In Light of Ferguson: The Struggle and Legacy of LGBTQ Survival & Imagination

heartvigil_serenaAudre Lorde taught us and we’ve experienced that, “there are no single-issue struggles because we do not live single-issue lives.” As organizers and leaders we are committed to our collective liberation and so our eyes, our minds, and our hearts see and feel the depth and the complexities of the world that we live in and the complexities that Lorde compelled us to acknowledge. The roller coaster of emotions many of us have experienced in the past week and a half has been exhausting, to say the least.

We held the death of one of our greats, Leslie Feinberg. We celebrated trans life, denounced transphobia and its violence, and remembered those we’ve lost. We anxiously awaited decisions from on high about who would or would not be included in executive action on immigration (read SONG’s collective statement Celebrating Our Wins, Organizing for Our Future: LGBTQ Immigrants in Times of Executive Action here). We gathered together to hear whether a grand jury in Ferguson would or would not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown (Read Black Lives Matter Everywhere for more about SONG’s work in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter here). We did this as we’ve done so many times before. Who of us does not remember the night Troy Davis died, the countless times the U.S. has rolled out the war chests to bomb our motherlands and people of color around the world, or the countless votes on the Hill or Supreme Court rulings that would affect our lives, our dignity, our sanity?

There is a quality to our lives that has required us to hold all of these things at once. We are LGBTQ people who are also poor, who are immigrant, and who are Black. We have a grit, stubbornness, endurance, and will to forge ahead that has cultivated inside of us in order to survive in societies that are trying to starve us, kill us, abuse us, and discard us.

This is not to glorify the struggle of our lives but to remind ourselves of how easily we can take for granted both the individual and collective elasticity of our souls that we’ve fortified to make it from day to day. As we celebrate and as we mourn, as we organize and as we strategize, we urge us to not forget one another. We urge us to hold each other closely and to ask, “How are you doing?” We urge us to take deep breaths, to dance, to take bubble baths, to share food, and to take care of one another. These too are radical revolutionary acts and strengthen us to build political unity with one another in our shared struggle for self-determination.

We are part of the larger fabric and legacy of those that fought to survive before us, and we look to them for courage, for faith, for resilience and for guidance in our renewed struggle. As Alice Walker said,

To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves. We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die. The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrow, is always a measure of what has gone before.” 

We stand proudly in the light and lessons of our ancestors knowing that we will keep moving and working with you towards our vision and hope for a world that we imagine and dream. Keep your heads up family. We love you.