Yasmin Nair emailed me a link with the subject: "I think you called this when it first happened..."
Back in September, a Memphis billboard put up by the LGBT community center went from this:
Folks were quick to point to homophobes, but now the queer group Bash Back, which garnered attention for its confrontational protest in a Michigan church, is
claiming credit* saying the vandalism wasn't anti-gay.
I posted back when it happened that there was also a chance that pro-peace protestors tore down the billboard. Saying that the military "protects your freedom," without any explanation or nuance, is the pro-war crowd's slogan. Whether its air raids killing civilians in Afghanistan, an invasion of a country that posed no threat to the US, the continued occupation of that country that's killed over a million of its citizens, torture, indefinite detention without charges or trials, extraordinary rendition, handing over suspects to other countries to be detained, tortured, and possibly murdered.... When the US engages in unnecessary acts of war and war crimes, the phrase "protecting your freedom" is inevitably trotted out to justify the war hawks' most ridiculous and dangerous desires.
You see, it's hard to justify a bloated defense budget and military operations that waste money and lives while building global hatred towards the US and increasing suffering of everyone except for the insulated politicians, conservative polemicists, and elites who enjoy reading about battles in the news without people living in fear that Saddam Hussein is about to march into DC and take over the US.
Responses to that post included the normal round of "noun, verb, 9/11," as if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have done anything but increase recruitment of terrorist organizations and antipathy towards America. As if destroying over a million lives will save people's lives. As if, in the eight years since 9/11, the war hawks were actually concerned with catching the perpetrators of 9/11, who are still on the run as two countries were destroyed.
Personally, I'm against DADT. It's bad policy, it's racist and sexist in addition to being homophobic, and it needlessly disrupts working people's lives. It's government-subsidized job discrimination. But the billboard went beyond just arguing against DADT and made an explicit pro-war message.
Imagine, for instance, a billboard erected to promote tolerance of latin@s. It shows a young, Mexican straight couple, man in a tux and woman in a white dress, standing in front of a priest. Written under it is the sentence: "We're Hispanic and we adhere to God's natural law." Would that be read as pro-latin@ or homophobic?
Here's Bash Back's statement:
The gay "community" was so "outraged", of course they had to do something;staged a prayer vigil on National Coming Out Day, to pray for the individual(s) who carried out this "gruesome act of homophobia", as well as throwing in some veiled racist remarks that hinted that "the black community hates the gay comminity"; as if they are mutually exclusive.
I'm here to dispute the claim that this action was an anti-gay act.
First, sending gays to be military fodder is NOT pro-gay or conclusive whatsoever to gay liberation. State militarism only reinforces the dominant structures, and the racism/heterosexism they perpetuate, as well as reducing the number of gay people in the world (both those in Amerikkka and the countries Amerikkka is colonizing/conquering).
Second, we accuse the MGLCC of being flat out racist/anti-queer/anti-trans; and we furiously question how that the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center can squander $3500 on military billboards, when Memphis has the highest trans-murder rate (11 trans women of color, 1 white transwoman and 1 transman of color), as well as one of the highest queer youth homeless rates in the nation, and how they can justify putting a pro-military billboard in the overwhelmingly POC neighborhood of Morris Park, when the poor Black community in Morris Park is disporportionately preyed upon by the military (through the court system's "prison or military service" rule for minor felonies as well as recruiters' false promises of otherwise impossible economic/education opportunities)?
Will we stop hearing about how we all have the same goal, just a different means of getting there? There are real ideological fault lines among LGBTQ people, and just because we're lacking some incredibly basic protections and rights doesn't mean that we agree on everything.
*Updated, because, as Aidan pointed out in the comments, they didn't exactly claim credit. I posted the statement above, so you can decide for yourselves what to make of it, but I changed the title since saying that Bash Back "claimed credit" is a big statement and has a precise meaning, and their exact wording didn't go there.