Posted by: exiwp | September 28, 1989

Can A Homosexual Be Most Revolutionary? The Words of Huey Newton (1989)

This Way for Black Empowerment
By Dr. Lenora Fulani
Augusta Focus, September 28-October 4, 1989

Recently, I came across a speech given almost 20 years ago by Huey Newton. The speech was printed in the Gay Community News, under the headline, “Maybe a Homosexual Could Be the Most Revolutionary,” shortly after the brother referred to was killed. I was very, very moved by the speech, and I wanted to share it with all of you as a way of paying tribute to Huey and to the Black Panther Party which he founded.

“During the past few years, strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.

“Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion.

“I say ‘whatever your insecurities are’ because, as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth and [to] want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the woman or [otherwise] shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

“We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the white racists use against our people because they are racists. Many times, the poorest white person is the most racist because he is afraid he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of threat to him.

“This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.

“Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things to homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite.

“We say that we recognize the woman’s right to he free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations, that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society.

“And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form; that is, a person should have their freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

“That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that even a homosexual can be a revolutionary. Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most, revolutionary.

“When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because they are not.

“We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we all grant that if they are women, they are probably oppressed.)

“If they do things that are [not revolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize the action. If ye feel that a group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation or the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free.

“And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and the gay liberation front are our friends, they are potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.

“We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say ‘insecurities,’ I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear.

“Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang ups about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.

“We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms ‘faggot’ and ‘punk’ should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as Nixon or Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.

“We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner.”

Huey Newton

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