Communism and Pride



hey everyone welcome to the first episode of the Communists current podcast my name is Clare Sorrenti I'll be your host and today we're going to talk about communism the pride movement the history of LGBTI people in the communist movement as well as our own personal experiences and stories before we begin however I just like to read off a list of our supporters on patreon to thank them for their support Ashley Ania basil Baldwin b de f James Phillips Jeff car Jeff Tomlinson Jerry Goldberg John T Julianne Cohen Justin Stewart Kevin Sanders mu P Matthew fain Ozar and Bukoba Paul Hoffman Robert JL rustling Jay not above Scott Deschenes Shane Marcus the cym and Vivian Jane Horne thank you all comrades if you're interested in supporting our show take a look at the page patreon.com/lenguin but now on to the topic at hand I'd like to introduce my two guests for today Rho and Morris hello and Evelyn Newland so we're gonna go in order and talk a bit about ourselves today I guess I'll start many of you who are listening and today already know who I am my name is Clara Sorrenti I help run the Communist current I'm an organizer for the young Communist League in London Ontario and I'm actually also the Communist Party candidate for the federal Riding of London North Center in the upcoming October federal elections I first came out as transgender when I was about 16 years old I've been involved in various roles in the community since then related to LGBTI people it's been quite a journey over all those years and especially since becoming a communist I'm really excited that we get to have this podcast and we get to talk about the issue that affect us uniquely that we don't necessarily get to hear elsewhere so I think I'm gonna move it over to Rouen all right then so I'm Rowan I'm the secretary for the ycl Club here in London and I am trans and my pronouns are he/him in his I don't know what else what other information I should be sharing right now I guess you're also gay yeah I'm very gay it's important to know every gay Evelynn you're also gay right IIIi feel like that's a reasonable approximation yeah yeah I know I'm I'm Evelyn Newland I also still go by my name of Everett like kind of birth name I don't really consider it a dead name it's just I use different names in any case yeah some people might know me for like a whole lot of shit posting online and also going to bride parades and being like someone once called me the communist type girl so yeah basically I'm a like officially I am a member of the ycl London I am currently in Guelph I'm kind of just all over the place and I'm currently doing an MA and they thesis I guess fieldwork for a thesis to do with like sort of stuff to do with transgender experience and communities and stuff like that although I'm finding that the scope of it keeps increasing and decreasing at different times that's all very complicated subject but in any case yeah hopefully that's a reasonable approximation of what we're getting at right here yeah no I mean that makes sense yeah so I guess um moving on if like you think we've all done a good job introducing ourselves and sister they're just like always some oh yeah yeah they the more he her pronouns either yeah I should have also mentioned I use she/her pronouns but the second point now how do you feel about the pride movement as I figured that some given that it's still Pride Month we've even as the ycl London we attended the Stratford Pride Parade we're going to attend the Pride London parade the ycl and CPC in Toronto attended the parades there I actually joined the Communist Party because the Communist Party can decide that world Pride in Toronto so for myself like I see the pride movement as a launching pad to get involved in radical activity even though it's like super liberal and not at all like its roots right so I wanna pass it over I mean I I come in just want to hear everyone go on about this because it's just irritation sorry tired very tired yeah yes you do a lot of your research on this f1 like what's your take yeah I meant today okay so like I don't know if I would even describe it as liberal so it might just kind of come modified like or at least sort of under growing a constant process of commodification I don't think it's possible to fully commodify pride it would stop being pride if it just became 100% this kind of like liberalized commodity but it is definitely like it's a target of all kinds of like you know sort of activity that's sort of alienates what it does from what it's kind of stated purpose is so to speak I guess I'm kind of looking at this in a sort of a dialectical way of course where it's like basically you know what it is doing at this point is a number of different things you have on one side a very kind of liberalized notion of what pride is where it's mostly sort of a celebration of past victories kind of just like a glorification of sort of individual self or ownership and you know sort of freedom of expression and all that kind of thing and then on the other side you've got this kind of this sort of awareness that it's supposed to be political this concept of you know like Stonewall was a riot like you know fifty years of this that the other so on the one side there's the kind of liberal aspect of things and then on the other side there's this awareness that pride should be political or it is political that Stonewall was a riot Marsha P Johnson Sylvia Rivera all those like icons like people are aware of that kind of political history and will insist upon that being continually relevant today however they're really I don't see a whole lot of articulation of what that's supposed to mean in terms of action and so you've got this kind of thing where what resonates with the community is primarily like this kind of expressive like you know liberal form of pride and then on the other side you've got this awareness that it should be political that doesn't really move I saw with the Dyke March this year they like commemorated it to the 150th anniversary of Stonewall mm-hmm yet in those parades you have like you know big corporations you have banks in some cases you have military contractors and these parades and I'm just like how did they get to a point where we have rainbow banks marching in a parade that's supposed to be dedicated to the anniversary of riots yeah I went to Toronto pride once it was actually the year that black lives matter stop the parade and I didn't know what was happening it I didn't know what was happening at the time though because like a winner's float that department store stopped in front of us and we basically just had to stare at the winners float like an hour and I no idea what was going anyway so that's what that's what pride is to me it's overly corporatized it's just a mess oh and afterwards like I went up to my Airbnb with my husband after that Pride Parade and we were looking down at the street and there's just so much trash all over the street and I'm having to sweep it up afterwards all this rainbow confetti so yeah pride just seems very corporatized and wasteful to me at this point yeah and I I definitely like agree with that it's like a super wasteful it's basically just a huge party weekend remember it and it's a deep politicized party weekend yeah no I mean like at this point like you know TVD bank at this point will tell you that pride is political like and they'll do it as marketing's time like that said I don't think that it again it I don't know if I would call it completely deep politicized and I think that if you get on the ground and see the stuff that's really going on it's not I'm just very disillusioned at this point you're totally correct though that it's not completely deep politicized I mean like we're communists and we're gonna be marching right so we wouldn't be doing it we thought it was just like a waste of time and the thing is you go there like any time I'm there like I was at Toronto pride you know two days ago no three days ago sorry we're but like you know while I was there we had a lot of very direct support from just bopping around being like guys communism you know like and we automatically find that kind of support like anywhere else other than maybe like in certain kinds of labor movement oh yeah I mean I can tell you I went out door-knocking for three hours last Saturday and you know like maybe for every ten doors I knock on two of them our support yes right um you get a lot of people who are like well good luck with that and then they slam the door in your face like well communism yeah this right III didn't I haven't read any communist books but I've read a book by someone who said he read some books who said communism was bad yeah yeah that's basically the majority of it is right I heard communism was bad and I never critically questions no it kills like a million peoples and it's also homophobic and all that good shit you know that's why the the ycl was absolutely full of gay trans people is because of how home right yeah yeah and like so I understand both of your points like Evelyn and Rowan cuz pride is definitely in a lot of ways really wasteful and not a good space for political organizing but then on the other hand it allows us to like get out there and get our message out there and it's how we've done so much recruiting in London because we have that opportunity to hand out like thousands of leaflets and have free visibility well I guess not free because we end up paying to register yeah it's totally worth oh yeah well I mean I would even go so far as to say that it actually is a good space for political organizing it's just that you have to be able to like get in contact with the people who are looking to make it to have a more political presence and all that and it was funny because actually my housemate was saying after I got back to Guelph they were looking through the pictures that we've posted from the Pride Parade and they were just like you know for one thing that we had a really distinctive presence but for another thing that it was so obviously not like corporate pride was what they really liked about it you know so that really does like it resonates with people all over the place you've been best sort of like kind of vaguely you know people who aren't even that closely involved in any kind of political movements or anything like that like it resonates with people and it kind of gets people like you know baby something can be done here when we've got a presence along those lines well it's also important just for communists to have a presence when there's other political parties present otherwise people don't they either don't think we exist or they're under the impression we're so small that we don't matter that's a lot of our struggle right now is this can is just showing people that we are like visible and continue to be relevant absolutely I think pride is great for that I mean pride is very loud and visible that's the entire point of it so let's be loud and visible mm-hmm all right so so yeah so the next point why are you a communist how did you become accomplished so I guess I'll I'll start off with that so I was always since I was like 14 influenced by communist ideas my parents like to travel a lot they took me when I was like 13 to resort on Cuba and they had english-language copies of Grandma International so you know being the antisocial kid I was though I ended up becoming quite a social person after I came out of trans I found like before that I just did not care about other people you know you have a lot of issues to work out for yourself sometimes before you can like get to a point where you care about other people true yeah but yeah but like digressing going back to the topic I found an article written by Fidel because he used to have a section that was like his own blog in the newspaper it was called reflections of Fidel and he was talking this was about the time the Paris climate Accord happened so he was talking about how capitalism has unsustainably ravaged the planet and how even the attempts to limit carbon emissions were unsustainable like they weren't even trying scientists were saying we need it this slow and they're like nah how about this slow I raised my hand you can't see it yeah so from there I just always had more sympathy to communist ideas and call me as figures and then come around 2016-2017 Trump was elected and then the week following Alexander basinet massacred mosque in Quebec City and that really hit me to see how because Beast Annette was a trump supporter there was a photo of him in a maggot and seeing that connection and seeing how unstable politics had be become that a US president could directly influence someone to Massacre people in a foreign country I was like ok you know why I'm why should I be ashamed to be a communist things are way more fucked up than they need to be right now yeah but yeah that was about it that I joined the I joined the CPC and I helped form the ycl Club in London cool cool I think romancey return yeah sure okay so why I'm a communist uh pretty much I feel like it's the life-or-death situation in the sense that yes climate change is happening it's happening fast and capitalism is the cause of most of our climate catastrophe capitalism and colonialism so I feel like a a properly decolonial communist movement in Canada is the best way to weather the storms of climate change because it's gonna be bad so we need to build resilient communities to survive it essentially and I feel like I look at the political situation in Canada and I see that the Communist Party has the absolute best plan going forward for dealing with all of this yeah so I was originally kind of like a vaguely liberal person I voted NDP I was kind of involved with some Trotskyists right but yeah when the when the IPCC the International Panel on Climate Change they released that report in the fall of 2018 that really hit me hard the we have basically 12 years left and even less than that when you look at the like loss of biodiversity and how that's going to affect human populations too so yeah I just feel like we need to get more political oh absolutely there's no way around it okay yeah all right everyone why did you become a communist so for my part like first off I became a communist I guess in one firm another I've been a communist for like I would say are around 10 years and easily before I figure it out on my gender shit so like at the time I was like you know another like you know cisgender heterosexual white male kinda thing but anyway the big point was that like I think that throughout my entire life I had some kind of like an interest in like anti-oppressive politics because it's like you know looking at all the stupid shit that's happened over the course of human history and especially since like you know the dawn of the 21st twenty twenty eighth century in terms of like just like all these matters of oppression I kind of like wanted for a very long time to figure out like you know why do people do shit like this why are people you know all these and I never really found like this idea that it's a sort of like somebody's bad like inclinations you know someone's bad attitude that like white supremacy is just sort of like a personal flaw or whatever particular they compelling and the thing is that like with Marxism I found not only like kind of an idea of like why do these things emerge but also what can be done about it and I think that a lot of it also comes back to that like one sort of Leslie Feinberg quote that I ended up making a beam out of before about how like you know Marxism is often portrayed as something very like something very last century very kind of updated in bogus and all that kind of thing but what it really does is it sets a foundation for understanding why oppression happens and what can be done about it and I do think that like you know that fundamental core that like the mode of production at work characterizes pretty much anything that happens in a given society like including you know issues of colonialism imperialism family structures the way that resources are used which can lead to climate catastrophe as Rowan had said you know all these things are intrinsically linked and one has to bring together all these different struggles under a particular like concentrated force and that is you know the revolutionary agenda that we've got at work right here and that's what Marxism seeks to articulate so yeah hopefully that makes sense do you happen to have that quote I am actually looking for it right now okay I found the quote a train so as a blue-collar this by the way is from lavender and red part 84 we can go over that later when we caught ver Feinberg's legacy but in any case as a blue-collar lesbian but I had to survive growing up in the 1950s cold war ideological and state witch-hunt against communists and militants against sex same-sex love and against any but body or gender expression that sketched outside the lines of 1950s Dick and Jane gender education if I had been taught anything at all about Marxism in my high school classes is that the world view was Dogma moldering and hoary with irrelevance and that factory workers like me wouldn't be able to understand a world word of it but in these pages I found my life my love by class and a general genuine basis for solidarity with everyone battling a price oppression here and around the planet at a materialist compass that pointed the direction toward liberation I really love that quote yeah applause so I think we maybe we should move on to the next question less anyone has anything else to add about how they became a communist I didn't really save on my part why but I do feel like it's like what you said Roe and there isn't really much of a choice yeah the world is dying and we know like essentially planned economy would be pretty good at managing scarcity it's funny because like I remember before like city you know the characteristics of Marxism in different areas like there used to be kind of more utopian Marxism back in the 1960s and all that which typically our parents will remember and in their case it was like for them it was like socialism was like revolution would happen tomorrow kind of thing that was the way they were often thinking and of course that didn't really happen but they also tended to look at socialism basically as a way of making society better and today it's like we're at a point where we look at socialism kind of as a way to make society not fall the fuck up if we want to live we have to become socialist now yeah yeah okay so I guess on to the next question what's it like being an LGBTI communist so I guess in my experience it's been both really cool and and a lot of ways not so cool and not even because like I don't like being myself I love Who I am but it's a community I shouldn't say it's one community you know the Communists aren't a monolith they differ in their beliefs based on country based on party affiliation and sometimes there are organizations that aren't as friendly towards transgender people I'm really happy and proud that the ycl Canada and the Communist Party of Canada is really good towards LGBT people I received nothing but respect at the National Convention and we outlined transphobia as a clear breach of the code of conduct in both organizations so I mean there are certain ways it's bad and it's mostly online it's not even in my own organization it's like we deal with people who are like vulgar materialists and they'll be like well you know trans people that's not materialist and you know right they're like Stalin killed all the trans people why are you a communist I know that one's always the worst yeah that's the other way yeah that's the inverse of the whole thing I'm gonna insult your Bluenose here's why you should listen to me yeah oh yeah exactly it's like you know yeah like if gay people are murdered all the time and other in socialist countries fag like you no thanks mm-hmm yeah so um yeah I guess that's it for me what do you got Rowan what do I honestly it since I'm kind of new to this sometimes I feel like a walking stereotype of like what a Buber Conservatives a nightmare is transsexual communists are taking over our country so because that reminds me of not the onion news article from a few years back and it was like some like Bible Belt pastor in the u.s. said that if you let your children go to public school by the time they're 20 they'll be transgender and call me this sounds pretty swell by it's not true oh yeah okay Evelyn you got anything sure yeah like I made it's funny cuz like of course if you know like like all these kinds of conspiracy theories that like Jordan Peterson and his ilk end up going on about Impe out like you know transgender Marxists infiltrating academia they all sadly exactly they they don't even actually exist but boy if they like you know I certainly would be convenient the Jordan haters and under the circumcised conservatives threatening us with a good time yeah exactly but ya know like yeah I mean like it's one of those things like those kinds of people who do like so many that I might talk about how hey I'm a communist indebted and people are just baffled because they kind of associate like communism with just all this kind of stuff that's just like horribly oppressive all over the place and of course it's the same thing with like homophobia and transphobia and whatever like instead of blaming all kinds of factors that might have been at work in socialist countries they blame the concept of socialism itself even though at the time yeah that these things were going on the exact same fit if not worse was going on in capitalist countries like so it's no it's really ridiculous yeah especially it shows me the lack of education some people have about communism like you know we're all communist here we've read Marxist literature I don't remember the part where Karl Marx is like workers of the world unite persecute the gays yeah definitely did not yet know I haven't seen sexuality mentioned in like any Marxist theoretical work I mean ostensibly and I've seen a lot of people use the origin of the family private property in the state as kind of a support for a lot of well I've actually see that used both for and against lgbtq+ liberation struggle like so it's kind of a weird thing like because there are definitely different interpretations of this whole thing but I don't think that there are very strong ones or the notion that Marxism just contradicts these kinds of like struggles at all if in fact if anything locating these kinds of issues of cisnormativity and heteronormativity in the way that like capitalism hegemonic Lee reproduces these strict family roles and whatever like for the sake of pretty much just regulating the way that weak people like fucking give birth you know like that doesn't actually do very much like I think I guess another big thing is like from the other side with the Marxists who are anti-trans rather than the you know ostensibly well the capitalists who just tell us that Marxism won't help us kind of thing right with these kinds of Marxists who are against trans people who are trans exclusionary and whatever a lot of times their ideas sort of comes down to this that like gender itself is an ideological construct which it is and that like trans people kind of reify it through like defining themselves in accordance with one or another like kind of gender other than the one that they were assigned at birth and I think that like these people need to start maybe talking to trans people like or before they start like making judgments of that sort because like you've talked at trans people and every single one of them knows that it's an ideological like concert aside from certain ones like I would say that in especially in situations where like people just don't have a whole just sort of have felt a particular way for a certain amount of time and it's like I'm this gender and that's all that they can really make heads or tails of right there yeah that can sound like a gender essentialist argument but like I think that there's a lot more going on right there than this notion that like it just comes down to people like fueling one or another gender and sort of make absolutely metaphysical yeah so I think one thing that I always thought was a really good argument against it like people who say oh that's a social construct I don't I don't need to respect this traffic laws very good like very much a social construct but they don't obey them you're gonna get hit by a car yeah and that has material it's social construct with material consequences yeah exactly yeah I mean so is gender fuck you don't do gender according to like you know according to sis normative like kind of sensibilities and there's a very good chance that you'll get kicked out of the house by your parents and wind up starving on the streets oh yeah exactly yeah and I mean I think that's also why there's been so much of an influx in recent years of like LGBTI people becoming communist you know cuz I don't know about both of you it's probably the same but most of my friends who are trans are poor some of them have to sell their bodies to pay the rent or get pay the rent and pay for hydro mm-hm and you know it's really bad out there and when things get bad people look for alternatives and in that case this alternative is socialism yeah I mean it's almost it's not so much an alternative so much as it is a solution you know like because what the heck I'll see that's true all right actually like one official Communist Party is it the Britain one that has a stance though oh yankee transphobic APD's so I want to make sure we're clear on it that that's CPG BML yeah it's not CP B yeah which is they're very different kernel party tars they're very good yeah yeah this is what you mean about communists not being like a monolith oh absolutely it's like there's there's so many parties and in other countries in the world they're like in Turkey there's like way more than five parties that are communist in India there's only like a hundred different communist party I miss a kid the UH idea has like yeah I could forget it like Pokemon like gotta catch them all with the number of communist parties there mm-hmm though India – they're like the Communist Party of india-marxist has been like a really good example for trans rights under communist parties like in Communist Party policies because like they're not in a socialist state they're in capitalist India but they run in the elections and when they win they can offer people you know social democratic reform while also building the movement for socialism and in some cases they've been really successful like electing the first transgender judge in India and also creating provisions so that trans people can have now they it isn't enough money to cover sexual reassignment surgery but they have govern funds that they distribute to trans people to help them cover that and India for health care and yeah for health care and also India doesn't have any sort of socialized health care system in place on a federal level hmm so like that's even that's even better it's but that's like a topic that I I would have to research a lot on like the history of health care in India ya know I can't say I'm incredibly familiar myself it was it is interesting looking into the history of like different LGBTI people who were communist yeah I know you mentioned Frida Kahlo at one point yeah there's one who a lot of people of course both overlooked and maybe also sometimes tokenize yeah I've been seeing a lot of discourse about her recently yeah it's is it is kind of confusing the discourse at the same time I don't even know I'm not going to get into it yeah no I just I just heard there's a lot of discourse that people are like she's not good she is good she's not as good as he thought she was or etcetera I mean I can't III feel like the whole like Frida Kahlo is problematic because she made Bakley illegitimate claims to indigeneity thing I think that it's yeah that's what that's what it is yeah I think that's a pretty weak argument personally yeah we relevant to her like legacy one way or the other yeah I mean and I don't even know that much about her as a historical figures so I can't really say one way or another didn't wasn't she also like a volunteer fighter during the Spanish Civil War yeah yeah someone here should know their history but yeah sub1 he really loved that yeah yeah I mean like I mean thankfully this the topic of today's podcast is not on Frida Kahlo good I'm sure there'll be someone who'll comments and be like you were wrong about this this is what I think about yeah yeah you know what to all the people who want to comment that someone said anything wrong go for it you know I'm I am so not a bad problem not a dogmatist I'm willing to learn and change my position I'm wrong all the time yeah I love being wrong I like that I like that one meme that's like I'm so into dialectics I'm constantly in who I was like myself from yeah from two weeks ago yeah what was it like who is a coward and who is a coward and a fool or something yes something to that I mmm so okay so we've gone over the fourth point so the fifth point was what are some examples of communist organizing you have done in the LGBTI community so yeah I can talk I mean I can talk a bit about that because for the past this will be our third year in the Communist Party of Canada and London Ontario is registered for the Pride Parade so we're going to be marching and handing out anti pipeline literature and telling people about the connections between TD Bank which is sponsoring the parade and the pipelines that are going up and I'm sure Rouen you might have more to say about that I mean oh you summarized it okay I feel like I was just missing out some details on that no it's basically we're going there to make people critical of Revo capitalism so we're gonna participating in rainbow capitalism in a way but as a again yeah to make people critical and aware of it yeah so I guess besides that three years of pride which has been really useful as I said previously in getting our name out there and showing people in my city that there's a visible communist presence of people who aren't afraid to identify openly as communists which is part of like what we really I believe really need to be pushing for because like if we're all hiding online in chat rooms we're not going to influence anyone yeah you're not you're not honest yeah you're not and I do see that sometime where political ideologies become personalities rather than actually like enacting the principles of those ideologies yeah people who identify as Leninists who don't know the principles of Leninism and I'm not um I'm also not trying to come down hard on people you know everyone starts off somewhere I guess it's just when those people take center stage that it's kind of embarrassing yeah yeah I mean it also my terrible online left one big thing is to kind of like bring you know we should be bringing kind of like the party discipline and whatever into the general public not letting that kind of like very online kind of leftism screw with what we end up having going on inside of organizations I think that's a big priority right here is like kind of just like introduce to people the fact that you can get stuff done but you have to go outside of just sort of sectarian infighting and like dumb memes on the internet if you're gonna make that happen yeah yeah again why I'm drawn to the Communist Party because they seem like they're shit together there's an actual plan here there is that sort of party discipline I like the white zeal for that reason cuz it kind of like trains you up in that discipline yeah and I mean it's like a historically speaking the young Communist League has always been like a launching pad for people to get involved in the Communist Party even though they're and there's a lot of confusion about that they are separate organizations with their own separate leadership and separate bank accounts like it's not the Youth League of the Communist Party of Canada that was an ideologically yeah people will tell you that I think even on the Wikipedia page it says something along the lines of no no ICL is the youth wing but it's not hmm it's it's very close and like even the current leader the Communist Party candle is a–the rally was formerly a leader in the young Communist League in our youth there's usually a bunch of overlap and membership – yeah like I personally am not part of the Communist Party but I am part of the yzl I could just only take on so many duties you know but I think I digressed a bit I talked about pride London but those are my only experiences so far with organizing specifically communist organizing and the LGBTI community I have very little examples of that again because I haven't done I done a whole bunch I will have more to say after we have our Pride Parade here and I actually participate in that yeah be some organizing but Evelyn does a lot more of this oh and anyone listening right now feel free to come in to London Ontario next month for the Pride Parade I'll have more information on my personal Facebook and Twitter you can follow it at act klaris or NT or just look at player Sorrenti on Facebook you can even ask communists time with us yeah you can actually like March with us it's a cool way to like get involved and like yeah I love meeting new portal yeah no I actually we had a few people from outside the party like marching with us in Toronto shoutout to Mel in Guelph yeah who joined in after I gave them an invitation literally the day before they were like heck yeah so yeah yeah I wanted to ask you about that Evelyn how was Pride Toronto with the Communist Party oh I I mean it's always great I free I love it like okay you know this is widely what I was gonna say earlier but then I got like interrupted because that phone thing that was going on was that like you know I think that one of the reasons that pride is so effective is because it's political yes but it's also kind of a celebration at the same time it's a political celebration now I mean sometimes there has been an effort to turn it into a kind of a commodified celebration that doesn't have that involved but like that's how you can often get people involved and also boost morale and stuff like that fact is that at the end of the day we can't all just be sort of die hard like you know iron-fisted revolutionaries at all times we need to have something like especially given the austerity and bleakness of our everyday existence that can like kind of give us the energy to get stuff done at the same time as getting stuff done you know cuz I went up there I got in people's face I mean like remember in Stratford like the one you know yeah business bear who came up to us it was like black lives matter as bad a collie so I think we got to back up a bit yeah podcast listeners won't know what we're talking about with the the bear in Toronto I guess I'm trying to give an example but basically yeah we like so Stratford is this small place it's like 40,000 people and but it's like where I grew up and it also has a unique call immunised history that I will not currently get into because I've been tangent enough already but like it's you know it's a small place it's relatively at least like kind of on the surface level it's pretty impressive it's actual politics are a fair bit more conservative but like you know you go there and there's a lot of you know sort of very hippie-ish kind of artists sort of people and all that because it's a theatre town but in any case when we were there organizing for the Pride Parade like won this one so like one of our comrades with who we had there was wearing a sticker saying black lives matter supporting black lives matter and this guy's like sort of came up to us and started like going off about how back in 2017 it was either 2016 16 or 2017 something happened on both those days I those years I don't know which of it he was referring to on its matter in Toronto when they stopped the parade yeah so yeah that would have been 2017 but I mean they did they didn't that they did act in in 2016 as well but in any case like and he basically saw it as like or at least he was putting it across as an attack on kind of like pride itself and like you know it's he was saying oh it's not their movement and do they do and that's exactly the point like yeah is their movement as much as like you know as much as if not more than like any white game like yeah he makes it sound like so much just like a bunch of like straight cisgender gay people I wouldn't be surprised if he made it sound like no one there who was blocking the parade was LGBTQ and this has nothing to do with it but it's obvious that's like a racist person how to tell you that intersectionality is a thing you can be black and gay well and I think that this is one of the key issues of like Kemeny is this thing where like we've got like all these like sort of interest sorta just being like against each other or like divided in such a way that you don't have a basis for like any kind of real movement against oppression but I mean I think this guy's also quite fuck you got mine about it because the internet like sort of costing me where rather I guess I accosted him like later on oh yeah he was nasty he started he's yappy he called me a man like multiple times over and I think I think I've made man just like yeah it's it's it's really sad it's like he doesn't he you know he's racist he's transphobic yeah but because he's gay he's still showing up to these parades and he's still trying to have his input heard you know I don't know if people should hear is input it doesn't sound like it's very girly I don't want to listen to it well I mean I think there's a certain point where you've got enough not only but in any case yeah to get back to the original point because this has engine radio Toronto like ya know like I mean I think that you know even when the year were showing up that like at the more unpleasant parts of pride it's like you're also kind of having a good time and then afterward you go and you can like sing and dance and like do whatever the heck that it is you do and like you know you are to an extent there to have a good time there's nothing wrong with that communism still you know involves building community and having a good time sometimes yeah give me a reason to live I mean that's also why the ycl right now is trying to host rebel youth festivals across cities in Canada sometime this summer because we've got to build you know we need to build a socialist culture part of that is going to be having fun yeah you can't build any sort of movement unless you can really I like how we're making out what sorry I like how we're making out having fun as like like now guys we have to have fun sometimes we need to do a lot of I know it's not really what we're in here for yeah yeah yeah no I I mean I just think that there are a lot of leftists out there who are unfortunately quite austere about this question and they like they and for them it's like you know going and having like I drink with some comrades or whatever is like verboten it's not something – we're gonna have a YCL game night soon aren't we yeah I thought we were doing something yeah we should do that it'll be fun yeah and I mean it's like um it's important to remember to like you know the key purpose of political organizations is to organize politically mmm by it building connections between comrades in person is invaluable I have to build relationships with the rest of the community to like yeah just hang out with other comrades yeah that's why it's places like Praia ters is a great space – no absolutely relationships sometimes it can be a bit weird I remember last year at the parade someone gave a red salute and yelled stole and did nothing wrong at our flow I don't like that like we less of that we need more party discipline and less of that well you know they're not part of the party yeah you know I you know I I yeah the energy is nice I just don't know about enthusiasm not so sure yeah yeah no absolutely no it's funny okay yeah who knew you could have like nuanced and serious to historical questions of that sort but yeah yeah I mean why have nuanced answers to historical questions when you can just do a bunch of hot takes okay that's how you get the likes yeah hmm and the retweets and do internet memes you just have the hottest most batshit galaxy brain tape what makes people pay attention okay so like Leslie Feinberg like I'm gonna use Z here pronouns for hair under the circumstances he actually used a whole bunch of different like pronouns very suited different situations but it in any case like I mean Feinberg was responsible for a lot of the kind of for a lot of really earthy like kind of Pro you know political transgender kind of stuff if you go back to 1992 then you're dealing with like sort of transliteration transliteration a movement whose time has come which was like published for the workers world party and kind of went over a lot of things to do with kind of like the history of sort of how gender does not really ever work in a fundamentally like predictable it was like sort of way and that there have always been like aspects of oppression a anti-oppressive struggle to transgender struggle itself now I mean there are parts of it that are admittedly a bit anachronistic I think that that would have been more and more clear as time went on but like for the time I think that it was like groundbreaking work and it's definitely worth looking at it also uses a very different definition of transgender from what we would typically use today where in many ways it kind of has to do more with like sort of general nonconformity with gender norms like like like extreme extreme rejection of those norms in fact then like some kind of a you know sort of the typical transgender definition of the youth today there are a lot of other examples of people using different definitions of transgender throughout history I could think of a few although the names aren't coming to me right now I don't think that's incredibly important because we're talking about communists right now but anyway the point is that like yeah so 1992 you had a transgender liberation then 1993 stone butch blues which was kind of like Feinberg's main kind of like contribution to queer lit and the name the the book that most people were will remember here for are from a it's funny too because like it's one of those books that like you know it's sort of canonized Feinberg as this queer that icon but a lot of times the communism part is sort of wrapped oh so expensive I actually had a quote I wanted to bring up by Lenin because it it incorporates both what we are talking about with us oh yeah yeah yeah I know what you mean with Mark Ashton and Leslie Feinberg and even like Che Guevara from the state and revolution during the lifetime of great revolutionaries the oppressing classes he constantly handed them received their theories with the most savage malice the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander after their death attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons to canonize them so to say and to hollow their names too certain extent for the consolation of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter well at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgar izing it yeah I had a feeling it was gonna be that way that accurately describes the motorcycle yeah yeah yeah I mean there's a lot to this with just like sort of generally like memory as kind of this cultural thing this is something that one of my props goes on about a lot who's like also just wonderful but like brings in a lot of the political aspects to this whole thing is how like sort of cultural memory ends up being used as this political device and it's one of those reasons like like I think that right now we have to be really careful of that with them with Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera that there are a lot of you know it like cuz there's supposed to be like statutes going up of them now and all that kind of thing and I'm like is you know like sure this can be a good thing but is this also maybe also having that effect of turning them into kind of deep politicized cultural icons rather than like people who actually had a completely anti status quo approach to things in the time that they were alive and present and it's there's every reason to believe they still would you know like yeah and I mean it's also important to ask who's putting the statue something like is it an effort of the city is it a private company like I'm why are they doing that and if it is a company what other activities are they up to that they're trying to hide by putting up these LGBT icons of statues yeah good questions mmm-hmm and yeah corporate activism is that's something we got to point out all the time I'm saying no banks can't be activist organizations you know General Dynamics Land Systems cannot be an activist organization they make a military vehicle but don't you know that the military vehicles are gay or something it is so gay they go to countries where they execute gay people yeah III do wanna kinda like mention is since I brought up that like quote with them from Feinberg earlier about kind of like Marxism as its received versus how its portrayed at like in schools and all that kind of thing like the work that Z is actually referring to right there is it Saturday at work by Bob MacGuffin called the roots of lesbian and gay oppression he also worked with the workers world party once upon a time I know I think he actually still does come to think of it he's still definitely it's hard to say there was a some issues I'm not gonna get into during this podcast so going to talk about another but yeah no I mean like another sort of name I guess that's worth mhm and didn't you say you had one Rowan oh the figure I was thinking of us he's more of like a Social Democrat Edward carpenter he was an English poet from the turn of the century he was in relationship with George Merrill who was working-class man they their relationship was the inspiration for ian foresters novel maurice is actually pronounced morris but yeah so since I studied English Lit that was kind of one of my initial introductions to socialism was through Edward carpenter and his poetry so I mean that's fair and everyone like gets they come to communism through various way oh yeah I mean like in and my own party our party Norman Bethune is like a huge bigger even though he joined the party when he was in his like late 40s and it's I kind of I appreciate that that we don't canonize people for like the length that they're in the party but for the mayor of work they did while they're in talk about like poetry and other kinds of things that are like like I mean I can think like that there are a number of people where I'm not sure I would call them Marxists or not but we're still like sort of important to lgbtq+ thought at least for me and for like and-and-and whose ideas definitely kind of have relevance to a Marxist approach bruce boon comes to mind for instance but yeah so another figure that is lesser-known that I think is worth mentioning is Francisco Rodriguez who is a gay member of the Communist Party of Cuba he has a blog anyone can recalled poquito de Cuba and he talks about Cuban policy he talks about being a gay man in Cuba his most recent work was a lot of community engagement during the constitutional reform process in Cuba because they were going to put same-sex marriage in the new constitution and ended up withdrawing it due to a lot of protests by reactionary forces on the island like the Catholic Church and other like far-right religious organizations like that said like I have a quote from him because he was like really urging people to get involved in this process and it's kind of funny when people think communist and they're like Oh politics is not open for debate but if it wasn't open for debate this wouldn't have been an issue because the president backed same-sex marriage he said I urge LGBTI people to engage in all the spaces of debate within our reach so that our families work groups and neighborhoods know who we are and what we are worth and why we consider this step to be just in revolutionary even beyond our own particular well-being or benefit so you can see like even in Cuba there's there are LGBT communists I saw when they did Mayday they even had a contingent of people from Sena sex which is the Cuban national center for sex education which is headed up by Mariela Castro who is the daughter of Raul Castro hmm so I guess um and that is sort of a shame that there aren't as many figures there probably are a lot we talked about Francisco Rodriguez we talked about Mark Allen mostly because oh yeah absolutely again people can put it in the comments oh yeah if you if you know a figure an LGBTI communist that you think we missed out just let us know in the comments we will bring it up I also know a sidetrack while I was talking about Leslie Feinberg but yeah like I talked briefly about transgender liberation and transgender warriors some butch blues all that he actually had a lot of different work throughout her life but like I mean one that gets plugged a lot and probably rightly so because it covers a lot of the kind of stuff that we've already been talking about with like you know how there have been like you know all kinds of the about about like sort of the history of the tree of the lgbtq+ struggle in socialism and you know of course lavender and red focuses entirely yeah and you know a lot of it is based on just like the fact that like you know you can't look at for one thing like lots of progress actually does end up being made in lgbtq less struggle under socialism but of course there are problems that still arise but like it's always kind of spurious to say that there's that it's because of socialism that those things are occurring when homosexuality was like you know criminalized in the Soviet Union it was done alongside a whole lot of like weird and kind of misplaced concerns about like sex trafficking like I mean real concerns that were going on in the USSR but like that kind of like had this weird overlap and I you can still end up so to seeing how a lot of people will try to use this notion that like you know lgbtq+ people are like sex criminals or whatever in all kinds of different areas but the point is that that's ruling class ideology that's not socialism that's like the fact that even under with in socialism there's a constant struggle to like wage against ruling class ideology and when it comes right down to it you know Stalin was able to do a great deal like for you know the war effort and whatever during the 40s but he was also like a guy who grew up in a rural Catholic Georgia like inundated with ruling class ideology and he acted on him like I mean who would have figured that uh people born in the first half of the twentieth century or earlier might have backwards views on sexuality I mean it's it's sad to say you know that it's deads really come a long way even since yeah when I was a kid people's awareness of transgender people even like before you know I just got called like a tranny sorry excuse the word but people literally did not know that that was a slur they thought that's what you call a transgender person and then it was like around the time like Caitlyn Jenner came out I'm sure we all have bitter feelings about her but I guess the one good thing she did is bring it it became a discursive subject from there it's not like she politicized it was this a subject wholly aside right I mean yeah she didn't like do it as much as she just like rhoda wrote on the publicity that being an Olympic medal winner and then coming out as trans gives you but like I remember even my mom telling me when before Caitlyn Jenner came out when she would tell when she would tell her co-workers about the fact I had sexual reassignment surgery they would react baffle they're like what that's a thing you can do that yeah and now it's like if she brings it up they're like oh yeah I know what that is yeah yeah I came out like ten years ago it's radically different now mm-hmm and I hope it keeps getting more radically different in the future it feels like it is I think okay so do we have any more things to discuss on the example on discuss about historical examples of LGBTI people who are communists none that I have right now yeah I've exhausted my own you can find a lot of if you read through lavender and read you will find a lot of examples of that kind of thing I would just recommend that people like read that because you'll find other names through that if you want absolutely I am one book I wanted to read by Leslie Feinberg I haven't got around to yet was that's part of I haven't read rainbow solidarity in defense of Cuba yep it's sort of a reworked part of the specific section about Cuba well with that said thanks everyone for coming on the podcast thanks for having me we could do we could do some like you know we should plug our presences or whatever before we play it oh yeah I mean if everyone wants to give their Twitter I gave mine earlier don't follow me on Twitter okay you you want to see Rowan's bait streets I want to zero in speak I want to eat them I'm looking forward to being in London next just so that I can like have any of I need to make you something I keep on seeing this stuff on Twitter I know I need to make extra chocolatey yeah yeah because you know how I hide it how I do in that way oh my god but yeah I am I am which on Twitter that's like Sun which like as in Rioja hair with the pointed hat which but it's got two eyes in it so su and WI I TCH and yeah go ahead and like follow me there if you want and also like if you see me around on Facebook go ahead like send me a friend request I'm friendly I'm also like a massive like shit poster like so just you know they pretty entertaining thank you I guess of all we're plugging things also check out the communist Kurt on Twitter Instagram and Facebook we're constantly posting content and we're going to be doing a podcast episode every month from here on out so yeah give that a check I mean check that out give that a check yeah okay cool alright are we done then I think




Comments
  1. The left is being duped into placing excessive focus on side issues (or is being infiltrated by those that use it as a vehicle only for their own agenda)) such as ‘identity politics that distract and direct attention from the main workers issues and preventing overall unity as each sub-group seeks to ‘outdo’ the other and advance itself, inevitably turning against each other when agendas collide – e.g. LGBT Vs. Islam in Birmingham, England, a mess that would be avoided if only each had first and foremost seen themselves as equally exploited workers united. ‘Identity politics’ – a perfect ‘spanner in the works’ helping capitalists maintain their system (divide and conquer). Excessive focus directed away from
    the main proletariat issues is putting many potential comrades off -. Thankfully not all Communist organisations are so gullible. https://www.cpgb-ml.org/2019/04/20/news/why-gay-rights-is-not-a-class-issue/

    https://www.cpgb-ml.org/topics/identity-politics

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