Blasts From The Past

The Myth of Homophobia Revolutionary Gay Men’s Caucus

Kelson Publications 1.50

A radical Marxist analysis of the Gay movement and its development. This publication by the RGMC identifies the real reason for our oppression. Our campaigns have always been regarded as a struggle against our various enemies, which have been defined as ignorance, the law, the family, even ourselves, and these factors have been consolidated into something called homophobia’. The word homophobia itself, as the writer rightly points out, seems to suggest a hang-up in the minds of those responsible for legislation and those who have command of the state, nothing more that a misguided attitude, i. e. that homophobia’ is simply an optional’ form of oppression to racism sexism, etc.

Many people feel content to attack the special characteristics of the capitalist system in the hope that more liberated life-styles can be achieved. This pamphlet argues that we can never harmonise radical ideas with the capitalist system, and our presumption that homophobia’ is the root of our oppression, has blinded us from understanding why we are oppressed at all. Fighting for integration within a capitalist society it is argued, has achieved nothing, as there has been an increase in convictions of Gay men since 1967 when the law against us was reformed! Job discrimination still takes place, and the struggle to protect Gay rights at work has achieved little, as yet.

The main reason why a gay scene’ developed in our society is that the free labour market has permitted a sizeable minority of Gay people to congregate in capital citieSeand large towns. We therefore have formed communities which do not exist in many other countries, as their economies have developed differently.

During the 18th century, huge increases in wealth derived from exploitation of the agricultural system by individual capitalists led to the growth of wage-labour and industrial capitalism. Same-sex relationships were most common among those who were economically independent. To be useful to the capitalist system, workers were encouraged and socially pressurised into, family relationships. Unproductive’ relationships which did not seem in the interest of the economic system were frowned upon by the state.

The Caucus conclude that due to the nature of the development of our society, reformism’ cannot possibly make us more accepted within the system. What is needed are revolutionary ideas which challenge the economic order. The struggle of the working class is inseparable from that of Gay people. The Gay movement’ has acted against the interests of working people by integrating with the Gay bourgeoisie and becoming their clients. The only positive movement is the movement for working class unity against capitalist interests everywhere, and the Stalinist leadership in Eastern Europe.

Tim Clarke

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ANOTHER VIEW:

In this pamphlet, the RGMC have tried to challenge mainstream Gay politics by placing it in context with the rise of capitalist industrial states. Historically, there is evidence to suggest that homosexuality was largely ignored in rural economies which dominated before the industrial revolution. This was because for a working class individual it was virtually impossible to survive outside the family unit, and so homosexuality never became a threat to that society.

With the industrial revolution came a change in the labour structure, with working class people moving from working for survival to a system of wage labour where they found they could more than just survive. Thus, rural societies declined as their populations moved to the new industrial centres.

It is in the changes of the social structures of this period that the roots of much of our oppression is to be found. Within these changing structures individuals came to an awareness that sexuality was no longer necessarily tied to a need to procreate, thus weakening the family’s hold on each successive generation. But, with the change to an industrially-based economy, the basic structure of the working class family had become vital to the ruling classes, whose new-found profits depended on the continued reproduction of a socially-stable labour force. Thus, such aberrations’ as homosexuality ceased to be merely perversions punished, but became a direct threat to be condemned legally, morally and socially.

Since the industrial revolution, the working classes have become generally better educated and increasingly self-aware, enabling oppressed people to come to re-define themselves in relation to society; witness the Black and Women’s movements, and now the post-Stonewall Gay movement.

After the Stonewall riots, Gays for the first time directly confronted the Trade Union and Labour movements of Europe, including the UK, with the facts of our oppression only to be met with shock and bewilderment. This reinforced the pre-Stonewall line taken by Gay Rights campaigners that our oppression stems from ignorance and that by law-reform and education of the public we would be defeating oppression and prejudice.

It is here the RGMC differ from mainstream Gay politics, in that they argue that law reform and public education are only treatments for the symptoms of our oppression rather than cures for the disease itself, which they see a capitalism, and that while capitalism surviveSeany gains that we make can also be reversed, as witness the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

To conclude, it must be said that whilst the points raised by RGMC are all valid, the alternative they offer seems a high price to pay for an uncertain result, in that it would require us to submerge our new-found sense of identity virtually completely, to the needs to unite with other oppressed groups against present day society. But they do not state what form society would take after the change, or how a new social revolution would be brought about.

Tom McAlister

Gay Star (No. 9, January 1983)

 

LInks to sites about Homophobia on the Web:Holding Me Together, by Duane Simolke

  1. Menstuff?« has compiled information, bookSeand resources on the issue of homophobia
  2. Teaching about Homophobia in Schools
  3. Homophobia and masculinities among young men (Lessons in becoming a straight man)

1 reply
  1. Seán McGouran
    Seán McGouran says:

    The ‘Revolutionary Gay Men’s Caucus’ either became, or dissolved itself into the ‘Revolutionary Communist Party’ (a split from the [GB] Socialist Workers Party towards a more traditional Trotskyist line.  It is now the (NeoCon ?) Institute of Ideas, and its members write for the ‘compacts’.  I think Don Milligan was a member.

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