Controversies between Swedish Gay movements

📝 From my Inner Depository Archive, July 14, 2001. Translation made Aug. 31, 2012, with some later updates in additional commentary.

Between the years 1998 to 2002 I had a website called “Jonathan’s website on Racism/Hate Hurts.” It was in the infancy of Internet long before blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My intentions back then was to be a resource for schools and other interested in topics concerning discrimination, racism, bullying and anti-homosexual tendencies among others.

This is a continuation of my previous article on right-wing and left-wing political extremism. While studying extreme leftists, I stumbled upon events and controversial thoughts that are even present within some gay communities, even if not expressed with violence as seen in political and ideological movements. However, there are similarities here!

Today’s Quote
“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend.”
(Albert Camus)

Let me first point out, that I do not mean that the gay communites are extreme! What I am happy to observe, is that these communities are showing a fantastic diversity; there are groups and associations within a whole range of interests; music, theatre, sport, politics, social issues and so on, and that is good. But back in the time when I embraced my sexuality as one of the traits that is me, and I begun to discover this diversity, I found that many of these cultural expressions within the gay movement, were not as diverse as I had expected. Not when it comes to acceptance and affirmation of people that may not fit into a specific pattern, because we want to find a “home.” My first years after “coming out” I met a lot of guys, who expressed these very same thoughts. They could not find this “home” for their souls. This sounds a little contradictory! With such diversity, there should be a place and a context where everyone should feel at home! But too many guys and girls felt outside. This is interesting.

I will here be dealing with an interesting thing within the Swedish gay movement, which clearly shows a split between different interests as well as the struggle between different groups in the Swedish Gay community. This article will show examples on controversies between well-established organizations such as Stockholm Pride and RFSL and another alternative gay movements such as “Shame,” “Ofog” (Pranks), “Queerzone”, “Queerpunkdagen” (Queer Punk Day) and other “Queer activists.” It seems that the problem has been smoldering beneath the surface over the years, until recently when it again came to the surface. About that, see my previous article “Retrospect on a Right-wing extremist month.”

As to show you that this is not a new phenomenon, the turn has now come to an article from my old website Hate Hurts. Let us take our Time mashine back to July of 2001. Also back then, there were some controversies between different gay groups in Sweden. This is my firsthand account from my visit to a gay counter-activity, separated from Stockholm Pride that took place at the same time. I will here raise some questions about the reliability of these movements.

STOCKHOLM SHAME vs STOCKHOLM PRIDE?

On Saturday, July 14, the first queer Festival “Stockholm Shame” took place under the motto “As Pride but funnier.” The location was the garden outside The Swedish Museum of Architecture (Arkitektmuséet) at Skeppsholmen. The organizers believe that Stockholm Pride is a “boring and pointless publicity stunt,” but Stockholm Pride responds to the criticism by welcoming Shame as a complement to the already established events.

The initiator of the one-day festival is an organization called Caos. On their website (www.caos.nu) you may take part of their Radical Queer Webzine. The webzine consists of texts attributed by all kinds of people and the texts have been collected under the Programme Declaration;

“– Whether you are homo, straight, bi or just different, you’re welcome. We urge all those who have something to say to contribute with texts! Everything queer, and radical is extremely welcome.”

It continues to say that Caos themselves do not have any settings to something, letting visitors to contribute with their own texts and topics. The texts we encounter are all previously published in various medias and the promoters behind the website are calling for more texts. The most important thing is not necessarily to be a good writer, but to have something to say in diverse topics such as “sexual politics, porn, prostitution, activism, queer, direct action, animal rights, sex, drugs, music, film, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, queer, lesbian, fag, punk, anarchism.” Form your own opinion about this by visiting Caos’ website.

SHAME OR PRIDE

The Festival was threatened by both thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, but in the afternoon the clouds dispersed and the sun showed itself. During the day, musical groups played, debates were held on the stage and movies were shown inside the museum. The final workshop for the evening was entitled “Shame and Pride” dealing with the purpose of the Shame Festival and during the evening, views from different representatives from Stockholm Pride and Shame was highlighted. Stockholm Pride was considered too commercial, while Shame was a non-commercial alternative.

According to a representative of Stockholm Pride, who spoke during the evening, there is no official position from Pride what they think of Shame.
– “Stockholm Pride’s basic idea is that the festival may have an effect in other gay communitys, to favour those who during other times of the year operates restaurants, party events, media and benefit those who focus on homo-bi and trans-groups. Stockholm Pride will benefit all compounds that make cultural events during the year,” the Pride representative said.

– “Thanks to Stockholm Pride, we have several places to go to; bars, restaurants and several magazines to read. The voluntary associations have had greater opportunities to reach out with their messages because Stockholm Pride attracts a lot of people to Stockholm and then the Pride offers opportunities to be in place to promote debates and conferences,” he continued.

After I have listened to the tone and the rhetorics of the discussions during the evening, I think the conversation/debate Pride vs. Shame will continue.
[My comment: How right I was about that back then!]

INSIDE OR OUTSIDE…

The debate thus came in the evening to dealing with commercial interests, expensive “dogtags” and entertainment. To this must be added that even Shame festival took an entrance fee of 100 Swedish Kronor (100SEK ≈ 12EUR, 15$.) Although organizers originally planned to make the festival free for visitors. If I may say, I do not think it is about “commercial or not.” It is about to meet different tastes and needs. It is tragic if some groups or individuals within the “homo-bi and transsexual society” feel excluded from events because they do not belong to the target group of events or that they simply do not considered themselves “members of the Club.”

From what I have heard, people have been denied entry to the Shame festival on Skeppholmen. I cannot take a position on the veracity of this claim. Maybe there are similar stories about Stockholm Pride as well. Despite the mudslinging, I think that Shame has its place in the gay community in Stockholm. Both fun and seriousness, dance, music, food, drinks, performances, debates and films are needed. Contents that these festivals can meet. It is entirely appropriate that different festivals have their own niches that attract visitors, but no visitor should be banned because they do not fit into a certain (gay) community. I wish that there were a hundred different festivals going on, where everyone could find his “home.”

Curiosities on the movement Stockholm Shame. Information from their website http://www.caos.nu.

Manifest
“Caos are you. You are the caos. It is important. You are contradictory, loud, confused, sweet, smart, happy and mischievous sometimes. You have opinions and you are not afraid to say what you think right now. You dare to question everything – even things that you take for granted.
Sissy or butch? You look great. Caos are its readers. You write, you react, you respond. You must do it yourself. Revolution? Always!”

Swedish radical alternative queer movement. Caos.nu is nothing in it self, but links to interesting and great initiatives! Stockholm Shame was an alternative to the big, boring, pointless, lame and over commercialized Stockholm Pride festival. Shame was very successful with almost 1600 visitors that made the day something to remember for a long time!

The Shame festival was a festival celebrating all that regular “normal” society is ashamed of. It started out as a festival protesting against the commercialization of Stockholm Pride but has moved on to deal with other subjects as well. This year the themes will be sexwork, street art, intersexualism and drugs.

Queer feminist march
Stockholm’s first queer feminist march is inspired by Dyke marches across the US. We want to show the diversity of dykes and other gender warriors in our community and protest all forms of oppression on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, class, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation.”

[Hate Hurts July 14, 2001]

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY

Here is a link to a Google translation from Swedish website “Motkraft” (“Counterforce”) giving a review from the Shame Festival in 2001. It seems that Shame, despite the fact that they criticized Stockholm Pride, now have continued to work with their Queer diversity issues.

[Shame Festival in 2001]

From an interview in Swedish website QX, published in May 22, 2001:

“Stockholm Pride has got a counter festival. Or if one is to use Shames parlance, ‘Stockholm Shame becomes fun, unlike Stockholm Pride.’
Daniel Bergqvist is one of the people behind Stockholm Shame and he explains:
– On the other hand, it can be said that the Shame festival is for all those who are ashamed that our sexuality becomes confined to a commercial and boring exercise. But also to Pride – the idea is twisted from the United States and my friends in the United States even there arranges Gay Shame.

– What happens in Stockholm Shame?
There will be music. Both live bands and DJ’s, says Daniel. And in our cinema, short films, experimental films, and feature films will be shown. Both from the past and present, both American, European and Swedish. There will be an exhibition, debates and party.

– It sounds like Pride, what is the difference?
– It’s fun, says Daniel. And it is different and it is not homonormative.
– There will be a queer festival then?
– It’s worse than Queer!

I must say, that I was thrilled back then, joining this movement, but I later on found out that these groups, despite the fact that they want to show the diversity in society providing alternative lifestyles, still harbor contempt for other gay people who do not fit into certain patterns and gay communities. This is mainly due to conflicts in interests, but the sometimes hostile rhetoric announced from these groups can be offensive as well. As I wrote back in 2001, it would in that case take around hundred various gay festivals and other events for everyone to be satisfied. That is not possible. Also Stockholm Pride and RFSL, (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) have faced criticism through the years for being exclusive rather than inclusive. I may have reasons to return to this interesting and rather spectacular issue.

Before we conclude this article, let us pay some attention to a phenomenon in society that I have not been familiar with. It is the expression “Pinkwashing” that may answer some questions I have been dealing for a while.

MORE ON “PINKWASHING”

In my previous article Retrospect on a Right-wing extremist month I quoted Queers Against Pinkwashing about pinkwashing. Here is more on that term:

“Israel and its supporters use several PR techniques to re-create the image of Israel in the international arena from one associated with ongoing wars, repression of Palestinians, and occupation of Palestinian lands to one associated with scientific advances, technological breakthroughs, art, culture, and equality (primarily showcasing women and LGBT people). The particular use of LGBT people to this end is what activists have called ‘pinkwashing.’
Pinkwashing is the cynical use of gay rights to distract from and normalize the settler colonial and apartheid reality that the State of Israel has established on the ground.
Pinkwashing is meant to cover up these violations with a facade of progressiveness and equality. In short, Israeli pinkwashing aims to isolate queer from other identities and make its record on gay rights trump its continued occupation and brutalization of the Palestinian people…”
“…In fact, an examination of Brand Israel, a PR campaign commissioned by the Israeli foreign ministry reveals the numerous ways that Israel actively uses LGBT rights and people as PR tools on the state’s dime with the goal of changing Israel’s image from one of an extremely militarized country to one that is seen as modern and liberal, thus obfuscating the realities of occupation and apartheid.”

[Source: No Pinkwashing – No to Israeli Apartheid]

My comments:

The term “pinkwashing” has come to be used in some interesting contexts involving gay, lesbians, bi- and transsexual people all around the world, as it seems. But here in another use of this term, that may be the origin where this term derives from;

“…a term used to describe the activities of companies and groups that position themselves as leaders in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease.”
The symbol of Pink Ribbon is by the way the international symbol for the fight against breast cancer.
[Read more on: Pinkwashing Blog]

Another example is that Israel has tried to conceal their policies towards Palestine by highlighting their own excellence in other areas, such as human rights for LGBTQI-people. Critics of Israeli policy believe that the State of Israel has strengthened the rights of homosexuals in the country, but only as a smokescreen to hide the anti-Palestinian policy which Israel propagate. The term “pinkwashing” would then mean that one group in society, in this case the homo-, bi-and transsexual people, has been subject to an unfair exploitation. This is not about gay rights, gays are only used as instruments of political scheming

It would ultimately also mean that there are gays or other groups of people, who are being exploited in the same way, they may not at all expect society’s support and protection, they are just a tool in a political agenda! It is like a “money laundering,” because, despite the fact that gays receive a lot of support, because this group is an important target in the economy, as they are considered an affluent section of society.

This is an interesting phenomenon. This could explain why even Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass-murderer, is said to have had connections with the gay community as well as the Counter Jihad movement (long before the tragedy occured at Utøya), all in an attempt to find support for his ideology.

Could it be the same way in Sweden right now, as I have mentioned in my articles? In that case, if organizations or authorities show their support for the gay community, how can we know that there are no hidden agendas behind the good will they show for gays? Take the right-wingers and left-wingers in Sweden, groups that infiltrate the gay communities for various political and ideological reasons.

These issues only arouse more suspicion. Is this just a conspiracy theory? (That would be something for InfoWars?) The problem with this stigmatizing of people in society does not lead to anything good, as long as different groups in society are using each other for their own benefits and in that way they can not trust each other, we will have a division in society between different interest groups. This will without a doubt lead further into a society more secular and fragmented and it is not the same as the inclusive diversity as we all want to fight for; a world where all human beings have equal value and human rights, living under the same conditions, despite the differences.

© 2012 Jonathan Axelsson
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About Meadow of Tzedaqyal

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1881-1955)
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