BOLD Gathering Motivates LGBT People of Color!
The BOLD Gathering in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the Dec. 2-4 weekend was designed to empower LGBT leaders of color to meet this “movement moment” when LGBT communities of color profoundly intersect with the economic crisis and the right wing response to such issues as immigration – and the opportunities offered by communication through new technologies and social media. Jumping off from the fact that people of color are becoming the majority in the US, the conference asked questions such as: “Are we, as QTPOC (Queer & Trans People of Color), a strong arm of a bigger movement (such as the mainstream gay movement) or are we leading a movement of our own? How can we, as QTPOC people, affect the creation and direction of a movement that brings about the change for which we dream and work? What do we need to know?”
Ari Gutierrez, a member of the BOLD Planning Committee and co-Founder of the Los Angeles-based Latino Equality Alliance (funded by the LA-based Liberty Hill Foundation) sent in notes and photos from the event. Please note that the BOLD Gathering has posted four teleconference calls on their website on organizational models.
Of the conference, Gutierrez said:
This was an important event in the trajectory of the LGBT movement. Not just for the empowerment opportunity for our people of color leaders but more so because it provided a unique opportunity for the funders to learn more about us. Specifically, there has been a disconnect between funders that require funding proposals with the same program designs and process expectations they are accustomed to with other organizations. However, we know that the work in our ethnic communities requires cultural sensitivity on many levels and may look different on paper and in action in ways that are unfamiliar to funders. The setting of the BOLD! Gathering provided a window to our challenges and our approach to equality work as we know it. Allowing the funders to participate in the convening as we addressed these challenges and having them experience first hand our collective intelligence, creativity, experience and commitment will sharply increase the confidence funders have in our organizations and the “equality” work as it needs to be done in our communities of color. AND the better they can communicate those differences to the people that give money to the funders.
Gutierrez said the welcome feast at the Neighborhood House in St. Paul MN – especially remarks and a performance by Sharon Day, Executive Director and founder of Indigenous People’s Taskforce provided an extraordinary context for the conference, as did some spoken word performances.
“This opening day programming set the tone of the gathering and provided important historical and cultural reference to the experience of Native Americans, Latinos and African Americans in the region. It helped us reflect on our struggles as LGBT people of color,” Gutierrez said.
Here is the transcript of Gutierrez’s remarks at the conference:
Good Morning! I’m Ari Gutierrez, a member of the BOLD! Planning Committee and Co-Founder of the California based Latino Equality Alliance, which is funded by the Liberty Hill Foundation. I also identify as a 1st generation U.S. born Latina, a Lesbian, a business professional, an activist, a loyal friend, a faithful partner and a new mom.
My journey as a member of the BOLD Planning committee began in February 2009! In those 22 months I’ve had the privilege to gather at in person strategy meetings and monthly committee phone meetings and share countless emails with other POC LGBT leaders from across the country to help design a new kind of gathering — one for and by LGBT People of Color. In that time, we challenged each other to consider the opportunity to determine our approach and aim to be inclusive in thought, design and implementation by honoring the traditions, interests, concerns and style of our people of color while maintaining accountability to our work, our LGBT leader peers and the communities we represent and for whom we do the work.
In the history of our LGBT movement, this gathering of LGBT people of color is not the first and will not be the last. However, it is the first time, as part of their Racial Equity Initiative, that mainstream LGBT funders have made a considerable investment in our movement. Their personal participation in this gathering is an acknowledgment of the importance of our people of color leadership is to our LGBT movement overall and a critical first step — a win for all of us.
Certainly, the gift of ceremony, history and tradition presented by our Two-Spirit peers in which we participated on the opening night of our gathering is one that grounded us and provided a bridge from the social challenges we face in serving our community toward the formal initiation of a joint national multi-cultural approach to our LGBT empowerment.
Our priorities, like those of the funders who are our hosts for this gathering, are to provide opportunities to become more aware of our shared struggles and provide opportunities to share best practices that will help us enhance the services and advocacy we provide in our people of color communities.
At the same time, we are challenging ourselves to work in tandem with each other just as we are challenging the mainstream LGBT community to be more inclusive and deliberate about honoring (and funding) our culturally sensitive approach to our community work.
So now as we begin the concluding portion of our BOLD! Gathering, let’s pledge that going forward we will support each other to 1) accept the responsibility and the authority to advocate for the interests of our communities, 2) acknowledge that the POC LGBT organizations we represent are not just gatekeepers to our community but, in fact, we are the key to the equality and social justice our LGBT community seeks. And let’s pledge that we will be much bolder in what we envision for our communities and issues and act in bolder ways to create the change we want to see in our communities.
With that in mind, the Planning Committee would like to thank LGBT Funders, PFund and the Astraea Foundations for their commitment in helping us create the opportunity for a truly BOLD! gathering.
And we would like to express our sincere thanks to Ms. Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz for helping us vision the gathering and for her work with our planning committees. And a special thanks to the plenary and workshop presenters.
Thank you too to the volunteer team and to our performance art teams and our logistic travel team lead by Marta Alvarado.
And most of all, we THANK YOU! For the hard work you do in your communities. The work you do for our communities is critical to the quality of life for our communities and saves lives. I am proud to count myself a part of this powerful and amazing group of leaders.
Now, to help us go BOLDLY FORWARD, I have the honor to introduce to you as our plenary speakers, Ms. Jewelle Gomez and Ms. Mandy Carter.
From BOLD Gathering: The BOLD Gathering is a Queer* & Trans People of Color Gathering to Support our Liberation and Self-Determination is an invitation only gathering designed by and for LGBT POC representatives and sponsored by the eight primary funders for LGBT issues. For more information and to support the effort please visit www.BOLDgathering.org. *Queer is used as a term of self-empowerment and is not indented to offend or deter from the right to self-identity of LGBT individuals.