Saturday, January 02, 2010

Benefits

In early 2003, as the US was getting ready to obliterate Iraq, attendance at Gay Shame meetings swelled with queers active in anti-globalization movements, and even straight anarchists were calling on us to add a little glamour to the breakaway marches at the big anti-war demos: we became the Pink Bloc in a sea of anarchists wearing black. A pink bandanna became the inadvertent symbol for Gay Shame.

You remember the Eagle, right? What did I say about the Eagle before? On Thursdays, it was the hotspot for the Mission scene, packed with dykes, trans guys, straight scenesters and fags trying to look trendy but not too trendy -- instead of the usual middle-aged leathermen. At some point the manager approached Brodie and asked if we wanted to do a benefit there. The idea of a benefit at a gay white male space entrenched in traditional gay bar norms of mandatory masculinity, rampant misogyny and racial exclusion split the group: those who loved the Eagle loved the idea, but the rest of us were skeptical. If we agreed to host a benefit there, wouldn’t we be tacitly accepting their policies? Or, worse, would we be giving them cover?

We spent as little money as possible, but most demos involved at least a few of us throwing in 20s for art supplies, photocopying or van rentals. Generally it was the same people who contributed the cash, several of whom were now demanding a benefit. While many of us didn’t want to spend energy raising money, it was true that holding a benefit would bring our expenses more into the collective process. So we agreed to do it.

No comments: