As a senior, I’m a contemporary of Bob Avakian. I was in San Francisco at the time of the Black Panther Party. I remember the white people that stood up and supported the Black Panther Party and their programs. Bob Avakian was a young man and he was there. So I know of Bob Avakian for a very long time. I also was the first gay person to be allowed to speak at a left rally, it was at Yale in support of Bobby Seale. Although we were put on last, it was the first time that an openly gay or lesbian person had been visible and spoken from their sexual orientation point of view.
Cointelpro [the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program which spied on, disrupted, and set up revolutionaries and activists during the 1960s and 70s] wreaked havoc on my life. The FBI’s goal was to seek out who they saw as young people who were potential leaders. This was a story of Fred Hampton in Chicago. He was murdered by the police because he could have been the next major Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King. They went after me because I could speak. Most gay and lesbian people did not because they were invisible. They weren’t protected under the law and their jobs, etc. And they were subjected to police harassment of all different kinds.
I came to Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights because they were out there standing up against the Supreme Court overturning Roe from the beginning, with their green posters and their green bandanas. I still wear them. I saw that it was important to find unity on the issue of the right of women to choose and the right of women to control their body. That includes trans people or people who identify as trans people. I own my body. You own your body. No government and no religion should be putting their hands on it. That’s what brought me to Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.
These attacks on Rise Up are so similar to the attacks that happened in the 60s and 70s under the Cointelpro program by the FBI. And they’re happening today,
I believe, because of the success of Sunsara Taylor and the Rise Up movement with the revcoms.
We don’t all have to agree about lots of issues, but we come together because we feel unity with abortion rights. And I said it when I spoke at a Rise Up protest in February at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, if you want to disagree with me about someone or some person or history or whatever, let’s go talk over there in the corner. But today we’re here to fight the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions that control our lives today. (I made a point of saying not all Roman Catholics are bad people.)
You know, I went back and read all the papers of Bob Avakian. I knew the name, I knew some things, but I didn’t know his politics of today. I tell you, if you haven’t done that, and you’re out there making these kinds of accusations, you’re being really stupid and dangerous. It’s a kind of anti-intellectual culture. Read the ideas. Discuss them. That’s dialectics. That’s how we learn to talk and listen to each other.
I want to say thank you, Sunsara Taylor, for all the work you did. Rise Up was there in the beginning, making the link with the activists of the past of the women who had spent 20 or 30 years making sure that Roe stayed in place. I remember what it was like when women could not legally get an abortion. I remember how it impacted on poor people of different races and different sexual orientations. The idea that they’re calling Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights “homophobic” is bizarre to me. I have a whole history of being in the frontlines of fighting for civil rights for lesbian and gay people and bisexuals and trans as we went forward. So I say thank you to everyone who was involved in Rise Up, including Sunsara and other revcoms. Let’s just move forward. Those green signs were everywhere in Washington, DC when Roe was overturned. I was sick at the time, but I watched and I thought, they can’t stop showing them because we, and all of the young people and all of us old people that came together to try to stop the Supreme Court have not given up!