 
ings organized by tlie party can help bring contacts closer, 
provide an atmosphere for contacts to more easily ex- 
change ideas with party spokeswomen, etc., and the same 
thing can be said of similar all-Black functions. Such 
functions must be organized in such a way that they 
do not project an image tliat the function is in reality 
restricted to lesbians. This can drive away many women 
who feel uncomfortable in such an atmosphere. 

The same can be said of our attitude towards social 
functions of women's organizations we support. 

A word should be said concerning our social functions 
in general. Such functions organized by the party are 
political functions, and must be organized as such, with 
a general tone and atmosphere that all the various types 
of people we seek to recruit and bring around the party 
are comfortable in. Sexual activities, whether heterosexual 
or homosexual, have no place at party socials. 

In general, we must resist pressures upon the party 
that originate from certain sectors of the radicalized layers 
(not only in the gay liberation movement, of course, 
but among all the radicalized layers) who have turned 
towards counter-culturalism and away from politics. 

6. Since we project no national campaign of the party 
at the present time in the gay liberation movement, there 
is no need to have a separate point on the convention 
agenda on this question. ... .... ,,..-.,. 



f'Jc 



'oppinr 
he pas: 
)een Ic 
e cases, 
es hav« 
hin the 

Ig COD- 



je was 
;ss and 
ers re- 
eration 
image 

of the 
vidual 
g, like 
lere is 



I 



C.i, 



85 



(Vol. 31, I\'0o 15) 



FOR AN INTERVENTION INTO THE 

GAY LIBERATION STRUGGLE 

by David Thorstad and Kendall Green, 

Upper West Side Branch, New York Local 



Introduction 

The gay liberation movement represents tlie eruption 
into the arena of political and social struggle of a sector 
of the oppressed whose anger, pent up and suppressed 
for thousands of years, is now beginning to be released 
on a scale never before seen. This layer of the oppressed 
is placing blame for its oppression where it belongs: on 
the social and political institutions of society. 

In contrast to the general approach of the pioneering 
gay groups, the current gay liberation movement is not 
requesting mere tolerance and integration into this unjust 
society. Rather, gays are demanding that society abandon 
its exclusive heterosexual norm, grant tliem full civil and 
human rights, and allow for the full acceptance of tlieir 
sexual orientation as no less valid than that of hetero- 
sexuals. 

In the four years since New York's Stonewall riots, gay 
liberation has entered the national and international po- 
litical scene on a scale sufficient to show that the curtain 
of silence witli which capitalism suffocates the cry for gay 
freedom can successfully be pierced. Not only, in fact, has 
the curtain been .pierced, but for the fu-st time in history 
there are indications of a truly mass-scale support for the 
just demands being raised by tlie gay movement. 

It is testimony to the depth, of the current radicalization 
that it has brought tens of thousands of gays into open 
struggle against their oppression and that it has begun to 
instUl the idea in millions of others that thek lot can be 
improved. 

The gay liberation movement is a struggle for full civU, 
human and democratic rights. It is a struggle against 
a form of oppression that is rooted in the need of capital- 
ist society to suppress homosexual behavior both as part 
of its general repression of sexuality and because homo- 
sexual behavior conflicts witla society's exclusive hetero- 
sexual norm. This norm is reinforced by all the institu- 
tions of capitalist society, beginning witli tlie famUy, and 
continued in the schools, churches, and synagogues. Mem- 
bers of society who refuse to conform to this norm are 
threatened with jail, physical extermination or mutOation; 
in advanced capitalist societies, they are driven into the 
underground subculture of the big cities where they are 
exploited and preyed upon by the syndicates and the po- 
lice. 

WhUe partial concessions can be wrested from the 
capitalist state by the struggle of large numbers of gays 
for their rights, so long as society is predicated on the 
need to suppress homosexual behavior, the full rights of 
gay people will not be achieved. The partial removal 
of some of the legal restrictions and descrmiination alone 
will not mean freedom for gays; nowhere in the world 
where such reforms have been achieved are gays really 
free. 

The gay liberation movement demands changes that 

86 



k:onl 
^ fev 



Knd 
k)gi< 
aj( 
oppi 
dem 
outw 
asse 
feri( 
it w 
tiiat 



and fabric of capitalist society that nothing short of 
socialist revolution can win their liberation 



not only pit it against bourgeois morality and deep 
instaied prejudices, but bring it into direct conflict wi 
the capitalist state over the right of persons with a homi 
sexual orientation to control their own bodies and destinj 
The oppression of gays is so deeply rooted in the need aiili 

first 

•Do 

swe 

T 

doi 

slo: 

to 

ga! 

hoi 

wit 

leg 

slo 

sci 

ea 



be-i 
sufl 

lirT 



/. Rise of the Gay Liberation Movement 

The stage for the current wave of gay liberation was 
by the struggles of the civil rights, antiwar, and women" 
liberation movements. While many gays had participat 
in these movements, and for years in the left in gener 
the sight of other oppressed groups fighting for th 
rights gave gays the confidence in their own ability to 
the same. They were further encouraged by the gener 
attitude of questioning sexuality and sex roles that h 
been a part of the current youth radicalization. 

The women's movement did more than any other sing 
movement to inspire gays v,'ith this confidence, in part be 
cause it raised the issue of sexual oppression, in part be-, 
cause it helped to undermine heterosexual male s 
premacy, and in part because it inspired lesbians withi 
its own ranks to extend the scope of the struggle for libera 
tion to the batdeground for homosexual rights. 

The shock waves of the June 1969 Stonewall riots and 
the New York Gay Pride march of 6,000 the following 
year reverberated around the world. They were felt within 
our party, too. The first important sign of this was the 
decision to eliminate the antigay exclusion policy that had 
evolved during the 1960s as an anachronistic hangover 
within the revolutionary party itself from the McCarthyisrc 
of the 1950S. In the two and a half years since then, we 
have been grappling with the question of how to relate 
the program and purpose of the revolutionary party tc 
this new phenomenon. Our recognition of the justice of 
the struggle for gay rights is reflected in the May 25, 
1971, Political Committee motion of "unconditional sup- 
port to the struggles of homosexuals for full democratic 
rights, including civil and human rights, and against all 
the forms of discrimination and oppression they suffer { 
under capitalism." J 

Gays responded to the freer atmosphere created by the 
developing radicalization and the example of other op- 
pressed groups struggling for their rights by refusing 
to relegate the struggle for their own rights to low 
priority —behind the needs of other, more "legitimate" and 
less controversial, struggles of the oppressed. They also ; 
began to abandon the stance of pleading for tolerance \ 
that had characterized most of the earlier "homophile" J 
groups like the Mattachine Society, ONE, and Daughters I 
of Bilitis. They began to demand that their rights be 
granted immediately. The fear and loathing on the part 
of heterosexuals and the threat of reprisals, which only 



; earlier had still been sufficient to prevent eli but 
^ays from daring to reveal their sexual orientation, 
e no longer so intimidating. 

.-ays began to reject society's claim that they are sick 

i inferior — some kind of genetic, psychological, socio- 

r>al, or historical aberration — thereby rejecting the 

ijor myth society uses to force gays to internalize their 

rression and keep them in a state of self-hatred and 

obilization. They began to redirect that oppression 

ard at the society from which it originated, and to 

£C-rt that their sexual orientation was in no way in- 

ior to a heterosexual orientation. They asserted that 

v.'as not gays that needed to be changed, but the society 

t oppresses them. The tone of the nev.' wave of gay 

itants was reflected in the irreverent leaflet calling the 

frst meeting of the New York Gay Liberation Front: 

-^■0 you think homosexuals are revolting? You bet your 

=~eet ass we are!" 

This new mood of self-affirmation popularized the 
ilogan "Gay is Good!" and the concept of gay pride. The 
ilogan had originated with a motion by Frank Kameny 
:o the North American Conference of Homophile Or- 
ranizations (NACHO) in 1968 asserting the right of 
-omosexuals to live their lives openly, fully and freely, 
-■•ithout pressure to convert to heterosexuality and without 
.jgal or extralegal penalties for their i>exual activitj^. The 
slogan plays a two-fold role in developing political con- 
sciousness among gays. First, it is an appeal to closeted 
gays to reject their feelings of self -hatred and struggle 
openly for their rights. This appeal is also expressed in the 
slogan "Out of the Closets, Into the Streets!" Second, the 
slogan asserts that gays will no longer accept the m.yths 
society uses to justify and perpetuate its efforts to suppress 
homosexuality. These myths range from the theological 
notion that homosexuality is "unnatural," to the Stalinist- 
inspired view that it is a product of "bourgeois decadence" 
(or the variation that it is a product of class society), 
to the various "theories" of bourgeois psychiatrists that 
homosexuality is an illness. From the very beginning, 
the gay liberation movement has found it necessary to 
challenge such myths and prejudices because they function 
as the main "theoretical" underpinning for society's anti- 
gay edifice. 

In Jime 1970, the first gay pride march was held in 
New York City to commemorate the Stonewall riots. More 
than 6,000 gays, representing all layers of the gay com- 
munity, turned out for this affirmation of gay pride. The 
following year more than 25,000 demonstrated in cities 
throughout the United States, with the largest number in 
New York. 

• The 1972 marches saw the introduction of new features 
in gay pride demonstrations. In Philadelphia, where some 
6,000 marched, a large number of sympathizing hetero- 
sexuals joined in behind a banner proclaiming "Straights 
for Gays." Half of the demonstration consisted of Blacks. 
And in Los Angeles, the march went beyond the usual 
gay pride focus to include four demands: (1) Repeal 
all statutes regulating sexual behavior between consenting 
individuals; (2) No "crimes" without victim-s; release all 
persons convicted of so-called sex offenses; (3) End dis- 
crimination against gays in all areas of life; (4) End 
police harassment of gays. 

Such demonstrations of thousands of homosexuals 
openly and proudly proclaiming their sexual orientation 



have a powerful political and social impact that we wel- 
come and support. The gay movement, however, also 
needs to develop campaigns and program.? that can in- 
volve large numbers of gays and sympathizers in po- 
litical struggles to fight for gay rights and wrest con- 
cessions from the ruling class. 

State of the Gay Movement 

There are more than 600 gay organizations throughout 
the United States, a large proportion of them campus 
groups. Their particular focus varies considerably from 
group to group, ranging from counseling, legislative lob- 
bying, and religious activities, to confrontation and 
political activism. Many provide some kind of social 
setting, such as lounges, dances, or cabarets, at which 
gays can be themselves with other gays. The very existence ■ 
of a gay group on campus frequently leads to a struggle 
for recognition or funding. They are often the largest 
and most active political group on campus. 

The gay liberation movement has been struggling 
around a ntmiber of issues during the past four years 
on essentially a local or statewide basis. These issues, 
around, wliich continued struggle can be expected in the 
future, has been the following: 

1. Antigay laws. Sodomy laws, v^hich are usually en- 
titled "crime against nature" or "unnatural copulation" 
laws, still provide for the punishment of homosexual acts 
between consenting adults in 42 states. Penalties range, 
from three months in jail to life imprisonment. In many 
states, the sodomy laws are formulated in such a way as ■ 
to proscribe certain heterosexual acts as well, though they 
are used almost exclusively against gays. Since 1961, 
eight states have dropped such laws; revisions of the law 
are under consideration in other states. While these laws . 
are enforced infrequently and selectively, their very exis- 
tence serves to reinforce and provide legal justification 
for discrimination and oppression in other areas. 

In addition to the sodomy laws, other laws are used 
to victimize gays, including cross-dressing, solicitation, ; 
lewd behavior, and loitering statutes. 

In a number of states, there have been demonstrations 
against these laws. Gay groups from throughout New 
York state, for example, were joined by groups from 
Connecticut and New Jersey in marches on Albany in 
1971 and 1972 demanding repeal of the sodomy, solicita- 
. tion, and cross-dressing laws. 

While the sodomy laws are universally opposed by 
gays, and while their abolition would represent an im- 
portant civil rights victory, the demand for their repeal ' 
has not been the primary focus of tlie gay movement 
There are a number of reasons for this: First, however 
unjust these laws are, few gays come into direct conflict 
with tliem, as long as they restrict their sexual activity 
to private quarters; second, the reformist leaderships in the 
gay movement have tended to refrain from organizing 
mass action.s, preferring to focus on lobbying activity; 
and third, there is an ultraleftist tendency among some 
to spurn struggle for law repeal as reformist. 

While a major campaign has not developed in the gay 
movement to fight these antigay laws, the potential for 
such a campaign exists in some areas. Where the poten- 
tial exists, the main obstacle to developing such cam- 
paigns remains the reformist gay leaderships. Victories 
in fighting for the repeal of these laws can be won and 



87 



li 



t 

I 

would help provide further impetus to the developing gay 
liberation struggle. 

2. Equal rights legislation. The best example of this 
kind of legislation is Intro 475, a bill in New York City 
that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual 
orientation in jobs, housing, and public accommodations. 
First introduced into the city council in January 1971, it 
has been kept bottled-up in committee ever since. Despite 
impressive support from community, union, and political 
leaders, it has been defeated three times in committee votes. 
Intro 475 has been an important focus of New York 
gay groups, particularly the Gay Activists Alliance, and 
has prompted numerous demonstrations, organized 
largely as last-ditch efforts when behind-the-scenes lobby- 
ing reached an impasse. In spite of a certain demorali- 
zation resulting from the repeated defeats of the bill in 
committee and the failure of the reformist forces in the 
gay movement to provide proper leadership, Intro 475 
remains a key issue in the New York gay movement. 
The outcome of this struggle will have repercussions in 
the gay movement throughout the country and in Canada. 
Similar, though not so encompassing, legislation has 
been enacted in East Lansing, Ann Arbor, and San Fran- 
cisco. Public hearings on a similar bill were held in Wash- 
ington, D. C, in May. While there have not yet been any 
efforts to push for a national Equal Rights Amendment- 
type campaign to extend civil rights legislation to include 
sexual orientation, such a future development cannot be 
ruled out. 

One excuse used by opponents of municipal legislation 
like Intro 475 is that the existence of state sodomy laws 
contravenes such local legislation. This argument merely 
highlights the interrelated nature of the fight for such 
legislation and the struggle against the state sodomy laws. 
3. Police harassment. This is a constant feature in the 
lives of gays and one that has often sparked protests by 
gay groups. The harassment takes many forms, including 
bar raids like the one that set off the Stonewall riots, 
entrapment, beatings, arrests for solicitation or lewd con- 
duct. Such harassment, which serves to keep gays from 
coming together to fight their oppression, continues to be 
a problem in states where the sodomy laws have been 
repealed. Protests- over cases of police harassment have 
occurred in cities all across the country. 

4. Campus recognition. The right to form gay groups 
and propagandize for gay liberation is far from having 
been won. Recognition battles, often victorious, have been 
fought from coast to coast. Such struggles were important 
issues this spring in Kansas and Missouri, for example 
A gay recognition fight at New York's Fordham Uni- 
versity was one of the most important struggles on that 
campus last year. In addition to recognized gav groups, 
an increasingly common phenomenon on American cam- 
puses has become gay studies course. As the gay move- 
ment grows, the struggle for such programs can be ex- 
pected to spread. 

5. Job discrimination. Few jobs are open to known 
homosexuals. This forces the overwhelming majority o: 
gays to hide their identity as a matter of survival; it 
makes a dual existence necessary for millions. Job-related 
discrimination is one of the most intense forms of op- 
pression faced by gays of both sexes. The mere suspicion 
that one is gay is often enough to get one fired or keep 



T 



sions o 
one from being hired in the first place. Employers, ti m the 
police, insurance and detective agencies, and the militarjvehicle 
often collaborate and exchange information that is us^gays. ' 
to prevent prospective employees who happen to be gi'.he ga^ 
from being hired. Some cities explicitly ban gays frca-elttodi 
working in certain jobs, suchas bartending, taxi drivir.5 The 
and teaching. the De 

Many cases of job discrimination have been fougasequen 
by the gay movement, with techniques ranging from cou^ self, hi 
suits, to protest demonstrations, to organizing withit and le 
unions. Under pressure from GAA zap demonstratiora ment 
last year, the New York Taxi Commission agreed :■ relianc 
abandon its policy of requiring gay taxi drivers to under- has h( 
go yearly psychiatric examinations. Broad support was organ 
organized to defend gay activist Michael McConnell whea stratej 
the University of Minnesota refused to hire him as i the ga 
librarian. The case also spurred gay librarians to s=4 O^^ 
up a special task force to fight for gay rights inside thei 
national association. Gay teachers announced the for- 
mation of a gay caucus for similar purposes at last year = 
convention of the National Education Association. 
. 6. Oppression by the psychiatric profession. The ui- 
of aversion therapy or other related methods of torturt 
is common throughout the United States, including 0: 
a number of college campuses and in prisons. The under 



port 1 

clude( 

ever, 

paigr 

paigr 

didat 

suppi 

electi 



lying assumption of such "therapy" is that human beings, erati( 
unless tampered with, are "naturally" heterosexual. 

Since homosexuality is officially viewed by the psychi- 
atric profession as a sickness, it is considered profession- 
ally ethical for psychiatrists to experiment in all kinds 
of barbaric techniques, including electric shock treatmen: 
in an effort to disc.over the elusive "cure" for the "illness," 
The gay liberation movement is fighting this vicious 
self-fulfilling branding of homosexual behavior as a- 
illness. It has done so through its propaganda, through 
protest demonstrations, and through direct intervention 
in the main professional institution responsible for per- 
petuating the sickness "theory"-- the American Psychiatric 
Association (APA). After several years of campaigning 
to get the APA to remove homosexuality from its official 
diagnostic category of mental disorders, the issue became 
a major focus of attention at this year's APA convention 
in Honolulu in May. Although there is increasing suppor: 
for the gay movement's stand within the profession, how- 
ever, it has still not acquiesced. This derogatory labeling 
of gays by psychiatrists is used by other institutions as 
a rationale for continuing their own discriminatory pol- 
icies. 

7. Elections. The U. S. gay liberation movement first 1 
forced capitalist candidates to take public positions on 
gay rights during the 1970 campaign in New York. By 
confronting the campaigning candidates, it succeeded in 
forcing several Democratic candidates and one Republican 
candidate to issue public statements of support. Within 
two years, gay liberation had become a significant enough 
issue for gay delegates at the Democratic Party national 
convention to be given time to raise the gay rights issue I 
before the delegates and on national television. Today, 
lip service to gay rights is common for candidates of 
both capitalist parties in areas where a vocal gay move- 
ment exists. 

The apparent resilience of the Democratic Party under 
the demagogic McGovern campaign heightened the illu- 



have 
forts 
mov 

Fore 

Th 

mov 

forir 

Gay 

no 

era! 

Tl 

of ti 

poli 

voc 

fror 

"gO( 

dir« 
opF 
pre 
snc 
cyr 
Yo 
sta 

ref 
on 
bil 
the 

th; 
th; 
us 
of 
th 
"d 
B 



88 



11 



ns of large numbers of gays, including gay activists, 
the ability of capitalist politics to serve as an effective 
icle for bringing about changes that would benefit 
■s. The McGovern campaign temporarily demobilized 
e gay liberation struggle, and the effects are still being 
t today. 

The overwhelming defeat of the gay rights plank at 

e Democratic Party convention, however, and the sub- 

quent widespread disillusionment with McGovern him- 

f, have increased suspicion of politicians among gays 

left pro-Democratic reformist leaders in the gay move- 

ent in a more vulnerable position than before. Their 

liance on the goodwill of individual capitalist politicians 

_as held back gay liberation by discouraging gays from 

organizing mass-action campaigns for their rights. Their 

strategy can only lead to demoralization and defeats for 

the gay movement. 

Our party's position has been one of unequivocal sup- 
port to gay rights. Such a plank has generally been in- 
cluded in our campaign literature. We have tended, how- 
ever, to treat gay rights as an afterthought in our cam- 
paigns. With the exception of the Sally Anderson cam- 
paign in Los Angeles, we have not run openly gay can- 
didates with a special appeal to the gay movement to 
support our campaign. Our failure to fully utilize our 
election campaigns as effective tools to fight for gay lib- 
eration, and our nonintervention in the gay movement, 
have seriously hampered our ability to combat the ef- 
forts of the reformists to demobilize and coopt the gay 
movement. 

Forces in the Gay Liberation 

There is no central political force in the gay liberation 
movement. Of the various tendencies, however, the re- 
formists are clearly dominant. The ultraleftists of the early 
Gay Liberation Front stage of the gay movement enjoy 
no significant influence today; their groups have gen- 
erally dissolved. 

The attitude of the reformists (reflected in the approach 
of the leadership of New York's GAA and in the editorial 
policy of the Los Angeles-based gay newspaper The Ad- 
vocate, for instance) is a bankrupt one of abstaining 
from mass mobilizations and concentrating on supporting 
"good" guys and opposing "bad" guys. This policy leads 
directly into the liberal ballot box and encourages the 
oppressed to run after crumbs from the table of the op- 
pressor. The failure of their approach is clear from the 
snow job at the Democratic Party convention and the 
cynical refusal of the liberal "friends of gays" in the New 
York city council to pass Intro 475 even after signing 
statements promising to do so. 

The only effective alternative to the approach of the 
reformists is a strategy of struggle that places no reliance 
on capitalist politicians and that can reach out to mo- 
bilize gays and their supporters in mass action against 
the oppressive laws and institutions of the capitalist system. 

A small section of the gay liberation movement, believing 
that homosexual behavior per se is more progressive 
than heterosexuality, advocates homosexuality or bisex- 
uality as the road toward emancipation and the abolition 
of the family. Others seek personal solutions to oppression 
that is ingrained in the social fabric of capitalism by 
"dropping out" and developing "countercultural" lifestyles. 
But the oppression of gays is rooted in the capitalist 



system itself, with its norm of exclusive heterosexuality, 
not in individual heterosexually oriented persons. Gays 
cannot escape their oppression in an elusive "gay culture." 

This escapist approach leads away from mobilizing 
the oppressed to fight for their rights and toward attempt- 
ing to change one's own head rather than change a rotten 
society. As Marxists, we see the emancipation of homo- 
sexuals as possible only through the destruction of the 
entire system that fosters their oppression and through 
its replacement with socialism. 

Other political tendencies, for the most part, do not 
regard gay liberation as a valid or important question 
to relate to. With the exception of the "gay caucus" of 
the Youth Against War and Fascism (which is occasion- 
ally seen at gay demonstrations), and International So- 
cialists (which is pulling back from an earlier flirtation 
with gay liberation), our opponents abstain from or are 
openly hostile to gay liberation. The Stalinists, the Maoists, 
and the Workers League virtually echo the worst positions 
of the bourgeoisie. - '■ ■• • ; l 

International aspects .-'■■-■ r .■ : 

The gay liberation movement is an international phe- 
nomenon. This phenomenon can be expected to increase 
because the causes of gay oppression are rooted in a 
patriarchal system that is worldwide and because the 
impact of the gay movement cannot be restricted within 
national boundaries. A directory of gay organizations 
published by New York's GAA this year lists some 200 
gay groups in twenty countries other than the United 
States, The nature of these groups varies, including old- 
line homophile groups, groups with independent mass- 
action struggle perspectives, and ultraleft and spontaneist 
groups. 

The growth of these groups has been uneven and has 
occurred without any kind of international coordination, 
although initial steps toward some coordination have 
been taken, such as a gathering of European groups in 
Denmark last September. The lack of such coordination 
makes it difficult to assess the actual state of the gay 
movement on an international scale, but the trend ap- 
■ pears to be on the upswing. Gay pride actions are sched- 
uled this year for the first time in New Zealand, for in- 
stance, and radical gays in Norway decided this spring 
to embark on a campaign to win the leftist parties to 
active support for gay liberation. The effects of this cam- 
paign can already be seen in sympathetic coverage in 
the left-wing press, even including the newspaper of the 
main Norwegian Maoist organization. 

The struggle for gay liberation can also make itself 
felt inside the workers states, where the prevailing Stalin- 
ist attitude toward homosexuality makes the life of gays 
unbearable. In the Soviet Union, where homosexual acts 
can bring three to eight years in jail, the democratic 
movement has thus far held back from actively defending 
gay rights because, however just, it is still considered 
too unpopular an issue, according to the former demo- 
cratic activist Valery Chalidze, who told the New York 
Times Magazine (March 4) that he had attempted to 
win the movement in Moscow to such a stance. As the 
full truth about the Stalinist counterrevolution in the area 
of sexuality becomes more widely known — as it will, in 
part, through the efforts of the gay liberation movement^ 
in the capitalist countries — there is no reason not to think 



II 



89 



that the gay movement will make a useful contribution 
to the struggle for a political revolution inside the Soviet 
Union. 

The issue of the increasing persecution of gays in Cuba 
has already had a considerable impact within the Amer- 
ican gay movement. This issue will gain in importance 
if the new draft penal code — which even provides for 
the death penalty for some homosexual acts — is adopted. 

The oppression of gays in Cuba and the Soviet Union 
has been one of the most important causes of hostility 
or skepticism toward socialism among American gay 
activists. Only a Trotskyist analysis of Stalinism and 
Bolshevism, coupled with an active intervention by rev- 
olutionists in the gay liberation movement, can effectively 
combat these attitudes. 

//. Gay Liberation and the Struggle Against Capitalism 

Attitudes tov.'ard homosexuality vary from culture to 
culture and epoch to epoch. Many cultures condone or 
encourage it. Others, like our own, actively and viciously 
suppress it in all of society's members, regardless of age, 
sex, or frequency of indulgence. While this is an extreme 
altitude, it is generally shared by all cultures with a Judeo- 
Chrislian tradition. 

The effort to suppress homosexual behavior is no ac- 
cident. "Accidents" of such magnitude, so intricately inter- 
woven into the fabric of society, do not repeat themselves 
for thousands of years without reason. Marxists recognize 
that such long-standing oppression reflects the needs of 
the society that fosters it, and we identify the source of 
that oppression as residing in the institutions and ideology 
of class society. 

The effort of capitalist sociely to suppress homosexual 
behavior begins in the very first institution that most 
humans encounter — the family. It is there that antihomo- 
sexual fears and prejudices and society's exclusive hetero- 
sexual norm are first instilled, that sex-role training is 
first imparted, and that the repression of sexuality in 
general begins. This is all reinforced by the schools, 
churches, synagogues, the psychiatric profession, and the 
mass media. Anyone who deviates can be punished by 
the law, which enshrines the antihomosexual principle 
carried out by landlords, employers, and the police. 

The first thing one is told when one discovers one's 
homosexual feelings is that one is "sick." Instead of being 
allowed to accept their feelings, gays are taught to deny 
them. This myth is the source of immense suffering for 
gay people. 

Revolutionary Marxists oppose all forms of oppression 
of homosexuals. This includes rejecting the bourgeois 
and Stalinist "tlieories" that are used to justify that op- 
pression. We reject the notion that homosexuals are in- 
ferior to heterosexuals with the same contempt that we 
reject the allegation that Blacks are inferior to whites 
or women inferior to men. We do so because it is a vi- 
cious prejudice that divides the working class and in- 
stills self-hatred in the oppressed. We welcome the new 
combativity of the gay liberation movement and solid- 
arize ourselves with the affirmation of dignity and pride 
reflected in the slogan "Gay Is Good!" 

Virtually all of the institutions of capitalist society are 
geared to make persons who engage in homosexual acts 
into social pariahs. To alter this situation and remove 
homosexual oppression will require a full-scale revolu- 



dependently of the ruling class and its institutions: t 
thrust of the gay liberation struggle is directed ag: i 
those institutions and 



_yorld i 
tionary assault on the institutions of capitalist soc* ,. ^^ 

The struggle for gay liberation is a struggle for daC . jj , 

cratic rights — equality with heterosexually oriented If Mill'io 

sons, and an end to discrimination, persecution, and \^ ^iHes 

pression. The struggle for such rights has developec L j. „a' 

:Iass, w 

irminf 
is in the interest of the Ame: :n j^jj 
working class. The struggle to win such rights will :.„{ asi 
tinue to play an important role in the radicalization j "' o+ely 
will be a significant part of the process leading to i^Q^ to 
socialist revolution. ., ^^^ 

The struggle against gay oppression has a useful cm-jqj-i ig 
tribution to make to the struggle to overthrow capitalig^-Qj-jf, ^■ 

It will necessarily help to undermine bourgeois moraj|n qj. ^ 
a key prop of capitalist society. ^he 

Gay oppression has a conservatizing effect on strair^':fy tha 
as well as gays. Periods of reaction throughout his::.^;^^! q 
have used antihomosexual witch-hunts as a cutting c;2 ential 
The struggle against society's ingrained antihoraosex^ -adica 
norm can only serve to undermine the effectiveness i 5 retls 
this tool for keeping the working class and the oppres^ openlj 

-ht U 
in the 
Whi 
certai: 
main 
for g 
ment 
and r 
suffer 
revol 






in line. 

The struggle of gays against the constricting sex re 
of capitalist society will be welcomed by many hete. 
sexually oriented persons. This too will contribute to 
dermining the sexual repression that functions as 
of the pillars of capitalist oppression and exploitatia 

The struggle against gay oppression directly affe 
a large number of people. The Kinsey studies, for 
stance, show that at least 25,000,000 Americans \\-c-% 
at least a few years' homosexual behavior during th-i 
adult lives. Large numbers of Americans engage in t^i 
activity in spite of the fact that it entails considera:4 
personal and social risk. Homosexuality is not a rai 
or even unusual, phenomenon restricted to peripheri 
elements of society. It is widespread, and so is the 5J 
fering and persecution that result from the efforts of s * 
ciety to combat and eradicate it. 

Millions of homosexuals — including millions of gr 
workers — have been given a new sense of their own won 
by the rise of the gay movement. Even if they never j 
a gay organization or demonstration, the self-confidenj 
they have gained because of that movement will mas 
them more combative in other arenas of class struggj 
The powerful energy of the assertion of human dignii 
by those who have been denied it is a central drivia 
force in the entire radicalization. 

Moreover, it is virtually assured that, as. the gay mov 
ment continues to struggle and begins to win victorie 
many more of those who are now its silent supporter 
and beneficiaries will step forward to openly join its ranks 

The ultimate impact and appeal of the gay liberatic 
movement can only be understood on the basis of iz 
fact that it involves a struggle not merely for the righal 
of a presently constituted minority who are defined i= 
gay, but for an end to the built-in need of capitalist s:- 
ciety to suppress homosexual behavior in all of its merJ 
bers. Homosexual oppression is reflected not only in th^ 
discrimination and persecution directed against persoi 
who are either known or suspected to be gay, but alsi 
in the pervasive efforts of capitalist society to complete 
suppress homosexuality even before it may arise, ai 
to threaten violators with severe reprisals both in thj 



III. 
Task 

Th 
for ! 
the i 
the r 

Ou 
focu! 
not 



Ga; 
Gr« 
29, 

me 

V 

coi 



90 



1 



iJist sc 
le for - 
rienled 
on, a 
svelop 
tution, 
ted a 
e Amtr 
ts will 
izatiori 
ding :o 



1 str; 

'Ut h: 

tin; 

moi- 

venes*! 

3Ppr« 



rid and the next. The effects of this oppression are 

on a far wider scale than merely among tliose who 

mit, whether to themselves or publicly, to being gay. 

ilUIions who have never engaged in homosexual ac- 

ities can and must be won to supporting the struggle 

gay rights and liberation. The American working 

,ss, which will take upon its shoulders the task of trans- 

ming and directing the whole social order, can and 

111 ally with all the progressive enemies of capitalism, 

t aside its prejudices to forge such alliances, and ulti- 

ately overcome those prejudices as it begins the evolu- 

n toward communist humanity. To believe that Amer- 

n workers cannot be won to support for gay libera- 

m is to fail to grasp either the enormity of their his- 

ic task, or tlieir revolutionary capacity to accomplish 

or both. 

The attitude of increasing openness toward homosexual- 

that has developed with the youth radlcalization's gen- 

al questioning of sexual norms is indicative of the po- 

tial support for the gay liberation movement among 

adicalizing sections of the population. This new attitude 

reflected, for instance, in the election of Jack Baker, an 

enly gay militant, as student association president at 

e University of Minnesota, one of tlie largest campuses 

the country. 

While the fear of homosexuality and antigay prejudice 

?rtainly remain deeply ingrained in the population, the 

ain hindrance to winning the masses to active support 

?or gay rights is the fact that the gay liberation move- 

r.ent itself has not yet developed aggressive, educational, 

nd mass-action oriented campaigns. The gay movement 

uffers from a crisis of leadership. This is a crisis that 

revolutionists can and must help resolve. 

till. Tlie Revolutionary Party and Gay Liberation: Our 

Tasks 

The SWP must intervene in and champion the struggle 

[for gay liberation. Our doing so will benefit not only 

'die gay liberation movement, but also the building of 

the revolutionary party. 

Our approach should be flexible. While there is no single 
focus of action in the gay movement today, we should 
aot let this deter us from seeking ways to support, help 



build, and recruit from the gay liberation movement. 
We should actively relate to the gay liberation movement 
on a local level. 

The following are some of tlie kinds of activities that 
we should be involved in: 

® Propagandizing in favor of, and building, united 
fronts around law-repeal campaigns on a statewide lev- 
el, where appropriate. We should encourage the forma- 
tion of such united fronts and participate in them, putting 
forward our perspective of mass mobilization independent 
of the capitalist class. We should also support united- 
front fights to win equal rights legislation, whether on 
a local or national level. 

The major forces behind such united fronts will prob- 
ably com.e from campus and city-wide gay organizations, 
but efforts should be made to reach out and involve other 
forces, including such sympathizing non-gay organiza- 
tions as unions, nationalist groups, and other political 
groups. 

® Local issues, such as campus-recognition fights, free- 
speech fights, defense cases, gay pride marches, child 
custody cases, and struggles agamst job discrimination, 
police harassment and entrapment, etc. 

9 We should step up our use of election campaigns to 
champion the gay rights struggle. This is an issue on 
which we must speak out forcefully to educate tliose we 
reach through our campaigns about the importance of 
supporting the struggle against gay oppression. This will 
be the best way to differentiate ourselves from the sup- 
porters of capitalist candidates within the gay movement 
and to win gay activists to Marxism. Running openly 
gay candidates for public office can be an especially ef- 
fective way of doing this. 

© As Marxists, we seek to bring our entire program 
to the masses. This includes our analysis on why Marx- 
ists support gay liberation and why gays should be Marx- 
ists. Our forums, press, and publications should reflect 
our championing of and involvement in tlie gay struggle. 

Our assignment of comrades to gay liberation work will 
be determined in accord with our overall program and 
campaigns, including our full support to, and champion- 
ing of, the struggle for gay liberation. 

, /, > . • . - .■ f .■•..■ ... June 22, 1973 



AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PARTY ON THE RESOLUTION 
"FOR AN INTERVENTION INTO THE GAY LIBERATION STRUGGLE" 



(Vol. 31^^^°' 



by Steve Beren, Detroit Branch; Kendall Green, David Keepnews, John 
Lauritsen, Lee Smith and David Tliorstad, Upper West Side Branch, 

New York Local 

15): .. ~ .- . .• ■ . . ,: 



1 



We support the document "For an Intervention into the 
Gay Liberation Struggle," by David Thorstad and Kendall 
Green, as a counterresolution in opposition to the April 
29, 1973, "Memorandum on the Gay Liberation Move- 
ment" {Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 3). 

We ask comrades who support the general line of the 
counterresolution to seek discussion of, and a vote on. 



"For an Intervention into the Gay Liberation Struggle" 
in their branches. 

We call on the National Committee to include a point 
in the convention agenda for a discussion of, and a vote 
on, "For an Intervention into the Gay Liberation Strug- 
gle." 

June 22, 1973 



91 



THREE POINTS CONCERNING OUR COUNTERRESOLUTION 
"FOR AN INTERVENTION INTO THE GAY LIBERATION 

STRUGGLE" 



(Vol. 31, No. 25) 



by David Thorslad and Kendall Green, 
Upper West Side Branch, New York Local 



As signers of tlie document "For an Intervention Into 
the Gay Liberation Struggle," which we have submitted 
as a counterresolution in opposition to tlie NC Memoran- 
dum on the Gay Liberation Movement, we would like 
to make the following points: 

1) We agree with the general line of the Leninist- Trotsky- 
ist Tendency in tlie world movement and of tlie Draft 
Political Resolution, submitted by tlie Political Committee, 
and consider ourselves part of the majority caucus that 
will be formed. 

2) When it comes to the voting for delegates in the 
branches, we call on supporters of "For an Intervention 



Into the Gay Liberation Struggle" to submit for a vote th; 
following amandment to the Political Resolution (replacing 
its statement on gay liberation at the bottom of column 
one, page 20): 

"We should continue to support the struggle for gay 
liberation, along the line of 'For an Intervention Into the 
Gay Liberation Struggle,' by David Thorstad and Ken- 
dall Green." 

3) W^e urge supporters of "For an Intervention Into the 
Gay Liberation Struggle" to vote for the general line of 
the Political Resolution whether or not the above amend- 
ment is adopted. 

July 18, 1973 



(The following is the statement on gay liberation inoluded in 
the Draft PoWti^al^J^esolution and referred to above« It was 
the onTj'staieraent on" gay liberation in the entire resol-ationj 
which was approved by the Political Committee June 15, 1973. 
It was this%tatement that supporters of the Thorstad-Green 
counterresolution fought to have amended along the lines 
indicated above.) 



We should continue to support the struggle of gay people 
for their rights, along the line of the memorandum on the 
liberation movement adopted by the April 1973 plenum of the 
National Committee. 



gay 



92 



(Vol, 31, No. 29) 



WHERE THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE MEMORANDUM 
ON THE GAY MOVEMENT GOES WRONG 



1973 



by Steve Beren, Detroit Branch; Kendall Green, David Keepnews, 
John Lauritsen, and David Thorstad, Upper West Side Branch, 
New York Local; and Lee Smitli, Lower Manhattan Branch, New York Local 



If 



Introduction 

The National Committee memorandum on the gay lib- 
eration movement presents an incorrect approach to and 
assessment of gay liberation. It includes no discussion 
of the growth of the gay movement and a misleading eval- 
uation of the current state of the movement. It misjudges 
the potential of the movement. It contains obscurantist 
formulations and outright contradictions that paper over 
political differences and make clarity on this important 
question impossible. It minimizes the significance of the 
gay liberation movement and the impact this anticapital- 
ist struggle can have on the course of the radicalization. 
It is pervaded with a negative tone that in the end reaches 
a level bordering on intimidation. It proposes no active 
intervention into the gay liberation struggle at all, nor 
does it lay any basis for intervention; indeed, it provides 
no serious guidelines by which branches should relate to 
gay liberation. 

It would be a serious mistake for the convention to ac- 
cept this memorandum as the basis for the party's rela- 
tionship to gay liberation. The memorandum must be 
rejected. 

The following is a discussion of where the memorandum 

goes wrong. 

Two Contradictions 

It states: "While we reject with contempt allforms of bour- 
geois prejudices against gay people, including quack psy- 
chological 'theories' labelling gays as mentally ill — prej- 
udices echoed by the Stalinists — the party does not and 
should not take a stand on the nahire or value of homo- 
sexuality." 

Among other things, this statement contains two contra- 
dictions. 

1) On the one hand, it claims to reject the notion that 
gays are mentally ill, yet on the other hand it states — 
and this is its main point— that the party should take no 
"stand" on the nature of homosexuality. Yet in our society, 
homosexuality is branded an illness; this is the official 
position of the American Psychiatric Association and the 
medical community in general, and it is one of the main 
"justifications" for the oppression of homosexually oriented 
persons. According to this view, it is in the nature of 
homosexuality to be an illness and in the nature of homo- 
sexuals to be mentally ill. How can the memorandum 
seriously propose to leave open the question of the nature 
of homosexuality and in the same breatli claim to reject 
"with contempt" the idea that it is a mental illness? Ob- 
viously, there is some playing with words going on in 
this statement. This strikes us as a ratlier unserious way 
to deal with an issue that lies at the very root of the strug- 
gle of the gay liberation movement. 

Furthermore, this statement leaves open tlie possibility 
that if gays are not mentally ill, they might be some 



other kind of aberration. A freak historical phenomenon, 
possibly. Or perhaps a distortion of the "normal" human 
sexual drive produced by the transitory conditions of 
class society. 

In other words, it stops short of rejecting the notion 
tliat homosexual behavior is inferior to heterosexual be- 
havior. Why? Is it because this question is irrelevant 
to the discussion? Hardly, since the struggle against the 
notion is the underlying tlirust of tliegay liberation move- 
ment, and if we are to properly relate to the movement, 
we will have to have a position on tliis. Is it because to 
reject this notion would be to "take a stand" on tlie nahire 
of homosexuality? If so, tlien why can such a "stand" 
not be taken? Particularly in view of the fact that the 
memorandum has already taken a "stand" on the nature 
of homosexuality by rejecting the idea that it represents 
an illness. 

Finally, what does the memorandum have in mind with 
tlie concept of the "value" of homosexuality? Does this 
mean that it wishes to suspend judgment on whether homo- 
sexuality is "bad" or not (whatever that might mean)? 
Does it mean tliat judgment should be suspended on wheth- 
er homosexuality can be a positive factor in the lives of 
gay people, rather than something to be ashamed of, 
denied, and suppressed? Does it mean to suggest that in 
the face of a gay person's assertion that it is better to 
openly and proudly accept one's homosexuality tlian to 
hide and force oneself into a constricting heterosexual 
mold, revolutionists should stand by silently, or note that 
we have no opinion? 

This is not a matter of taking a stand on personal tastes. 
Personal tastes have nothing whatever to do with this. 
What is involved is a recognition of historical and scien- 
tific fact, as well as an expression of political solidarity 
with the central thrust of gay liberation, which is to bring 
about a society in which exclusive heterosexuality is no 
longer the norm. 

We are not suggesting that what is needed is a vote 
on tiie merits of each comrade's sexual orientation or 
preference. We are not proposing, for instance, tliat com- 
rades should vote on whether homosexuality is "good" 
or "bad." What we are saying is that it is necessary that 
the party completely reject the notion that homosexual 
behavior is inferior to heterosexual behavior; it must 
forthrightly reject the sickness theory of homosexuality, 
as well as the other antigay corollaries, such as the Stalin- 
ist contention that it is a product of "bourgeois decadence" 
and the variation that it is a product of class society. 
Unless it does so, the party will be in no position to inter- 
vene effectively in the gay liberation struggle 

2 ) The second contradiction lies in the fact that while 
the statement claims to reject — "with contempt"— all forms 
of bourgeois prejudice against gay people, it goes on only 
a few paragraphs later (p. 8) to assert that it is difficult 



93 



to tell what is prejudice and what is not: "Especially con- 
cerning homosexuality, little is known, and it is difficult 
to ascertain what is objectively based and what represents 
prejudice in what knowledge is available." If it is difficult 
to recognize prejudice, how can it be rejected "with con- 
tempt"— which would imply some measure of certainty 
in ascertaining the prejudice tliat is being rejected? 

Such a blatant contradiction in the memorandum cer- 
tainly raises questions as to the seriousness of the Na- 
tional Committee's commitment to rejecting antigay prej- 
udice and the sickness theory. It is difficult to see how one 
can take a stand in one breath, and in the next exclude 
any basis for taking a stand, without the entire exercise 
appearing dishonest. Tliis approach has the effect of triv- 
ializing a serious problem. 

There are other things wrong with the statement that "it 
^,, is difficult to ascertain what is objectively based and what 
"represents .prejudice in what knowledge is available" about 
homosexuality. 

First, it is not difficult to separate what is "objectively 
based" from what is not, with regard to homosexuality. 
The facts have been well established over the decades 
by scholars and scientists in various disciplines, among 
them history, anthropology, ethnology, statistical research, 
zoology, sociology, and psychology. Without familiarity 
with these investigations, of course, the task is not only 
difficult, but impossible. However, the information is not 
especially hard to obtain, and it is not difficult to tell 
what is objectively based from what is biased rubbish. 

Much of this information was covered in last year's 
literary discussion, and it is widely known in the gay 
movement and making headway in society as a whole. 
The facts, as Kinsey noted, show that "the capacity of 
an individual to respond erotically to any sort of stim- 
ulus, whether it is provided by another person of the 
same or of the opposite sex, is basic in the species." Homo- 
sexual activity "has been a significant part of human 
sexual activity ever since the dawn of history, primarOy 
because it is an expression of capacities that are basic in 
the human animal." 

Second, it is not difficult to ascertain what is prejudice 
in the available knowledge and attitudes about homo- 
sexuality. Homosexuals, for instance, are quite skilled 
at ascertaining such prejudice. A typical example of it is 
this statement by one of the most prominent (heterosexual) 
"authorities" on homosexuality, Dr. Charles Socarides: 
"The obligatory homosexual is unable to function in the 
most meaningful relationship in life: the male-female sex- 
ual union and the affective state of love, tenderness, and 
joy with a partner of the opposite sex." Tliis kind of au- 
thoritative prejudice defines homosexuals into inferiority, 
sickness, sin, or whatever the bag of the person doing the 
defining happens to be. It invariably has its roots in 
theological superstition, rationalizations for the persecu- 
tion of homosexuality, the hyperactive imaginations of 
certain psychiatrists, etc. 

To say that it is difficult to ascertain what is prejudice 
when it comes to homosexuality is preposterous, if not 
simply reactionary. Is it difficult to ascertain prejudice 
when it comes to Blacks, or women? The assertion that 
it is in the case of gays is nothing more than an accom- 
modation to the prejudices of persons who might subscribe 
to the idea. To attempt to use such an accommodation 
to prejudice as an argument for not forthrightly rejecting 



= thi: 



F 



1^ 



the false notion that homosexuality is, by its very nature, ^i^ sect 
inferior to heterosexuality, amounts, at best, to nothing mdum e 
more than a sleight of hand. At worst, it is a capitulation « movei 
to bourgeois prejudice. ivement, 

This, assertion opens the door to an atmosphere in which « explai 
open expressions of antigay prejudice could be tolerated riis of 
in the party. We wonder what the effect of this would be tressed 
on our ability to recruit and hold homosexual socialists. cpling t 

vtical q 
Is Gay Liberation Political? tir oppr 

In proposing to show why the party should "not take ierior — i 
a stand" on the question it has just taken a stand on, fcs ^^^^ 
the memorandum parades a catalog of truisms about ^e is no 
the aim of a revolutionary party: to "construct a mass ^osexu 
revolutionary proletarian political party that will mobilize ^^^ ^^^ 
the working class and its allies. . . ." to the taking of ^^^'^ ^ 
state power; to adopt "political positions that guide its cli^^^tio 
work"; not to take positions on questions that "dilute its f-^ther 
nature as a political organization, transform it into an "^y- ^ 
organization advancing one or another scientific or cul- 
tural viewpoint, narrow its appeal, and cripple its abilitj- 
to mobilize tlie masses on political questions." 

It is difficult to read this paragraph, with its repetitive 
stressing of the fact that the revolutionary party is a po- 
litical organization, without coming away with the feeling 
that it intends to suggest that there is something inherent- 
ly apolitical, cultural, or countercultural about gay lib- 
eration. Without ever directly stating so, it manages to 
imply that the gay liberation struggle, by its very nature, 
raises issues that the party should avoid, steer clear of, 
and indeed that these issues pose such a danger for the 
party that it must go out of its way to make clear that 
it avoids and steers clear of them. So serious is this dan- 
ger that to take a position on them would risk narrow- 
ing its appeal and crippling its ability to mobilize the 
masses. Clearly, there is something about gay liberation 
that is seen as posing a threat to the party's ability to 
carry out its tasks — a threat that the memorandum warns 
against in terms one cannot imagine being invoked in 
regard to any other struggle of the oppressed. 

In what does this threat lie? Apparently in the insistence 
of the gay liberation movement that the exclusive hetero- 
sexual norm of society represents a distortion of human 
sexuality and that homosexuality is not inferior to hetero- 
sexuality. It no doubt also lies in the fact that this insis- 
tence of the gay liberation movement is being advanced 
within the revolutionary party by comrades such as our- 
selves, who regard it as a crucial question, the answer to 
which will determine the nature of the relationship the par- 
ty will have toward this struggle of the oppressed. We 
believe this threat to be imaginary. 

Two things about the memorandum's alarmist warning 
on the threat of gay liberation strike us as odd: 1) It 
implicitly places a struggle of the oppressed and the rev- 
olutionary party in potential conflict with each other; it 
does this in terms that suggest an inherent antagonism 
to political questions on the part of those oppressed peo- 
ple; 2) It is profoundly conservative. Under the guise of 
refraining from "advancing one or another scientific or 
cultural viewpoint," it is refusing to forthrightly reject the 
oppressive notion that homosexuality is inferior to hetero- 
sexuality. This conservatism reflects a view that homosex- 
ual liberation is essentially a personal, not a politicri. 
matter. 



94 




fe section of the memorandum, and indeed the mem- 
„um as a whole, only makes sense if the gay libera- 
movenient is viewed as essentially a countercultural 
,ent, with some political overtones. How else can 
■plain the peculiar notion that the rejection of the 
of inferiority associated with one of the largest 
^sed groups in this society entails the risk of actually 
jing the ability of the SWP to mobilize the masses on 
■cal questions? Is the struggle of gay people against 
oppression -including society's claim that they are 
ior — not a political question? The memorandum im- 
that when gays assert that they are not inferior, that 
. is nothing "unnatural," "sick," "queer," or"exotic" about 
,osexuality, they are simply advancing their own par- 
iar cultural viewpoint— a matter of personal taste, but 
cly a politically compelling viewpoint. We regard this 
liication as insulting. 

Uther than detract from the political character of the 
a position clearly recognizing homosexuality as 
"being inferior to heterosexuality is an essential pre- 
clsite for any serious intervention into the gay libera- 
struggle. It is an elementary necessity if the party 
rv-er to embrace gay liberation. Rather than skirt this 
tion, it must be fully cognizant— and the gay libera- 
movement is — of the role played by these myths 
die oppression of gays. The agnostic approach of the 

lorandum would make this impossible. 
Tne party must be in a position to approach gays with 
rious political analysis of their oppression; this is 
lossible without a historical-materialist view of the mat- 
and a clear rejection of bourgeois- and Stalinist-in- 
red notions that homosexuality is inferior to hetero- 
_-aality. 

This does not require a full-blown theory of sexuality, 
requires only that we divest ourselves of our own prej- 
lice and recognize the facts. A refusal to do so would be 
itamount to placing a question mark over the validity 
'the gay liberation struggle. 

In one sense, an analogy with the Black liberation strug- 
could be made here. From time to time, racist "scien- 
try to prove that Blacks are naturally inferior to 
tes. They back up their claims with "objective" studies. 
Their "theories" have all kinds of political and social 
.plications for a racist society — as in England at the 
loment, for instance, where there has been a considerable 
:lux of nonwhite immigrants. When Blacks indignantly 
ut such slurs on their race, do revolutionists stand 
ide, rationalizing an agnostic stance with the explana- 
n that to do any more might cripple the party's ability 
mobilize the masses on political questions? Of course 

-t. 

Why should the sexist claims about the nature of homo- 
Rxuality be treated any differently? Certainly not because 
fee "evidence" is any more persuasive. What will be crippled 
by the memorandum's approach will be our ability to 
recruit gay liberation activists. 
By proposing not to take a stand on the nature of 
omosexuality — that is, by refusing to accept homosexu- 
ity as no less "natural" than heterosexuality and to re- 
fect firmly the idea that it is inferior to heterosexuality — 
pe memorandum is laying the basis for proposing a mere 
i\'il-rights approach to gay liberation— and, as we shall 
later on, it is a weak one at that. It is proposing that 
role of the revolutionary party is simply to "support" 



t 



the civil rights of homosexually oriented persons, not 
to become directly involved in the struggle for homo- 
sexual liberation, to champion it, and to strive to inte- 
grate the struggle into the struggle to overthrow capital- 
ism. It views gay liberation as a struggle to win tolerance 
from a basically heterosexual society, not as a struggle 
to bring about a full acceptance of homosexual behavior. 
But the gay liberation struggle involves a struggle not 
merely for tolerance and civil rights, but for full human 
rights and the elimination of society's enforced exclusively 
heterosexual norm. This will necessitate the complete aboli- 
tion of society as presently constituted. 

To be able to relate to this struggle properly requires 
going beyond a civil-rights approach. By refusing to do 
so, the memorandum would disarm the party and reduce 
its relationship to the gay liberation struggle to one essen- 
tially of "supporting" from the sidelines. It betrays a grasp 
of gay liberation that is more reformist than revolutionary. 

Scientific Investigation and Knowledge 

The whole question of tlie nature of homosexuality, says 
the memorandum, is complicated by the fact that "sci- 
entific investigation of sexuality" is "in its infancy." This 
statement appears intended to suggest that what w known 
about homosexuality is so primitive as to be unreliable. 
It is made not as an expression of caution (which would 
be understandable) but as an argument for shoving the 
whole question aside. This approach seems a bit drastic. 
In its rush to sweep this matter aside, the memorandum 
refers to only one "science"— psychology — as an example 
of the infantile level of knowledge about homosexuality. 
As a matter of fact, homosexuals consider one of the 
most injurious of these "sciences" to be psychology, and 
the related field of psychiatry, which has hardly progressed 
beyond the level of primitive witch doctors, and has an 
admittedly lower batting average when it comes to "curing" 
its patients. But why no mention of other disciplines that 
have made far more useful, and less speculative, contribu- 
tions to knowledge about homosexuality? 

"Uncovering the historical, anthropological and socio- 
logical truth about homosexuality constitutes an essential 
weapon in the struggle for sexual freedom." This was the 
conclusion of the article "Homosexuality: Fact versus Myth" 
in the "gay pride" issue of The Militant July 2, 1971. 
Nov/, two years later, with the memorandum, the approach 
that is being proposed is rather different: Rather than 
planting the party's feet firmly on the ground of scientific 
and historical truth regarding homosexuality, it proposes 
an agnostic approach to these questions, and goes so far 
as to say that truth cannot even be objectively distin- 
guished from prejudice. ■ •-■ • . ■ -• -• ' 

"Future Human Sexuality" '' ' ' " ' ' 

Having reduced the question of the "nature of homo- 
sexuality" to "a hopeless tangle of opinions, prejudices 
and personal preferences," the memorandum goes on to 
observe: "Neither is scientific knowledge advanced enough 
on this question for us to be able to say what fuhire 
human sexuality will be like in a classless society." 

This is irrelevant to a resolution on gay liberation. Cer- 
tainly, we all have our own ideas on this subject, but no 
one is arguing in favor of the party's adopting them. 



95 



What is relevant, however— and it is conspicuovis by its 
absence from the memorandum — is a rejection of the 
Stalinist-inspired view that homosexuality is a product 
of class society that will witlier away, so to speak, under 
a socialist society. The memorandum does not reject this 
reactionary, unscientific view. 

What's Wrong With an Agnostic Stance? 

The refusal of Uie memorandum to take a forthright 
and correct stand on flie nature of homosexuality would 
seriously hamper tlie party's ability to relate to gay lib- 
eration. The memorandum's approach would place drastic 
limitations on our proptiganda and reduce our position 
to one of at best supporting from the outside actions by 
the gay movement that do not "go beyond" our nonposi- 
tion. It would exclude actively intervening with a Marxist 
analysis in a whole series of questions and struggles. 
Here are but a few examples: 

® The Cubans officially adopted the view in 1971 that 
homosexuality is a "social paUiology" that should be root- 
ed out and punished. The vicious and reactionary pro- 
posals on homosexuality included in the current draft 
penal code under consideration in Cuba include punish- 
ments for "ostentatious homosexuality" and even the death 
penalty for some homosexuality-related crimes. This draft 
penal code was proposed to the Central Committee of 
the Cuban Communist Party by none other than the Stalin- 
ist hack, Bias Roca, who is being paraded in the Cuban 
press as the party authority on the matter. 

The Cuban record on homosexuality is already shame- 
ful. It includes the policy of ttie mid-sixties of herding 
gays into concentration camps. Now they are also being 
credited with the imaginary role of serving as a trans- 
mission belt for imperialist ideology into Cuba. The "so- 
cial pathology" position was adopted at the height of 
the campaign against the poet Heberto PadUla. 

This record is well-known among American gay activ- 
ists, and it is justifiably hated. It has quite understandably 
helped to increase suspiciousness among gays about all 
socialists. 

If the party were to declare itself in no position to reject 
the view that homosexuality is a "social pathology" — 
and to explain why it is not — then it would be in no 
position to criticize the unscientific and harmful policy 
and practice of the Cuban workers state in this regard. 
Are the Cubans correct in their efforts to eradicate this 
"social pathology"? Is homosexuality a "social pathology" 
in Cuba but not in the United States? If it is not a "social 
pathology," then what is it? If the party were asked, could 
it assure gays that following a successful socialist revolu- 
tion in the United States under Uie leadership of the So- 
cialist Workers Party a similar treatment and policy would 
not await them? Or is science too much in its "infancy" 
for us to be able to take a "stand" on such questions? 

We suspect that if the memorandum Is adopted, the way 
this dilemma will be resolved wUl be by attempting to 
avoid it altogether. 

® In addition to tlie standard view that homosexuality 
is a product of "bourgeois decadence," the American Com- 
munist Party began last fall to call special attention to cer- 
tain "social ills" within the party, among them homosexu- 
ality, which was branded a "bourgeois influence" witliin 



the party. Why have we not attempted to discredit the 
Stalinists for these views? Probably because doinc so 
properly would require going beyond the fence-straddling 
position tliat is being proposed in the memorandum. At 
best, we could say that the CP is "echoing bourgeois prej- 
udice." This might strike readers as somewhat superficial, 
however, since it might not be readily apparent to them 
how branding homosexuality a product of "bourgeois 
decadence" echoes "bourgeois prejudice." 

We suspect that this problem too would be resolved 
through avoidance. An opportunity to deal a blow to a 
deserving opponent would be wasted. 

© Some gay groups have demanded the inclusion of 
an objective, unbiased presentation of homosexuality in 
sex education courses, including courses for children. The 
Unitarian Church is already including film strips of both 
heterosexual and homosexual acts in sex education courses 
tliroughout the country for 12-to-14-year-old boys and 
girls. 

Could our comrades participate in struggles for tlie posi- 
tive inclusion of homosexuality in such courses? Would 
we support such struggles? Even if this issue could some- 
how be avoided for now (which might be difficult), it can 
be expected to become more urgent after the socialist 
revolution. 

© The Black Muslims and some other Black nationalists 
subscribe to the idiotic view that homosexuality among 
Blacks is a product of white society and slavery. There is 
considerable scientific evidence to refute this notion. What 
position would we be in to com^bat it if the memorandum 
were our guide? Or would we regard this as an issue that 
was too "peripheral" to take on? Would we still regard it 
as such if it is used against Black homosexual comrades 
in an effort to discredit the SWP in the Black com.munity? 

® Occasionally in forums and meetings of tlie women's 
movement, and elsewhere, the question arises as to tiie 
nature of homosexuality. Is it a product of class society, 
for instance? Presumably, if tlie memorandum is adopted, 
our comrades will express no opinion on this matter. While 
it might be argued that this nonposition would have the 
advantage of preventing comrades who do adhere to this 
idea from saying so publicly, it would also seem to leave 
us open to charges that we think homosexuality is an 
aberration of class society. 

© In May, New Hampshu-e Governor Meldrim Thom- 
son .Jr. deplored the recognition of the Gay Students Orga- 
nization by the University of New Hampshire trustees 
as "repulsive"; the reason he gave was that he opposed 
recognizing "those harboring a strange affinity for sexual 
deviation." He promised to replace the trustees as fast 
as he could. 

On what grounds would we support the right of the gay 
students to organize and gain campus recognition in this 
case? Merely on a civil liberties basis, asserting that they 
have a right to exist whether tlieirs is a "strange affinit>- 
for sexual deviation" or not? Would we simply regard the 
nahire of the students' sexual orientation as irrelevant? 
Or would we help expose the bigotry of the governor as 
well? To do so would require going beyond the agnos- 
ticism of the memorandum on the nature of homosexuality. 
If homosexuality is not a "strange affinity for sexual devia- 
tion," then what is it? 



96 



• One issue the gay movement has been campaigning 
on is to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop 
homosexuality from its diagnostic category of illnesses. 
The memorandum's position rejecting various theories 
'Jiat gays are mentally ill provides an inadequate basis 
'for relating to this essential campaign: (1) the position 
is contradicted, and therefore negated, by the refusal to 

(take a stand on the "nature" of homosexuality; (2) The 
fact that some familiarity with the "theories" themselves, 
5ome knowledge about the scientific evidence relating to 
homosexuality, and a commitment to a scientifically and 
historically correct grasp of this question would be pre- 
requisites to involvement in such a campaign would place 
it outside the scope of the "support" for gay liberation 
laid down in the memorandum. Such a campaign, more- 
over, would probably not even merit serious attention 
in our press. To give coverage to it might give the er- 
roneous impression that we considered it too important, 
' or, worse yet, that we actually had a position on it. This, 
too, would be easier to deal with by avoiding it. 

© Even a serious propaganda intervention (let alone an 
intervention into the organized gay movement) would be 
impossible without a clear position recognizing homosexu- 
ality as being in no way inferior to heterosexuality. Fea- 
ture articles, analytical articles, polemical articles, etc., 
would tend to disappear (as they have during the past 
two years) because such articles might tend to suggest that 
we did not regard the gay struggle as "peripheral," "nar- 
row," or unimportant. . , , 

Something for Everybody 

Section 3 of the memorandum places the current wave 
of the gay liberation struggle in its recent historical con- 
text. It notes that it was the rise of the gay liberation 
movement that forced the SWP to "clarify" its position on 
gay oppression and to "discuss our relationship to this 
movement." It characterizes the movement as "progressive," 
and adds that "it helps break down the reactionary moral- 
ity that helps preserve class society." This struggle, it 
states, is "in the interests of socialism. ..." 

By and large, the positions put forward in this section 
are correct. Since so much of the rest of tlie memorandum 
OS either incorrect, inadequate, or obfuscatory, however, 
one can only conclude that the memorandum as a whole 
has been put together with a view toward providing some- 
thing for everybody. Those comrades who have a high 
opinion of gay liberation could easily agree with this 
section, while comrades who do not want the party to get 
involved in gay liberation can be reassured by the fact 
that the heart of what the memorandum is proposing lies 
elsewhere. 

The section concludes on a note of ambiguity: "The 
party identifies with the aims of this struggle and sup- 
ports it, and this is reflected in the political position the 
party has adopted and reaffirmed in this report." 

The ultimate aim of the gay liberation struggle is not 
simply to win equal rights for a presently constituted mi- 
nority of persons defined as gay, but to destroy the ex- 
clusive heterosexual norm of capitalist society (as well 
as of the workers states). It is for the full acceptance of 
homosexual behavior as being no less valid and not in- 
ferior to heterosexual behavior. Does the memorandum 
mean to put the party on record as identifying with this, 



the central aim of gay liberation? If so, would this not 
contradict its already stated position of not taking a stand 
on the "nature or value" of homosexuality? And what is 
the usefulness of reaffirming "support" to the gay libera- 
tion struggle so long as the nature of that "support" is 
never defined as clearly going beyond verbal support? 

What 'Relatively Narrow Sector'? 

In proposing to "look at the question of priorities" in 
deciding what attitude to take toward the gay liberation 
movement, the memorandum says that the movement 
"directly relates to a relatively narrow sector of the pop- 
ulation." 

On what is this statement based? Certainly not on sci- 
entific evidence— or even common knowledge. Although 
exact numerical precision is impossible (and beside the 
point in any case), commonly accepted statistic^ indicate 
that this is far from a "narrow sector." According to Kin- 
say, around 10 percent of the adult population of the 
United States — or some 20,000,000 Americans — are pre- 
dominantly homosexual, with millions more having sig- 
nificant homosexual experience in their adult lives. 

These people are all made into outlaws merely for acting 
upon their sexual orientation; they face multiple and se- 
vere forms of discrimination and oppression — both phys- 
ical and psychological — in their daily lives. 

These millions include persons from all walks of life, 
and every section of the population — workers, students, 
women. Blacks, Chicanos, Native Americans, Puerto Ri- 
cans, etc. 

What is "relatively narrow" about this sector of the pop- 
ulation? All evidence shows that neither the numbers, nor 
the distribution in the population of this sector justifies 
the assertion that it is "relatively narrow." - 

Perhaps the memorandum meant to place the stress on 
the words "directly relates." If so, did it mean to suggest 
that the appeal of the gay liberation movement "directly 
relates" only to people who engage in gay sex, and that 
since this proportion of the population is generally regard- 
ed as a minority (however large), therefore the movement 
"directly relates" to a sector that is "relatively narrow" 
in comparison to the majority of the population, which 
is not gay? Even such an implication would be false — 
unless one's definition of "narrow" can be stretched to 
encompass the many millions of Americans who regu- 
larly engage in homosexual acts. 

Indeed, what does the memorandum mean by the words 
"directly relates"? Does the gay liberation movement "di- 
rectly relate" to the millions of gays in every sector of 
society, or just to the small percentage that are directly 
involved in the gay movement today? If the National 
Committee believes that the gay movement relates only 
to those that are directly involved in that movement, does 
it hold the same for the women's liberation movement and 
the struggles of the oppressed nationalities? If not, why 
does it not think that the gay movement can mobilize 
millions of gays in struggles for their rights? 

"There are no driving forces that can impel in a mass 
effort a significant portion of the claimed tens of millions 
of gays out of the 'closet' and into their full struggle for 
their rights," wrote Comrade Nat Weinstein in last year's 
liberary discussion on gay liberation. (Discussion Bulle- 
tin Vol. 30, No. 4, p. 11). Does the National Committee 
subscribe to this view? ,..;;., ./--i sa, :.;.,■ ak..,-:;u t.ijjif/ ,ji 



97 



And does the gay liberation movement indirectly relate in the mechanics of class deception, veiling class relation|^"^°"'^ 

to a "relatively narrow" sector of the population too? Can under the abstract norms of religion, philosophy etc> P'"^'^^ 
the aims of the gay liberation movement relate indirectly But what does the memorandum mean by saying that^*''"SSle 

to persons with a heterosexual orientation? If not, why the. issue is "essentially" limited to "this sector"''' Obvin„=lv '^'ays ' 



not? If so, is this not a relevant pohtical consideration in 
determining the "potential mass" and "social weight" of the 
gay liberation struggle? 

The neglect of the memorandum to discuss these ques- 
tions, and its failure to present any facts to back up its 
assertion that the gay movement "directly relates to a 
relatively narrow sector of the population," render its 
subsequent analysis of the potential of the gay struggle 
useless as a guide to assessing the party's proper role 
in relating this struggle to the struggle for socialism. 

The memorandum's characterization of the gay libera- 
tion movement and its potential is essentially negative. 
It asserts that "the gay liberation movement does not 
have the .potential mass of either the women's movement 
or the movements of the major oppressed nationalities, 
nor the social weight of these movements, which result 



)viously. 

it implies that it is not exclusively limited to this sector. ='^'"^" 
In what way, then, is it not? What other sectors might '■'^^'^~'' 
it also be "limited" to? Such vague and slippery formu- 
lations pervade the memorandum. They do nothing to -P^^enid 
produce clarity. i The i 

■f . leration 

Democratic Demands either 1 

The memorandum notes, correctly, that the gay lib- 
eration struggle involves a struggle for democratic de- 
mands. However, since this observation is made in the 
context of an attempt to prove the inferior significance 
of the gay struggle to that of some other movements, 
and since no special discussion is made of the nature 
of these democratic demands, the implication is given — 
whether intentionally or not — that democratic demands 
are in themselves somehow inferior to other kinds of 



both from their mass and the scope of the questions they demands, because they do not directly call into question °^ ^"^' 

yiooo". tViof U !,. ",.„,, „U rti. _ ,i ,, ,1.1.,.,, ,. , , _ Vpt 



riase"; that it is "much narrower [than these other move 
ments] in the scope of its demands"; that it is "much more 
peripheral to the central issues of the class struggle"; and 
that it is not among "the big questions of the class struggle 
upon which we should be concentrating." These assertions 
reflect a false analysis. 

The memorandum purports to prove the "peripheral" 
and "narrow" nature of the gay liberation movement by 
comparing it to the movements of women and the op- 
pressed nationalities. However, even a quick look reveals 
the inadequacy of this comparison; while the memoran- 
dum discusses how the feminist and nationalist move- 
ments have an anticapitalist thrust, it stops short of of- 
fering any serious analysis of the gay liberation move- 
ment and its thrust. 

It does, state that the i^ssue raised by the gay libera- 
tion movement "is essentially limited to the struggle for 
■ the democratic rights of this [relatively narrov/] sector." 
Before commenting further on this observation, let us 
note its negative slant and tone. The issue of the demo- 
cratic rights of gays is a "limited" one — limited, in fact, 
to tlie struggle of one particular sector of the population 
(incorrectly defined as "relatively narrow".) This in itself 
is a misleading way of regarding the gay liberation strug- 
gle. First, the gay struggle is not limited merely to fight- 
ing for the democratic rights of persons presently de- 
fined as gay; it aims ultimately at destroying the anti- 
homosexual, exclusively heterosexual norm of society that 
puts a crimp on the freedom of all members of society, 
not just gays. It is not a struggle merely for civil rights, 
but for full human rights. The issue it ultimately raises 
is one that is in the interests of all the oppressed, both 
because its struggle is aimed against the same oppressor — 
capitahsm — and because it points the way to a society 
of sexual freedom for everyone. Second, even the struggle 
for the democratic rights of the minority of persons pres- 
ently defined as gay has potential for reaching out to 
and involving in action broader layers of the population. 
Furthermore, the struggle for gay rights has ramifi- 
. cations that go far beyond the sexual sphere. It directly 
challenges the official morality that provides the cement 
holding together class society. Bourgeois morality serves 
to make people toe the line and plays an important role 

• 9Q 



the right of the ruling class to rule, or the existence of 
capitalism. That this is, indeed, the spirit in which this 
observation is often taken can be seen in the fact that 
it is not at all unusual to hear supporters of the mem- 
orandum tortuously striving to "prove" that the gay 
liberation struggle is not really important by showing 
that it raises no transitional demands — "only" democratic 
demands. While to some such an argument may have 
a reassuringly theoretical ring, in fact it leads only to 
a serious mis appreciation of the living class struggle. 
W^e think that Comrade George Novack provided a good 
refutation of such thinking in his contribution to last 
year's literary discussion on gay liberation: 

"It is one of the tenets of the theory of permanent rev- 
olution that demands for democratic and civil rights by 
large groups of people may be partially conceded but 
their needs cannot be fundamentally and fully reaUzed 
under imperialist auspices. The struggle of homosexuals 
for an end to their victimization is no exception. The 
removal of certain legal inequities and disabilities will 
not suffice to give them the dignity they seek. The changes 
they aspire to bring about not only affront deeply lodged 
prejudices of bourgeois society and the churches, but call 
into question auxiliary props of the nuclear famisly and 
the marriage code. 

"The attacks upon such institutional arrangements of 
the established order imparts an anticapitalist tendency 
to the gay struggle, even if many of its participants fail 
to recognize the underlying social and political impli- 
cations of their challenges." ("The Party's Orientation To- 
ward Gay Liberation," Discussion Bulletin Vol. 30 No. 8, 
p. 4) 

What, concretely, is it that the gay liberation movement 
is demanding? It is demanding something very funda- 
mental, something no other movement needs to demand: 
the right to exist at all, the right to be gay. The efforts 
of society to suppress homosexual behavior lead to phys- 
ical persecution, social discrimination, and mental an- 
guish for tens of millions of people. This has meant a 
historical legacy of some of the most brutal persecution 
experienced by any group of human beings, including 
bvirning at the stake, physical mutiliation, burial alive, 
and, more recently, gas chambers. The struggle for the 





mocratic rights of this group of persons whom society 
predicated upon eradicating is certainly the l<ind of 
ruggle that revolutionists should be seriously discussing 
. ays to champion and embrace, rather than seeking ar- 
guments that might conceivably be used— and are being 
^ ^'^'.ksed — to justify abstention from that struggle. 

Totential Mass' and 'Social Weight' 

The memorandum goes on to state that "the gay lib- 
ration movement does not have the potential mass of 
!ither the women's movement or the movement of the 
najor oppressed nationalities, nor the social weight of 
hese movements, which result both from their mass and 
he scope of the questions they raise." 

First, on "potential mass." Just what is meant by this 
nncept? Does it mean the total number of persons the 
iovement "directly relates" to at the present time ("gay 
■ople")? If so, the statement is obviously false. While 
sere are more women than there are gays, there are 
_ore gays in the United States than there are members 
if any of the "major oppressed nationalities." 
Yet in another sense, it could be argued that the po- 
■ntial number of gays is far greater than either their 
.i-n present numbers or the numbers of women. Blacks, 
:hicanos, or any other group; for already with Kinsey 
> was shown, for instance, that as many as 50 percent 
»f American males admitted that they felt sexual attrac- 
ns to other males. Since one is not born with an ability 
make love only to persons of the opposite sex, and 
ice such high percentages admit to having homosexual 
jpulses even under a society that severely punishes such 
ihavior, it should be obvious that the potential number 
if persons who will act out their homosexual desires 
. always greater than the actual number who do at any 
me time; indeed, that number could potentially encompass 
■eryone. Perhaps by "potential mass" the memorandum 
leant the numbers that could conceivably be mobilized 
action around the demands of the movement. If so, it 
Lould have explained why the potential mass of Blacks 
'ho number fewer than gays) would be greater than 
lat of gays. Are gays less mobilizable? Is it because 
.tional minorities tend to be concentrated in urban ghet- 
iS or particular geographical areas, whereas gays are 
spread throughout the entire country, fliroughout all so- 
;!al and occupational strata, etc.? The failure of the mem- 
::andum to discuss any of these questions might give 
lie impression that its concept of the "potential mass" 
;;■ the gay liberation movement is the distillation of con- 
siderable analysis. In our opinion, however, in the ab- 
sence of any analysis the concept raises more questions 
iian it might at first glance seem to answer. 

The same can be said of the negative appraisal of the 
'social weight" of the gay liberation movement. Regard- 
£5s of the validity of the concept of "social weight," it 
:s a virtually useless criterion for determining the party's 
iDproach to the movement. The limitations of this con- 
cept can be seen in the superficiality of the way it is ap- 
iMed in the memorandum to the national minorities and 
ne women's movement. 

The gist of the "analysis" that follows is that the women's 
movement and the national minorities have greater "po- 
fintial mass" and greater "social weight" (and are there- 
fore of greater concern to the revolutionary party) than 
ifae gay movement because they raise either "demands 



of the working class as a whole," "national-democratic 
demands" that "cannot be met except through the pro- 
letarian revolution," or "class demands." The memoran- 
dum, by way of "comparison," then dismisses, without 
any analysis whatever, the gay movement as being "much 
narrower in the scope of its demands." 

Let us look a bit more closely at these distinctions. 
While it is true that the national minorities raise "na- 
tional-democratic demands" and that these cannot be fully 
met short of the socialist revolution, the same thing can 
be said of the democratic demands of the gay liberation 
movement. In this sense, both movements have aij. anti- 
capitalist thrust.. In what way is the scope of the' demands 
of the gay movement "much narrower" than that of the 
national minorities? Certainly the struggle for freedom 
of sexual expression, which ultimately touches everyone, 
cannot be said to have a "much narrower" appeal than 
the struggle for, say. Black control of the Black com- 
munity. 

And if it is true that the national minorities are over- 
whelmingly proletarian in composition, it is also true 
of gays. 

In what way do the national minorities raise almost 
from the very beginning "demands of the working class 
as a whole" that the gay liberation movement does not? 
Many of the demands of the Black movement are re- 
jected outright and meet with open hostility on the part 
of white workers, who, for the most part, are racist. That 
does not lead revolutionists to urge Blacks to adapt their 
demands or lunit their struggle to issues acceptable to 
the working class as a whole. 

Similarly, we believe that the gay liberation movement 
raises from the very beginning "demands of the working 
class as a whole." The fact that the prejudice of straight 
workers probably runs deeper on the question of homo- 
sexuality than on any other question in no way changes 
this. 

And how does the women's movement raise "class de- 
mands" that are, apparently, foreign to the gay move- 
ment? Is the demand for abortion a "class demand"? While 
abortion certainly benefits working women, it can hardly, 
be said to have class limitations. True, the women's move- 
ment naturally raises other demands, such as "equal pay 
for equal work," that are "class demands." But so does 
the gay movement. Is not the demand for an end to em- 
ployment discrimination against gays a "class demand"? 
Moreover, aside from the fact that tlie struggle for homo- 
sexual liberation is in and of itself a struggle that is in 
the interest of the working class and the struggle for free- 
dom for the oppressed in general, struggles by gays have 
raised specific class issues, benefited the working class, 
and in some cases been supported by unions. A few ex- 
amples are: struggles against government or employer 
snooping into private lives; a suit during the 1950s for 
the right to send literature through the mails; struggles 
against arbitrary firing, or firing because of an arrest 
record; etc. Last spring a California Edison worker was 
fired after having been arrested near a gay bar in South- 
ern California. He decided to fight it. W^hen his union 
moved to institute grievance proceedings, the company 
backed down and rehired him. 

In New York, a number of union leaders have rec- 
ognized gay rights as an issue of relevance to the labor 
movement, not merely because many of their members 

99