By Anton Johnson
OFTEN the charge is levelled that with equality having been won under the last Labour Government, coupled with the so called “Pink” pound, that many in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Queer) communities have become detached from the class struggle.
Well the austerity policies of the Tory Government, with its swingeing cuts on jobs and benefits, is changing that with LGBTQ community activists coming together in bodies such as Queer Resistance and Queers Against the Cuts bringing with them that talent for grass-roots activism that we saw in our communities in the 1970s, late 1980s and 1990s when LGBTQ were under attack.
Last Monday, grassroots community LGBTQ activist groups, including Queer Resistance; Queers Against the Cuts; No to Hate; Left Front Art and the NUS LGBT Campaign came together to start building for the TUC national demonstration “A future that works” on 20 October.
This positive initiative from LGBTQ community activists shows that there is still an active political LGBTQ presence and is re-invigorated by the fact that the Tory policies are attacking LGBTQ communities.
One would think from the Stonewall output that the only concern of LGBTQ people is to mimic the heternomative bourgeois institution of marriage. This may be a concern for those small numbers of privileged, in main the white, LGBT women and men who have secured some sort of management or executive position.
But for the majority of LGBTQ people – old and young, disabled, front-line workers or unemployed the reality is that their main concern is, like the rest of the working class, poverty, something that is becoming an increasing reality under the Tories.
Many LGBTQ people in areas such as London are struggling and live under the constant fear of homelessness and poverty. Many in London are being hit by the current rocketing rents.
LGBTQ people tend to be single and many are living in multi-occupancy houses in the inner city paying, high rent for squalor and in effect overcrowding.
LGBTQ people gravitate to localities where there is a large LGBTQ population so that they can live in a safer environ; this is threatened by the austerity policies.
Only today Cameron in the Daily Mail has proposed abolishing Housing Benefit for the under 25s – a group already hit by recent changes in Housing Benefit.
Many young LGBTQ people had to leave the family home as they were not accepted and for their safety, returning to the parental home, as Cameron suggests for young people, is not an option for those LGBTQ young people.
The realisation of despite the media chatter of gay marriage, which is where Stonewall and Peter Tatchell’s efforts lay, is that LGBTQ people’s fundamental rights of being safe is at risk!
This is why these grassroots community activists groups that met recognised and agreed the importance to work with the labour movement and build for the TUC demonstration in a creative way so that LGBTQ communities understand what the stakes are now.
The meeting had lots of ideas and this grassroots activism in the LGBTQ communities is what is needed as it was when Thatcher and Major attacked LGBTQ rights.
The groups have come together under the title Out Against Austerity. They will be leafleting World Pride happening on 7 July.