[Lately, interest in the history of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA (RCP) and its predecessor organization the Revolutionary Union (RU) seems to have had a slight bump up, for good reasons and bad. Good: efforts to reassess and reclaim some of the important organizing work and promotion of revolutionary line done by these groups, and by the New Communist Movement more broadly in the 1970s. Bad: the watching-a-train-wreck fascination as the sorry, tattered remnants of the RCP settle deeper into the swamp of a bizarre cult of personality around its glorious leader Bob Avakian.
One topic of discussion invariably triggered by such interest is the RCP's notorious longtime line condemning homosexuality as bourgeois decadence and LGBTQ people as incapable of being communists. I have therefore decided to post this paper, written over a decade ago, which contains some thoughts on that line and its history, drawing on personal experience.
It was written during a most unusual period in RCP history. In 2001, the group issued a draft for a new party programme, and accompanying programmatic documents on homosexuality and on the Chicana/o National Question (spoiler alert: there's no nation). Then they invited members and others to comment on it on a website called changetheworld.info. The ensuing discussion, though kept under close scrutiny by minders from the RCP leadership, was often lively and thoughtful, especially around gender issues. My contribution was posted there, and stirred some interest and discussion. In a little over a year, the website was
reined in and shut down by Avakian, along with the whole new programme project. Unfortunately, even the WayBack Machine has evidently not archived all of this material. I had to find my contribution on an abandoned hard drive.
However, the emergence of the Kasama Project from a core of folks who broke with the RCP in the second half of the last decade has provided a deeper look into this history than anything that has come before. Since its recent redesign, the Kasama website no longer responds to searches for Red Closet, the heading under which they used to group these articles. However, using the site's search engine with the terms "homosexuality, Avakian" will bring up more than a dozen articles, and scores of comments, many incisive, many heart-rending.
On the whole, I think they tend to confirm and deepen the comments in this earlier contribution.
Sisters and Brothers of the Revolutionary Communist Party—
The mistakes of the past must be exposed without sparing anyone's sensibilities; it is necessary to analyze and criticize what was bad in the past with a scientific attitude so that work in the future will be done more carefully and done better. This is what is meant by “learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones.”
Our Past Analysis of the Question of Homosexuality--what was right, what was wrong, how we came to recognize our significant errors, and what we can all learn from this.