When Gays Wanted to Liberate Children…

Date: October 03, 2019

01) When Gays Wanted to Liberate Children

“In 1972 members of Boston’s Gay Men’s Liberation, one of the most significant Gay Liberation groups formed after the 1969 Stonewall riots, drove to Miami to hand out a ten-point list of demands at the Democratic National Convention. Emerging from a crucible of new queer political consciousness, feminism, and rage, the manifesto (reproduced at the bottom of this article) articulated a utopian political vision that was broad—today, we might say intersectional—extending far beyond what we would now conceptualize as LGBT politics. Its first demand, for example, was for “an end to any discrimination based on biology. Neither skin color, age nor gender should be recorded by any government agency. Biology should never be the basis for any special legal handicap or privilege.”

Gay Liberation repudiated child paternalism, the idea that children need the protection of adults and, in exchange, are eligible for fewer basic rights.

If many of Gay Men’s Liberation’s demands remain controversial forty-five years later, most are also still legible in today’s political discourse: the group sought to end U.S. imperialism, prevent discrimination based on sexual identity, and abolish the police. These all remain live demands of many radicals on the left. Demand six, however, is likely to strike even many of today’s activists as irresponsible, bizarre, and dangerous:

Rearing children should be the common responsibility of the whole community. Any legal rights parents have over ‘their’ children should be dissolved and each child should be free to choose its own destiny. Free twenty-four hour child care centers should be established where faggots and lesbians can share the responsibility of child rearing.

Collective child rearing? Legally emancipated children? Queers helping to raise other people’s children and, by extension, serving as role models and moral exemplars? Isn’t this exactly what conservatives fear when they warn of the red flag of liberal “social engineering,” a queer version of Soviet indoctrination daycares?

Or is it a utopia that would finally liberate women from the burdens of reproduction, while also creating a social structure in which children could safely function as independent beings who are not frightened or shamed out of exploring their sexuality?”

This is a great article.

2 thoughts on “When Gays Wanted to Liberate Children…

  1. feinmann0

    ‘Kate Millett went further in her 1984 essay “Beyond Politics: Children and Sexuality,” contending that the oppression of children is explicitly rooted in denying them sexual knowledge: “Sex itself is presented as a crime to children. It is how adults control children, how they forbid them sexuality. This has been going on for ages and is infinitely important to adults.”’

    Spot on!

    ‘Anita Bryant’s attack on a LGBT antidiscrimination bill that would have protected homosexual teachers in Miami-Dade County, Florida, was explicitly articulated in terms of protecting children. Leading a national “Save Our Children” crusade, Bryant drew on the longstanding tropes of molestation, abuse, and indoctrination that had plagued homosexuals throughout modern U.S. history. Rather than confront these lies with facts or, better yet, the testimony of queer young people, the gay rights movement backed away from any connections to children and teens.’

    So we have a homphobic anti-gay rights activist from the 19970s to thank for all the hostility shown by LGBT people towards any boy lovers who dared show up at gay pride marches.

    Really interesting article … thanks.


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