This is one of three articles that will appear in the upcoming issue of Side By Side, the RC journal about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, queer, and Transgender liberation.


Identity is a popular topic—often discussed, seldom understood. We are taught to take for granted that separations between people are normal. Historically, ethnic and racial identities have been recognized and treated as legitimate boundaries or separations between people. The culturally accepted perspective is something like, “We are not like them, and they are not like us. We are different from them.”

In the last few centuries wars, persecutions, and genocides have been legitimized on the presumed accuracy of these kinds of differences. Millions have been displaced, politically disenfranchised, and/or killed because one group decided that another group or groups were dangerous to their survival. In the aftermath of persecution and oppression, once the pressures to conform have been removed, the beliefs or behaviors of the maligned groups that had been repressed have tended to resurface fiercely as identity-based pride and cultural resurgence.

In the second half of the twentieth century, identity politics and the reclamation of cultures in decline created a climate both positive internally and divisive between groups.

This mix of pride and rage at past wrongdoings created an environment conducive to the creation first of Lesbian and Gay identities followed not long after by the Bisexual identity. In reaction to limits perceived in the existing identities, the Queer and Transgender identities evolved later.

Identities are conclusions about who “we” and our people are. They are informed by our undischarged pictures of how we’ve been taught to see ourselves and other people. They are full of past undischarged hurts left over from disappointments, betrayals, family feuds, wars, and all the other upsets that have been used to manipulate some of us to define our interests as different from those of some others of us. This operates politically, culturally, and globally.

In the LGBQT, etc., world this phenomenon sets the Gay/Queer world up against and as different from the heterosexual world. The internalization of being different, wrong, bad, or better and superior functions to separate our constituencies from the dominant, mainstream, mostly heterosexual world.

The oppression that targets our constituencies continues to impose the recordings of separate and different. Undischarged patterns seek to repeat themselves, so these recordings persistently reinforce the difference. In so doing, our constituencies end up “wanting” separation and to institutionalize difference from the wider world.

This setup keeps the LGBQT folks in the long run seeing our interests as separate or different from those of heterosexuals.

Identity and identity politics are created by the current conditions and in the long run do not make sense as a way to see ourselves in relationship to other people and other groups of people. The hurts left over from past conflicts will yield to the discharge process and be eliminated.

Our futures will not likely be defined by any boundaries of identity or geography. However, our current realities must include embracing the identities that people all over the world currently cherish, respecting them, and knowing that no matter how dearly these identities are held, they are a temporary paradigm. In the current conditions of the oppressive societies, identities can and sometimes do function as bulwarks against the oppression from the outside.

Reality will move us toward each other, our common bonds and priorities as humans, and our shared project of cleaning up and enjoying our planet.

“Jeanne D’Arc”

International Liberation Reference Person for Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, Queer, and Transgender People



Last modified: 2019-01-10 23:02:33+00