We’ve Been Attacked by a Rich, Racist Porn Star

I honestly couldn’t give a crap that some privileged, right-wing, porn star shill for Israel’s crimes, Michael Lucas, has mobilized his “troops” to fill my inbox with racist inanities. My line on being called a “self-hating Jew” is the same as Max Blumenthal’s: “I may occasionally hate myself, but it has nothing to do with being Jewish.”

The real crime here is that voices of resistance, especially Arab and Muslim resistance, are being silenced in a sanctuary for the oppressed and marginalized, New York’s LGBT Center. Please read the interview with me, below, by Village Voice writer, Steven Thrasher, and click the link to the petition at the bottom to sign and circulate widely.

Also, I will be speaking at the opening night of Israeli Apartheid Week, Monday, Feb. 28, 7:30PM,  at NYU’s Kimmel Center with Stephen Shalom, Ava Houshmand, and Jeff Goodwin on Divestment: A Strategy to End the U.S.-Backed Israeli Occupation.

Here’s the piece from the Voice on The Ruckus over Israeli Apartheid Week, the Gay Center and a Porn Star

Sherry Wolf is a member of the Siege Busters Working Group, which was planning a “Party to End Apartheid!” for Israeli Apartheid Week at the LGBT Center, where they’d met regularly since last summer.

Then, pornographer and ardent pro-Israel Jew Michael Lucas complained on Tuesday about the event, it was canceled, and Siege Busters was evicted from the Center.

Wolf, a long-time and well-known activist for both gay rights and socialism, talks to Runnin’ Scared about her 23 years of being active at the Center, now being labeled an anti-Semitic Jew, and having her group kicked out without so much as a phone call.

Part of what enrages Wolf is that the Center didn’t even bother to contact the group. (The Center said in a statement, “When one group’s meetings or activities interfere with the Center’s focus on our core mission, we reserve the right to ask this group to move.” The Center didn’t mention that it had played host to an Israeli Apartheid Week event in 2008.)

Runnin’ Scared: Did it hurt to have a pornographer call Siege Busters a hate group?

Sherry Wolf: Yes, especially since the charges were so stinging! More than half of [Siege Busters] is Jewish, and the others are mostly Arabs, and they call us anti-Semitic? Isn’t the center a place where different people are supposed to meet and discuss? Shouldn’t Jews and Arabs, gay and lesbian and transgender, working together towards peace be something that is celebrated? We cannot allow a wealthy porn entrepreneur to dictate what kind of speech is allowed, at a center whose very mission is to represent the oppressed and the marginalized!

RS: When did Siege Busters start meeting at the Center?

Wolf: In late August of last year. We’ve been meeting sometimes weekly, sometimes every other week.

RS: Why did you meet at the LGBT Center? Were there many gay or lesbian members, or did one person know of it just as a place to meet?

Wolf: Many of us are gay and lesbian, but it’s never been a condition, since my ACT-UP days, that you had to be gay or meet about a sexuality issue to meet at the Center.

RS: When did you first start going to the Center?

Wolf: In 1988, when I moved back to the city and got involved with ACT-UP.

RS: Are you are of aware, for lack of a better term, of other “non-gay” groups meeting at the Center?

Wolf: Oh, yes! We’ve had anti-death penalty meetings, anti-war events, a whole spectrum of political and non-political meetings there. There’s a group that meets there of straight people who are into spanking! It’s always been a place where people with nowhere else to go could be. It’s atrocious that after 28 years, it’s becoming yet another occupied, homogenized space that only powerful and, frankly, white people dominate. That’s not the mission of the Center.

RS: Are you aware of any controversial events you’ve been a part of ever being cancelled before?

Wolf: An event cancelled? Never. The LGBT Center is the quintessential queer space, in which people who resist all forms of oppression have gathered to find support. I’m an author, of Sexuality and Socialism, and I had my book launch there. What if someone had a problem with socialists? Will we cave to that? The community has to embrace that our identity as LGBT people cannot be narrowly defined by a wealthy porn entrepreneur! I am a lesbian, a socialist, and an internationalist. As a citizen of the world, I have a responsibility and a right to organize with my Palestinian brothers and sisters, particularly because I am a Jewish anti-Zionist. I see no reason why the Center should shut itself down on this issue because of one porn entreprenuer with a platform in the Advocate.

RS: How did you find out your event had been cancelled?

Wolf: Informally, at first. I heard about four o’clock on Tuesday. Interestingly enough, I reached out to [Center Executive Director] Glennda Testone immediately. I hope she eventually returns my call. I tried reaching her. I saw an email that there was a press release and a call-in campaign [from Lucas]. Then, an hour, an hour and a half later, I heard that the event was cancelled, and Siege Busters was barred from meeting there.

RS: So they never even spoke to you before making the decision?

Wolf: No. There was no attempt to the contact the organizers, meet with the group, or even speak with us.

RS: It’s not just the fundraising party that was ended?

Wolf: No. We are not supposed to meet there anymore. You know, I can remember a time, and it wasn’t even that long ago, when people who were transgender were smeared upon, even by people in the gay and lesbian community. Should they be banned? . . . The Center has always been a home to controversy and free speech, and it needs to remain that. This is about saving the Center.

RS: Do you hope to meet again at the Center?

Wolf: We have no hostility towards the Center! But we are fighting for it. If radical people can’t meet there, then it just becomes another occupied space for wealthy bigots. This should not be a place where people defend the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. It’s an attempt to whitewash and pinkwash over the crimes people do not agree with. The Center should stand with the oppression of LGBT people all over the world. If this were Uganda, there would be no problem. But because we’re talking about our Palestinian gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, it’s an issue.

[sthrasher@villagevoice.com]

Please sign the petition to Save NY’s LGBT Center:

Stop Wealthy Bigots From Shutting Down Free Speech

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savenyclgbtcenter/

12 responses to “We’ve Been Attacked by a Rich, Racist Porn Star

  1. That you accuse your political opponents of “racism” willy nilly demonstrates you don’t really care about victims or racism – you just think its a card to play in your self-promoting radical politics career.

  2. @Richard the idea that Palestinian people do not have the right to a vote, their land, due process, social and civil equality in the country they live is fundamentally racist. By millitary force Israel disposes Palestinians of their land and denies them even voting, that is racist. Proponents of Zionism equating any organization for self-determination of Palestinians as terrorism is racist. Most of all what’s racist is rich white people using their monied influence to shut down forums for multi-racial organizers to discuss how to stop what’s happening to the Palestinian people.
    @Sherry RIGHT ON!

    • That’s weird, because I seem to remember Jordanians (Oops, “Palestinians”, right?) shelling Israeli towns owned by Jews in Israel before they were invaded and occupied. When you occupy a hostile war-mongering neighbor, its called self-defense, not racism. And when the neighbor refuses to stop war-mongering after 40 years, its still called self-defense. That you don’t care at all about Israeli security is racist.

  3. One expression that desperately needs to be retired is “playing the race card.” It’s bullshit. Basically if any even MENTIONS racism at all, in any context whatsoever, some right-wing loudmouth always blurts out, “stop playing the race card!” There is one exception, however–if the perceived targets of racism are white. In that case, the right-wingers are always eager to scream “racism!” It’s a joke.

    • But now you’re playing a different card: the “playing the racism card” card. How is that any less knee-jerk a reaction? You need a class in formal logic. Sherry’s logic is that someone who disagrees with the “apartheid” libel is “racist”? Are you serious? You think that is an appropriate use of the word “racist”?

  4. As a Gay Jew Zionist, having nothing to do with wealth or Porn, I applaud the Gay and Lesbian Center for shutting down and cancelling a far left hateful groups desires to spread lies and propaganda against the only democratic ally of the US in the entire Middle East. Where in Israel, Gays and Lesbians have served in their army without Dont ask dont Tell, for the past umpeteen years, while the gay and lesbian brethren in the “Palestinan” and rest of the Muslim Middle East are stoned, shamed and tortured for being born Gay.
    So much for this pitiful organization that wants to use the Gay Center to spread lies about Israel and the poor “palestianian” victims , who happen to be victims of their own Moslem nations , but who are able to find the freedom to be Gay and Lesbian and Transgender in Israel, The Jewish State of 9 milion surrounded by 100s of million Arabs whose Jealousy of Israel breeds contempt and hate and manage to find self pitying Jews who happen to be the worst anti semites because of their shame based families whose dysfuntion has made them into some of the worst arch enemies of truth and freedom from a country called Israel who has given the world so much , Thank You Hashem!

  5. A comment on the tone and content of your “We’ve Been Attacked by a Rich Racist Porn Star” Posting:

    The Center’s decision to stifle debate and impose the iron hand of censorship at the “suggestion” of major donor and avowed racist Michael Lucas is infuriating and disturbing, to say the least: being critical of the Israeli government does not make one an anti-Semite, it simply makes one a thinking person and a humanitarian who is able to see the many problematic realities that underlie Israel’s policies against the Palestinian people and the many disturbing methods that the Israeli government forces employ to enforce their anti-Palestinian policies. The notion that one wealthy man, one wealthy donor to the Center, speaks for all Jews who use the Center is ludicrous (& I say this as a queer Jew, & as someone who would have very much wanted to attend the Siegebusters event).

    However -and this is a big however – please do not use Lucas’s profession in the commercial sex industry as a tool or “argument” against him when discussing this situation. His history in the sex industry and/or his current work product and environment are irrelevant to the issues at hand, and highlighting and by implication chastising Lucas for this work simply and unfairly targets and smears him — and by extension all other sex workers, who already toil in a heavily policed and stigmatized profession — as sexual outlaws not fit for polite civil society and its legal protections.

    Lucas’s sex work or work in the commercial sex industry is NOT the issue; his bigotry against Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, blacks, and even against queer Jews who refuse to wholeheartedly and blindly endorse everything that Israel does, and his apparently successful role as self-appointed queer community protector and censor, ARE the issues. Please don’t confuse the two, as doing so (highlighting Lucas’s sex work) only weakens the argument of all those taking a stand against Lucas and against the Center’s administration for jumping to his call and unilaterally censoring a legitimate gay community event and allows us to fall (however inadvertently) into the hands of anti-pornography and anti-sex worker activists with their own agenda.

    Abby Tallmer
    NYC
    Feb. 26, 2011

    • Abby-Thanks for your thoughts. Just to be clear, I have absolutely no beef with Lucas’s career—nor to my knowledge has anyone in Siegebusters or IAW raised it as an issue. It is pertinent, however, to mention what he is and does only in so far as porn wealth that could not exist without decades of free speech fights is now being used to silence others. That, in my opinion, is fair game. Solidarity-Sherry

      • Nice double-speak Sherry. “PORN” in big letters and a nice little reversal in the comments. And BTW, the legal profession doesn’t appreciate your perversion of what “free speech” is; constitutionally, the center can do whatever it want and ban whoever it wants. Please stop playing amateur lawyer.

  6. @ Harley the fact that you insist on using the word Palestinians in quotation marks like maybe they don’t exist or you just hope that will be the case real soon shows just what a fucking racist you are. It’s like you don’t want to even admit Palestinians exist, that’s disgusting.

    • No, saying “Palestinians” shows that Harley doesn’t but the idea that Palestinian Nationalism is legitimate, which is totally, utterly fair. The name, the flag, the borders, were all imposed by British colonists, and you think it is “racist” to question their legitimacy? I guess you’re a colonialist.

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