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The world of equality and freedom of expression against the world of conservation and hate

Some months ago in Thessaloniki, we sadly became audience to the delirium of nationalist demonstrations. We witnessed thousands of people overwhelming the city streets to oppose to the right of other people naming themselves as they wish. We witnessed hate becoming violence. We witnessed fascists setting Libertatia squat in fire. We witnessed our free social spaces being threatened.

We listened to speeches of priests, full of homophobic and transphobic poison. We listened to parliamentary speeches, coming from members of the two co-governing parties and the opposition, decrying and hating our people, being against us, gay, trans and lesbians. We saw our right to adopt being questioned. Our right to exist and express in public.

We witnessed the trial of the metropolitan Amvrosios and once again we questioned justice. We confirmed again that justice strikes the weak: those that have their houses stolen by banks, those who fight against the poverty that we are put into by the system, the people of the anticapitalist and the broader movement. People like Irianna and Tasos Theofilou. The people fighting against the gold mining in Skouries, Chalkidiki. The refugees that are being held in concentration camps or are sent back, without being granted asylum. Even if sending a gay or trans refugee back to their country is a synonym of death. And in the same time, nobody dares to hurt the core of our system, priests with ideas coming from very long ago, men from the orders of repression, racists and fascists, even when there is strong evidence against them.

We, Radical Pride, decided this year to oppose a world of equality and freedom of expression against the world of conservation and hate. Us being a self-organised initiative, that wants to go further than just creating a pride festival, we understand that in a world of multiple oppressions we can’t focus only on the oppression we are under as members of the lgbtqia+[1] community. And we believe that the only way to express that is through self-organization and open meetings, not the private councils of the corporate Thessaloniki Pride, where some make the decisions and everyone else executes, as volunteers. We choose fighting without businesses as sponsors, consulates, or the European Union. Without being depended on the political influence that aims at the systemic incorporation of movements.

We stand with solidarity next to women, cis[2] and trans, that are being treated with discrimination and violence. We stand with solidarity next to those that are being set aside by systemic policies, patriarchy and a large part of our society. We stand with solidarity next to refugees that make it to Greece half-drowned and are being thrown into concentration camps, completely cut out from the society of the city. We stand with solidarity next to refugees that are trapped into an ocean of bureaucracy in order to acquire “papers of legal residency”. Next to Muslims, that have to deal with racists’ and fascists’ islamophobia. Next to the Israelites[3] of our city, living under the threat of hate speech and anti-Semitism.

So, against the slogan that we heard during the nationalist demonstrations “Thessaloniki – a Greek city”:

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city for those who respect the right to self-definition of others and acknowledge that at the northern borders of Greece there is a country whose people chose to name it Republic of Macedonia. It is a city that does not speak about “a non-redeemed” constitution of the neighbor country, because it has seen the expansive movements of the Greek capital in the Balkan area and has lived ethnic cleansings towards minorities (like at the “Macedonian Struggle” or the 54.000 Jews that were sent to concentration camps). What differentiates us from the Macedonian people, and that nationalists emphasize to fill our society with bigotry and hate, are trivial compared to our common struggles. And they are definitely not enough to make it impossible for us to live together with the Macedonians, with people that are being oppressed both financially and by the society and that we share the same concerns, and fight the same fights.

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city that never agreed to the social legitimacy that was granted to nationalists and fascists to demonstrate and to declare their patriotism against minorities that live like ghosts, like the Macedonians in Florina, Pella, Eordea and the Turks in Thrace. On the contrary, it is a city that accepts that people of minorities are actual people, with a different national consciousness than the Greek one, and that should have full freedom of expression. They have a language, songs, tradition and history. They are the “non-Greek” fighters of the Civil War and their descendants, that even now, 70 years after the end of the war, do not have the freedom to go back to their lands.

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city that acknowledges that a nationalist demonstration is the ideal situation for fascist attacks against parts of the antifascist and anticapitalist movement. It was an ideal situation, so that nobody of those who set Libertatia squat on fire or tried to vandalize School – Free Social Space got arrested. It was an ideal situation to make us overlook the social and economic poverty that we are put into by the system, and in the same time it attempted canalizing the anger of the people towards the “enemy” beyond the borders. An enemy that in reality does not exist. Against intolerance and nationalist violence, we chose solidarity and common fights, and we condemn nationalism wherever it originates from.

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city that gives asylum to refugees. A city that welcomes them like equals. Not only because of its multicultural past, but also because it hates the war that the Greek nation and the SYRIZA-ANEL government takes part in. We want, first of all, for the war in Syria and Middle East, that has led millions to immigration and the hands of smugglers, to come to an end. We want FRONTEX to be abolished and the Evros fence to be torn down. We want the borders to open immediately, so that the refugees and migrants can cross them with safety, we don’t want any more drownings in the Aegean. We want for the despicable E.U.-Turkey statement to be abrogated and we want for the transnational cooperation and the participation of the Greek nation in the war against the refugees to end. No more concentration camps, no more of the Greek war machine. We want for the refugees, as long as they stay in Greece, to be included in our society, to live in houses and not in containers, camps and tents. We want to live and work together. We want our children and theirs to be seated in the same desks, to play and dream of the future together. We want them to live under human conditions, to transfer freely wherever they want, to be able to go to any European country they chose and to be granted asylum. We completely negate any attempt of deportation or refoulment. Lgbtqia+, refugees and migrants, we all stand united. And we mean it.

 

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city that wants Roma and immigrants in every neighborhood . A city that wants (cis and trans) women to be able to walk freely in the streets. Women who will resist to the daily exploitation, discipline and violence that oppresses them. Who will resist when self-determination of their own body is violated in their work places, where employers along with EU legalize dismissals of pregnant women in social reproduction places, when in many European countries abortions are criminalized and we see a raw servility of the female body. Women who understand maternity as a right not as an obligation. Women who have been hit or abused by their partner’s sexist violence, society’s abusive comments and the dominant toxic masculinity. Women who are on trials or in prison for resisting their rapers and stating that societies give their consents to rapes.

 

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city that wants free people, equipped with the absolute right of bodily integrity. It wants the stigma against disabled people to eclipse. Seropositives in HIV and Hipatitis B and C as well. People diagnosed with mental illnesses. People of every body shape. People who chose to identify with a gender identity and others that don’t feel like they fit in a gender binary because it is extremely restrictive for them. People who are attracted to people of the same sex or not. People who want to express whichever sex they want. People of every age. Intersex[4] people who live invisible among us and have not been included in the law about gender identity that was voted last November.

A city that wants people from left, anti-authoritarian, antisystemic political ecology movements. Workers and the unemployed. Straight couples who choose to have children or not. Gay couples who should be legally able to choose whether to have children or not. Colorful families. People with polyamory relationships. Religious and non-religious people. A city big enough and open for both locals and foreigners. Greek men and immigrant women. Greek women and refugees.

So, our Thessaloniki is a city that fits all those beautifully different people. Who doesn’t it fit? People with hearts full of hate for everything else that diverges from their distorted normality. Racists, sexists, homophobics, transphobics, biphobics, polyphobics[5] and fascists. People who get thrilled by the idea of war. People with drugged minds from delusional Big Ideas and use the word “country” in their everyday life.

Our Thessaloniki is a colorful city, disgusted by this socially constructed “normality”.

And exactly because it is our city as well we will NOT give it to them and we do NOT want them to speak on behalf of it.

 

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city that respects and remembers those who gave even their life so that others can have a better life. A city that respects and remembers Marielle Franco, the Brazilian activist who was murdered because she gave voice to those who didn’t have one. For the poor and the children of big cities’ favelas. A woman who didn’t hesitate to put up a fight with the government, the sexist and patriarchal heteronormativity, the police arbitrariness, violence and repression. An openly queer lesbian, something that the media concealed perfectly after her assassination. It was too disturbing. It had to be silenced. And when it inevitably became viral and public it “had to” be forgotten.

The 2nd community-organized Thessaloniki pride remembers her, however, respects her as well. This year’s RADical pride is dedicated to her memory. It respects her struggles and is inspired by her, killed for all that she believed in.

 

To sum up:

Thessaloniki for us means…

A city for him, for her, for them and for everyone that will not be satisfied unless the have it all. It is a city that fits those who resist the sexist violence, the socially constructed stereotypes, those who deconstruct national myths, those who recognize immigrants and refugees as human beings with equal rights, those who give companionship and love as an antidote to the poison of religious hate. It is a city for those who marginalize racist voices, who fight in order to prevent every possibility of an imperialist war and come up with slogans of solidarity that cover up the fascist’s shoutings.

The Thessaloniki that we want -against those who want to put a nationalist, racist and religious mantle on it-, is able to shout with pride:

     “Thessaloniki, the city of antifascists

               LGBTQ+ and immigrants united we stand”

 

2nd Community-organized Thessaloniki Pride

for LGBTQIA+ rights and Gender/Sexuality liberation

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[1] lesbians, trans, gay, bi, queer, intersex, asexual and any other identity that is not included in those

[2] cis or non trans are the people that their conception of their gender (gender identity) agrees with the gender that was given to them when they were born

[3] The Greek residents of Jewish religion are self-defined as Israelites

[4] About 1 in 1.500 children (the statistics can’t be completely valid because there is no official record) are being born with a non-determined gender. They have both female and male biological characteristics, or parts of each.

[5] The term polyphobia, as in homophobia and transphobia, regards discriminations and prejudice against polyamory people. (information from the blog polyamorygr.wordpress.com)

 

 

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