This article was originally posted on the fabulous LGBT libertarian blog, Can’t Steer Queer

The State is a tool, a tool that is taken up by the most vocal in society and used to beat those they disagree with. Over the millennia this tool has been used to enslave, murder, rape, destroy, and attempt to wipe out entire groups of people. The most vocal are often the extremes of society (the cradle to the grave state socialists and the religious right for example) but because they make the most noise they often find themselves in power. This tool has also been turned against the queer community with resentment, imprisonment, and even death as the result. Take a second and look at the story of Alan Turing. A world class mathematician whose work lead to the computer you are currently using to read this article, and who cracked the Nazi’s Enigma code, helping to end WWII and saving between seven and twenty-one million lives in the process. A man whose impact on our lives is immeasurable, and yet the British government repaid his work with forced chemical castration because he was gay. The tool of the State under which Turing lived had been taken up by ignorant, homophobic bigots and they used that tool to force a dangerous medical procedure on one of the greatest men of the 20thcentury, ultimately leading to his suicide two years later at the age of 41. If a government will do that do the man that helped stop the spread of Nazism, why would you look to them to protect your rights today?

The governments of many western nations have recently turned away from attacking our community, many have even taken steps to end violence against us and attempt to protect our rights. And because of these steps, these breadcrumbs off the table of power, they expect us to turn to them as our saviors. These changes in governmental policies have not been because those in power have gained a continence, they are not because the State is based on some basic principles of tolerance and freedom; these changes are simply because our community stood up for ourselves and changed the culture around us, and in so doing the State was forced to listen or lose its image as the voice of the people. Let’s not forget that it was our community that stood up to those in power and said with pride “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!” They used public outreach and the media to non-violently influence culture and demand to be treated equally. And it worked, Britain no longer chemically castrates gay men, and in most state in the USA we are able to get married (whether we should be fighting for marriage equality or abolition is an article for another day). Unfortunately, our community lost its roots and instead of continuing our fight peacefully, we turned to the State, the same institution that decades before had been throwing us in cages and forcing chemicals into our bodies. How quickly we have forgotten the past.

A movement that works through the State can be crushed in the next election, a movement based in individuals and principles can change the world. Our community proved that by taking a culture that openly shunned us to one that within a generation shuns the bigots. It’s no longer acceptable to spout hatred against a person because of who they love, attacks on queer youth are no longer ignored, and those that still preach intolerance are rejected and ignored. That is true influence, that is how you impact lasting change; by changing the hearts and minds of the people. The greatest impacts made by our community have been made by changing the culture and in so doing forcing the State to change its policy and restraining its actions. What has been accomplished since our community has ignored the culture, thinking that it has already won there, and instead turned to the State? Our community has turned to the violence of the State and its jack booted thugs to stop bigoted private business owners instead of running them out of business with boycotts and public shaming. Instead of rejecting the prevailing culture and adopting our own, we have turned to the State and begged it to protect us for hurtful insults or institutions. We’ve lost our compass, and it is destroying our movement.

In our efforts to “take over” the State, we have only poured fuel on the fire of the bigots and helped to keep them alive. If we had stayed on the peaceful approach we had taken, these bigots wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, but by turning to the violence of the State we have allowed them to play the part of the persecuted. Where before a bigoted shop owner would be shown for what they truly where by boycotts, today they can cry persecution because the gun of the State forces them to do what we want. Not only have we turned away from the peaceful approach that had gained us so much, not only have we adopted a stance of violence and gotten in bed with an institution of mass murder and destruction, our work through the State is setting us back and giving the worst in society a platform to spread their vitriol. On top of this, we seem to have forgotten the atrocities committed on our community by the very same State we are trying to take over. For the majority of history, the State has been used as a tool against our community, we have been the victims of centuries of abuse but our movement has gotten Stockholm syndrome and is now work with that same institution. I remind you that all of the work done through the State has required the use of violence, it is the only means by which the State has to do anything, and I ask you, what happens when another group gets in power?

Not only is the State our enemy because the next guys in power can use it to undo all our work and throw us back into hiding, it is our enemy because it has become a crutch that has crippled our activism and has given the bigots enough to not only stick around but to grow. So I beg you, return to your roots, shun violence and readopt the peaceful demonstrations that got us this far. The State is a seductive mistress, from afar it looks like taking it over would be the cure for all our ills, but to take it over the movement had to sell its soul, and our movement dies a bit more every day we stay in bed with it. So I ask you, do we as a community, having finally achieved great strides towards our liberation, really want to pick up the tool of the State, still coated in the blood of our predecessors, and start to use it ourselves?