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By KENNETH PITCHFORD

W

ho are the Flaming Faggots? In our first incarn–

ation, we were a small consciousness-raising group

of revolutionary male homosexuals, some of

whom had helped found New York Gay Libera–

tion

Our earliest discussions resulted in the think–

ing reflected in an article "Hey Man" by Steve Dansky,

callmg for collective struggle against all forms of sexism

on the part of men in GLF; we also saw quite early

the need to set our consciousness-raising in the context of

our being a Lower East Side revolutionary male homo–

sexual action collective.

From the first, we understood that the Gay Activist

Alliance had moved rightward in pressing for homosexual

reforms within the system. But we also became increasingly

discontent with the way NYGLF made itself subservient to

the demands of leftist groups, no matter how anti–

homosexual, and ended up caring far less about fighting

homosexual oppression than fighting for other causes. This

disillusion with NYGLF reachec1 its climax during the first

Christopher Street Gay Liberation week in 1970 when true

homosexualists within GLF (including Flaming Faggots)

confronted the Venceremos Brigade for ripping off a gay

benefit- only to find other GLF men chose to cling to their

straight-male-left identification and pass for straight, rather

than join us in our protest. Out of this conflict, our

poem-manifesto "The Flaming Faggots" was born, written

by me, but transmuted through criticism within the group

into a document we chose to represent our politics.

Another important element- indeed, the most important

element- of our politics is our insistence that there can be

no liberation for male homosexuals at the expense of

women, as was the case in ancient Greece. More than that,

our very struggle for liberation as oppressed faggots cannot

proceed in any way oppressive to women. This means

making the struggle to combat our own male supremacy a

priority in our work. When "gay men" try to ignore the

necessity of this effort, their manner of bonding, as in

GAA, all too .easily resembles a fraternity domination–

submission trip, with cookie-pattern muscle boys denying

their own oppression by passing when convenient and

continuing to abhor everything "feminine" and "effem–

inate." The way sexism oppresses

both

women and male

homosexuals should be clear; male homosexuals cannot be

revolutionary about their oppression, however, if they cling

to their male supremacist privileges as males and avoid The

Horrible Truth: The effeminate in us is both the source of

our oppression and the clue to our liberation.

Nor is this merely a matter of body-type (a typically

straight-male fixation) -effeminancy appears in men as the

16

Who Are the

willingness to cooperate rather than compete, as the

preferring of collectivity to individualism, personal

~olu­

tion, or privatism, and as the valuing of wha t is tender and

gentle in men, what is delicate, sweet, lyrical, affectionate,

considerate, aesthetic. The dominative straight man and the

dominative male homosexual both emphasize ripping off

their own needs at the expense of others. Both are

one-track-minded, self-preoccupied, goal -oriented toward

orgasm or aggrandizement- rather than polymorphous,

outgoing, open-ended, process-oriented toward sharing and

giving without first striking bargai ns about "results." Both

bristle with excitement at the chance for competition, at

the evaluation of themselves and others in terms of

superficial measurements: who has the biggest muscles, the

loudest mouth, the most intimidating manner, the largest

penis, the most of this, the greatest that.

T

he Flaming Faggots became hated very early in

their existence by those male-supremacist homo–

sexuals who refused to struggle with these criti–

cisms. During a Speak Bitterness confrontation

with an editor of

Gay Sunshine,

we asked him why the art

in that sexist newspaper depicted only males with huge

penises; were only such males worthy of liberation? Had he

thought how insulting this ranking and measuring process

was to those who, on one score or another, did not

"measure up"? Women have said before us th.1t beauty

standards were oppressive. We realized in these kinds of

confrontations that masculinist standards not only op–

pressed us, but had to be eliminated from our own psyches,

too, just as we had to expose "bisexuality" for the political

fraud it is, as another gambit of the straight male to

continue toying with us and keeping us in our place.

Homosexuality, for us, is the capacity to love another man

and is, as such, in itself a complete and valid way to human

fulfillment; bisexuality is a "better-than-you" put-down, a

competition for measurement, a new wrinkle to preserve

straight male power and avoid choice or commitment, an

extension of objectified sex by the dominative male

to

include the use of faggots as servicing instruments in th€

same way he has used women. As we rejected one form of

masculinism after another, we found that we

had

to begin

to love homosexual brothers not in accordance with all of

those oppressive values we had naively accepted from our

male-supremacist culture, but in accordance with the

beauty of a person's willingness to struggle, to share his

suffering with us, to comfort another suffering brother, to

dedicate himself to our collective liberation.

motive