Sherry Wolf (activist)

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Born Sherry J. Wolf
Brooklyn, New York
Occupation Writer, activist
Alma mater Northwestern University
Genres LGBT, politics, labor, history
Notable work(s) Sexuality and socialism: history, politics, and theory of LGBT liberation

sherrytalksback.wordpress.com

Sherry Wolf (born in Brooklyn, New York, May 4, 1965) is an American socialist,[1] Jewish anti-Zionist,[2] independent journalist and author.[3] Openlylesbian,[4] she was on the Executive Committee for the LGBT National Equality March for full civil rights in October 2009 and served as Press Officer for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in October 2012.[3] Wolf is a member of the International Socialist Organization and an editor of the International Socialist Review.[5]

Early life[edit]

Wolf grew up on Long Island, New York and attended Lawrence High School. She later attended Northwestern University, where she graduated with honors in philosophy, was first introduced to socialist politics and began identifying as a lesbian and an anti-Zionist. Wolf first met members of the International Socialist Organization, while helping them defend a women's clinic in downtown Chicago in 1983 and later became an active member herself, saying she "had never met people who had a broader analysis of the way society worked".[1] Wolf lived in Paris after college, where she learned to speak French and organized with other socialists against the National Front, a neofascist political party. She returned to New York in 1988 to work and organize with the ISO.

Activism[edit]

Wolf has been an active socialist, labor solidarity and LGBT activist for several decades. When she returned to New York, Wolf organized within gay activist groups like the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). The group became active during a time when Wolf saw friends dying of AIDS on a regular basis. Wolf was, however, dissatisfied with ACT UP's approach, citing their hostility to trade unions, anti-racist organizing and other such issues "outside" the gay community. Wolf attempted to connect LGBT liberation with other issues, such as union and immigration struggles. In 2000, Wolf returned to Chicago to become an associate editor of the International Socialist Review (ISR). She maintains criticisms of large nonprofit and lobbying organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for what she perceives as their mainstream strategies, or what she personally terms "Gay, Inc.": "In pure pragmatic terms, Gay Inc. doesn't work... I'm not a part of it because I don't agree with corporate priorities."

Wolf argues that while society's attitudes towards LGBT people have become more favorable, gay-friendly legislation has not kept pace, blaming strategies of groups like HRC, who, she believes have substituted lobbying for social justice organizing and struggle.

Wolf was part of a group of 13 activists arrested for sitting in at Senator Dick Durbin's office as a part of the Chicago Harvey Milk Week of Action. The activists demanded the senator add gender identity to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, of which he was a co-sponsor.

Wolf was also on the executive committee for the National Equality March in October 2009, which drew more than 200,000 protesters to Washington DC, to demand full equality for LGBT people. It was the first mass gay rights march in a decade and the first mass protest to pressure President Barack Obama to act on any of his campaign promises. She organized alongside other gay activists such as Cleve Jones. Unlike other LGBT events, such as the annual Pride Parade in Boystown, no corporations sponsored the National Equality March. Wolf spoke of the march: "We had no corporate sponsorship – none at all. The march was not going to be brought to you by Miller Beer and Citibank. It was a march, to make a protest, to put a set of demands at the seat of power, to win some gains."[1]

Wolf, who is Jewish, is also a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and argues that critics of Israel are not anti-Semitic. She is also an advocate of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. In October 2010 she stated that "Jews such as Pappé, Levy, Blumenthal and a growing army of lesser-known pro-Palestinian Jews, including myself, are willing to call out Israel for its thwarting of international law and basic norms of humanity. And we especially, the children and grandchildren of the Holocaust generation, will not allow accusations of anti-Semitism to muddy the waters."[2]

Wolf served at Press Officer for the peoples' tribunal launched by Bertrand Russell, the 2012 Russell Tribunal on Palestine, where she worked alongside Angela Davis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters and others.

Writing[edit]

Apart from editing the ISR, Wolf has also written articles published in The Nation, MRZine, CounterPunch, New Politics, Dissident Voice and Socialist Worker.[5]

She is also the author of the 2009 publication, Sexuality and Socialism, a series of essays on the roots of LGBT oppression, the construction of sexual and gender identities, the history of the gay rights movement, and strategies to fight oppression and exploitation by analyzing different theories such as Marxism, postmodernism, identity politics, and queer theory.

Don Gorton, board member of Join the Impact states of the book: "The icons of the new generation of activists are people like Lady Gaga, Dustin Lance Black, Judy Shephard, Lt. Daniel Choi (ret.) and Sherry Wolf."

Dana Cloud of the University of Texas at Austin called Sexuality and Socialism "at once politically important, theoretically and historically sophisticated, and clearly written... enlivened in its engagement with a number of controversies, including those over the alleged biological determination of homosexuality, the myth of Black homophobia, and the consequences of postmodernist theories for the politics of gay liberation... a cogent defense of the Marxist tradition—long and wrongly reviled as homophobic in itself—as a way to explain how LGBT oppression arose and what we can do to put it to bed."

Christopher Phelps of Ohio State University called the book "a manifesto of mobilization and equality that matches the challenges of the present with a far-reaching vision of social and sexual liberation inspired by the spirit of Stonewall and the sex-affirmative liberatory socialist tradition."[5]

Amy Grishek of Rain Taxi wrote of Sexuality and Socialism: "Sherry Wolf's little purple book is the operator's manual for a post-90's LGBT liberation movement. It shouldn't be read so much as carried, in backpacks and jacket pockets, on bus rides to marches; not shelved but passed, with meaningful glances and endearing words from hand to working hand. It is a text of purpose, 'a guide to action.' May every volume be well-used."[6]

Selected books[edit]

Selected articles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gapers Block. "For the Record, My Name is Sherry Wolf, and I am a Socialist". Retrieved October 30, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Socialist Worker. "Is boycotting Israel anti-Semitic?". Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b The Nation. "Sherry Wolf". Retrieved April 7, 2010. 
  4. ^ Rivera, J. (October 13, 2009), "Sherry Wolf: Lesbian, Activist, Communist & Badass-ist", Austin Chronicle, retrieved April 7, 2010 
  5. ^ a b c Haymarket Books. "Sexuality and Socialism". Retrieved April 7, 2010. 
  6. ^ Sherry Talks Back. "About". Retrieved October 31, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]