June 17, 2024 • Pinko #3

Resistance to Inhuman Sacrifice Is an Exalted Task

We write from a time of war. War reveals we previously worked in suspended time, between intensities of an ongoing project of elimination. When we began preparing for this issue, the predominant mood was one of foreboding. As the transcript of our roundtable on political violence and queer self-defense shows, 2021–22 was marked by the rise of a new, highly public fascist mobilization against trans people in the United States, as elsewhere. All sides grimly invoked Weimar Germany. And yet as we put the issue to print, a far greater catastrophe unveiled itself: mechanized aerial civilian slaughter in Palestine, the fascist signature from the moment air power was invented. If fascists’ domestic march threatened a return of the old in a new guise, Israel’s naked genocide of Palestine in Gaza shows exactly how the old violence which has made and sustained this world promises to lay siege to the future to hold off anything new.

A particularly hideous image emerged in the first month of the war. It seemed to be directly targeted at us, like some perverse form of atrocity propaganda: an Israeli soldier in fatigues and ill-sized helmet, boots on fresh tank tread tracks, unfurling a crinkled rainbow flag with In The Name of Love written in sharpie. The first pride flag in Gaza, some fools cooed. Who could this image have been for? We were disgusted by the idea that this bullet-toothed genocidaire might have thought he had something to offer the queer Palestinians whose bodies, families, land, dignity his presence pulverized. And repulsed further by the thought that he had done so under some name we shared.

If this is pride, then it is a source of immense, indelible shame, the kind of sin which takes generations to repair. But in his naïveté, this soldier expressed the real, inverted content of so many bourgeois concepts, as Zionists often do: freedom for some means slaughter for many, the promise of pleasure means the reality of agony, history means oblivion, security means death, and on and on. Rather than ceding this man the conceptual ground he claimed at the price of over 20,000 Palestinian deaths this year alone after 75 years of theft and torture, we continue our collective work to turn these concepts on their head. This image of the pride flag reveals what is polluted in bourgeois concepts of sexual freedom and liberation. We keep at our project of liberating ourselves and our ideas of freedom from their grasp.

On October 15, 2023, we released a statement affirming the right of the Palestinian people to resist colonial domination by Israel. We chose to speak specifically as a collective of gay people who refuse coalition or identification with those who denounce Palestine on the basis of homophobia. Turning to this issue, we begin with an editorial essay, “Against Trans Eradication,” a title that gestures to the queer position articulated around campaigns for gay marriage: to be radical in that context meant to be against equality. We do not rebuke this lineage, yet this editorial addresses the urgency of apprehending and countering the ascendant right wing forces attempting to limit any and all public presence of queerness, specifically targeting trans people. What do the desires of the trans child instead portend?

Though calling ourselves a magazine means a commitment to a lighter touch, Pinko insists also that a gay communist publication has to get down into the work of theory. This issue presents several essays with serious theoretical contributions to questions of sexuality, gender, and politics.

Pinko editor Max Fox offers us “What was Sexual Liberalism?”, a rip-roaring account of the present sexual order and its recent pasts from the perspective of its end. “After Consent” is an undertaking by Ariel Ajeno to mark the limits of the dominant analytic for sexual experience and how it relates to the political. In “STAR Queen for Autonomy and Defense,” sui generis theorist Nsámbu Za Suékama develops and deepens her concept of imbrication to address the current conjuncture, drawing on a long history of African gender systems that in the Americas become forms of Black and queer insurgent strategy. Tiana Reid’s “Beached Whales of the Sexual Universe: Reading Black Lesbian Sex” is a thrilling, studied account of the everyday and everywhere of Black lesbian sex, if we know how to read it.

In the time since our last issues, Pinko has also been doing some original research of our own. The After Accountability project spanned several years, collecting oral histories, editing, writing, and programming. It was unintentional but not entirely unsurprising that Ariel’s title parallels this project. The concepts that many queers have inherited as common sense are here turned over with the generosity of searching critique. In this issue we include an excerpt from an interview with prison abolitionist Kim Diehl and encourage you to read through the whole book, first co-published by Wendy’s Subway and planned for reissue with Haymarket Books later in 2024.

Lastly, we include a memorial to a dear friend of Pinko, Jeffrey Escoffier, who died in May 2022. In the process of collecting stories to commemorate him, we made contact with another friend of the project, Amber Hollibaugh, who was generous enough to have spoken at our very first public event. Amber died on October 20, 2023 at the age of 77. That night back in 2019 when Amber joined us at a New York Public library to talk about the gay liberation press, she recounted standing in front of San Francisco City Hall in 1979 in the hours after Harvey Milk was shot, refusing the gay political establishment’s attempts at pacification. “Don’t listen to anybody that tells you that you don’t need to fight back,” she yelled, and all hell broke loose—the White Night Riots, the largest riot of the sexual liberation movement since Stonewall. We hope to make a longer memorial for Amber, but for now this immortal lesson of hers will have to suffice.

One way her spirit is present in this issue could be in the roundtable on political violence. This is a transcript from a far-ranging conversation Pinko hosted online between four queer people organizing on different fronts against fascism. Those gathered conducted a very sensitive discussion on how to address the range of threats from political actors currently menacing queers while maintaining clear eyes about community limits, including our capacity to manage internal conflict and process pain or loss.

Grief comes in many forms. There is the need to mourn and the unique impossibility of mourning when the loss does not end, or cannot even be fully known. We try in writing in response to our moment to at the very least remember and in our small way honor those lost to the human sacrifice machine of imperialism, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in our neighborhoods and across the earth. But one other way to honor those lost is to recognize that resistance to inhuman sacrifice is itself an exalted task. As we write these words, one of us could hear the Queers for a Liberated Palestine march from our window. It is in the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the face of another year of their long war that we find the most radiant, lifegiving image of pride. ⊱

Purchase your copy of Issue 3 here