Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Uniting Communities

from The Western States Center:

The Uniting Communities project focuses on proactively bringing together the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community and communities of color to address racial justice and LGBTQ equality.

During the past 30 years of ballot measure fights on LGBTQ issues in the region, Western States Center has seen communities of color increasingly targeted by the Far Right. Playing into the stereotype that communities of color are more homophobic than white communities, the Right has tried to divide two communities that have a great deal in common and that have led the social change movement. We believe that mobilizing communities of color to support LGBTQ equality is critical to fighting back these attacks.

In early 2008 Oregon seemed likely to face two anti-gay ballot measures in the November election. Throughout the year, the Uniting Communities project worked with four organizations based in communities of color, immigrant and refugee communities to provide training and technical assistance to address LGBTQ issues. We also brought these groups together to network, strategize and learn from each other's experiences.

While the measures did not make the ballot, the work continued and each organization made significant progress in discussing and addressing homophobia, heterosexism and LGBTQ equality within their organizations and in their communities. The organizations also formed new relationships with LGBTQ rights organizations.

Uniting Communities reminds us that communities of color and LGBT communities need to work together today and in the future. It helps organizations of color open an intentional conversation grounded in what equity looks like, and what our organizations can do to build a solid foundation for working together towards equality.
- Tammy Johnson, Applied Research Center

Uniting Communities: The Toolkit

Building off of the work in Oregon, we have compiled a Toolkit with exercises to examine the obvious, and not so obvious, barriers that organizations need to clear to become inclusive of LGBTQ members. The Toolkit also contains 10 case studies that highlight the successes groups across the country have had in breaking new paths towards inclusiveness and culturally specific engagement.

Make no mistake, this is not a one sided conversation. LGBTQ organizations need to have meaningful engagement on issues of racial justice and immigrant rights. A companion toolkit produced by Basic Rights Oregon called Standing Together: Coming Out for Racial Justice contains exercises, how-tos, and case studies of how predominantly white LGBT organizations can become allies to racial justice organizations and campaigns.

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