February 20, 2018

Lesbian, bisexual and queer activists on the frontline

Over forty years ago, activists of the Combahee River Collective; a Black, lesbian feminist, organisation active in Boston in the 1970s proclaimed that when the most oppressed among us are freed, we will all be free.

Today, in partnership with Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (New York City, USA), we’re excited to share an infographic highlighting the vision of liberation by lesbian, bisexual, queer (LBQ) activists and non binary people* and their persistent need for resourcing. As oppressive, hegemonic forces become ever-emboldened around the world, it is critical that we support and learn from the lessons and organising of LBQ people, now more than ever. 

Comprehensive dialogue and meetings held in 2016 and 2017 between Astraea, Mama Cash, and more than 100 LBQ activists from the Global South and East identified the wealth of strategies being used by LBQ activists to realise their visions. These activists are involved in many social justice movements – from feminist movements, to LGBTQI rights, to environmental and racial justice.

“Of course there is danger, but I will not let my life be determined by it.”

“Most of us cannot be open about our sexuality without the risk of bullying, being fired, or violence. Under the influence of Russian anti-gay propaganda, the climate has not become more friendly in recent years,” says Olena Shevchenko, one of the founders of the Ukrainian LGBTIQ organization Insight. Warming up for the weekly self-defence class she leads for young lesbian and bisexual girls, she adds: “Of course there is danger, but I will not let my life be determined by it.”

Insight, Ukraine

“Why this focus now? We are witnessing a global pull-back on protection and liberation for all people, and an increase in violence, exploitation and oppression. In most cases where we are witnessing this, women and those people who reject or transgress accepted gender and sexuality roles are the most vulnerable. LBQ people are most at risk for this very reason,” shares Happy Mwende Kinyili, Director of Programmes at Mama Cash. She continues, “From our experience, we know that they are also one of the most under resourced communities - and we don’t know the extent of this under resourcing. So, to increase support to these communities in this moment when they are most at risk we need information and data so that we can get more and better funding to support the liberatory work of LBQ activisms.”

To better understand the state of funding available to support LBQ activism, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (New York City, USA)  and Mama Cash (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)  are working with activists to document the important contributions of this activism and the limited funding base. We expect to be able to share this research early in 2019.

Check out the infographic!

Read more about the work of Insight.

*We understand language is limited and gender exists on a continuum; after year-long consultations with activists, we use the term “LBQ” to refer to the focus on sexual identity; it includes women (cis and trans) and all non-binary people on the gender spectrum who relate to a lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer identity.

LBQ communities face unique, structural health and economic disparities, misogyny and violence, yet there is a persistent lack of attention and resource paid to their needs and priorities, both within LGBTQI, human rights and women’s rights spaces. This report aims to celebrate unique LBQ movement highlights, call attention to the movement’s specific challenges, and break down the funding silos.

This initiative is informed by our deep commitment to supporting the most underfunded and marginalized movements, including trans and intersex movements whose unique resourcing challenges are addressed in the following two reports: The State of Trans Funding and The State of Intersex Funding.