Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto) commends the organizers of ‘No Homonationalism,’ and Judith Butler for refusing The Berlin Pride Civil Courage Prize, 2010. This refusal marks an important intervention into the neoliberal narratives of individual exceptionalism and the elision of communities of struggle and subjugation in not only Germany, but internationally as well. Butler and the No Homonationalism organizers have sent a clear message to the international community – that queers will not be divided in their struggle against all forms of oppression; that you cannot celebrate an individual while you silence a movement; and that the honouring of a celebrated figure does not exempt a community from its role in perpetuating and supporting racism and nationalist forms of violence (i.e. war, police brutality, apartheid, and the enforcement of state borders).
In Toronto we have witnessed the increasing neoliberal and corporate shifts of annual Pride celebrations. The recent banning of the words “Israeli Apartheid”; the undermining of racialized community participation through the moving of the only stage dedicated to local Black performers (without proper consultation with the stage organizers); and, attempts to “clean up” the Pride parade of things deemed ‘offensive’ or ‘uncomfortable’ to conservative forces, are all examples of homonationalist logics and the moralities they breed. Neoliberal discourses often re-script struggles against oppression as individualized identity politics. When queer freedoms are celebrated as the definitive emancipation of sexuality, the continued and pervasive ways that racism, sexism, homophobia, state-nationalisms, patriarchy and heteronormativity (among others) shape the daily lives of queer subjects, are elided.
Like many states, Canada, the U.S., and Israel all make claims to be the protectors and providers of rights to queer subjects; however, we know that these claims are only partial truths. We know that any protections secured for queer subjects have come about through years of struggle and activism – not out of the generosity or compassion of the state. We know that the rights secured for some are not rights secured for all. We know that states use these rights to justify their own violation of the rights of others (as in the cases of Canada’s war in Afghanistan; the U.S.’ war in Iraq and Israel’s apartheid state and occupation of Palestine). Increasingly, queer movements and communities around the world are taking a stand against the appropriation of our struggles and the identities they have fostered: Our struggles and identities must not be used to justify war or occupation or racism. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and other queers in Toronto and internationally are coming together to condemn homonationalism and remind us that Pride is not simply a celebration of sexuality, but a celebration of our past, present and future struggles for freedom from all forms of oppression.