One of the most confrontational and beautiful voices belongs to Pedro Lemebel, a gay communist from Chile. In his poem Manifesto (Hablo por mi diferencia), excerpted below, Lemebel directly addresses –and critiques– the “revolutionary” Left parties of Latin America with a radical vision of his own.
Still active in the autonomous Chilean left, Lemebel has found a way as a writer and radio/ television personality to make his experience and politics accessible to ordinary Chileans, including older working class women like his mother and my grandmother. He speaks of everyday struggles of everyday folks as political, reaching many more people than the official Left parties ever could. Like Lemebel, many activists realize that this hierarchical and male-dominated model of being a revolutionary ultimately fails to address the concrete experiences of oppression in everyday life. (from Paula X. Rojas, “Are the Cops in Our Heads and Our Hearts?” in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex)
But don’t talk to me about the proletariat
Because being poor and gay is worse…
What will you do with us compañeros?
Will you tie us up by our braids
Destined for a Cuban sidario
Will you put us on a train to nowhere…
Are you afraid of the homosexualization of life?
And I’m not talking about sticking it in and
pulling it out
I’m talking about tenderness compañero…
I’m not going to change for Marxism
That rejected me so many times
I don’t need to change
I’m more subversive than you…
– Pedro Lemebel