Joey Mooney ...
Communist youth festival/gay protest story
At the 1973 World Festival of Youth and Students held in East Berlin, a contingent of "progressive youth" staged the very first gay and lesbian rights demonstration ever held in an Eastern-Bloc nation. According to Joey Mooney, writing in the Young Communist League USA paper Dynamic, August 2005, the leaflets of a British man named Peter Tatchell who was attending the Festival as a representative of the Gay Liberation Front from London initiated the march. At this time, only a handful of East European nations had decriminalized homosexuality. Like in many European countries, GLBT society was very much stifled by the cultural mores and sexual norms.
- However, it is noteworthy to point out that East Germany legalized homosexuality in 1968, a year before West Germany. During a forum, Mr. Tatchell spread the leaflets among the crowd. The reactions were quite mixed. Some responded threateningly while many other young people reacted with curiosity and even enthusiasm. Some delegates began to complain of "bourgeois gay liberationists" upsetting the anti-imperialist goals of the Festival. When it came time for Peter Tatchell to give his speech, he found that the mics were conveniently malfunctioning. He insisted, against the will of the officials, that the mics get fixed and he finish his speech. Pandemonium broke out.
- Many people were enraged by his attack on socio-sexual chauvinism. Others were excited by his message of equality and openness. The sides soon polarized and before long the gay liberationists took to the streets! The young Festival delegates marched for the democratic rights of homosexuals and for an end to discrimination and cultural condemnation of homosexuality. Unfortunately, the East German officials were not of the same accord. The demonstration was broken up by the police. People were accusing the banners that read "Homosexual Liberation! Homosexual Revolutionaries Support Socialism!" of reading "East Germany Persecutes Homosexuals" and other such flagrant nonsense. Soon, the situation had become unbearable. That night, some sympathizers from the Free German Youth (the communist youth group of East Germany) helped Tatchel leave the city.
- The demonstration energized the movement for GLBT rights and inspired some of the first GLBT rights groups and lobbyists in Eastern Europe, especially in East Germany. Many communist parties and workers' organizations were appalled with the way the East German officials had dealt with the issue of GLBT liberation. Before, only a few workers' organizations had devoted themselves also to equal rights for homosexuals. The Australian CP was the only communist party that previously had anti-homophobia in its campaigns. After the Festival, dialogue grew between socialists and anti-homophobia activists, and soon the British CP and other national and international groups added GLBT rights to their list of objectives. This one event goes to show how when young people get together with equality and freedom as their goals, progressive ideas can take root and blossom among otherwise uneducated/uninformed circles. .
Communist Party USA
Colan Holmes, Garon Foxx, Glenn Burleigh, Jim Wilkerson, Jocelyn Cochran-Biggs, Joey Mooney, John Pappademos, Julie Terbrock, Katrina Molnar, Kaveh Razani, Margarida Jorge, Mary Barbur , Nafisa Kabir, Phil Webb, Quincy Boyd, Russ Ford, Steve Johnson, Tony Pecinovsky, Yvette Harris, Zenobia Thompson.