December 4, 2010 by tristan savage
A little over a year ago, a few friends and I were talking about a project I think of as the Queer Draft- a way to stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters while still rejecting militarism. We were getting pretty frustrated with the turn in the mainstream movement -organizations like the Human Rights Campaign– towards militarist patriotism, uncritically reproducing imperialist arguments about “national security,” “successfully completing our mission,” and so on.
We were against bigotry and discrimination, but thought widening the group of people that could sign up as mercenaries to occupy other people’s countries, kill their civilians, and commandeer their resources was a pretty shady way of seeking equality. So we thought, what if all of us who are against the militarization of US society sent in a letter to the Selective Service (draft board) in which we came out as queers, and informed them that we were no longer eligible for military service and requested removal of our names from the government’s draft database?
The campaign never materialized, but DADT is still center stage in the gay rights movement. I’m interested in having a discussion about if this is really what we want queer liberation to be about?
Less close to my heart, but also questionable, is the centrality of gay marriage as a goal for all gays and lesbians. Check out this new book from the Against Equality Collective for their “Queer critiques of gay marriage.”
If DADT is repealed, maybe collective liberation will march on, and organizations like HRC will come out against imperialism rather than ask to be a complicit part in it. But I suspect the desire for inclusion has become so strong -or, perhaps, so colonizing- that it will take a lot of work to turn things back around. My hope remains with queer groups that reach out for collective liberation, maintaining some critical distance from the powerful rather than asking for a place at the imperial table.