Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Open Letter to Democracy Now! - Stop Promoting Queer Militarism

Dear Amy and producers of Democracy Now!,

As a loyal listener, I have been shocked and appalled at your coverage of the controversy over whether LGBT people should be kicked out of the military.

Now, as a lesbian, and as a progressive and a supporter of human rights, of course I support people's right not to be fired from their chosen profession. That goes without saying. It's a civil right to be in the military. But the position of the group I work with, LAGAI - Queer Insurrection, and of most other progressive queer people, is that it's a human right to stay out of the military.

You would never have a heterosexual soldier on your show uncritically talking about their work, and not even ask them one question about why they want to be part of an institution whose purpose is to oppress and repress people all over the world and maintain U.S. control over the world's resources. By having those gay people on air, and not even challenging them, you are treating them - us - as less human than straight people. You are reinforcing the very policy that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is based on - that gay people are less moral, or cannot be held to the same ethical and human rights standards, as straight people.

There are many queer organizations that work against discrimination AND for human rights. In 1991, during the first Gulf War, we launched "We Like Our Queers Out of Uniform," a counter-recruitment packet for LGBT youth, and did tabling in the Polk District of San Francisco, where a lot of gay youth hang out. In 1993, we led a "Queers Out of Uniform" contingent of over 100 people in the LGBT March on Washington, carrying signs that said, "The U.S. Military: It's Not Liberation." We were even on the Sally Jesse Raphael show, but were ignored by the left.

As far as I can recall, you have never had an openly queer person on your show as a spokesperson for the antiwar movement. You have never had anyone from our group on your show, and it's not because we haven't tried. But you don't have to have us. There's Stephen Funk, a gay man who became a military resister, was in prison and has made connections with Israeli military resisters. There's Ryn Gluckman, author of the article "Ten Reasons Why Militarism Is Bad for Queer People," from Hampshire College. There's Sarah Lazare, who used to work for you, who is now an organizer with both Courage to Resist and the Queer Youth Organizing Project. There are so many people to choose from, you could probably have one on every day for a month.

Please stop promoting the image of gay people wanting to assimilate into militarist, heteronormative, nuclear family based society. You owe it to your listeners, you owe it to yourselves, and you sure owe it to us, the queer liberation movement.

In struggle,

Kate Raphael


  1. Kate, I was just thinking of responding to this same hideous coverage -- thanks for your eloquence!

    Love --