Queer History and its Radical Origins: Presentation by Solidarity at FAU

  • This story is for OutFAU, our student publication covering Florida Atlantic University. To see more from OutFAU click here.

Logan McGraw after her two-hour queer history presentation. Photo courtesy of Kayla Barnes.

Neoliberalism. According to Logan McGraw, that’s what is wrong with the current LGBTQ+ rights movements.   

McGraw, a history major, included this in her presentation on  “Queer History and its Radical Origins.”

“Neoliberalism is very surface level. It doesn’t actually identify the root of the problems of the issues that people face,” McGraw said. “It serves only the people who benefit from capitalism and not the people who are actually affected by the issues.”

One main sentiment from McGraw permeated through this first section: in U.S. history, queer activism often broke laws and pushed boundaries, and was therefore rooted in radical and revolutionary thinking.

Activist Sylvia Rivera, who co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with Marsha P. Johnson in 1970, had similar critiques.

Rivera renamed the organization Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries in 2001. During pride of that year, she stated in an interview that the LGBTQ+ movement has “become so capitalist” and like a “big smoke screen.”

“We do not owe the straight community a damn thing, so why should we be giving them our money?” She went on to say straight people “still really don’t accept the community for what they are, but they want that almighty dollar of ours.”

McGraw, who is a lead organizer at Solidarity, told the audience at the start of the presentation it’s impossible to cover all queer history in one meeting.

McGraw, who is also pursuing a minor in museums, archives and public history, is well aware that history “is not static, but an ever-evolving process that requires nuance and critical thinking.”

Her two-hour presentation took attendees through some key 20th-century LGBTQ+ movements in the U.S. — including the Homophile Movement, the Stonewall Riots and Rebellion, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, and activism during the AIDS Epidemic. (Note: terms like homophile and transvestite are not commonly used in activism today and are often considered offensive.)

McGraw’s anti-neoliberalism critiques also bubbled up during the last section, titled “The Smokescreen.”

She listed issues with the mainstream show RuPaul's Drag Race, arguing it’s too expensive, toxic towards POC artists, and waited too long to allow trans artists onto the show.

After prefacing that RuPaul has done good for the queer community and worked hard to achieve what she has, McGraw asked, “Is [RuPaul's Drag Race] even the counterculture bombshell it once was?”

She then denounced the involvement of police and corporations in Pride month; the complacency of allies and activists following the legalization of gay marriage; and the queer people who uphold sexist, transphobic, and/or racist ideals.

Some audience members expressed their agreement with her ideas by calling out things like “literally” and “thank you.”

The room, however, got quiet when a photo of Nex Benedict appeared on the screen. Benedict, who reportedly used he/they pronouns, was beaten by classmates in the school bathroom on Feb. 7, and died by suicide the day after.

McGraw used Benedict’s story to bolster the claim that bullying and anti-queer legislation are having severe impacts on queer children.

The room maintained its somber tone as McGraw presented a project entitled "Queering the Map." According to their Instagram account, the project is a “community-generated counter-mapping platform for digitally archiving LGBTQ2IA+ experience in relation to physical space.”

The infographic showed several anonymous stories about queer love and identity pinned on a map of Gaza Strip.

“My biggest regret is not kissing this one guy. He died two days back,” one entry read. “He died in the bombing. I think a big part of me died too. And soon I will be dead. To younus, I will kiss you in heaven.”

McGraw claimed Zionist people – who believe in the development and protection of a Jewish nation – are weaponizing the violence queer people face around the world to justify the violence inflicted on Palestinian people.

The presentation concluded with a list of ways she believes people can “combat the neoliberal idea of pride and queer liberation.”

Her proposals are as follows:

Do mutual aid; be unapologetically queer; read and educate yourself; stand up for queer people; and remember that activism must be cemented in revolutionary thought.

Solidarity meetings occur in the College of Education Building, Room 113, at 6 p.m. every Tuesday.


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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