Revolutionary Republicanism and LGBTQ Politics
From June to August, Gay pride marches take place across the 32 counties of Ireland.
From Belfast to Derry, Dublin to Galway Bay, from Limerick to Cork much must be looked at from the early days of LGBTQ pride. What started with a few activists taking to the streets, to now having thousands taking to the same streets, shows just how far we have come. In the early days Pride, was a revolutionary act of protest, it was a march for liberation and rights. But let’s just look at pride today and the role of Irish republicans and Socialists and the struggle for Gay liberation. LGBTQ members have always played a role in the struggle for Irish freedom, from before the 1916 Easter Revolutionary Rising for the Republic to the present day and throughout the years, LGBTQ members have been supportive of Irish Republicanism and have played a role throughout the struggle for Irish Liberation.
The question to be asked is; “What role does Republicanism and Revolutionary politics have to play in LGBTQ politics?” The answer is simple, quite a big part. There can be no LGBTQ Liberation without National Liberation and there can National Liberation without LGBTQ Liberation. Heterosexual Republicans and Revolutionary comrades have a huge part to play, their part is to help build acceptance and not tolerance. In today’s world the Queer is tolerated, but to accept the queer is much better than to just tolerate.
The constitution of the Irish Republic and the Proclamation of Easter 1916 states that all children of the Nation shall be cherished equally, that is an Ireland that all LGBTQ citizens Irish Republicans and left minded political activists must think about. In that Ireland all citizens will have full equality and liberty. That is an ideal Ireland and that Ireland will be a beacon of Equality across the globe. Ireland today is an Island of two Nation states, that is not the answer to the National question. The only answer the people of Ireland want is a Democratic 32 County Irish Socialist Republic. The partition of our Nation has caused inequality of our citizens in the North, the DUP are the leading political party in power, this party are an ultra-right wing political party that is homophobic and sectarian. The DUP have blocked equality for LGBTQ citizens in the North, this reactionary Homophobia has caused many young and not so young members from the Northern Irish LGBTQ Community to emigrate to other countries.
As we seen last year, Belfast Pride became the largest pride parade in Ireland. We also seen the PSNI being invited to take part in the Belfast Gay Pride parade which was hypocritical as that same force has a history of regression towards the LGBTQ community. whilst some hailed this as progress it was far from it, the PSNI are a force set up to protect the state and all the trappings of the state. The very same state that continues to treat the LGBTQ community as second-class citizens. The Gay Pride movement rose from the ashes of the Stonewall Bar Riots in June 1969. During a police raid on the Stonewall Bar on the night of 27th June 1969 a Gay bar in New York city. The bar was burned to the ground by LGBTQ community during an uprising against police brutality and regression against the LGBTQ community. This riot that lasted for three days and nights, it was then that LGBTQ community fought back, and this saw the start of the International LGBTQ liberation movement, a struggle which continues today, it was also the start of radical LGBTQ politics and Pride. The fight for LGBTQ marriage today across the North of Ireland, is as important an issue as much as it is civil right. Anyone wishing to get married should so be able to do so without fear of bigotry, hate and the denial of what should be a civil right.
In six countries throughout the world LGBTQ members are publicly murdered for being gay, even more shocking in 2018 it is still a criminal offence to be gay in 72 countries around the world. This is where we must act local and think global. In the North of Ireland Queer bashing is still as much an issue as is homosexual repression. In our divided Ireland members of the LGBTQ community still get bashed because of who they choose to love. Liberation can bring real equality and smash repression. Not so long ago I can remember reading a letter in a local Newspaper from a young Irish Republican POW, who is incarcerated in Maghaberry Gaol. Cogús POW Connor Hughes from my local community in Andersonstown. Connor’s letter was in support of an Irish language act and LGBTQ marriage rights and Equality, this support must always be welcome as sometimes we need comradeship in places we never we had before and sometimes that can be the best feeling in the world.
We must always stand in Solidarity with all who fight for liberation and against repression and regression.
Someday I hope to live in an Ireland where there are no political prisoners, an Ireland of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, real peace with justice and the rights of every Irish woman and Irish man to National liberation in Unity and we as members of the LGBTQ community just like our Republican comrades have a role in making this Ireland happen together, in activism and in solidarity we shall overcome someday.
Seán óg Garland,
Left wing LGBTQ republican political activist.