“We Are Here” Queer Communists Committee’s first manifesto

We are here, queer revolutionaries

We, the queers, are here and everywhere: traversing the streets, factories, workshops, schools, universities, cities, and villages. This manifesto, crafted by the Iranian Queer Communists Committee, delineates organizational strategies for our struggle and initiates a means for fundamental transformations against institutions that seek to repress us, such as prison, persecution, and execution, as well as slops of your “human rights” which you throw at us on rare occasions. Over the past year, our slogan ‘Queer, Trans, Emancipation’ has adorned walls in cities far and wide. Videos of us kissing in major city squares have circulated on social media, accompanied by our rallying cry for ‘bread, work, freedom/queer, trans, emancipation.’ Our resounding voices have rattled both the religious neoliberal dictatorship of the Islamic Republic and the entrenched structures of normalized anti-queer rhetoric. Yes! We are back now stronger and more determined than ever, backed by years of resistance and fortified by the lessons our comrades learned in December 2017 and October 2019; the resistance of our comrades in Khuzestan, Baluchestan, and Kurdistan; the teachers and workers’ strikes and protests; the struggles of our women and queer activist comrades; and eventually with a vast amount of experience from the uprising for Zhina.

How do we introduce ourselves?

We, a collective of queers both within and beyond Iran’s borders, have convened as the Queer Communist Committee to bridge the chasm between our dispersed bodies and amplify our voices. We firmly believe that queer emancipation is intertwined with the liberation of women, workers, immigrants, the disabled, and all marginalized masses within the capitalist framework—the framework which has consolidated its roots in patriarchal heteronormative and binary constitutions. The systematic oppression of queers serves to uphold the patriarchal familial structures which have safeguarded the perpetuation of private property since the formation of colonial capitalism and have succeeded in doing so by ensuring to provide it with ever-increasing numbers of laborers and the extraction of surplus value. This systematic repression can only be sustained through the appropriation of political, social, and religious institutions, all tethered to capital for survival. True liberation can only be obtained through the replacement of these systems with communism, allowing for diverse social formations and a liberated understanding of bodies.

One of the posters designed and distributed by the members of the queer committee on the streets of Tehran

Why queer communism?

We have learned through historical materialism that capitalism influences the history of sexuality and gender in its current form and has a dialectical relationship with modernity. This perspective grants us a clearer lens through which to examine power dynamics and their mechanisms of appropriation within social structures. Within the framework of a patriarchal capitalist society, sexuality emerges as a potent instrument for the exertion of control. Capitalism manufactures sexual subjects that conform strictly to the confines of heteronormativity, thereby suppressing any expressions that exist outside this circumscribed realm.

The capitalist structures not only ostracize queer individuals, subjecting them to social, political, and economic isolation, but also expose them to domestic violence, sexual harassment, abuse, and unemployment. Queer communism challenges this status quo, recognizing that power manifests not only through overt coercion but also through entrenched familial, governmental, and societal institutions. Queer communism posits that the struggle for queer liberation cannot be divorced from broader social and economic concerns. It rejects reductive neoliberal narratives that treat homophobia and transphobia as mere cultural phenomena. It is within neoliberalism potency of cooptation that queer sexual liberation and body emancipation are reduced to a set of identity forms, diverging its clash with the capital into a movement of self-actualization of a lifestyle. All whilst exploiting them into the pink economy as passive laborers, preparing the ground for the emergence of reformist tendencies and its promise for the full fruition of queer identity.

It is our duty to address the fundamental questions surrounding private property, capitalist modes of production, their symbiotic relationship with the patriarchal family structure, and the systemic repression of queer individuals. Such analysis necessitates a deep engagement with Marxist theory and a critical examination of class dynamics. Nicola Field aptly noted that “All ‘lesbian and gay issues’ are rooted in the politics of class struggle. When ambitious, bourgeois ‘community leaders’ seek to divorce these issues from wider social and political concerns, the lesbian and gay movement becomes atrophied.”[1] Overlooking this relationship will debilitate the queer movement because patriarchal oppression of the queers is rooted in the bourgeois family. The bourgeois family forms the foundations of private property, whereas the proletarian family functions only as reproductive labor. Under such circumstances, the queer bourgeois, despite becoming subject to oppression, will help protect the system that oppressed them by protecting private property. This all while the queer proletariat’s life is entirely spent on reproductive labor and the production of value for the capitalist, whereas their existential nature is against capitalism itself. It is at this stage that queer proletariat first gets exploited as laborers and then is negated as queer and is therefore subject to a dual form of oppression.

Communism teaches us that instead of emphasizing identity politics, we should propose solutions for collective solidarity and continuous and affirmative struggle methods.

“Queer” should not fall into the trap of gender orientation definitions and identities. Limiting it to these explanations with such an approach is not liberating. Instead, it reproduces controlling systems, leading to the segregation of various diverse groups. The capitalist system has managed to justify an unjust socio-economic distribution of goods and privileges by linking deprivations and identities and drawing moral and political conclusions from them. This policy normalizes certain identities while stigmatizing others.

Referring to the history of gender through a class perspective shows us that the emphasis on identities and the polarization of orientations in today’s hegemonic form, such as the gay/straight dichotomy, has its roots in the bourgeoisie’s anxiety to control workers, women, and immigrants. This trend has further developed due to sexual and gender anxieties within both the workplace and the family institution, with the objective of regulating these groups during the stabilization phase of capitalism in Europe and America.

Post-structuralism, by primarily analyzing queer through the lens of gender and sexuality conflict, diverges from Marxism. Although post-structuralist analysis and explanation of gender acknowledges the influence of class in constructing genders and sexualities, like many contemporary intersectional perspectives, it denies the centrality of class conflict and the lived experience of queer individuals. Here, our aim is to organize dynamic collectives that think beyond sexual orientations to liberate queer from the constraints of identity politics. We study sexual/gender conflicts through the lens of labor and capital conflict. While acknowledging local characteristics, we pursue international struggle and solidarity among the oppressed worldwide, highlighting the revolutionary potential of queer.

Why do we consider it necessary to return to our revolutionary roots?

We are here to organize hand in hand with all who have suffered and witnessed the dysfunction of capitalism and the destruction of humanity under neoliberal for a radical change; like the great fighter and leader of the Black Panthers, Huey P. Newton, we believe that “the homosexual (read: queer) can be the most revolutionary.” We take pride, not in the rainbow flag, but in our clenched fists for a revolution that promises the liberation of the oppressed. We believe that the systematic oppression we experience daily is rooted in a class society that exploits the underprivileged for the benefit of the privileged. We are aware that this oppression is not eradicated by the right-wing and liberal’s exploitation of what we experience daily in an attempt to hide their commitment to crush our revolutionary ambitions.

We constantly remind ourselves that what is celebrated today as the pride parade around the world has its roots in the Stonewall riots, the radicalism of the French Revolutionary Queer Front, the Gay Liberation Front, and other movements that are far removed from the controlled festivals we now witness. Although in many parts of the world, even this celebration has been denied to us, rendering us invisible, we will not allow our history to be distorted amid the right-wing festivities nor our struggle to be limited to temporary reactions. As our comrade Pedro Lemebel said, we are “suspicious of this democratic dance.” We, too, will dance, but all together, on a land where bread, work, freedom, and justice prevail in the hands of the people.

In the end, we become stronger with the support of our comrades. Therefore, we welcome the joining of revolutionary individuals and groups. It is only with the support of these forces that we can destroy the stereotypical definitions and roles imposed on bodies. Hand in hand with our comrades, we stand against what society deems as ‘normal’ with our ‘abnormal’ existence and boldly proclaim, ‘We are here, we are queer, and while the oppressors plant the seeds of death, we embody life. We are the resistance.’

To contact the Communist Queer Committee, you can send a message to this email:

[1] Nicola Field, Over the Rainbow, 167-172.

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