East End Gay Pride: A Comradely Criticism.

Homophobic stickers galvanise response

More perceptive readers of this blog may have noticed a number of stickersappearing round the streets of the east end recently. They depict a rainbow circled and crossed out with GAY-FREE ZONE (erm…really?) and other thinly-veiled homophobic threats that claim to be referenced to the Quar’an: “Arise and warn”, “And Fear Allah; verily Allah is severe in punishment”.

Now, the author of this article hasn’t read the book himself, so wouldn’t want to speculate as to the original context of such quotes, but it would probably be safe to say that these stickers were produced by an individual or group with a right-wing interpretation of Islam. However, some people do believe it could be the work of the English Defence League (EDL), looking to create an opening for themselves in an area where they have never been able to officially organise their anti-muslim, nationalist message. This is certainly possible, but unlikely in this instance.

Now, whilst WAG have been getting stuck in with other members of the community in defacing these vile attempts to intimidate queers and threaten everyone into a state of sexual repression, sometimes ripping down stickers just isnt enough.

Which is why the author generally applauds the initiative taken by “a group of six friends” who are organising the “East End Gay Pride” (EEGP) march in response to the increase in homophobia on the streets of E1 and surrounding areas. The group claim to be completely politically non-aligned, which is a refreshing change: just ordinary people organising in their communities to engage with issues that affect them.

However, there remain a few comments that have to be made about their attempt to actively de-politicise the demonstration in the face of the possibility of the English Defence League using this as an opportunity to gain some kind of legitimate cover to enter Tower Hamlets – or the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) attempting to turn it into a paper sale to pay for the wages of the ruling class fuckwits in their Central Committee. Whilst the organisers of the demo clearly share WAG’s suspiscions about the EDL’s motivations when they claim to bang the drum for sexual freedom or Unite Against Fascism (UAF) when they parachute into communities claiming to fight the good fight; the solution is not to attempt to masquerade what is, essentially, a political response to a political problem as a benign and apolitical lifestyle event. Read their Statement of Intent here to get the full picture.

And so, in the interest of neighbourly political discourse, this is the response of one east end Anarchist to some of what they considered to be the more contentious issues.

“Organisers of EEGP are not concerned with WHO is responsible for the stickers or indeed, WHY.”

– Whilst this may have the noble intention of keeping anti-muslim nutters at bay, it is a strategy based on the lowest common denominator that has been pushed by the liberal anti-fascist left (UAF in particular) for far too long with disastrous effects. Whilst, of course, homophobia is a social phenomenon that crosses all cultures and beliefs and is in no way confined to any one group in Tower Hamlets, we cannot ignore what has galvanised this campaign into existence – namely, that fascistic elements of political Islam (or possibly EDL) are opportunistically using homophobia as a means of promoting division and exerting influence over a geographical area where they seek to establish greater power. For this is a tactic all fascists use in their bid to become our masters – whether it is the racism of the British National Party, the anti-semitism of the National Front or the anti-islamic nationalism of the English Defence League. Wherever conservative or reactionary sentiments exist, you can guarantee there will be some group of aspiring dictators attempting to exploit them. We must, therefore, seek to understand who is responsible for any fascist activity in our communities and the complexities of their political trajectory in the hope of building more refined arguments and more effective responses to their activity. We can’t win a fight against ignorance with further ignorance: we need radical, yet articulate, solutions.

“…We feel that is the responsibility of the local police and other authorities – not ours.”

– The Metropolitan Police are one of the most obnoxious police forces in the UK. They are known for their institutional racism, sexism and homophobia as well as being one of the most advanced forces for the surpression of political dissent in the liberal-democratic west. As people organising against injustice, brutality and repression the Police and all the official institutions of governmental power can offer us no real solution. Whilst the author is pleased the organisers of EEGP have clearly never experienced the true nature of policing first-hand, they would do well to look at the way the Met behave when stopping and searching people in the street, which demographics they target and how frequently it happens. Maybe EEGP could start talking to people on the streets in the east end about their experiences with policing – people in working class areas, not gentrified Shoreditch. Would these people call the Police in case of a homophobic attack? Would you if you were in their position? Are we – as people engaging in self-organised community politics – happy to call for greater state intelligence gathering on the whole, even if it is, albeit temporarily, for use against our enemies? Furthermore, the idea that we can rely on local authorities to understand and address complex issues on our behalf at a time when they cannot even maintain social housing, healthcare, social care and welfare is naive. When they do materialise, the reality of such interventions by the local authorities is simply a shallow and tokenistic attempt to capitalise on the activities of grassroots, self-organised initiatives like EEGP and turn them into vote-winners for our existing masters. It alienates and insults a huge section of the population of the east end to take such a pro-police and pro-state stance and then claim that the demonstration is in no way political. These are very political issues for many of us.

“We do not aim to ‘point the finger’ or apportion blame to any individual or group.”

– Whilst it is clearly the sentiment of EEGP to avoid a hysterical anti-muslim hate campaign, it is suggested that this situation is best avoided if the people of Tower Hamlets know exactly who is responsible and it is not left to opportunists and hatemongers to decide for them.

This particular Anarchist would also like to remind the organisers of EEGP (assuming that they are who they say they are, which seems to be the case) that it was not the Police or the local authorities that organised this demonstration but themselves. It was not born out of their desire to ignore the stickers and the attacks, but to address them. In choosing to take action of this kind, they opened up the issue for further debate, action and possible resolution. These issues are complex and ugly, but to narrow and limit the field of debate out of a desire to wish these ugly complexities away is dangerous and irresponsible. To paraphrase Vaneigem, those who only make half a revolution dig their own graves. Of course the organisers of EEGP dont want their event to be hijacked by the Socialist Workers Party, Unite Against Facism or the English Defence League. However, they run the risk of making exactly the same mistakes the UAF have been making for years by mirroring their tendency to shut down debate in favour of race-to-the-bottom reductionism and semi-redundant gesture politics.

Similarly, by asking people to bring pink union jacks to wave, they are legitimising and subsequently reinforcing the same nationalist and loyalist sentiments of LGBT people that the EDL prey upon. EEGP cannot encourage people to wave union jacks on a demonstration, unwittingly offering perfect cover for EDL infiltration and then claim it isnt the place for politics.

It is with this in mind that the organisers of EEGP should rethink their anti-political line. Radical queers and militant anti-fascists of the east end will assert their right to march and contribute to the debate with as explicit a political position as they choose. It is hoped the organisers of EEGP will welcome this on the day, instead of selling their own initiative out to the mainstream, corporate ‘London Pride’ agenda.

Fuck the pink pound and all other symbols of assimilation into capitalism and other inherently repressive structures – we need radical social change to achieve true sexual liberation for all those who want it.  

East End Gay Pride will be assembling at 12pm, 2nd April, King Edward VII Memorial Park in Glamis Road, E1.

AMENDMENT: Upon reading the statement from “Out East” (here) the author is concerned about claims that organisers of EEGP have actively invited EDL members. However, the author does not believe the solution lies in there being no militant anti-fascist or radical queer presence on the day: it simply means that people must be prepared to use their initiative and mount a robust and dynamic defence of their community from division. Whitechapel United Against Division #2…? Maybe so.


16 responses to “East End Gay Pride: A Comradely Criticism.

  1. What are you on about…..Islam is diametrically opposed to your views and ideology….. you know that of course…

  2. ‘Gay Free Zone’ …Perhaps the creators of the stickers are simply sick of paying for it?

  3. Since when has the political response of anarchism become fighting a system from within? In the Amendment the author declares that
    “However, the author does not believe the solution lies in there being no militant anti-fascist or radical queer presence on the day”
    Are you suggesting that anti-fascists and radical queers give up their banners and hard fought political positions and march behind organisers who are at best politically naive, certainly neo-liberal and possibly sympathisers of EDL and therefore racist and xenophobic? This sounds bizarrely like the naive advocacy of reforming the march from within. I find it completely weird as anarchism, as a philosophy of political action has long been at the forefront of demonstrating how reform from within becomes little more than cooption. Surely, anarchists above all know that the call for no-politics please is a conservative call, designed to secure the status quo of liberal politics and capitalist economics? It is clear to me, as a queer of colour, that if I march of that day, behind organisers who have no respect for radical politics, possible racist links and a thinly veiled yet massive prejudice against an entire community (Muslims), I will be allowing myself to be coopted into a politically conservative, liberal and right-wing agenda. The only response for me, as a politically engaged queer of colour is to stand up and say: NOT IN MY NAME! I appeal to the author to retract his qualified support. It would be heart-breaking to witness the cooption of anarchist radicalism by liberal, pink-union-jack, gay imperialism!

  4. @Ikkarus:

    “However, the author does not believe the solution lies in there being no militant anti-fascist or radical queer presence on the day”
    Are you suggesting that anti-fascists and radical queers give up their banners and hard fought political positions and march behind organisers who are at best politically naive, certainly neo-liberal and possibly sympathisers of EDL and therefore racist and xenophobic?”

    -> Erm…no. You have constructed a straw man there. Just because the author calls for a presence on the day, that doesnt mean they are calling for people to tow the anti-political line and march behind whatever corporate/nationalist dross is being waved about. This is clear from the whole thrust of the article. There are many ways to be present and engaging without even joining a march. However, the internet is clearly not the place to discuss such possibilities. And so, it is left up to the reader to imagine and organise for themselves.

    “Surely, anarchists above all know that the call for no-politics please is a conservative call, designed to secure the status quo of liberal politics and capitalist economics? ”

    -> Yes, I think the author makes that very clear with at least one third of the article being dedicated to dissecting that very issue.

    “It is clear to me, as a queer of colour, that if I march of that day, behind organisers who have no respect for radical politics, possible racist links and a thinly veiled yet massive prejudice against an entire community (Muslims), I will be allowing myself to be coopted into a politically conservative, liberal and right-wing agenda”

    -> Sure. But the author was not aware of any evidence to back up rumours that the organisers were anti-muslim at the time, hence the amendment which all-but-withdraws support for the demo pending hard proof of the allegations made by Out East.

    “I appeal to the author to retract his qualified support.”

    -> Done.

    It is all well and good to say NOT IN MY NAME – its easy to stay at home in a very principled way. But boycotts change nothing in my opinion. If something is worth challenging, do it properly. Hope to see you soon, comrade.

  5. Oh fuck off for crying out loud.

  6. I dont think the author refers to EDL as racist anywhere in the text – althought there is considerable evidence to back up this claim, had they made it.

    Instead, they are referred to as nationalist, anti-muslim and fascist. Can you logically dispute any of these claims?

    It is you who labelled them racist. And of course, as a member of the EDL, you know as well as I do that they are a bunch of racist retards.

  7. thats was @Swifty, for the record, not @Rasta.

  8. Bunch of racist retards, eh? and fascists too? Oh my, that’s just terrible. Fascist racist retarded anti-muslim xenophobes? Is their anything else to add, nationalistic or patriotic? Working class or just petite bourgeois? Anybody smell a marxist hiding among the anarchists? anti-muslim or anti-islamic? Is there a difference? or anti extremist islam?

    It must be confusing for you lot when reality conflicts with your outdated, mosley’s blackshirts are marching down cable street again, pathologically inane ideologically driven world view. In the mean time, non-muslim little girls will be targeted for gang rape and sexual exploitation, and gay people living in Towerhamlets will have to keep an eye out. While groups like Whitechapel anarchist(you sully the name) shield the religious ideology that sanctions these attacks on the community. But if it can be tied up in a neat ideological ribbon the world’s a little less confusing, or so it seems.

    You know that if there were a socio-political construct that espoused the tenets of islam as expressed in sharia (islamic law) that had a membership predominantly of European heritage, you dimbulbs would be all over them like a fat kid on a Flake bar, for their fascism and inhumanity. Since that isn’t the case and the belief system belongs to mostly in the UK to brown people they get a pass. Not just a pass, they must be shielded from the oppression of the native majority. White racist skinheads have always been a tiny minority, a revolting minority, but a minority. Would you lot extend your shielding to protect them? Of course not, but brown religious fascists are to be protected. You might say Whitechapel anarchist group doesn’t shield fascists white, black or brown. To which I would respond really? You just helped shut down an event protesting homophobic attacks on gay people by, if you can be honest, predominantly brown muslim men, although includes some white converts. If these attacks are related to the belief system these shit stains subscribe to that’s significant. Islamic apologists will deny any connection between attitudes toward queers expressed on the street being formed in the mosque. Well, let’s see what does the sharia have to say, the five major schools of islamic law say homosexuality is punishable by death, they just can’t seem to decide whether you have to torture the criminal first or just toss’em from a high place is good enough. I wonder if that has an influence on a young muslim’s attitudes. It’s probably too late for you fucking twats, but get off your asses and find out what islam really says to it’s faithful, not what muslims say to non-muslims. The author of your little article, says he’s never read the koran, from that it’s easy to assume he’s ignorant on a number of points of islamic orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Doesn’t seem overly concerned with the belief system that inspires these attacks on gay people, just that the attackers are mostly of a brownish complexion.

  9. F
    PS I never noticed you critcising Beenie Man, Lady Saw or Sizzla who you were bigging up on here in a hilarious attempt to get “rasta” on your side. All three of them have “shot de batty bwoy” lyrics galore (leaving aside how literally they’re to be taken and the cultural context of dancehall music which “shots” everyone from rival “sound bwoys” to other MCs to barbers in the case of Dr Alimantado back in the day).
    I’m a Rastafarian dancehall music fan and I have always criticized those lyrics and so have other Rastafarian dancehall fan members of my family. Because we are Rastafarians and dancehall fans, other people involved in the culture who espouse homophobic views might potentially actually listen to our arguments against them. Just like Muslims who verbally espouse homophobic violence (many of whom are chatting shit as people do and wouldn’t actually partake in it) just might listen to voices from their own community arguing against it, but definitely will not listen to a bunch of EDL retards – on the contrary, they may be hardned in their homophobic attitudes and inspired to actually put them into practice if gays become associated with the EDL.
    Oh and that’s leaving aside that I’m sure that at least half the EDL are violently homophobic themselves, they’re just choosing to keep that under wraps now to advance their overall agenda.
    On the flipside, it’s much like a group I remember from the states, the Oregon Citizens Alliance, who used to portray themselves as solely concerned with dealing with the “menace” of people “teaching homosexuality in schools” etc. [which they thought they could get more traction out of at the time] and only in the fine print would you read the part about how Nelson Mandela was an evil terrorist and Martin Luther “Coon” shouldn’t have a day named after him. They were happy to seek support from homophobic black people who didn’t read the fine print, just like the EDL is happy to seek support from Islamophobic gay people who don’t realise that they’d have their heads caved in if half the troglodytes in the EDL had their way.
    By the way a member of this Oregon Citizens Alliance, Scott Lively, is one of the main people behind encouraging the Ugandan gov’t to pass violently homophobic laws.
    By the way I would bet money that those “gay free zone” posters are the work of the EDL.

  10. Swifty seems to think that WAG aren’t prepared to criticise islamism…has…he…read…anything…on…this….blog?!?!?!

    WAG have been consistent in their opposition to both islamism and nationalism when dealing with the EDL’s attempted jaunts into the community.

    They have never written off the muslim community as a whole just because islamism appears to be more visible now. WAG have never, as Swifty accuses them, turned a blind eye to homophobic attacks. WAG have queer members and associates – but, unlike the EDL, who just wheel them out to advance their anti muslim agenda, WAG dont need to sing it from the rooftops to legitimise their politics. As Shakespeare wrote, “Methinks the lady doth protesteth too much”…or something.

    Rasta – excellent point about Dancehall.

  11. “PS I never noticed you critcising Beenie Man, Lady Saw or Sizzla who you were bigging up on here in a hilarious attempt to get “rasta” on your side.”

    What the fuck are you on about? If it isn’t obvious to you, after some of the descriptors I’ve thrown you’re mouth breathing way, that I take you to be a severely damaged, race-obsessed twat with the analytical abilities of a hallucinating insect, probably a dung-beetle as you seem to like eating shit.
    Not the kind I want on my side. The artists you describe, I’m not into and dance hall reggae isn’t really my thing, so I don’t from were you pull that out of your ass, you’re fucked in the head, so I imagine you pull all sorts of shit out that cavernous hole.

    Deluded and damaged rasta, do you have some sort of masochistic need to be abused? If that is the case, I’m not really into playing Top to your Bottom. You seem damaged enough. Far as your intellectual abilities go, as I’m sure you have heard before and attached to other aspects of your life, you are lacking. A deflated tire slapping against the road as the wheel spins.
    Accuse a group like the EDL of racism, then go on to make racist statements, blissfully unaware of your contradictions. If you weren’t so sad and commonly malignant, it would be pitiful.

    Now to your attempt at a point, equivocating homophobia in the muslim community to that of Rastfaria or in the Christian community. Poor rasta, your ignorance is astounding in it’s certainty. Those artists you mentioned and others like them, are their proclamations on homosexuality taken as the verbatim word of God as is the quran, the ultimate source of a believing muslims hatred toward de batty bwoys and girls. Those reggae artists are starting to make noise distancing themselves from homophobia, no? I’m not really aware of the goings on in reggae scene so can’t say for sure. It would be nice if islamic orthodoxy with the weight of Divine law behind it could be so just and accommodating to modern morality. But if you would bother to do the tiniest bit of research that is forcibly forbidden in islam as an innovation by nature unislamic. They even have a name for such, it’s ” bid’a” or “bida”. Are gangs of jamacan Rastafari beating the shit out of gays in towerhanlets? just another reason why your attempt to equate muslim homophobia with that of reggae fans is bogus.

    Now for the Christian comparison, aside from the group you named being a tiny fringe of the two billion Christians on the planet in their homophobia and you would be very hard pressed to find a priest, minister, monk or vicar calling for the state to execute an old queen as opposed to the horde of bloodthirsty imams, sheiks, muftis and fucked ayatollahs spitting mad as they call for homo ass, not in a way your average queer would appreciate.
    Dead like in saudi, gaza, or friendly iran. Your attempt at equivalence between the Christians and muslims fails again. Today, how many self-identified Christians will tell you the bible is the direct verbatim word of the universe’s creator and supreme being? Now go ask a muslim if the quran is to him the word of God/Allah straight from the divine horse’s mouth.

    To the rest of you fuckedwits at WAG, any of you bothered to explore what the tenets of islam are? Beside the spoon fed platitudes fed to you by wormtongue-ed activists, like tariq ramadan, whose agenda is to confuse and beguile dim or well-meaning non-muslims. Have any of you bothered to read sayed qtub, or the scumbag abul ala maududi, or the subhuman sphincter blemish asan al-banna. Guaranteed to be available at your local moderate masjid bookstore.

    You lot seem so eager to give the benefit of the doubt, at any cost it seems, to the muslim, even when they are proved to have lied, as in the mosque condemning homophobia then hosting the most vicious anti-gay, as in kill them, islamic preachers, yet you are enthusiastically willing to condemn and insult working-class English men and women as racists, xenophobes, and fascists just like the corporate media and the state, for saying enough is enough, like having their daughters raped and pimped out
    Fuckwits like rasta, I understand. He’s a racist and deep down hates Britain
    and Western culture, probably calls it Babylon, but others I don’t know. Some sort of pathological self-loathing?

  12. Sorry – forgot that you suffer from multiple personality disorder. It was your alter ego “Cameron” who wrote about his love for Beenie Man, Sizzla and Lady Saw.
    It would be obvious even to a child that you are the same person.

  13. Still on about that, You are a confused fuck aren’t you. Can’t answer on substance, revert to a paranoia fantasy. Your self-flattering delusion that I would feel the need to get you “on side” after some of the abuse I’ve dropped on your head, turn my confronting you on your obsessive racism and you hearing that as me calling you “nigger”. Your capacity to see anything for what it is, to recognize fucking anything is questionable at best. I’m surprised you trust yourself enough to breath, concerned with making sure you only breath in good “Black” air sorting out tose nasty white molecules. Your fucked, my good son, perhaps while you are sorting your issues out with the doctors you can tell them about my multiple personalities. I’m sure they will find you particularly astute.

    Till then and after, Gay people and non-muslims are going to find it harder and harder to live in Towerhamlets. More and more people, Black, White, Asian, and mixed race are becoming aware of islam’s tenets, fed up with abusive muslims and the scum who shelter them. More and more of them will join the EDL and like-minded outfits, and these people will not be fascists or racists. Just human beings who can see the writing on the wall. Addled fools like rasta and crew will be lucky if they get treated like the collaborating whores who bedded German soldiers in France and the Low Countries at the end of world war two. When this shit hits, collaborators will be truly fortunate to get out as shaved head whores.

  14. I hate gay people for being gay.

    I hate rich people for being rich.

    Hmmm looking at these 2 statements i have just written simple logic tells you they are both brimming with bigotry but of course you irritating lickspittles of the hypocrite left don’t ever see it like that do you?

    You are allowed to hate who you want but when your opponents hate people they are the ‘bigots’ which seems odd, maybe some of you budding einsteins could explain to me how that one works because for as long as i have been of average political awareness i have never been given a satisfactory answer to that most simple of questions .

    You mob have every bit as much ignorant hatred as those on the extreme right, the only difference is that they are honest about it whilst you live in denial and seem to think you are justified whilst those of differing prejudices to yours are not, hohum


    By the way I would bet money that those “gay free zone” posters are the work oftheEDL. I think you chat shit and aint got a fucking scooby.


  16. Pingback: The EDL to return to Tower Hamlets « Liverpool Antifascists

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