Originally published on Advocate.com November 17 2009 6:40 PM ET
Bash Back! — a self-proclaimed activist group of “Radical Transfolk, Queers and Allies” that was profiled in the August issue of Details magazine — has copped to defacing a billboard sponsored by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center that depicted a soldier proclaiming “I’m gay and I protected your freedom.”
Memphis community leaders quickly denounced the vandalism, which occurred in September, as a vicious act motivated by homophobia. In a Monday post on its website, however, Bash Back! lashed out at the center’s decision to spend a reported $3,500 on the billboard advertising, “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.”
“Sending gays to be military fodder is NOT pro-gay or conclusive whatsoever to gay liberation,” the post reads. “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.”
Established gay organizations have been common targets of the group. Bash Back! has protested Human Rights Campaign dinner fund-raisers, including an HRC event in Minneapolis in September, where protesters held signs reading “What Would Sylvia Rivera Do?” referring to the New York transgender activist and Gay Liberation Front founding member who died in 2002.
Last month, on the eve of the National Equality March, a group affiliated with Bash Back! vandalized HRC headquarters in Washington, D.C., throwing pink and black paint and scrawling graffiti that read “Quit Leaving Queers Behind.”