opinion

Owen Jones: 'Whenever the far-right is strong, LGBTQ people are at risk'

In the current political climate our community has no choice but to fight, writes Owen Jones.

2019-11-13

This article was first published in Attitude issue 314, October 2019

As I stood on a platform in Trafalgar Square on a chilly January afternoon earlier this year, I saw them: hundreds of red-faced, middle-aged white men marching towards us, down The Strand, pincer-movement style.

I was speaking at an anti-austerity protest, and they soon surrounded us: spotting me, they screamed “rent boy”, followed by a chant of a “Jonesy is a homo.” Say what you see, lads.

Although not frightened, I remembered that my bike was on the other side of the square, and had a rightso-what-do-I-do-about-this moment. The protest’s stewards formed a protective huddle around me, but the far-right activists ran towards us.

The air was thick with a heady mix of body odour and real ale, and their fists – thankfully with futility – swung towards my head. One of them gobbed in my face.

I had to wait until I turned 30 before I experienced significant homophobia: since then, there has been a deluge — mainly online —mostly about being a cocksucker (fellatio features a lot) or having my faggot skull beaten in.

It’s not just being gay that doesn’t enamour me to the growing Far Right: being a socialist, an anti-racist, an anti-fascist, and unapologetic about all of these things, doesn’t exactly help.

As you might have read in the news, three men have been arrested in connection with an attack on me outside a pub where I had been celebrating my birthday last month. But this isn’t about me, it’s about the rise of a Far Right whose very existence is based on hatred towards — and a desire to destroy — minorities, whether they be Muslims, Jews, migrants, refugees, or gays.

Fascism, in all of its forms, calls for a violent purging from society of anyone deviating from a supposedly pure norm, and destroying the allies of those minorities.

That’s what inspired Anders Breivik, the Norwegian fascist terrorist, when he murdered dozens of young socialists in 2011. He believed they wished to destroy Christian civilisation, in alliance with Muslims, deeming them culturally hostile because of their antiracism and support for multi-culturalism.

Since then, it has driven Far Right terrorists to murder Muslims in Christchurch, Jews in Pittsburgh and black people in Charleston. It drove a fascist terrorist to murder Labour MP Jo Cox, and another to attempt to kill her colleague Rosie Cooper with a machete.

But this isn’t the same as a weather system, appearing out of nowhere.

Many mainstream politicians, and much of our press, whip up hatred against Muslims, migrants, refugees and other minorities. That leaves these fanatics with a spring in their step, feeling respectable, legitimised and stronger.

And we have to remember this: whenever the far-right are strong, they seek to persecute and destroy our own people — gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans.

Dark times are coming, and we don’t have any choice but to do what we did to win the rights we have today: fight.