Gay pride: Moving forward, remembering the past

As I drove to Boston’s Pride Parade, I reflected on my life as a “gay” communist in the U.S.

As Pride parades take place this month, and as the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community and allies go forward, we must also look back.

It was not that long ago the first Gay Pride Parade was held. It was a riot at the Stonewall in New York City’s Greenwich Village. This working-class bar was the keg of gunpowder that exploded the “Gay Liberation Movement” onto the nation’s stage. Fed up with police harassment, those at the Stonewall said no more.

We must also remember the many brothers and sisters who started this struggle – comrades like Harry Hay, William Aatol and so many others that stood tall against anti-democratic forces.

Many stepped up to bring the “gay” issue out of the closet and into the streets. The days of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s built a movement that most people ran from. But those that stayed the course really made change in our society. It was Comrade Harry Hay that had organized the first gay men’s group to start organizing in the “gay community.”

The attacks against the GLBT community today are coming from the far right wing. These attacks are very underhanded and vicious. They have terrible repercussions that will impact the democratic and working-class movements beyond the GLBT community. The recent Senate defeat of the Hate Crimes Bill, which added attacks on sex, sexual orientation and disability to the list of hate crimes, is one example of this.

We must also remind people that living in the gilded “Gatos” is not liberation. We are not free from the economic, social and political system of capitalism. Sometimes it is just a little easier to forget other struggles that must be fought in order to liberate the whole working class.

A key organization for the GLBT community is Pride at Work, a part of the AFL-CIO. The GLBT community is working class and our movement has working-class roots. Pride at Work helps trade unionists deal with many important issues, including discrimination on the job based on sexual orientation.

There are many things that can divide the movements – homophobia, anti-communism, racism and male supremacy, just to name a few. It is incumbent upon all the democratic forces to find points of unity, to work together and build relations and trust in the face of our common enemies.

To that extent I hope more Communist Party contingents march in Pride parades. It is time to see our banner marching in every Pride Parade. Many communists are there and have been there from the start, but the world needs to see us more.

Gary Dotterman is a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA and the organization secretary of the Massachusetts state organization.