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LOCAL News :: Gender & Sexuality

Mainstream Gay Rag: Bash Back! A Radical Departure

On Wednesday the Windy City Times, a mainstream Gay and Lesbian newspaper in Chicago, published an interview with a mysterious "founder" of Bash Back! Chicago, Beau Vyne (Moo). The article saved Bash Back! an estimated kazillion dollars in fliers, as the newspaper is read by at least tens of thousands of people a week. With only a few sentences taken out of context and spun to favor a more progressive view, the article should be seen as mostly positive press. (The above was a commentary written by a member of Bash Back! Chicago.)
Bash Back!: A Radical Departure
by Amy Wooten
The Windy City Times

A newly formed Chicago group wants to take fighting for LGBT rights back to the streets.
Bash Back! is a radical trans/queer/anarcha-feminist group that started in Chicago. The group's main goal is to fight for liberation while rejecting all forms of state power. It rejects all oppression and believes in a diversity of tactics to achieve equality.

The group's current focus is an upcoming Radical Trans and Queer Convergence that will be held in Chicago Sat.-Sun., April 5-6. On April 5, there will be workshops on self-defense, trans/queer militant history and other topics. Following the workshops, there will be a march in protest of the recent deaths of gender-variant people, such as the recent killing of a Lawrence King, a junior high school boy in California.

Another focus of the convergence will involve devising a strategy to “crash” the Republican National Convention ( RNC ) and, possibly, the Democratic National Convention. The organizing session will take place Sun., April 6, and isn't open to the public, but is open to like-minded activist groups.

A few months ago, there was a planned convergence to protest the RNC in Milwaukee, and there was a queer/trans caucus. Those present decided they wanted their own convergence to focus on queer/trans issues, and Chicagoan attendees decided to host it.

Bash Back! Chicago hopes like-minded people will form their own groups in various cities across the United States, according to one of the group's founders, Beau Vyne. Although the current focus revolves around short-term goals, Vyne hopes that the group sticks around. “We're hoping that it is going to turn into a long-term project for radical trans and queer organizing in Chicago,” Vyne said.

Vyne said that there are a number of reasons why Bash Back! is joining other groups in protesting the RNC. One, it presents an opportunity to network with other radical organizations. Two, there will thousands of lawmakers and mainstream media present.

“It gives us an opportunity to have a strong, massive, visible radical presence that the radical community, let alone the radical queer community, hasn't had within the last decade. It's really our first opportunity to step up to the plate and bring our messages and bring our demands to the doorstep of our oppressors,” Vyne said.

Bash Back! also hopes that, through the action, they will expose more “mainstream folks” to more radical tactics and methods.

A major concern among many members of Bash Back! is the lack of direct action organizing within the LGBT community. “A lot of horrible things are happening to our community right now, both on a systematic level through government policy but also in the streets and in the neighborhood—violence against queer and trans people is at an all-time high, and it's really disturbing,” Vyne said. “We feel a lot of it has to do with us being not visible in an organized-community sense.”

Vyne feels that the only true organizing the LGBT community has is through large corporate events such as the annual Pride Parade or large national organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) . However, that is not enough, Vyne said.

“We need to be visible and we need to be seen as a force to be recogned with,” Vyne. “We need to stand up and defend ourselves from the state and people who are taking violent actions against us in the streets.”

The group takes inspiration from the days of ACT UP, Queer Nation and the Gay Liberation Front. They feel that these groups were really effective in bringing about change.

That doesn't mean that Bash Back! feels that other approaches don't work. It believes in a diversity of tactics, whether that is militant action, lobbying or more mainstream organizing.

Bash Back! feels that the community currently focuses too much on lobbying and mainstream tactics, which it feels makes LGBT people appear invisible and weak. It also feels that there is too much apathy in the community, and many people think that writing a check to HRC or voting is all they need to do to make a difference.

“Only by respecting each other and respecting what each other is doing are we going to get anywhere,” Vyne said.

To learn more about Back Back! Chicago, e-mail bashbackchi (at) or see .



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