Unión del Barrio understands that the revolutionary process itself as an act of liberatory love. As such, we aspire to be revolutionary cadre – individuals committed to a collectivized global struggle, fighting every day to break the chains that bourgeois society uses to keep us in check. From within a revolutionary consciousness emerges a love driven to win the liberation of humanity in all its diversity, and on a daily basis we strive to exemplify this socialist expression of cultural struggle. We will not turn away from the fact that from our love for humanity also grows a deep hatred for normative bourgeois morality and its repressive institutions. Consequently, Unión del Barrio recognizes that the struggle for LGBTQ+ comradeship has suffered this bourgeois morality for far too long.
Our organization has not been immune to normative bourgeois morality and the contradictions of colonialism, and it would be a mistake to not acknowledge our limitations in engaging all sectors of our pueblo, particularly community raza who identify as LGBTQ+. It is key that as an organization we practice self-criticism in order to grow and solidify our dedication to liberation struggle. The tendencies that poisoned many of the progressive victories of Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s have not changed – machismo, homophobia and transphobia continue to exist in our communities. What is different today is that LGBTQ+ compas within the organization lead our discussions to bring about internal change within Unión del Barrio. We struggle now, so that future LGBTQ+ comrades do not have too. We are here, we have always been here, and we will always be here!
It is key that as an organization we practice self-criticism in order to grow and solidify our dedication to liberation struggle. The tendencies that poisoned many of the progressive victories of Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s have not changed – machismo, homophobia and transphobia continue to exist in our communities. What is different today is that LGBTQ+ compas within the organization lead our discussions to bring about internal change within Unión del Barrio.
As an organization that collectively strives to liberate our pueblo, we will tirelessly work to combat all internal forms of homophobia and transphobia as well as in our mass-based political spaces. Homophobia and transphobia are parasitic dogmas that harm our communities and divide our people. We must combat these dogmas through organized struggle and with the rejection of all manifestations of oppression within our homes, our communities, and our organization.
As Unionistas we constantly fight for the liberation of our people, but we must not idealize our people. We understand that within our communities we have to maintain a continuous struggle against deep-rooted backward traditions that are kept alive by hatred, self-hatred, and patriarchy. Within our families and our barrios we to often reproduce a range of reactionary tendencies, and we see examples of this all the time in our communities. When a light skinned baby is celebrated more than a dark skinned baby it is an expression of self-hate. When a boy is given more privileges than a girl, that is self-hate. When a woman is disrespected or her personal integrity is violated, that is self-hate. When a person is denigrated for their sexual preference or gender diversity, it is also a form of self-hate.
We see that issues of sexual and gender diversity are often repressed within our own communities because we are still slaves to normative bourgeois morality and colonial religiosity that feed and reproduce counter-revolutionary self-hate. We most clearly saw this contradiction in 2008, when too many people in our communities came out to support Proposition 8 in California, mobilizing to deny rights to same sex loving people. This self-hate took place even when our communities were still standing in the shadow of H.R. 4437. How could any person from our community support Prop. 8, even when the mass denial of rights to another huge sector of our community – gente sin papeles – was happening at exactly the same moment? Clearly, this contradiction was based on normative bourgeois morality and colonial religiosity.
Along these same lines, we must not resist criticism of the homophobic nature of many revolutionary movements throughout history, including our own. Unión del Barrio should provide leadership on this question so that LGBTQ+ comrades can join our ranks and help advance the revolutionary process that we have set for ourselves.
We must be self-critical of our movement, but that is not the same as celebrating bourgeois reformism either. We will never forget that it is the bourgeois state that ultimately has the power to deny “rights” or selectively choose who is deserving or not of being granted certain “rights.” We know that the imperialist bourgeois state can grant marriage equality and military service rights to LGBTQ+ people, and in the same week raid and deport hundreds of thousands of raza, send drones to blow up Arabs and Persians, deploy the police to shoot black people, exploit the labor of others, etc., and the supporters and apologists of the imperialist bourgeois state (including many LGBTQ+ people) see no contradiction in this. Unionistas must not fall into the trap of thinking that LGBTQ+ “liberation” is the same thing as LGBTQ+ “rights” being granted by the liberal wing of the imperialist bourgeois state. We see this as another fundamental contradiction, and we want no part of it. It must be made clear that as members of Unión del Barrio we are not a part of the imperialist bourgeois state, and therefore we are not in the business of denying rights to anyone.
We also emphatically reject the idea that just belonging to the LGBTQ+ community automatically makes a person progressive – there are far too many imperialists, colonialists, racists, and reactionary boot-lickers that are also LGBTQ+ to ever believe that myth. We believe that LGBTQ+ “rights” granted within a context of capitalist/ imperialist violence are primarily reformist diversions to draw people away from the multiple massive and increasingly complex problems we all have to contend with here and around the world. Furthermore, we consider the concept of “allyship” a liberal response to the LGBTQ+ question because we are not “allies” to LGBTQ+ friendly manifestations of capitalism and imperialism, but instead we are comrades to LGBTQ+ anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist liberation. Furthermore, we are cognizant that colonialism, imperialism and capitalism remain the foundation of the contradictions we suffer as a people.
We live in a time where change is constant, crisis is permanent, nothing is static, and the increasing diversity of individual identities reflects an acceleration of cultural change that comes with a deep crisis in global capitalism. What is happening around us makes visible the fact that cultural change is not the same thing as revolutionary change. Clearly, we see that imperialism is in crisis, yet its violent exploitative power is still on the rise. Across the globe oppressions are intensifying, exploitation is spreading, and people are increasingly becoming less free, all the while liberals too often fixate on promoting individual rights, individual identities, individual comforts, and individual inclusion to the detriment of local liberation struggle and international solidarity. Unión del Barrio does not seek to reproduce forms of LGBTQ+ struggle that are nourished by liberal reformism because at their center they still form part of white nationalist privilege, neoliberal consumer culture, and U.S. imperialism. We struggle to resist and overturn liberal oversimplifications and historical ignorance in regards to LGBTQ+ struggles.
What is happening around us makes visible the fact that cultural change is not the same thing as revolutionary change. Clearly, we see that imperialism is in crisis, yet its violent exploitative power is still on the rise. Across the globe oppressions are intensifying, exploitation is spreading, and people are increasingly becoming less free, all the while liberals too often fixate on promoting individual rights, individual identities, individual comforts, and individual inclusion to the detriment of local liberation struggle and international solidarity.
In other words, we must actively reconsider existing LGBTQ+ struggles through the lens of identifying oneself within this oppressive system, versus self-identification within the struggle to overthrow oppression. We must recognize that LGBTQ+ struggle ultimately isn’t about granting someone “rights” as an individual so that they can live a less-restrictive lives within a rotten, violent capitalist/ imperialist system, but rather we must reconsider LGBTQ+ struggle through our own Unionista worldview – as part of the fundamental revolutionary change we seek to establish within our communities. This transformation of our communities presumes a transformation that begins internally, within the daily collective struggles taken on by Unión del Barrio, and it is transformation that will remain accountable to the interests of our communities. We thereby commit ourselves to the idea that LGBTQ+ liberation is part of our broader liberation struggle, and will only be achieved through collective work based on solidarity, working class community support, and raza internationalism.
We know that a revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love for our pueblos and our gente, we also know that there is no such thing as a revolutionary that participates individualistically, nor can there be a person who is only motivated to be a part of a revolution as a result of their individual identity. We recognize that the leadership of LGBTQ+ comrades has strengthened Unión del Barrio, and has sent a message to other organizations and our communities in general that when we say we intend to fight for “all people,” we really mean “all people.” We celebrate the ongoing initiative of LGBTQ+ membership of Unión del Barrio in leading the change within the organization to collectivize LGBTQ+ struggle. We are here, we have always been here, and we will always be here!
This statement is rooted in the idea that anyone who struggles as a comrade, is a comrade, irrespective of sexual and gender identity. The quality of an Unión del Barrio member is measured against a commitment to bettering our communities and contributing to the culture of collective organizing. UdB camaraderie must not be subject to the hatred, patriarchy, and colonial religiosity of the imperial bourgeois state, nor will it be defined by our most backward community members. We believe that a liberated identity must also be a liberating identity – that is an identity grounded in organized community struggle and collective accountability.
This analysis was originally published on April 12, 2018 as part of the UdB Congressional Report and Final Resolutions, after being accepted and ratified by the VI Congreso Nacional of Unión del Barrio that ended on December 17, 2017. The Congreso Nacional is the highest decision-making body of our organization. The agreements contained in this report represent hundreds of hours of internal debate undertaken over a period of nine months, thereby giving shape to the collective political will of Unión del Barrio, and reaffirming the basis of our ideological unity. The resolutions issued by the VI Congreso, including this analysis, now serve as a political guide for work of Unión del Barrio from 2018 to 2022.