Rainbow Flags Among the Ruins: Queerness in an Age of Collapse

It’s all coming down, dearest motherfuckers, and there isn’t a damn thing we can do to stop it. A lifetime of obsessive-compulsively reading the tea leaves of every dead white doomsayer from Karl Marx to Ted Kaczynski has led me to the inescapable reality that after five thousand years of this crazy little fad we call the state, Western Civilization is finally on the brink of collapse. The signs surround us, and they are all written in flames.

The ice caps are melting, the reefs are bleaching, the rainforests are burning, and the oceans are turning into rising pools of caustic acid. The only thing proliferating faster than failed states are the cold wars needed to justify their existence just long enough for World War 3 to reduce us all to radioactive vapor. Capitalism is devouring its own gangrenous limbs as it rapidly runs out of wasteland to expand upon with the global debt now more than 300% larger than the global GDP.

And as these malignant institutions that have defined a civilization that brought us the miracles of artificial intelligence, the Holocaust, and the hydrogen bomb enter a final state of freefall, the lumpenproletariat raised in the shadows of its skyscrapers and smokestacks are reacting with an epidemic of random acts of unspeakable brutality, pushing little old ladies beneath subway trains and shooting up elementary schools. I honestly don’t know how many more plagues you people need. The Pharaohs only needed ten.

It’s fucking over people. It doesn’t matter how many UN Climate Panels, international peace summits, or green new deals you hurl at this Kraken called collapse, it’s too fucking late. Frankly, it was too fucking late the moment we decided to play god-of-dirt with the Agricultural Revolution and invented this twisted little concept called property.

The panacea of progress was always a poison pill and its suicide might be reason for celebration if it hadn’t expanded to such gargantuan proportions that it threatens to take the entire classroom of mankind and most of our furrier friends down with it. If this post sounds apocalyptic that’s because it is. I’m deeply sorry, dearest motherfuckers, I really am, but this really is the conclusion that all of my work has lead me too. Civilization is fucked and we’re not all going to make it. But I will be goddamned if my tiny tribe of fearless freaks goes down with the ship.

Queer is more than just a lifestyle choice to me. It is my tribe. It is my race. It is my nation. After a childhood defined by self-esteem crippling systemic abuse, I didn’t even know what safety felt like before I found my people. Belonging with the unbelongable literally saved my life. Now my jihad is to return the favor by finding my people a lifeboat and convincing them to abandon society and take it. This is the true motivation behind all of my wild contrarian schemes.

This is why I abandoned the moribund revolution of Third World communism for the dynamic heresy of post-left free market panarchy. This is why I advocate the militant decentralization of secession, agorism, civilian militias, and direct democracy. This is why I risk total alienation from my left-wing comrades to build bottom unity among sovereign citizens, paleolibertarians, and Boogaloo Bois. Che Guevara’s quixotic last stand against the raging windmill of global capitalism failed in the heart of the jungles of Bolivia fifty years ago and now survivalism is the name of the game. Everything I do, everything I am, is devoted to making sure that the people I love are among the survivors.

The good news is that Queer people are natural born survivors. It is the trait that defines our very existence. By any scientific or historical measure, we should not exist. Before there were Queer people, there were just people. Millions of tribes across every populated continent acknowledged and more often than not celebrated their members who defied the typical cis-hetero template. We were shaman, medicine women, and elite warriors. The notion of Queerness being the product of modern decadence is a myth with zero historical relevance.

Queerness was a defense mechanism against modern decadence. We were only erased from our tribes when agrarian society created a patriarchy threatened by our biological inability to conform to the gender binary they invented to justify their rule and the pagan temples that exalted us were only paved over when the imperial bastardization of Christianity sought to annihilate our tribes altogether and assimilate them into the globalist constructs of class and race.

With no place left to go, we created a new tribe in the shadows of bathhouses, ballrooms, temporary autonomous zones, and pirate utopias. Like the Black and Chicano communities who often overlapped with ours, we gathered the shambles of our shattered cultures and erected a vibrant mosaic that became a uniquely anti-colonialist race defined by our existential opposition to the puritanical white Anglo-Saxon Protestant power structure, and inspired by the ferocity of the Black Power Movement, we demolished our closets and took to the streets to confront the scions and paladins of Western Civilization with the righteous uprisings of Stonewall and the White Nights Riots.

Beneath rainbow flags we became reborn as Radical Fairies and Street Transvestite Revolutionaries led by outlaw chieftains like Allen Ginsberg, Miss Major, Billy Burroughs, Sylvia Rivera, Hakim Bey, and Marsha P. Johnson. We torched cop cars, painted our faces, and fucked by the firelight in the streets. We were savages and we were free. Even their plagues couldn’t tame us. They only made us wilder as we threw our freakish bodies into the guts of their medical apartheid machine until they were forced to acknowledge our pain and the pain of our comrades in the darker nations who shared our disease. This is our legacy and the good news is that it cannot be erased.

The bad news is that too many of my people have forgotten this legacy of resistance and joined forces with the very institutions we barked our knuckles resisting. Somewhere along the line, the straight establishment came to the wise conclusion that they couldn’t quite annihilate all of us and decided to assimilate us instead, and somewhere along this same twisted line, Queer people forgot about the revolution and decided to settle for “equality” and “tolerance” instead.

After centuries of abuse at the hands of institutions like church and state, my people excepted empty tokens of their conciliation, like government sanctioned marriage and positions within the ranks of their imperial armies, like battered brides with bouquets of bruised roses. Now we no longer march for Queer Power during Pride, we parade for our straight masters on corporate floats hand-in-hand with the pigs we pulverized at Stonewall. We raise our wine glasses to police state sluts like Pete Buttigieg and call it progress when this progress essentially amounts to our parade being assimilated into a toxic system on a suicide march.

What I try to do with my writing and my activism is rip the megaphone from the hands of the Fourth Estate and scream at my people to get off the fucking float before they drive it off a cliff. The Queer tradition of rejecting civilization long before it metastasized was our greatest strength and reviving that proud tradition during our current age of collapse is our only hope. The bombs will go off. The oceans will swallow Babylon. The grid will collapse. We must abandon these institutions and mainstream society itself. We must do as our ally Timothy Leary instructed us and turn on, tune in, and drop out.

One great big cleansing revolution is no longer a viable solution if it ever even was. We must wage our own tiny revolutions by fortifying our tribe with the revival of our culture of resistance and applying it to the practical necessities of autonomy and self-determination. We must do as my Amish neighbors have done and create societies that coexist with the rotting English world without relying on it for our subsistence. We must create our own schools, our own currencies, our own mutual aid societies and counter-economies. We must learn to farm, to hunt, to gather. We must arm ourselves only with the machines that can protect our children and reject that which exploits and degrades them.

The libertarian right has the right idea when it comes to survivalism, but their embrace of macho individualism will be their undoing. Bunkers are nothing but well-armed mausoleums without communities to populate them. The greatest tool for survival during any age is the mutual aid which allowed humanity to evolve until technologies driven by greed outpaced us and turned us into a broken species of slaves. Returning to the communal bosom of humanity is our only hope of returning to the road of social evolution that patriarchy and false progress drove us off of.

This cannot be done on a massive scale because the massive scale itself is what damned us. There is no such thing as a global community and a melting pot is just another term for a crematorium. Globalism is, was, and always will be a coup against diversity waged by those too greedy to belong to any tribe. But if we all shift our focus away from the world and back to our own communities there may be hope for humanity to not only survive collapse but perhaps even to thrive amongst its ruins. But that is only my hope. My mission is to make sure that there are still rainbow flags among those ruins and it is a mission I am prepared to die to achieve.

I don’t mean to bum out the festivities, dearest motherfuckers. I like a parade as much as the next bitch unless the next bitch is me. But somebody has to say these things before the parade becomes a funeral march and I’ve always been too Queer to keep my fucking mouth shut. Just know that I wouldn’t be screaming if I didn’t love you all so loudly.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.