United States warship named after anti-war Harvey Milk

This 2015 video from the USA is called Harvey Milk / First Gay Politician (Biography TV).

This month, the United States Navy announced new names for several of their new warships.

United States warships and warplanes often have names of people in history. Eg, there is the military plane called the Spirit of Strom Thurmond. Republican Senator Strom Thurmond is one of the most racist bigots in US history.

Among the new warships’ names are several of people a lot better than Thurmond. They include women’s rights activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. And activist against discrimination of LGBTQ people Harvey Milk.

The new names in themselves are signs that some historical oppression has been abolished. Slavery against which Sojourner Truth (and Lucy Stone) fought was officially abolished in the 1860s. The ban on United States women voting against which Sojourner Truth and Lucy Stone fought was abolished in 1920.

As for Harvey Milk, during Barack Obama’s presidency the homophobic ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule in the US military was abolished.

San Francisco politician Scott Wiener writes:

When Harvey Milk served in the military, he couldn’t tell anyone who he truly was.

Harvey Milk was in the United States navy as a conscript during the Korean war.

There is a paradox in this new warship’s name.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

A friend of Milk’s thinks it is ironic that a warship is now named especially after him because Milk was against the Vietnam War and was part of an anti-militarist movement. “In my time men used to say they were gay to stay out of military service.”

So, this new name looks like ‘pinkwashing‘ of wars all over the world.

There is similar ambiguity about naming warships after Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth. Their abolitionist movement opposed slavery, and oppression of women; but it opposed wars as well.

The Liberator, the paper of Stone’s and Truth’s abolitionist movement, wrote:

Anti-War Pledge – War with Mexico

June 5, 1846 …

desiring to show our utter abhorrence of slavery, and of every act either of the state or the individual, which means to support it,— and to bind ourselves before God and the world, to side with the oppressed, and not with the oppressor, we hereby pledge ourselves, neither by act or deed, to aid, support, or countenance the Government in the War with Mexico….. to refuse enlistment, contribution, aid and countenance to the War.

Remembering the anti-homophobia Stonewall uprising

This video says about itself:

28 June 2016

What we know as “Gay Pride” now was born 47 years ago today at the Stonewall Inn, after the NYPD raided the popular LGBTQI bar in New York City. This raid sparked an uprising that would mark the beginning of the modern LGBT movement. Today we remember those who fought for their rights at Stonewall, and all of those who continue in the struggle for justice and equality.

Catholic church should apologize to LGBTQ people, pope says

This 2008 satiric video says about itself:

Headzup: Pope Benedict And The Crime Of Being Gay

Pope Benedict is asked about the Vatican opposing a UN resolution urging nations to decriminalize homosexuality.

Read more about it here.

That was then. Now, about Pope Benedict’s successor.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Pope Francis: Church should apologize to gay people

Today, 02:53

Pope Francis believes the Roman Catholic Church must apologize to homosexuals for the way they have been treated. On the papal plane he again told reporters that the church has no right to condemn gay people and that they deserve respect.

Francis is on his way to Vatican City from Armenia. According to the prelate forgiveness should also be asked to other groups that are excluded or ignored, such as women, the poor and children who have to perform slave labor.


The pope made his remarks after he was asked on board of his plane if he agreed with one of his advisers, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Who said after the shooting in the nightclub Pulse in Orlando that the church owes an apology to homosexuals.

It is not the first time that Francis himself remarks about homosexuals. He said earlier that they should not be condemned or marginalized. The official church teaching is that homosexual feelings are not sinful but homosexual acts are.

And as long as that official teaching is not changed …

Orlando massacre and LGBTQ people in Britain

This video from the USA says about itself:

Activist: Latinx LGBTQ Community & Its Stories of Survival Should Be at Center of Orlando Response

14 June 2016

On Monday night, thousands gathered in downtown Orlando for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub. A nearby church bell tolled 49 times—once for each victim. Most of the victims were young and Latinx. To talk more about the Orlando shootings, we are joined by Isa Noyola. She is director of programs for the Transgender Law Center, the largest transgender organization. She’s a translatina activist and a national leader in the LGBT immigrant rights movement.

By Sami Hillyer in Britain:

The queer family needs to address its own prejudices

Thursday 23rd June 2016

If we are to come together as a family within our community, many an uncomfortable truth needs to be faced up to, writes Sami Hillyer

I’VE had a number of unexpected moments of the past fortnight. Unexpected because of how I’ve been sitting as a queer person living in London.

I don’t manage to turn heads through my somewhat flamboyant presentation. I can wear make-up to work at the hospital.

And I enjoy a fantastic group of supportive friends from diverse cultural backgrounds. Life has felt very comfortable in those respects.

Then Orlando happened. And it shook me and all the LGBTQ+ people I know around me.

It shook us because it was a homophobic attack. And not only was it a homophobic attack, but it was an attack on the Latinx LGBTQ+ community in a space they thought was safe for them.

I didn’t expect it to change me, but it has. Perhaps over the years I had just shut it out, but I’m noticing the stares of disgust or pity again, hearing the abuse shouted, feeling nervous on the streets once more.

It had always been there, homophobia, I’d just got good at ignoring it. It took the tragic loss of 49 lives and the 53 others shot to show me this again.

It took this unimaginable violence to bring us as LGBTQ+ people together again.

From the outside, we are seen as one group, one community, grouped together by our difference and as the recipients sometimes of a shared hate, sometimes pity and sometimes solidarity.

However from the inside we know we’re a fractured family, with all the letters of the alphabet soup split up from the rest.

Even within one of those letters alone, we have divides created by self-made “tribes” or the experiences of people of colour in mainstream gay spaces.

On the Monday night following the attack, a vigil was held in Soho and every colour in the spectrum of our queer rainbow turned out.

It was a vision of Soho I had never seen before, and it showed that, when affronted by such tragedy, by the challenge and threat of hate in this world, LGBTQ+ people can and will pull together.

We as a family recognise the homophobia that led Omar Mateen to gun down our siblings in Orlando.

We know, whether we’re out or not, what hate directed towards difference in how we express our gender or our attraction for others looks and feels like.

This major loss of our family has put to rest the opinion held by some that the fight for LGBTQ+ liberation is over now and has shown the spark for how we can regroup to take on the problems that not only affect the whole family, but the challenges that affront specific branches of our tree.

Although we have equal marriage, homophobic hate crimes have been on the rise in Britain.

One in 20 gay men in the UK, and one in 10 in London, have HIV and although not a death sentence any more and treatable with anti-retroviral drugs, HIV is still associated with complications to physical, mental and sexual health.

An HIV prevention drug with known efficacy is available, but the NHS has been delaying on making it easily available, allowing for the 2,500 new diagnoses of HIV in men who have sex with men to continue each year.

Tied to this disregard of LGBTQ+ people is the loss of spaces where we as a community can come together and feel safe.

An estimated 25 per cent of venues, bars, clubs have been lost since the recession.

Like the escalating loss of social housing, the social value of LGBTQ+ spaces is being ignored in favour of property developers looking to squeeze our cities more.

Our queer spaces are important, they break the isolation we can experience as queer people.

We know that 48 per cent of young trans people have attempted suicide and 34 per cent of young LGB people.

Young LGBT people are disproportionately hurt by the loss of spaces, whether it be bars, venues or housing. Twenty four per cent of the UK’s street homeless youth are LGBT.

Our community, if we are one family, needs to look at its own role in the isolation it creates.

Misogyny, transphobia and racism all exist within the gay scene, with many who aren’t gay white men feeling excluded from the main circuits of bars and clubs in places like Soho.

Prejudice is visible on dating apps like Grindr too, with the common taglines that body shame, attack feminity or reject people of colour (no fats, no femmes, no blacks, no Asians) or discriminate against people living with HIV or mental health problems (neg4neg, clean, sane and sorted looking for the same).

If we are to come together as a family within our community, these uncomfortable truths need to be faced up to and that the experiences of cisgendered gay white men who perhaps are in the position to marry, don’t represent the experiences of this diverse community. For example, LGBTQ+ asylum-seekers still face detention centres and deportations back to countries with the choice of living in hiding and fear or dying. Since Orlando, and our shared loss, we have potential as a family to fight for LGBTQ+ liberation for all our family, not just those best placed to receive it, and that means standing together in one another’s fights.

Sami Hillyer (UNISON) – SERTUC Observer to TUC LGBT Conference 2016

Anohni’s new anti-war music album

This March 2016 music video is called ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me.

By Zac Corrigan in the USA:

Anohni’s Hopelessness: A protest against war, drone bombings and more

“If I killed your mother with a drone bomb, how would you feel?”—Crisis

6 June 2016

Anohni is the British-born American transgender singer formerly known as Antony Hegarty. She released five albums between 2000 and 2012 under the name Antony and the Johnsons. Hopelessness is her first offering as Anohni.

Anohni’s unique and extraordinary singing voice strikes one immediately with its androgynous quality and heavy vibrato, and she is particularly adept at expressing sorrow. This has been the case throughout her career, but the songs on Hopelessness stand out for a further reason: many of them directly take up and condemn phenomena like drone bombings, executions without trial, torture, state spying and the persecution of whistleblowers. …

In a wonderful passage toward the end of the song “Crisis,” Anohni, adopting the persona of US imperialism, sings, “If I filled up your mass graves/and attacked your country on false premise / I’m sorry.” She repeats “I’m sorry” several times. At first, it strikes one as a satirical presentation of a war criminal’s crocodile tears, but as the line is repeated one can hear that the singer is actually choking back real tears. A transition takes place and what begins to find expression is genuine empathy for the victims of these crimes. It is a powerful moment.

The song that works the best overall is a darkly comedic one, entitled “Watch Me,” about state spying. Anohni sings, “Watch me in my hotel room / Watch my outline as I move from city to city / Watch me watching pornography / Watch me talking to my friends and family / I know you love me because you’re always watching me / Protecting me from evil / Protecting me from terrorism / Protecting me from child molesters.” Then, the chorus goes “Daddy, oooh!” One gets the sense of a Big Brother spying on everyone, as if for their own good.

Elsewhere Anohni seeks to evoke an emotional response with mixed results, even as she tackles significant subjects. On “Drone Bomb Me,” she sings as a girl living in the mountains in perhaps Afghanistan or Pakistan, begging a drone in the sky to put an end to her life. The lyrics describe the girl’s yearning for her “crystal guts” to be spilled on the ground.

“Drone Bomb Me” is a disturbing and sardonic song in many ways. It focuses on the single instant of a young girl’s yearning for death. But what is her life like? Why does she want to die? We are meant to feel sympathy for the girl, and disgust at whoever is responsible for her plight, but she remains something of an abstraction to us.

Anohni is no doubt making reference to the fact that children growing up in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen now fear death by drone strikes on a daily basis. …

At the same time, there is a degree of pessimism that pervades the work, clearly reflected in the album’s title, Hopelessness. She seems to take the position that people are perhaps willfully ignorant, or they just don’t care about all of these terrible things. They need to “wake up” and stop being so complacent.

As Anohni put it in an answer to emailed questions from the World Socialist Web Site, “I want to use my voice to break bones that I fear are healing in deformed ways.” In fact, there is no shortage of anti-war sentiment nor a lack of concern about the environment among masses of people. The problem is one of political understanding and perspective. Who is behind these crimes, and what could put an end to them?

The artist doesn’t have to provide an explicit answer, but to create the most powerful and enduring work, he or she must have some understanding, even an intuitive one, of the basic social forces at work and also have some confidence in the population itself. In the end, pessimism and quasi-misanthropy are incompatible with advanced aesthetics.

Anohni is backed here by two experienced and creative electronic music producers, Daniel Lopatin (who records as Oneohtrix Point Never) and Ross Birchard (Hudson Mohawke). The music is generally tasteful and well-executed, but the sound palette belongs to the dance club or the rave. It is not immediately clear what relationship these sounds and rhythms have to the victims of war or to the world’s threatened biodiversity.