By Geoff Dexter
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The Red in the Rainbow

This article is over 11 years, 6 months old
Hannah Dee, Bookmarks, £7.99
Issue 349

The Red in the Rainbow is no normal addition to an LGBT activist’s bookshelf. It is a must-read for the whole movement. This is a critical weapon for LGBT activists, providing the perspective needed in an emerging movement. But it also relates this struggle directly to the wider challenges we face today for human liberation – from the Con-Dem cuts, the economic crisis and the threat of the British National Party and English Defence League, to building an effective coalition of resistance.

The book exposes the contradiction that – despite how far we have come, with recent reforms in the law, in attitudes and even the mainstream media – many young people would still rather kill themselves than come out, that homo/transphobic attacks are increasing, and that only 1 percent of reported hate crimes lead to convictions.

Dee illustrates that it has not always been this way. For example, the modern notion of homosexuality did not exist until the 19th century. Unlike other authors in her field she does not attempt to measure human sexuality, gender or freedoms, shackled as they are by the ideas that are enforced by capitalism today.

Dee maps the demise of the traditional family in the birth of capitalism – only to see it brutally reintroduced as an institution of the system geared towards cheaply bringing up a new generation of workers to exploit. As Tory bigots wield the axe on public services this analysis is crucial in understanding why LGBT oppression is likely to be felt more acutely.

This accessible book brings into one place the lost history of revolutionary struggle and the role Marxists and socialists have played in trying to realise our dream of sexual liberation. It is a rich history relevant to everyone that should be celebrated, explored and understood, not hidden in obscurity.

It exposes how our sexualities and genders have become quite literally products of capitalism – selling our bodies and identity back to us. It challenges the harping back to traditional “family values” that our leaders constantly bleat on about and also provides a rebel’s guide to uniting with others to fight the bigots and the system.

The Red in the Rainbow successfully shows how LGBT liberation is inseparable from the liberation of all sexuality and the struggle for human liberation. Where there has been successful resistance, rebellion and revolution in wider society we have seen victories for sexual and gender freedom; where we have not we have seen repression, tyranny and humiliation. Therefore practical solidarity between struggles is fundamental to forming a rainbow of resistance that will defeat the new Con-Dem government, and revolutionary ideas – the red in the rainbow – are fundamental if we are to achieve a better world.

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