Thank you so much for the article on Austin Pride [“The History of Pride in Austin
,” News, Aug. 9]. It is a very well-written and largely accurate account of the first moments of the founding of the Gay Liberation Front and subsequent developments in the Gay Rights Movement here.
I have a couple of quibbles and one disagreement. The quibbles first: The first meeting of GLF did not happen in the University YMCA. It happened in Sutton Hall on the UT campus. Four meetings later, we moved to the Student Union. Some time after, the University kicked us out. That is when we moved to the Y. This is important because the facts demonstrate how opaque the issue of a gay presence on campus was to the authorities.
Secondly, the observable gay population of Austin, before GLF, largely white middle-class men, was not specifically political and certainly not radical. That population was, however, acutely aware of its status as a second-class citizenry and came around with some speed once GLF appeared, however much it disagreed with our leftist leanings.
A larger and more troubling squabble erupted in the opening days of our attempts to organize and to establish our movement’s connections to the larger liberationist struggles of the Civil Rights, anti-war, and women’s movements, dialectically.
Six months or so out, the Lesbians said, and I quote, “These are men,” and left GLF, hooked up with straight women, and founded their own organization.
Accused so, the men answered, “Yes, we are men, but we support your struggle and we wish you would not bifurcate our mutual gay energy and [instead] help us mount a united front.”
“Nothing doing,” they answered, and proceeded to mount a feminist argument and analysis against us in The Rag
It turned out that the Lesbians did not have enough numbers to sustain their organization and a year later [they] came back to GLF demanding control of the consensus-directed meetings and that Lesbian and women’s issues be given priority even to the point of placing an “L” at the forefront of all and any future abbreviated designations.
This was done.
I said, as I am saying to the Democrats today: “I do not believe in hierarchies of oppression. The oppression of one is the oppression of all. As to the feminist claim to a priority status with regard to primary issues, it seems quixotic to me to claim that the domestic repression of women’s rights has greater historical resonance than working in a coal mine or being drafted into the trenches of World War I or onto the beaches of Tarawa and into the Battle of the Bulge, with all due respect to the suffering and struggle of our foremothers.”
I did not believe back then and I do not believe today in identity politics. Such is an inadequate analysis of the predatory policies of capitalism and such plays into the policies of divide and conquer by which means the ruling classes control the game of Life.
Thanks again for your article.