By Minerwa Tahir
50 years after the Stonewall riots, over a million people flooded central London for the biggest ever annual Pride celebration. The actual march, limited to just 30,000 participants by Pride organisers, was overwhelmingly a jamboree of corporate and government pink-washing.
But at the very back of the demonstration was a bloc organised by a coalition of campaigns to highlight the struggles of migrant queers and queers of colour, whose main slogan was the demand to open the borders, ending the UK’s racist and homophobic policies which have seen up to 78 per cent of LGBTQ+ asylum applications rejected.
The contingent was organised by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM), African Rainbow Family, Voices4, The Outside Project and MicroRainbow, in order to remind people that “pride was a protest” and reject the “rainbow capitalism” which has sanitised and commercialised the annual Pride events.
The bloc defined itself as “an act of solidarity with those who Pride in London has ensured it is not accessible for and as a protest against the current state of corporate pride”, and rightly criticised the Pride organisers for “pander[ing] to the large corporations, who not only are the few people that are able to pay extortion rates for representation and advertising, but actually harm members of our community, whilst continuing to exclude the most marginalised members of our community”.
At the protest, the main slogans were “No Borders, No Nations, Stop Deportations”, “No Pride in Deportations”, “No Pride in Borders”, “No Pride in Detentions”, “No Pride in the Home Office” and “No Pride in the Hostile Environment”. The speeches principally focused on the way that the asylum policies of the British state subject LGBT people of colour to racist scrutiny that would be illegal for British citizens. As one speaker from LGSM put it, “our liberation means nothing if we can’t get it for everyone.”
Another speaker from the African Rainbow Family spoke about the experience of LGBT migrants who are discriminated against in their home countries on account of their sexual orientation – and then discriminated against in the UK on account of being an immigrant.
The messages of most of those in the bloc were anti-capitalist and even though this does not automatically translate into being socialist it certainly opens the way for socialists to intervene and bring the struggles of these marginalised sections of society together with the struggle of the working class, women and youth.
This is especially important in an age where self-proclaimed leftist theories such as postmodernism have encouraged activists to form little isolated groups or ‘communities’ that are focused on single-issue politics; anti-racist activists just focusing on how to combat racism and climate activists focusing their energies exclusively on organising around the issue of climate change.
But this fragmentation is not just the fault of these activists. Socialists have all too often neglected these struggles or simply adopted the postmodern theories they have generated. Instead of opportunist adaptation to fashionable theories, revolutionary Marxists should concentrate on developing a programme and organization that enables socialists from minority groups to lead the struggles of the oppressed alongside and in unity with the wider working class.
The fact that many of the protesters at the migrant solidarity bloc on Saturday were migrants and precarious workers themselves makes it all the more possible for socialists to build a movement together with them. We already have a common struggle against Brexit and the racists like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.
Together we can wage an ever-broader struggle for open borders, to make Britain a safe country for people of all colours, sexual orientations, religions, etc.
Open borders to refugees and migrants
Citizenship rights for all
Solidarity with LGBT and women’s struggles around the world