Millitant and homosexuality?

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madashell
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Nov 21 2006 19:44
Millitant and homosexuality?

Just wanted to clear this up once and for all, because I've heard so many conflicting versions of the Millitant's position on homosexuality, ranging from people who have said that it was a case of the Millies taking their 'centrality of class' stuff too far by dismissing any struggle around sexuality or gender to stuff like the 'Anarchism and sexuality' article that's just been added to the library, which says that they considered homosexuality to be a "bourgeois disease".

Exactly what did they say about this?

IrrationallyAngry
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Nov 21 2006 21:15
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Exactly what did they say about this?

They said little if anything about it prior to the 1980s. That 's the whole point.

The claim that they had a line that homosexuality was a "bourgeois disease" is a myth. Basically they didn't have a line at all, because they didn't consider the issue significant. That changed during the 1980s as gay members of the organisation organised and pushed the issue onto the organisation's agenda.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 22 2006 01:16

If it's a myth, then it must be like the "myth" that Tommy Sheridan threatened to grass up Poll Tax rioters grin

Back in the early 80s, while discussing this matter with a local organiser for the Militant in the midlands, the term 'bourgois disease' was used quite openly by him. Now maybe this was the attitude of just one member, but I really don't think so because this guy wouldn't fart unless he got permission from the party... ahem, sorry, from the newspaper.

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Tacks
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Nov 22 2006 03:03

BTW i'd just like to thank Mr T Sheridan for removing any doubt in anyone's mind about the nature of whatever he said after the poll tax riot with his latest escapades.

Nice one Tommy smile

IrrationallyAngry
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Nov 22 2006 03:37
Serge Forward wrote:
I
Back in the early 80s, while discussing this matter with a local organiser for the Militant in the midlands, the term 'bourgois disease' was used quite openly by him. Now maybe this was the attitude of just one member, but I really don't think so because this guy wouldn't fart unless he got permission from the party... ahem, sorry, from the newspaper.

It may well be that some individual members of Militant had actively homophobic attitudes. That wouldn't be a surprise, given that the organisation so pointedly refused to take up the issue of fighting homophobia.

However it is a fact that Militant (as an organisation or as a newspaper) never had a position that homosexuality was a "bourgeois disease". And, regardless of the apparent flatulence of this organiser you won't find a single reference to the idea in the pages of the Militant newspaper.

If you don't believe me and also don't want to go to one of the libraries with full collections of Militant issues to check for yourself, consider the likelihood that such a statement would be well known already. If there had been such a position the full details would be readily made available all over the internet and the left press by the kind of sectarian organistions which devote themselves to collecting and endlessly repeating the errors and betrayals of everyone else on the left.

The actual position (or more accurately lack of one) that Militant took on homosexuality up until a couple of decades was quite bad enough without the myths.

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Steven.
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Nov 22 2006 10:52

We had another thread about this too here:
Were Militant (now SP) homophobic?

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Serge Forward
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Nov 22 2006 10:59

No, I'm not going to trawl through back issues of early 80s Militant - I think I'd rather have needles in my eyes. But you may well be right in saying that nothing aluding to the "bourgois disease" was ever published in paper.

In actual fact, I quite liked this local organiser. He was a genuinely nice guy, when he wasn't being a Militant robot. Neither was he particularly homophobic and I suspect he was never comfortable with this particular line and didn't actually want to believe this himself. And to be fair, he probably used the term "illness" which sounds a bit less harsh than "disease", but nevertheless still pathologises us.

Battlescarred
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Nov 22 2006 11:43

I heard stuff like this coming out of several Millies mouths in the 70s- that homosexuality would disappear after "The Revolution" as it was a disease of capitalism. Whether it was actually espoused in the pages of Militant is besides the point, it's what members on the ground said.
Granted that they now have a more enightened attitude, but it took them long enough!!

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madashell
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Nov 22 2006 14:47
Battlescarred wrote:
I heard stuff like this coming out of several Millies mouths in the 70s- that homosexuality would disappear after "The Revolution" as it was a disease of capitalism. Whether it was actually espoused in the pages of Militant is besides the point, it's what members on the ground said.
Granted that they now have a more enightened attitude, but it took them long enough!!

In absolute fairness, it makes sense that an organisation which refuses point blank to even mention homosexuality, never mind take a position on it, would attract a fair few prats. Though the refusal to take a position is a demonstration of everything that was wrong with the Millies' politics.

hairmonster85
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Nov 22 2006 14:53

i know that ted grant and rob sewell both dismissed homosexuality as a 'bourgeois deviancy' (grrrr).

IrrationallyAngry
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Nov 22 2006 17:37

As I've already stated Militant never had a position that homosexuality was a bourgeois disease/illness/deviancy (make up your minds please). You can go through the back issues of Militant or of Militant International Review, you can go through the hundreds of books or pamphlets and thousands of leaflets, you can go through congress resolutions or the minutes of leading committees, you simply won't find such a position.

And as I've also already stated, you don't even have to bother doing that to know the answer - dozens of sectarian organisations have already spent endless time and energy collecting and scouring this kind of material trying to find errors or betrayals to point at. If Militant ever had the position which some here allege it would be in every second copy of Workers Vanguard, right alongside the quotes from the SWP describing the arrival of British troops in Northern Ireland as providing a breathing space.

Militant, up until the 1980s, simply refused to take any position of note on the issues of homophobia and gay liberations. That is quite bad enough - by some distance in my view the single biggest political mistake it made - without making up all kinds of other rubbish. In addition, it would be surprising even shocking given Militant's refusal to oppose homophobia if the organisation didn't, on a personal level contain people with actively homophobic attitudes.

I have no knowledge for instance if Ted Grant was personally homophobic as someone above alleges. In fact, I tend to be wary of attitudes which paint the minority who went on to found Socialist Appeal (Grant, Sewell etc) as "the problem" when it came to Militant taking up the issue of gay liberation. Even though Socialist Appeal did their best to reinforce that perception by promptly dropping all mention of gay liberation or homophobia again once they had split from Militant. The fact is that Militant was a large organisation with an elected collective leadership, and nobody should by trying to let themselves off the hook for a political error of that magnitude by saying it was all those other people's fault.

One reason for the vigour with which the Socialist Party and its predecessors have taken up the issue of gay liberation since that period, is that changes in the organisation's understanding of homosexuality were hard won by its gay members organising themselves.