While Pride Galas Carry On, These Queer Activists Are Fighting To Hold LGBTQ Orgs Accountable

As a group of queers chanted for a free Palestine, another group of queers walked by in cocktail attire.

The first group was ACT UP NY who, along with the Audre Lorde Project, Jewish Voices for Peace, and Queers for a Liberated Palestine, were there to call out the hypocrisy of Outright International, an organization whose stated mission is to better the lives of LGBTQ individuals around the world. The second group were attendees of Outright’s Celebration of Courage Awards and Gala, an annual fundraising event at the historic Chelsea Piers.

Some individuals in the second group accepted ACT UP’s fliers, others appeared indignant and annoyed. Some took video of the protest with curiosity, others with rage. And some walked by with their heads down, Wildfang suits like a turtle shell, protection from the reality of our words.

But the action was too loud to be ignored entirely. As emcee Qween Jean stated, “We will hold all queer organizations responsible as they party.”

While Outright did previously call for a ceasefire on October 27, their access to the U.N. and international work makes this a bare minimum. Their decision to include actor Billy Porter among their honorees for this event was also revealing. He may be an uneducated Zionist, but he has still been outspoken in his Zionism.

The demands were clear:
REAFFIRM their Oct. 27th call for a ceasefire
STOP the U.S. war machine at the U.N.
FUND Palestinian organizations
DISCLOSE and DIVEST from complicity

This wasn’t a protest against an enemy, but against a supposed ally failing to utilize their influence. And so the words of the action’s first speaker, drag artist Anne J. Tifah, resonated deeply. “People do not have the same algorithms as us on their phones,” she said. “So be mindful of who is an enemy and who is a comrade not yet awakened.”

“I want to send a call to people who are unsure or confused right now,” she continued. “Maybe the things you see are horrible, but you’re afraid to betray what you have been taught or are surrounded by. You may believe that you are doing the right thing to keep your family safe, to honor tradition, or to save face. But let me remind you that scarcity is a lie.”

Despite leading with compassion — and true to her name “fucking shit up” — she emphasized the stakes: “The liberation of Palestine includes your liberation as well. And while you take your time, we continue to lose lives to colonialism, systematic oppression, and genocide.”

Protest vs. partying, compassion vs. urgency. These are the contradictions of Pride that do not have to be contradictions — or, rather, we can live within the contradictions.

It’s why one speaker can wisely say, “Don’t lead with anger, lead with education,” and another can rightfully begin, “I’m mad as fuck today.”

That second speaker was Noor Aldayeh, who stated quite possibly the truest contradiction: “I am appalled by the state of humanity today. I am also invigorated by movements like these.”

“I’m Palestinian with a grandfather from Gaza and a grandmother from Jenin,” they said. “I do not know how many of my family members have been killed, not just since October, but my entire life, my mother’s entire life. My grandparents who are indigenous to Palestine were kicked out of their homes and exiled. My family, my Palestinian family, cannot hold Palestinian citizenship. My Palestinian family has not been able to return to their own fucking land for three generations.”

“Queer Palestinians exist,” they continued. “Queer Palestinians are not afforded special protections from apartheid, from occupation, from genocide, from ethnic cleansing, and from the displacement that has been enforced upon our people for over eight decades.”

It’s important to remember queer Palestinians exist and queer Palestinians are currently being killed by Israel. It’s also important to remember that our support should not be contingent on disproving Islamophobic talking points about queer safety in Palestine. Aldayeh said it bluntly: “To determine whether or not you are against genocide because of whether or not you think that a group of people may or may not support your identity is fucking bananas. What the actual literal fuck?”

Outright released a statement in response to the action before it even took place explaining their focus remains on parts of the world where they have partners. But, as another speaker pointed out, wouldn’t now be a good time to get partners in the region?

This Pride Month, it’s clear queer people will not accept the bare minimum. Today, another coalition of activists made further demands insisting “Pride parades and national queer orgs immediately ban the corporations responsible for fueling the genocide in Gaza and worldwide colonial violence from sponsoring or participating in Pride events.”

Pride is a protest. Pride is a riot. And, as one of the ACT UP organizers said to close out the action: This is just the beginning. We have 27 days left of Pride.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 550 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. why in the name of liberation for palestine and supposedly anti zionist not antisemitic have schools in toronto been shot at, synogagues around US and Canada with windows smashed, orthodox jews living in the US being beaten at random and run at by cars, kids with jewish last names being excluded from activities, and women threatened with rape on social media?

    is that liberation? the palestinian resistance has a duty to not harm american jews and canadian jews. if you are throwing bricks at synogagues, punching kids like in crown heights, shooting jewish named schools, wishing women to be raped-your movement needs help. jews immigrating to israel is at an all time high because of the violence and disregard for well being here at home. if jews shouldn’t live in the Us or Canada or Europe and also shouldn’t live in Israel-what is your “solution” autostraddle

    • You believe Palestinians and/or “the Palestine movement” is responsible for all of these incidents? Do you believe it is inherently safer to be apart one marginalized group over another right now?

      Did you know that hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims has increased nearly 300% since October 7th? A 6 year old Palestinian child was stabbed to death in Chicago a few weeks later. 3 Palestinian students were shot on a college campus in Vermont a month later. One of those men is now paralyzed from the chest down. A former Obama aid harassed a street vendor with racial slurs and threats of violence only for his charges to be quietly dropped a few weeks later. The list goes on and on for both groups to be frank. And in a good majority of these hate crimes a white supremacist has been the perpetrator. These people want division and we play right into it every time.

      This is a volatile time for everyone right now and we need to stop accusing one group of being more inherently violent and dangerous than the other to justify the terrible things that are happening to them. Two things can be true. What happened on October 7th was horrible. What’s currently happening in Gaza is also horrible. I haven’t heard a single well thought argument of why 300,000+ and rising Palestinians deserve to be bombed, starved, their communities destroyed, etc as collective punishment for a terrorist attack. IDK how any of that is supposed to keep Jews safe in the long run. If we are going to play the eye for eye game white europeans would have been wiped off this planet ages ago. And no I will not be debating the death toll and engaging in atrocity denial with anybody. If you want to be believed you should extent that same grace to others. Whether it’s 300,000 or 30. There are still people who deny the Holocaust death toll all these years later despite ample proof. Let’s not do this.

      • The perpetrators were all Arab Muslims who said they did it for Free Palestine. An elderly jewish man was beaten to death by a Palestinian man AND a Jewish Iranian dentist shot dead by his radicalized patient. But that doesn’t matter to you at all. My cousin was told by classmates to “go to the oven”. Seriously sad.

  2. What is an “Islamophobic talking point”? As far as I can tell, “talking point” does not mean something is not true, it means “something my enemy is saying that I want to deflect on partisan grounds”. HOW does the liberation of Palestine include my liberation? HOW will queer Palestinians be liberated under a free Islamic state? Are these questions “talking points” too?

  3. You get a show trial and a lengthy jail sentence for being gay in the Palestinian territory -if you are lucky. Most likely you are killed. No Palestinian would return the favor. Meanwhile, in Isreal, you are free to live as you please.

    This statement, “liberation of Palestine includes my liberation” is pure ignorance and propaganda. The LGBT community is being led around by the nose and used as a political tool by people who wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire. Think about how much you know about what is happening – really know to be true. I have yet to meet more than one or two people tracking this issue over the decades and yet people make these foolish statements and riot in the streets because they were told to.

  4. Hey, AS staff, is this you?

    https://www.instagram.com/p/C8ATot4vahY/

    I can’t believe I used to feel like this place was my spiritual home. You chose to alienate Israeli and (most) Jewish readership, but sure, keep calling yourself inclusive and progressive.

    There’s nothing progressive about radicalizing the queer community to a point where queer Israelis are so dehumanized people in this community don’t care if we get bombed.

    Thanks, and noted.

  5. I wish you’d devote a fraction of your fervor for “Palestinian Liberation” to the exploding number in antisemitic hatecrimes. Or the release of the hostages.

    I also wish you’d also found 10/7 worth at least a single post or something.

    Hold the ones responsible for this war and the suffering of the Palestinian people accountable: Hamas is a terrorist organization.

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