Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

On Saturday, June 15th, 2024, People’s LGBT+ United Society (PLUS) held our first in-person event in Eugene: the Pride Rally Against Pinkwashing. This was a rally to protest against the imperialist pinkwashing narratives that are spread throughout mainstream media especially regarding Israel/Palestine. There was a focus on highlighting the Israeli pinkwashing and centering the voices of not just LGBT+ people like our National Director, Kamryn Stringfield, but also of anti-zionist LGBT+ Jews, represented by Jewish Voices for Peace. 

The rally also represented a convergence of many local groups in coalition with each other, organizations that had connections with each other through the Springfield-Eugene Anti-Imperialist Coalition (SEAIC). Justin Filip, Pacific Green Party (PGP) Congressional candidate for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, spoke at the event, as well as Sam, a member of the local chapter of Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and Efron, a member of the University of Oregon chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP). 8 other organizations supported the event, including JVP Eugene, University of Oregon chapters of Students and Faculty/Staff for Justice in Palestine (SJP/FSJP) and UO Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), Healthcare Workers for Palestine, Coffee Revolution Eugene, Planet vs. Pentagon (PvP), Eugene chapter of Veterans for Peace (VfP), making 13 supporting organizations in total.

The rally kicked off with a speech from Kamryn Stringfield, which called out corporate pride events, the capitalization on LGBT+ movement, and of course the pinkwashing narratives regarding Palestine, Ukraine and more. On the pinkwashing in Palestine, she said 

“I’ve written before in our publication, the Stonewall Lives! Bulletin, how Israel is a key example of pinkwashing. Israel presents itself to the world as a haven for LGBT+ people, a safe refuge for us just like they promise to Jewish people through Zionism. While LGBT+ rights are somewhat better in Israel than other Middle Eastern countries, they are increasingly becoming under attack by the most extreme forces in the Israeli political arena and this ignores the plight of the Palestinian people and the ways in which apartheid, occupation, ethnic cleansing, racism, settlement, bombardment, starvation, scholasticide and much more are impacting the LGBT+ Palestinians. They aren’t supportive of us “In the name of love” as one IOF soldier holding a banner in the bloody ruins of Gaza put it, but rather they use it for their propaganda demonizing Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. Much of this propaganda is targeted at Americans and other westerners.

They repeat the same old talking points about how Palestinians and Arabs hate gays and how Hamas will throw you off of a roof or shoot you against a wall. They claim you cannot live life openly as LGBT+ in Gaza without violence. Ironically right now, this is true. Life for anyone in Gaza right now is hell because of the genocide. This aside, these claims have very little evidence to them and are based on western colonial tropes about Arab society that don’t fully accurately reflect it and there are plenty of examples of LGBT+ people living in Palestine openly…”

She then called on all progressive LGBT+ organizations to take a stance against the genocide, call for a ceasefire and uplift the voices of LGBT+ Palestinian and Jewish people. She specifically called upon one local organization, saying “Transponder that means you, especially!”

Kamryn closed her speech by talking about how pinkwashing occurs in other areas like Europe, saying:

“I want to briefly tell you that pinkwashing is not just limited to Israel, even in the present moment. This technique is used against plenty of other Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, all being bombed by Israel, US and UK as the genocide in Palestine continues. They use it against Iran, China, North Korea, Russia and more as well. NATO acts like it and all of its member states are havens for the LGBT+ community and that it is a vanguard for our rights. NATO and the Banderite government in Ukraine invoke pinkwashing in their war against Russia and the peoples of the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile they ignore the violent oppression of LGBT+ people in Poland, Italy, Turkey and more. Even with Taiwan and Hong Kong can we see pinkwashing playing out as a western tool against China. We have to be cognizant of this international phenomenon and not let the imperialists use our oppression here or anywhere else to justify economic or military consequences against countries or people that won’t conform to our interests. We have to be careful with our solidarity and understand how our voices and bodies can best be used for the LGBT+ struggle here and in the places the west interferes in.”

She also briefly gave a shout out to Cuba and Vietnam for non-western countries that have made strides on the issue that seldom get referenced in mainstream media, and got the crowd to chant “Cuba Si, Bloqueo No!” against the illegal economic blockade of Cuba.

Other speakers touched on different aspects of pinkwashing. The speaker from PSL called out the hypocrisy of religious zealots who are the most ardent defenders of Israel suddenly acting like they care for the well-being of LGBT+ community, and connected the LGBT+ struggle to the struggle against the imperialism as a whole. Justin Filip from the PGP talked about the history of the Green party’s support for Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) and the Palestinian struggle, the history of dehumanization as a tool to justify oppression in the United States, and his experiences with pro-Palestine activism at the University of Oregon and being placed on administrative leave as a result of it. The speaker from Jewish Voices for Peace spoke about the reality on the ground in Palestine and how they felt about that and about pride during genocide, how queer liberation and Palestinian liberation were connected and about how our LGBT+ elders paved the way for our current struggle.

After wrapping up the speeches and Kamryn explaining the next action for the event, the protesters began marching through the Saturday Farmers Market in downtown Eugene, carrying the PLUS Banner in the front and Palestinian flags and pride flags while reciting several kinds of chants. Some were new and LGBT+ based, like “No Pride in Genocide”, “We won’t let you use our pride, as an excuse for genocide”, “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Pinkwashing has got to go”, “Queers and allies, we won’t hide, there’s no pride in genocide” and more. Some were standard Palestine chants, like “Free, Free, Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Signs said things like “Silence = Death”, “NATO and Israel are both white and blue, neither of them give a damn about you”, “Gays for Gaza” and more. A table was also brought for literature from different organizations, including the PLUS brochure and Spring-Summer 2024 edition of the Stonewall Lives! Bulletin.

Overall, this rally was a brilliant display of coalition-building, of anti-imperialist solidarity and of the presence of PLUS now as a working-class LGBT+ organization. You can watch the footage below captured by a local videographer. Stay tuned for updates on PLUS at pride events.

Video from “Pride Rally Against Pinkwashing”, courtesy of local videographer Todd Boyle.

By Admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *