It’s been 48 years since the Stonewall uprising. In June 1969, trans women, drag queens, latinx and black people took action proudly and radically against the police crackdown that attacked the Stonewall bar in Greenwich Village, Manhattan and against the exploitation by the mafia that owned the majority of the neighborhood’s bars. In 1970, marches in honor and memory began in many European cities. 48 years in row we protest and refuse to submit to the normality imposed on us by society. We won’t forget our history and we hold Stonewall to be a benchmark for the struggles we have ahead of us, because it was an uprising against the patriarchy, exploitation and social coercion. Since then, parts of the lgbtqia+ movement have dynamically allied with struggles against many kinds of oppression. They connected with the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the workers’ movement (e.g. the miners’ strike against Thatcher’s government in 1984, the participation in the ‘60s anti-war movement against the Vietnam war etc)
The lgbtqia+ movement has won a number of individual claims, but the patriarchal culture, the state, capitalism and racism that dominate the entire greek society strictly designate which of us and how we are allowed to exist. Therefore, we want to talk about all oppressions in their totality.
• During this period of economic crisis when capitalism’s labor exploitation becomes even stronger, lgbtqia+ individuals become an easy prey. Because of the dominant homophobic, lesbiophobic and transphobic stereotypes, some of us face huge difficulties in finding a job, much less a permanent and stable one. As a rule, parts of the community are often excluded from a lot of jobs or are thought to only be fit for certain ones. We are among the first people to lose their jobs and oftentimes we are forced to quit because of the strong psychological pressure and the derogatory behavior our bosses and our fellow workers exert on us.
• The medical establishment and the Ministry of Health contribute to stigmatizing lgbtqia+ people. They use the correlation of being lgbtqia+ with HIV seroposivity to abuse both. Even today openly lgbtqia+ individuals are prohibited from donating blood in Greece. Neuronormativity also impacts the community. Just a few years ago, all lgbtqia+ identities were pathologized, which led to dangerous treatments, torture and incarceration. Even today many trans and non cis people with schizophrenia, psychoses etc are denied a gender transition.
We recognize HIV seroposivity as a big part of our history and our community’s activism, we demand care and respect towards HIV-positive people (end stigma, public humiliation or phobia towards them!) and we want to join the fight against neuronormativity. We have to note the shameful public humiliation of seropositive women in Greece (some of them trans, some of them sexworkers, some of them substance abusers) initiated and sustained by the Ministry of Health, the HCDCP (Hellenic Center for Disease Control & Pervention, gr.: ΚΕΛΠΝΟ) and the media in 2012.
• The greek church, which plays a substantial role in moulding ideology and public opinion within greek society, is one that reproduces system(at)ic hate speech against being different and contributes decisively to lgbtqia+ oppressions. Its connection with the Greek Ministry of Education places lgbtqia+ students in even bigger danger. They contribute together to the continuation of negative stereotypes and the perpetuation of bullying culture. We’ve all met or have been the faggot or the dyke of the school. The new book of religion studies calls artificial insemination “an abnormality of nature and ethical perversion, because it gives gay couples the means have offspring”. They constantly refuse the introduction of sexual education in the educational system. Using hate speech, they blocked a planned week of orientation on gender identity in junior high-schools. They attack lgbtqia+ people on the Media. We are outraged by the patriarchal rhetoric that is ever-present, provocative and accepted in the mainstream.
• The legal framework is in harmony with the patriarchal family. We are not content with the half-measure of the current state of Civil Union. We note that there is no reference to civil marriage, surrogate gestation/parenthood or adoption. We aren’t considered fit to have children anyway. Polyamourous relationships aren’t even on the table.
• Women and femininities are an integral part of the lgbtqia+ community. Unfortunately, misogyny within the community is rampant, much like within society at large. Athens Pride has never talked about it. Feminism is still considered a bad word, home-makers aren’t considered people with a job, rape culture is not unequivocally condemned. Individuals performing femininity are considered inferior, featherbrain, reproductive machines, targets for every toxic masculinity that wants to blow off steam, whether gay or straight. We believe that as long as “fag” or “sissy” are the worst things you can call someone, total liberation is still a long way away.
• Those of us who are trans and non cis idividuals seeking gender transition are forced to get examined by inept and abusive doctors. In order to change our legal gender, we have to prove that we have undergone genital surgery. Whether we want to or not, whether we have the money to do so, or not. Some of us have been kicked out of homes and/or work, shunned by employers and/or family. In 2014, even the NGO “Athens Pride” openly published transphobic and abusive speech, when the activist group “QueerTrans” and the Transgender Support Association demanded recognition of trans issues and at least one person to be placed in the organizing commitee of Athens Pride. Three years later, no trans person has still been accepted. Non-binary and inter identities are nonexistent for both our normative society and Athens Pride, which reinforces dualist and binary categorizations and forces us to conform to the gender binary. Some inter individuals have undergone obligatory surgery during infancy, hormone therapy through adolescence and some of us are under intensive medical monitoring for our entire lives. Not for our own benefit, nor with our own consent, but just in the name of conformity with social mores.
• Many sexual identities, choices and practices are stigmatized and marginalized as wrong, unnatural and perverse. Patriarchy dictates if, how, how much and with whom we must have sex. In opposition to that, we declare ourselves sluts, virgins, polyamorous, polysexual, bisexual, submissives and Dommes, kinksters, BDSMers and perverts. None of this is inherrently bad and it is a matter only of our own self definition and our consensual desires.
• Normativity also dictates which bodies are considered attractive and valued within the community and society in general. Lgbtqia+ individuals with disabilities are marginalized by society and the lgbtqia+ community because of their diversity and by the disability community because of their lgbtqia+ identity. “No baldies, no fattiess”. This common sentence appearing in gay dating sites and shows the dominant homonormativity. Fatphobia is also inseparably linked to our ableist culture. Ageism follows the same pattern: bodies that are old are considered less able, productive or desireable. We also obviously recognize that feminine individuals bear the brunt of the attack in all cases.
The neoliberal and intransparent NGO “Athens Pride”, which is allied with embassies and sponsors doesn’t want and isn’t able to overturn these oppressions. Its alliance with the Municipality of Athens is also problematic since it employs unpaid labor and also cooperates with ΟΑΕΔ which exploits the unemployed in a variety of ways. NGOs exploit individuals and marginalized social groups in the name of “humanism”, make money from refugees and immigrants, they launder money, they cooperate with the army and the police and they are a part of the system which oppresses us. We hold NGOs to be the invisible hand of the state, which does its dirty work.
Athens Pride is incapable of overturning the systemic oppressions it reinforces as it is dependent on a structural level on institutions which instigate and reproduce systems of oppression. The municipality of Athens do not speak for us when they drive out refugees from Syntagma square. The Borough of Attica shouldn’t co-organize the Pride, when at the same time they help the government incarcerate refugees and immigrants in concentration camps, which they call “hospitality centers”. Athens Pride reproduces a policy of foreigner assimilation and “national unity” especially this year, with its patriotic poster that was withdrawn after public outcry.
Municipalities, Boroughs and governments promote the biopolitics of purity. In this context, lgbtqia+ immigrants are not afforded safe spaces and first and second generation immigrants are on the receiving end of racist attacks and rhetoric. They suffer from the poverty which is caused by the nationalistic state policies, from the racism which also pervades the lgbtqia+ community itself and from the sexism and the patriarchal impositions within their own community as well as greek society. The exclusion and stigma that substance abusers face are closely related to the efforts of the state to assimilate lgbtqia+ individuals. We want it noted that the same institutions participated in the witch hunt against the HIV-positive women a few years ago.
State embassies should not take up space in a lgbtqia+ pride when at the same time they create oppression. The U.S. Embassy has no place in an lgbtqia+ pride when at the same time the U.S. bomb Syria and Iraq. The Australian embassy has no place in an lgbtqia+ pride when the state of Australia still denies lgbtqia+ individuals some rights. OASA (Athens Public Transportations) has no place protesting alongside us, when at the same time their ticket collectors bully us and call the cops on us on the public means of transportation.
It’s unacceptable that on the memorial day of the uprising against police oppression of lgbtqia+ people, the NGO “Athens Pride” is welcoming uniformed policemen to parade. This celebration doesn’t have room for them! They are state means of suppression that have always been the most violent face of the system (the police has close links to fascist organization, the police and army are breeding grounds for nationalist/imperialist ideology) They mistreat refugees, they support fascists and they are against us in all our struggles. We know how much hatred they harbour for us. It’s a bourgeois myth that these corps exist in order to protect us. Especially on occasions of violence against lgbtqia+ people they are always absent, and on the contrary, they are known to abuse and mistreat lgbtqia+ individuals in public. The greek army which is compulsory for male citizens, is a place of nationalist and patriarchal speech and action par excellence, and also the breeding grounds for sexual violence and rape culture. We want to breathe free in the streets without police oppression, without fascist violence and systemic violence, without bullying and patriarchal harassment. An lgbtqia+ pride that does not take a stand against these institutions, but on the contrary idealizes them, does not represent us.
In order to live a life worth living we need to fight against the patriarchy, the state, racism and capitalism, against all oppressive authority systems until they’re overthrown.
For all these reasons, Athens Pride won’t do for us! We need a Pride that’s militant, demanding and intersectional, against every system of oppression and their mechanisms. We need a Pride which will be able to be a vehicle for the connection with all social and radical movements. We need a Pride against patriarchy and against normativity. Against all kinds of sexism, against nationalism, against all kinds of social hierarchy and exclusions. That’s why we want a self-organized Pride without NGOs who talk for us, without us. Without any sponsors and state embassies which use us to pink-wash their authoritative policies and crimes against humanity. We do not condone sponsorships from multinational companies such as Eldorado Gold (which is obviously an integral part of the capitalist system and, in order to serve its financial benefits, has contributed to the destruction of the natural environment in Skouries, Salonica and suppresses the movement that resists its plans (. In our effort to develop intersectional politics, we also care about the ecological movement.
We need a Pride co-organized in open assemblies with solidarity, self-organization, and internationalism. We take the initiative for an assembly like this, so that we can discuss how we can organize a Pride which will correspond to our needs and desires.
We invite you all to an open discussion on Saturday, June 17 at 18.00 at Gini building (in Polytechnion Campus, Stournari street at Exarcheia).
Initiative for a Self-organized Pride of our Needs and Desires