The RW received the following correspondence:

The Debate Is On
over the RCP's Draft Programme at 2changetheworld,info

Revolutionary Worker #1156, June 23, 2002, posted at has been the site of a rich and candid exchange over revolution and sexuality--including much debate over the new position taken by the Revolutionary Communist Party on homosexuality.

The sister who volunteered to make these excerpts wrote: "As I thought, I found doing this difficult. The posts on sexuality are long, thoughtful and it's a varied subject."

Here are the excerpts we chose, which focus mainly on the issue of same-gender sexuality and will give you a sense of how the debate is developing. We urge you all to join us online,. Check out the full discussion and join in.

Subject: On the RCP Approach to Homosexuality

Posted by: Subhuti

Placing the question of homosexuality within the framework of women's liberation and sexuality is a welcome and refreshing break from identity politics and kudos to the RCP for that, but it seems to me that it is problematic and one-sided to not see how this question -- and the question of the party's line regarding it -- inter-relates with other aspects of a revolutionary program.. . .

I don't think it's going too far to say that the proletariat probably lost a great chance to advance the class struggle in the late 80s and 90s in the US because of this `lost generation' of gay revolutionaries. Of course I am talking about the tremendous radicalization that occurred among thousands upon thousands of gay men (and others) when the AIDS crisis descended upon us . . .

It's baffling why the party apparently didn't even start to question its wrong line until 1988 -- and why they still seem to have such a hard time understanding that many, many gay people felt the party's homophobia loud and clear for DECADES and now have a hard time believing it's changed just because they've printed a new program. . .

From the Draft Programme: "We, as Maoist revolutionaries, want to liberate all of human expression and social relations from the weight of thousands of years of traditional (oppressive) morality and institutions."

This is a great statement. The shame of how the DP (and the position paper) goes on to discuss homosexuality is that they totally miss the BEST THING about gay and lesbian relationships from a revolutionary point of view, which is precisely that they are and have been for a long time AN EXAMPLE of liberating human social relations from the weight of thousands of years of traditional oppressive morality and institutions!

Subject: Why Heterosexuality has been "Dominant"

Posted by: dolly veale , RCP, SF

Reading over the discussion, it occurred to me that it would be valuable to draw attention, and hopefully comments, to what I feel is an important theoretical point in the RCP's position paper on homosexuality [which is available on the site].

In the section "Patriarchy, Male Right and Cultural Norms and Attitudes Regarding Homosexuality in Class Society", it says:

"Heterosexual sex has been the dominant forum of sexuality throughout class society. Likely this is not simply or even mainly because the species could only (at least until recently!) reproduce itself through sex between a man and a woman but very significantly because property relations were reproduced via the patriarchal family."

The position paper then quotes the 1988 Revolution magazine article that the origins and development of the patriarchal family put "the stamp of the institutional oppression of women on all forms of human sexuality. From that point on...women occupied a special and oppressed position within the process of accumulation: The need for the preservation of the newly emerging forms of private property, typically dominated by men (an outcome of the prior division of labor) necessitated the guarantee of male lineage and brought about restrictions on female sexuality.... But the certainty of lineage and overall submission of women was obtained at a great cost to women, including through coercion and distortion of their sexuality in the form of enforced monogamy, institutionalized rape, mutilation of sexual organs, outcast status, and/or draconian punishments for sexual activity outside the family, etc. In short, THIS is the original and material basis for the continued social dominance of heterosexuality throughout the world--living testimony to millennia of oppressive relations between men and women, all geared to the reproductions of property relations."

That is, in summing up the roots of our past incorrect line, we continue to feel that it's correct and decisive to strive and "situate" any discussion and evaluation of the social practices of all forms of human sexuality in relation to the woman question: the oppression of women and the strategic need to struggle for the fullest emancipation of women as part of the revolutionary transformation of all of society.

Subject: making verdicts, raising truths, part 2

Posted by: oscar

[M]uch of the controversy over the RCP's position on homosexuality has (in fact) been an identity politics revolt over the very idea that sexuality should be evaluated in terms of "who and what direction does this form of social relationship serve?"

Some opponents of the RCP's position have never wanted to go there--into a deep discussion of sexuality and revolution. . . This RCP analysis is an unspoken reason the party position has been so controversial--since much of progressive and liberal opinion insist there is nothing to be discussed over sexuality other than social tolerance of anything consenting adults choose to do. . .

So rather than deal with the developing theoretical framework of the RCP's view on sexuality (overall, not just on same-gender sexuality)--the charge has been thrown out that "the RCP is homophobic, it wants to round up gays, its members make anti-gay slurs and jokes, it is no different from the Christian fascists" etc.

I'm sure you are well aware of exactly the anti-RCP campaign I am talking about. And it is worth saying that these charges are scurrilous, they are basically and fundamentally a lie (and a lie intended to avoid, degrade, the important struggle over how to view sexuality in revolution)...

In the '80s, the RCP supported the fight against sodomy laws, participated in marches around AIDS issues, helped build mass organizations that clearly supported this struggle . . .

I think it is true that the RCP perhaps should have done more in the AIDS struggle--but I think the facts show that the problem was the Party's very intense focus on fighting World War 3 preparations-- which put all kinds of other social movements in a subordinate view.

Subject: Suggested changes for Homosexuality Section

Posted by: A supporter

* It should be more inclusive, and bring in bisexuality and transgender folks. It shouldn't work from the assumption that there is heterosexuality and there is homosexuality, but recognize the spectrum of sexual identities, not just a dichotomy.

* It treats homosexuals simply as oppressed objects, not as subjects in their own liberation.... They should be recognized as an important part of the revolution, not just a group to be protected. Also, their oppression is completely wrapped up with assumptions about the proper "gender roles" for men and women. . .

* There is the assumption here, and in the position paper, that heterosexuality is what is normal, while homosexuality is what needs to be explained. Any idea of a `natural' sexuality needs to be abandoned as being unscientific and reflective of the interests of reactionaries. . .

* the comments on how male gay culture reflects male right and lesbianism isn't a fundamental solution should be deleted. . . While the comments are probably accurate... it is counter-productive and will work to alienate real potential allies. . .

Subject: so--is sexuality genetic?

Posted by: LuzRoja on 2002-18-05 17:30

I do understand that much of the reason why gays and lesbians do support finding a genetic basis is that there is hope that it will lead to more tolerance. I remember friends of mine who had difficulty coming out to their parents, and one of the things they would say to Mom and Dad was "this is just how I am"--like skin color, or eye color, or height.... But i still have problems with that logic. For one thing, skin color *is* genetically determined, and it hasn't lead to greater tolerance for members of oppressed nationalities! . . .

But here is one of my most major criticisms of the push to find a genetic basis. I think it is a cop-out. It doesn't deal with the patriarchy! It doesn't deal with the oppression of women, or the way in which children are now considered the property of their parents. What the position paper is saying is that there is NOTHING WRONG with same-sex relationships per se, anything more than there is wrong with opposite- sex relationships. And the kind of society the Draft Programme lays out is a society where we will break down the patriarchy in all of its forms, both materially, ideologically, and socially. It is a society where homophobia will be attacked and struggled against in the same way that we will eliminate the oppression of women, and racism, and all the other weights of tradition's chains. It is a society where children will be encouraged to say to their parents "Mom, Dad, I'm gay and there's nothing wrong with that. I wouldn't change it if I could. In fact, if you don't like it, there's something wrong with you!"...

To really fight homophobia, you have to quite literally break down the patriarchy...and i think that focusing overly much on the genetics of it is detracting us from that much bigger and more important goal. In a society with no class distinctions, with no male right, where women are not oppressed, it will not matter whether sexuality is genetic or not. Let's fight for that. ?

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