Recent calls to boycott Coke when their corporate logo was spotted on the uniform of a security officer who arrested a gay activist during the Olympic torch relay in Russia has led to a flurry of conversation. Members of Outright may have different opinions on participating; it is not the purpose of this blog to take a position.
The purpose of this blog is to simply share some ideas generated by a supporter on Facebook who feels that the boycott may be ineffective or misdirected. WIth accusations of slacktivism flying, Sean was challenged by an Arizona trans* activist to list some other ways activists can protest the Russian state.
I'm pretty sure this entire conversation amounts to little more than a slight increase in effort to really, really strenuous slacktivism, but his list is pretty interesting. So I decided to post it publicly, in hopes that these ideas may rise to the attention of those with resources to carry them into action. Items 4, 5, 7, and 8 are especially creative.
By Sean Malone:
What people could do to protest the Russian state:
1. Don't go to Russia. Explicitly publish pieces about why.
2. Do go to Russia to participate in protests in Moscow/etc. with activists on this issue to add numbers.
3. Send money to activists in Russia.
4. Build a website that lists all of the anti-gay Russian politicians and provides an effective and easy means to contact them.
5. Do something super creative and organize a group activity that gains a lot of media attention in Russia that - unlike this Coca Cola boycott - has a meaningful target... For example, a friend of mine just launched a ton of balloons with flash drives and leaflets into North Korea advocating more freedom.
6. If you must support a voluntary boycott of the Russian Olympics itself as I suggested had been done in the past.
7. Go to the Olympics in Russia en masse wearing rainbow flags on all your clothes, luggage, and take flags to the ceremonies and make a big enough scene to get on TV. One idea might be to have about 100 people in the stands each with a card that when held up in unison shows a big rainbow flag or pink triangle on one side, and when flipped over has a pro-gay/anti-state message visible to any other spectator and camera in the world.
8. "Vuvuzelas for Gay Rights"
...I mean... I could go on, but these are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Almost anything I can think of would be more effective at getting the message across *to the right people* than this thing.
Also, here's my one-step solution for avoiding Coca Cola products: Drink water. From your tap. If you must purify it, use a Brita filter (not owned by Coke). Also beer, milk, wine, juice from many different brands... Not owned by Coke either.
With the stroke of his veto pen, New Jersey Governor Chris "Gendermonger" Christie reinforced both the gender binary and the state security apparatus. Transgender individuals seeking amended birth certificates in his state will continue to be required to undergo reassignment surgery because, according to his veto statement, "Birth certificates are often required to complete myriad security-related tasks."
As Think Progress pointed out: "Indeed, Christie’s vague allusions to fraud ironically mirror the kind of suspicion — and resulting invasive searches — that transgender people can experience when their identification does not reflect their appearance."
This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the irony here. In typical fashion, the state is blaming trans* citizens for the absurd consequences of getting the state in to the business of licensing births in the first place. Not least of which is having intersex infants mutilated to conform to them, long before they can choose.
And as tragic as that is, it is still only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the vast overreaches of state power that result from conceding the principle that the state ever has any business licensing us either at birth, or as adults. The National Center for Transgender Equality has issued a call to action stating: "NCTE encourages not just transgender people, but all Americans to work against the REAL ID Act."
Here is the root of the problem: while Chris Christie has absolutely no right to stand in the way of transgender individuals updating their documents to match their identities, the procedure by which he is able to do so is already entrenched as law. We need to fundamentally reexamine our relationship with state power, both as queer liberation activists and as citizens of the world.
Outright Libertarians has a commitment to advancing queer liberation in a way that is consistent with reason and the principle of non-aggression. Our desire to be pragmatic, and the need to break through a stranglehold on ideas by both Gay, Inc. and Libertarian orthodoxy has led us to draft a bold Plan of Action for 2014 and beyond - and we're asking for your support in making this vision a reality.
Thinking outside the marriage box, we brainstormed a list of concrete examples of state power being used to target us specifically. These are proper subjects of Libertarian activism and by focusing on them, we can firmly plant the work we do in reality. Any time we are accused of a vague kind of "collectivism" we can simply point to our advocacy on these issues:
1) Gender-specific licensing laws
2) Segregated restroom laws
3) Blood donor bans on gay men
4) Draconian HIV disclosure laws
5) Systemic prison-industrial abuses
6) Zoning laws that target bathhouses, bookstores and bars
7) Criminalization of drug use, sex work, and homelessness falling disproportionately on queer youth
These issues are percolating at the fringes of Gay, Inc., - our community wants them fixed - but the War Party won't touch anything that threatens their power-hungry "equality" narrative. Making ourselves vocal on issues of abolition, therefore, can invigorate the power of queer solidarity and establish Outright as a leader in the fight for universal liberation.
In the last year, Outright Libertarians have made some incredible progress, positioning ourselves for 2014 to take a proactive, no-nonsense approach on pushing forward. Will you support our work for the coming year by making a one-time contribution, renewing your membership or joining as a supporting member?
In the coming year, we will post regular updates about our work on each one of these issues so you can see that we mean business. We will also use our podcast, Facebook and Twitter pages to elaborate on each one, so please keep an eye on each of these venues to learn more about how you can get involved.
It won't be easy, but we look forward to transforming the conversation about our community's relationship to state power, and we thank you for joining us in the fight.
Julie Ershadi, a D.C.-based journalist, is raising $5,000 by February 1st in order to take a cross-country train ride and write a longform journalism piece on the lives of Iranian immigrants to the United States and their American-born children.
At a time when relations between Iranian and American political leaders may finally be thawing, she aims to tell the stories of the courageous, enterprising individuals who have a foot in both worlds. Ershadi is a lesbian, a libertarian, and the daughter of an Iranian immigrant.
Learn more and contribute to the campaign here: http://bit.ly/rpp-iran.