Bush began crafting justifications to declare war on Iraq,
our community wasn't so quick to jump on his
bandwagon. "As LGBT people, we're used
to Bush lying to us and about us," said protestor
Andy Thayer at a March antiwar demonstration in
Chicago. But now, four years into the Iraq conflict,
antiwar LGBT youths are figuring out how their identities
shape their consciousness and, ultimately, their actions.
At the Chicago
protest, which brought 4,000 marchers to Michigan Avenue,
a small group of young people gathered near a banner for the
Windy City- based Gay Liberation Network.
Twenty-three-year-old Joe Taylor was there, prepared
to voice his frustration at the war's fourth
anniversary. "Most LGBT people understand we
need to cherish and fight for all civil liberties, at
home and in Iraq," he said. Surveying the small crowd
surrounding the banner, he conceded that most of his gay
friends don't share his zeal for change.
"Much of my generation didn't really
experience a period of not being out," Taylor said,
and the result is that "civil rights begin to
be chipped away by complacency."
Taylor fears that
apathy--about both gay rights and the war--will
only make each situation worse.
23-year-old, Fred Ludwig, trekked from the Chicago suburbs
to join the protest. He said most of his gay friends were
against the war but weren't motivated enough to
take action. What's the solution? "Close
the bars!" he joked.
But some things
are so outrageous that even apolitical gays get pissed
off. Like when Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, told the Chicago Tribune in March
that gay behavior is immoral. In May, when Pace
appeared as an invited speaker at the University of
Chicago's Graduate School of Business, he was met by
approximately 75 angry demonstrators, about half of
them queer. For Thayer, a member of the Gay Liberation
Network, the diverse crowd at the May protest showed
how progressive populations have grown closer since 9/11,
when organizations with cause to fear heightened
attacks on civil liberties were "thrown into
shotgun weddings...looking for a defense in case the
Administration starts rounding people up."
Thayer's words might seem dramatic but for the
Department of Defense's February 2006 admission to
having spied specifically on gay and antiwar groups.
shared-enemy status does not necessarily bring kinship
between antiwar and LGBT organizations, said
18-year-old lesbian Ursula Mlynarek, who has been
involved in peace activism since age 14 and notes that she
finds a level of "normalized homophobia" in
the movement. Now a high school senior, Mlynarek has
organized hundreds of people in antiwar protests,
battled military recruiters in her school, founded the
Milwaukee Youth Liberation Army, and received honors from
the American Civil Liberties Union for her activism.
antiwar movement] taught me about the histories of oppressed
groups around the world--but nothing about the
LGBT community," Mlynarek said. "It
needs to be accepted that LGBT people have been a part of
every major movement against oppression."