PRIDE week and all the ambivalent feelings it brings. What is the work that we continue to ask queerness to do, in relation to homonational formations like PRIDE? What might we learn from looking back at a longer history of queerness as an idea developed in relation to PRIDE?
This 1973 interview with Rita Mae Brown is now forty years old. Brown’s call for an alternative culture—an “army of lovers” who “shall not fail”—in response to the inadequacies of gay rights for gay whites movements is a popular reference point for contemporary queer subcultures. I especially like her “five or ten” year prediction for this army’s conquest; an army whose arrival we are forever anticipating.
Civil rights is a reformist measure. Revolution is what counts, not civil rights. You’re going to buy people off with civil rights. That’s the lesson of feminism. We got bought off with that vote. Don’t waste any time on civil rights. It’s a big political mistake.
You build an alternative culture within the existing culture. I think people are going to be motivated by an alternate culture instead of civil rights. We’re not going to solve this tonight. I think probably over the next five or ten years if we all do our homework, we’ll come up with something.”
– Rita Mae Brown, interviewed in The Lesbian Tide April 1973, AN ARMY OF LOVERS SHALL NOT FAIL