Open Letter to the Socialist Alternative

Dear Socialist Alternative members

I can’t tell you how my heart sank as I watched this banner being erected at the Brisbane Marriage Equality Rally.

Socialist Alternative Banner
I don’t have a great shot. On the right it says “Dear Tone, Stahp ur homophobia or else, sincerely de gayz”
On the left, a depiction of Abbott being hung by the neck using a rainbow noose.

Put simply, Socialist Alternative, if that’s your idea of supporting our cause, then we don’t want or need it, leave us alone.

More disturbing to me is that it really reveals how you see us. You seem to see us as a weapon, a tool to get what you want. The only piece of gay imagery on the whole banner is the rainbow used in the noose.

We are not your weapons, and not your tools. We aren’t the rope you’re going to hang Abbott with, and if you think I’m going to do anything *remotely* like fucking Abbott, you’re totally delirious.

These are *our* rights that you’re toying with. I get that you see them as part of your political theory, for some of you, I know, they are more personal… but they are my, our, everyday life. Our reality you’re playing with and using as a platform. You see it as a left-of-centre thing. I see it as a spectrum of life thing. There are plenty of Liberal-supporting queer and queer-supporting people out there. There are a multitude of people who, like me, actually don’t hate Abbott, they just think he’s wrong, and some of them only think he’s wrong about one or two issues.

Equal Love rallies are peaceful. I will never condone violence against anybody. I will not remain silent while people threaten our prime minister regardless of how I feel about him. I cannot condone actions which will cost LGBTIQ rights the support from the right that we actually need.

So, Socialist Alternative, Take your red wedge and stick it wherever you find it most uncomfortable. I don’t want it, and I reject it.
Dylan Carmichael.

(This is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organisation I am involved with. I am a member of Equal Love Brisbane, but this statement is not endorsed by or a reflection of their opinion.)

29 thoughts on “Open Letter to the Socialist Alternative

  1. Sorry Dylan, didn’t think you can pick and choose who supports the marriage equality campaign, or the materials they bring to rallies.

    “We are not your weapons, and not your tools. We aren’t the rope you’re going to hang Abbott with, and if you think I’m going to do anything *remotely* like fucking Abbott, you’re totally delirious.”

    “These are *our* rights that you’re toying with. I get that you see them as part of your political theory, for some of you, I know, they are more personal… but they are my, our, everyday life.”

    Actually, some queer people are socialists too, and they’re entitled to attend a rally for their own rights and express their opposition to bigotry the way they want. To imply that some queer people are less personally affected by discrimination and are attending only to hijack the campaign or that SA supporters aren’t queer and only “toying with our rights” is really fucking offensive.

  2. I totally agree with Dylan! This is not the way to get the message across nor is the way to get straight allies on board, and unfortunately, you are going to need those allies to assist get the message across to governments, particularly conservative government. This is one reason I have stopped attending the rallies, I couldn’t stomach the way the socialists are trying to hijack the campaign. It’s appalling to see such images at a rally that is calling for Equal Love. There is a time and place for socialist rants but an EQUAL LOVE rally is not the place to spew hate. It only gives them more reason to deny rights to the LGBT community and does damage to all the good work done so far by hard working advocates.

  3. It seems to me to be somewhat offensive that a banner with anyone, let alone a P.M., shown being hung goes against everything ‘Equal LOVE’ is intending to portray and stand for. I have fought for my rights for over 30 years and have stopped supporting Equal Love rallies because of the influx and obtrusive behaviour of many within the Socialist movement (and yes, I am a lefty from way back).

  4. Socialist Alliance are unlikely to moderate their rhetoric unless they lose a clear vote at a planning meeting. Supporters of marriage equality, and rally organisers in particular, may want to think about holding broad, public organising meetings to debate the correct strategy and set standards for rallies. While ultimately SAlt will do as they see fit, if they choose to reject the decisions of a broad, representative meeting it will be obvious they are unwilling to organise in a co-operative way.

    • Agree:

      The line “You seem to see us as a weapon, a tool to get what you want.” could be aimed at the singing budgie and other pop starlets, and the myriad of men’s underwear companies that exploit the community, but the middle class gays don’t seem to mind that!

  5. We should all be working on multiple fronts to achieve marriage equality – at rallies, telling our personal stories to our pollies, as well as telling our friends/family, local papers etc.

    There are some in the Coalition who have publicly declared their support, while other Coalition members may be getting closer to declaring their support. I question the effectiveness of strategies like this that could potentially alienate politicians – who’s votes and influence in the party room we need.

    I would love to see politicians from ALL parties attend Equal Love rallies and show their support. To my knowledge no Coalition pollies have ever attended a rally – as the Greens and ALP do.
    If a Coalition pollie (or pollies) attended a rally, this would bring MAJOR media coverage, further increasing pressure on Abbott, and help a lot towards a Coalition conscience vote – but sadly Coalition members won’t come while people are wearing Fuck Abbott T-shirts or have banners showing Abbott in a hangman’s noose.

    The Coalition MP for Brisbane has recently declared her support – we should all be working to gain her support to move this forward to a Coalition conscience vote (I’m meeting her soon to discuss this very issue). Some say Fuck Abbott and the Coalition – but the reality is that a marriage equality bill will not pass until there is cross-party support and a conscience vote for all parties.

    Another thing is the risk of alienating rally attendees with slogans/signs/whatever that they find too confronting. Watching the rally numbers over time will tell if this may be happening.

    Thanks to everyone for your work on this so far. We need to keep working together on multiple fronts, making sure not to alienate any allies along the way – especially allies who can vote on OUR futures in federal Parliament.

  6. Good on you, Dylan. Very good points you raise here and great to see your sensible approach reprinted in the Gay press. Public displays of nastiness and vitriol are never going to help anyone. Sure, it might get you noticed in the MSM; but for all the wrong reasons.

  7. violence threats or implied violence is not a viable protest

    We are better than those who use threats and bullying to get their way
    Well said Dylan.

  8. This banner is offensive and has no place in a community rally.

    I find that some ppl on the socialist groups can’t seem to channel their frustration and anger at the govt in a positive and constructive way. The fuck you tony Abbott and the above banner are just 2 examples of childish and damaging actions.

    Everyone has the right to attend these rallies but bringing offensive materials just reduces the number of people willing to attend the next rally and many don’t wish to be associated with hate.

  9. You absolutely can “pick & choose” what messages you allow – it should be a campaign for marriage equality NOT an anarchist free for all protest at everything. Wise up – Equality is won by appealing to the highest human ideals not by making base threats. Banners & sentiments like those the banner expressed are divisive, off message & counter productive & would not have been allowed in the New Zealand campaign which critically drew wide support from across society with strong student, Christian & cross party elements (strong support from Greens but no socialist anarchist revolutionaries)

  10. The banner was inappropriate, offensive and tasteless. The SA people who made it and carried it in the rally knew that. That was their intention to push the SA agenda, not the marriage equality agenda. The rallies are (I understand) to be a place where all members of the community can come together to support the idea of marriage equality. That includes families (yes, queers have kids). We long since stop going to the EL rallies in Melb because of the offensive banners, the rude and offensive language and actions of predominately the Socialist members. Some of the speakers were worse!! They made it very children unfriendly. The Socialist Alternative have a single dominant agenda which they discuss on their website. It is not marriage equality, it is the overthrow of capitalism. Their mission, as they state, is that everything else is subordinate to that purpose. The only good thing is that the rallies have no impact on anything. They barely rate a mention in the news, unless it is an offensive banner or appalling behaviour of the participants.

  11. This banner is absolutely horrifying! Not to mention triggering, especially in an equal marriage rally where many people have direct and indirect experience with suicide. Just to make it clear, Socialist Alliance is NOT the same as Socialist Alternative. You will never see the Socialist Alliance carry such banners.

  12. This may seem simplistic, but whatever the problem violent imagery is not the answer. This is just childish attention seeking and it looks like the decisions at Socialist Alternative are being made by sniggering teens.

  13. This “open letter” and its consequential public discourse have not been an appropriate response to the banner in question. The writer of the “open letter” wrongly defends our PM just as much as the Socialist banner wrongly attacks him. The self-congratulatory, self-opinionated Facebook gays, who have jumped on the populist “we hate Socialists” bandwagon, are just being bullies.

    Equal love? All I see is hate.

    And while implicitly representing a rainbow coalition of diverse views and voices, the “open letter” writer (and his supporters) seek to bully and exclude one voice simply because they are offended by the message. We now have an “us” versus “them” mentality. Hypocrisy, anyone?

    If some GLBTIQ people disapprove of Socialist methods, then rather than publicly vilifying Socialists and telling them to “stick it wherever you find it most uncomfortable”, maybe they should behave like mature adults and negotiate a mutually acceptable compromise with them.

    The most problematic attitude in the “open letter” was IMHO where the writer rather flippantly dismissed our PM as being an okay guy who is simply wrong on a couple of things. This portrays the GLBTIQ movement as comprising people who are willfully (and woefully) ignorant of political and social realities, and who are only interested in advancing their own cause while ignoring injustice and the suffering of others. Human rights are interdependent, and if we demand gay rights while ignoring women’s rights or refugee rights or indigenous Aussie rights or the Socialists’ rights to free speech, then we destroy our own credibility, and marginalise ourselves from the mainstream.

    It is time for the GLBTIQ community to practice the respect for diversity which they preach. Otherwise, we do not deserve Marriage Equality.

    • Dwindling numbers have been seen at equal love rallies because the message is no linger clear. Too many chefs in the kitchen.
      These aren’t rallies or protests anymore. These are “let’s scream and shout about stuff” meetings.
      I love my SAlt ftiends, I love my right winged friends, I love my lefties and I even love that homeless guy who keeps asking me for change even though, not 10 minutes earlier I gave him my change.
      But when you want to have mixed messages at a protest…you’re gonna get a lot of confused people who won’t bother next time. They will slactivist their way to the next chalk off.
      Look at tomorrow Dec 1 rally regarding bikie laws. An expected 2000 people are supposed to be in attendance. Why? Because their message is clear. Look at last year when it was announced of the defunding for LGBTI organisations. Over 2000 people attended that rally at KGS because the message was clear.
      It’s not rocket science.
      Keep your agendas to your own protests.

  14. Dylan is completely right on this situation. You want to speak out against a situation that you find appalling and discriminatory that is completely fine, but you don’t need to do it in an aggressive, holier-than-thou way such as personally attacking the PM with such a crude display of hatred in bannered form. Because that is what it is, at the end of the day. A small angry group attempting to influence a community by shouting at it and flinging poo at the bigger enemy.

    It doesn’t make you a hero, or a crusader for equality, or even an advocate for change. It just makes you one of the people you are trying to form the community into believing you rally against – a hatemonger. And such a tasteless display should not be welcome, for any community.

  15. Pingback: Open Letter to the Socialist Alternative | Workers BushTelegraph

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