“The positive development of recent years is – we do exist now!”

A debate contribution from Queer Pride Dresden to Status Quo by the news site addn.me. Status Quo is a series of debates about the rightward shift in Dresden, written by left-wing, emancipatory and progressive groups.

Let’s start with the good news regarding the progress of queer politics in Saxony since the last election: we exist now. We see ourselves as left-wing, emancipatory Pride. In Dresden and beyond, we represent those who believe that queer interests can only be represented in intersection with other struggles. And that they are only represented sustainably if they clearly distance themselves from all authoritarian and right-wing ideas. Also, we are engaging in far-reaching community building and created left-wing, queer spaces that were urgently needed. Perhaps this is already a large part of the good news. At this point, we could also mention the fact that there have been significantly more CSDs and Prides in Saxony in recent years, meaning more visibility and space for queer people and their allies. However, this is also accompanied by more attacks, especially on queer demonstrations in rural areas. One Example for right-wing harassment were disruptions and egg throwing at the first CSD in Bautzen.

We are concerned about the current social sentiment, consequence of decades of CDU-led governments and a free ride for all kind of right-wing misanthropes. Motions in the state parliament such as “Vorsicht! Genderwahn im Stundenplan” (“beware gender mania in the curriculum”, June 2023) show us that the quality of debates has reached an all-time low. AfD propagandists will use any means to incite people against others. They incite against queers, just as they incite against migrants and anyone else who doesn’t fit into their normative world view. Whether it’s about fabricated threats posed by refugees and the subsequent inhumane tightening of asylum laws or about an imaginary “gender mania”: whoever is suitable as a projection screen for prejudices will be instrumentalised for their despicable purposes. This alone is reason enough to build resistance against heterosexist and racist projects together.

And we’re not just talking about the AfD here. “We’re here in Saxony”, one of us heard in response to their question why it seemed impossible to be addressed correctly at work, “things just don’t change here”. The lawsuit against Arnsdorf hospital in Saxony shows how hard it is to get some understanding, even by legal means. So does this different standard really applys in Saxony? Should we all gather our belongings and beloved and retreat to other big cities?

No way! We are far from finished. Incidentally, there is good news even about the state parliament debate mentioned above: Sarah Buddeberg (Die Linke) was not the only one to speak out in favour of the rights of queer people. And at least in this case, the other parties did not agree with the AfD’s hate speech either. But can we rely on this in the long term? While symbolic patronage is granted here and there, discriminatory rules are being enacted elsewhere. Like the edict of Minister of Culture Piwarz (CDU) to ban gender inclusive language at all Saxon schools. According to his wishes, this summer’s tightened prohibition shall also extend to external co-operation partners.
In short: urgently needed, gender sensitive educational work is no longer allowed to use gender sensitive language. The GEW (educational workers union) aptly characterises this as a “success of populist smokescreens”.

However, this is not about the discussion of inclusive language, trimmed down and distorted to agitated arguments about proper spelling and the subversive use of asterisks. It is about the question of who is allowed to be part of this society and who is not. It’s about the way we all live together. It’s just that it starts with the question of who is addressed and how, whether public offices and authorities continue to educate and develop themselves, and what protection queer children and young people can be sure of at their schools in Saxony.

Since the last state election in 2019, this has also happened: In Dresden, a person was murdered in broad daylight in the city centre because of homophobia. And this is just the worst attack. Trans-hostile hatred on social media is part of everyday life; in Dresden, two queers were attacked on Albertplatz because they were kissing, and there was a trans-hostile attack on the sideline of a rally for Non Binary Day 2022.

We need to scrutinise queer policies for their emancipatory capacities.

The bottom line: queer life is not getting any easier for us. The next state elections don’t bode well either. In addition to these problems, there is another one that concerns us: who are our allies? Glancing at the increased number of Prides and CSDs, the question is: who of them is on our side when it comes to politics? What do we have in common with a CSD at which large corporations wave their rainbow flags? What do we have in common with small CSDs that meet with the AfD, as was recently the case in Pirna? Who will ultimately stand shoulder to shoulder with us against authoritarian and right-wing tendencies?

We are certain that it will be those who stand in solidarity with everyone exposed to such hate. Above all, however, it will be those who dare to carry forward with us the idea that another life is possible – even in Saxony. And it is possible to fight toward this together. Sometimes that means getting to the core of our own racism and trans hostility. Perhaps we need to change political styles in order to utilise our strengths as emancipatory movements in the complex political field. And we certainly need to look out for more allies. But we also need to keep scrutinising queer political approaches for their emancipatory capacities.

We cannot and do not want to predict what the upcoming state elections will bring. Cuts to social and queer projects will first and foremost affect those for whom they are most important. We must exert pressure on the democratic parties, we must remind civil society of its relevance and responsibilities. We need to join forces more with our anti-fascist friends and clearly articulate that queer issues are left issues. And we need to expand our understanding of what a queer future should mean.

But we already know one thing: the only way to get there is a radically emancipatory one. And in Saxony, that also means: radically anti-fascist.