In advance of Pride, held in London last month, corporations of all kinds launched new ranges of rainbow products. Banks also jumped on the bandwagon.
Cynically using rhetoric about inclusivity and diversity, the capitalists are attempting to expand their marketable audience whilst opportunistically appropriating historic social struggles like Stonewall.
With this newfound support of corporate ‘allies’, the LGBT community is supposed to feel safe; our concerns addressed. We are ensured that change will come slowly but surely within the capitalist system.
But LGBT people are getting increasingly fed up with these lies, and activists are reacting against the false promises of “rainbow capitalism”. Everyone can see how incredibly tokenistic it is for corporations to wave technicoloured flags once a year at Pride.
Most importantly, it reeks of hypocrisy, as it is the capitalist system that is ultimately responsible for the oppression that LGBT people face. Capitalism cannot be both the illness and the cure when it comes to oppression.
Crushed by capitalism
The vast majority of LGBT people - and of society in general - are working class. And across the board, workers of all sexualities and genders are facing constant attacks as a result of the crisis of capitalism.
Workers, young people, and the poor are denied access to basic public services and provisions such as healthcare. For many, employment is becoming increasingly insecure. The rich, of course, do not have to worry about such concerns.
Within these deteriorating conditions, it is the most oppressed layers of society who suffer disproportionately, bearing the brunt of the cuts and austerity.
LGBT workers and youth, for example, are more likely to experience insecurity, under- or unemployment, and homelessness. The Big Issue reported last year:
“LGBT young people are more likely to find themselves homeless than their non-LGBT peers, comprising up to 24% of the youth homeless population, each at a cost of £24-30k to the state. They are highly likely to have experienced familial rejection, abuse and violence.”
At the same time, recent reports reveal that one third of UK employers are less likely to hire transgender workers. Meanwhile, 77% of employers are uncertain of the laws protecting the rights of trans people in the workplace.
According to current laws, meanwhile, only trans workers who intend to “undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone gender reassignment” are explicitly covered by anti-discrimination protections. But gender reassignment is a surgical procedure that not every trans person wishes to undergo or can afford.
Trans patients using the NHS have to join ridiculously long waiting lists, often having to wait over a year just to get an appointment at a clinic. In many cases, it takes people at least six years to go through the process, which can be incredibly dehumanising and detrimental to the mental health of trans patients.
At the same time, access to a private clinic requires enormous amounts of money, both for support and surgery, usually exceeding £19,000 per person.
Divide and rule
In a society built upon systematic greed, competition, and scarcity, it is not surprising that discriminatory attitudes are pervasive. Trans people often face discrimination in the NHS, where limited resources and staff and long waiting lists cause demoralised patients to view the surgical procedures of trans people with hostility.
In a period of capitalist crisis, this competition is intensified even further. And the ruling class fuels that sentiment, dividing the working class through prejudice and bigotry so that they do not turn on their common enemy: the capitalists - the bosses and the bankers.
This strategy to divide and rule is sometimes subtle (but often not). For example, the billionaire-owned rag the Sun, recently highlighted to its readers that gender reassignment surgeries “cost taxpayers at least £2 million”.
That they explicitly point to this medical procedure - whilst failing to ever mention the eye-watering bonuses, pay, and profits of the capitalists - highlights the pernicious tactics used by the ruling class and its mouthpieces.
The fact is that we produce more than enough wealth as a society to solve the material problems facing each and every member of society. The problem is that this wealth is appropriated by a handful of billionaires, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs.
Discriminatory attitudes and backward ideologies thrive within this fertile soil of (artificial) scarcity. Meanwhile, the capitalists rub their hands, relieved not to be facing the mass pressure of a united working class.
Unite and fight
It is for these reasons that we oppose the hypocritical ‘support’ offered by the capitalists at Pride.
In order to bring about true LGBT liberation, we must make sure that our movement is not isolated from the wider class struggle, but is united with it against the system that creates and breeds oppression.
True liberation can only be achieved by taking collective action against the capitalists, who benefit from maintaining the conditions that harm the rest of society.
In a society based upon needs, not profits; based on democratic planning and control: in such a society, oppressed minorities would have the resources and the opportunities to fully address all their concerns and needs.
Sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, will not immediately cease in the wake of revolution. The scars left behind by capitalism will take time to heal. But the overthrow of the profit system would put an end to the material conditions upon which bigotry thrives today.
The workers united have a world to win!