Lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people face systematic oppression in our society, with discrimination, harassment, even violence, coming at them from every direction- the police and the courts, school and work, in pubs and on the streets.
Think about it. Is it really too much to ask that people should be able to live their lives as they want to?
Lots of people are bigoted, but this is because the system promotes this- schools, media, and especially the churches. But there is a much smaller, more specific category of people who ultimately are behind this system of bigotry, the capitalist class. The struggle for gay liberation is a threat to them and their whole rotten economic system.
Now you’re wondering what the hell economics has to do with gay and lesbian oppression.
Well REVO believes that it hasn’t just got something to do with it, but that the economic system actually generates this form of oppression. How? Read on…
Contrary to popular myth, gay oppression has not always existed. In ancient Greece, for example, male homosexuality was not seen as “unnatural” but actually glorified by poets and philosophers and widely accepted throughout society. There were no categories, no hetero- versus homosexual. Because of male dominance gay love was looked upon as a higher form of love than hetero-love.
The middle ages saw the rise of Christianity and a highly homophobic society, but one where being gay or lesbian was no different from any other “evil” and so didn’t receive special sanctions. Lesbianism in fact was not believed to exist, since the Christian fathers argued that “decent” women don’t have sexuality so how can any woman be a lesbian?
It was only with the rise of Capitalism and its family unit that the systematic oppression of gays and lesbians began.
In the patriarchal family of the middle ages, with a father at the head of a household made up of his brothers, their wives, i.e. the whole extended family, the family was a unit of production (peasants and farming). Under capitalism, the family changed its form. Without land to work, the man went out of the house to earn a wage working for a boss, while the woman became responsible for raising children, cooking, etc. in other words reproducing the next generation of workers or looking after her husband, and all free of charge for the capitalist. (Women actually often had a job on top of their family duties, the double shift).
The capitalists rely on the next generation being raised, but they don’t want to pay for it- creches, child income benefit, the whole lot. So capitalism relies on the hetero-family with its sexual division of labour between man and woman, and this was then institutionalised as Hetero-love and marriage was labeled “natural”. Anything that differed from this was deemed unnatural.
The categorisation of homosexual and heterosexual appeared, and legal penalties were imposed on gay men. A gay subculture came into existence alongside capitalism in Britain (the “mollies”). Famous group trials of gays took place in 1699,1701 and 1720 where the punishment for being “abnormal” was hard labour in prison or the death penalty.
Gays and lesbians fall outside the capitalist “family’ and its reproductive needs. To maintain the family, it needs to be argued for, and alternatives, such as homosexuality, fought against and policed (literally, as the police constantly harass gay cruisers in parks or baths, alongside the whole set of discriminatory laws, such as age of consent laws). So it’s not just ideas in the heads of backward individuals, its wired into the system.
While REVO accepts gays and lesbians of all classes suffer discrimination, we want to build a working class liberation movement. Gays and lesbians from the capitalist class are able to cushion many of the discriminations they may face. For example in housing or jobs. They have no interest in overthrowing capitalism because they have a stake in it.
We believe sexual freedom can only arise with the total emancipation of society from all the economic and ideological chains of capitalism-i.e a revolution. And it is only the working class as a whole-of all races, ages, genders, and sexualities that have an interest in and can overthrow the system.