LGBTQ people have formed a guerilla group and are fighting back against ISIS in Syria. The first rebel LGBT guerilla group of its kind in the region has taken the name TQILA, pronounced “Tequila” — The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army. The group is posting pictures on Twitter, raising rainbow flags and a logo of a gun on a pink background in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The goal is to help end caliphate control and plant rainbow flags in place of ISIS symbols in victimized communities.
International journalist, Saad Abedine posted these pictures:
— SaadAbedine (@SaadAbedine) July 25, 2017
LGBTQA people in Syria have been targeted by ISIS for three years, facing stonings, torture, beheadings, or being thrown off rooftops. Even here at home, America’s deadliest mass shooting in Orlando was carried out by a man who called himself a soldier of ISIS. ISIS later claimed responsibility.
TQILA have joined with Kurdish forces and foreign fighters who traveled to northern Syria to join the ongoing war. The International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), TQILA (a subgroup of IRPGF), and a Kurdish militia called the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are all standing against ISIS. The groups are joining in the final stages of a larger offensive led by the U.S. to liberate the city of Raqqa.
IRPGF has posted updates about TQILA since announcing the group with a statement on Monday. The group’s broader goal: to struggle against “fascism, tyranny, and oppression.” Christian conservatives are also accused of attacking the LGBT community.
“The images of gay men being thrown off roofs and stoned to death by Daesh was something we could not idly watch,” said the group in their statement.
“We, the International Revolutionary People’s Guerilla Forces (IRPGF) formally announce the formation of the Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army (TQILA), a subgroup of the IRPGF comprised of LGBT*QI+ comrades as well as others who seek to smash the gender binary and advance the women’s revolution as well as the broader gender and sexual revolution.
The formation of The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army (TQILA), a subgroup of the IRPGF. Queer Liberation! Death to Rainbow Capitalism! pic.twitter.com/Tp1x2PZ079
— IRPGF (@IRPGF) July 24, 2017
Heval Mahir is named as a new commander and supporter for “Queer liberation.”
— IRPGF (@IRPGF) July 25, 2017
Another post: “These Faggots Kill Fascists! We shoot back! The Black & Pink and Rainbow flag fly in Raqqa. #Queers smashing the Caliphate”
— IRPGF (@IRPGF) July 24, 2017
A spokesman for TQILA named Heval Rojhilat spoke to Newsweek, but could not reveal the numbers of those in the group for security reasons.
The fighters aspire to create a democratic city to welcome all people in Rojava, a region in northern Syria. A group called “RojavaSolidarityNYC” has formed on Twitter in support for the creation of the new autonomous territory.
Newsweek reported that Kurdish-Arab coalitions have captured at least a quarter of the neighborhoods in Raqqa, even though they face deadly threats like “suicide car bombs, sniper fire and booby traps.” Raqqa will be the second-largest city lost by ISIS since losing Mosul in Iraq early this month.
After years of persecution merely for existing, it’s good to see LGBT groups fighting back against the ignorance and violence terrorists like ISIS seek to perpetuate. It will take the collective efforts of fighters around the world to wipe out their insidious presence. Yet one of the most effective ways to fight back is with education, as demonstrated so effectively by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.
We all sadly have to continually work to educate others that people are people, even as our sitting president seeks to undermine equality with daily ignorant rants on Twitter.
Today, Donald is attempting to distract the world from his chaotic and downward-spiralling administration by targeting transgender fighters serving in our military. Meanwhile, in the heat of battle in Syria, LGBT people are joining the U.S. right now in unity, demonstrating that “Stronger Together” is a far more effective slogan than “Make American Great Again,” when it comes at the cost of division and ignorance.
Featured image via Twitter screenshot