Greetings from Durham, North Carolina!
As the Project Director for the Out in the South Initiative I have had a great time getting to know many of you over the past two months.
I’m excited about the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of LGBTQ Southerners through this work. As a young person growing up in rural southern Louisiana, I could not have imagined the possibilities before me to be able to support in the communities I care so much about. I’m grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the thoughtful work that preceded me.
As I’ve been getting settled in my new role, I’ve been reminded of the importance of telling our stories. In particular, I’ve been thinking about how we tell stories about how change happens – change within ourselves and our communities. As you know, the LGBTQ rights movement has seen significant positive change in recent years, but many of these positive changes are not fully realized for Southerners and are often experienced in the form of backlash and greater hostility within the places where we live.
At the heart of our work with the Out in the South Initiative, we are asking people to change how they tell and understand their own stories and the stories they tell about their communities. We are asking people to understand the stories about their communities in a different way, in a more honest way that is inclusive of the experience of LGBTQ people in the South. In doing so, we can change the way Southern communities define the boundaries of their connections along lines of difference and find common cause with others committed to creating new, different and honest stories about how change happens in the South.
As we begin rolling out programming for the Out in the South Initiative during the next couple months we will be focused on the following:
This work will be done with guidance from our Steering Committee which is made up of Southern and national funders who are committed to making change in the South. The Steering Committee is a stellar team made up of Meg Coward (Laughing Gull Foundation), Roz Lee (Arcus Foundation), Tim Sweeney (Freeman Foundation), Brad Clark (Gill Foundation) and Alfredo Cruz (Foundation for Louisiana).
As a way to kick off this work and continue building relationships with funders and movement leaders throughout the South, I am embarking on a road trip this week through six Southern communities including Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, Hattiesburg, New Orleans and Jacksonville. I will be connecting with funders and movement leaders to explore what it takes to increase resources for great Southern LGBTQ work. I will be connecting with Grantmakers for Southern Progress, Southeastern Council of Foundations, The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Foundation for Louisiana and the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.
I will return from this road trip with a better understanding about how these communities are moving this work forward locally and will have plenty of good stories to tell! Look for these “Dispatches from Durham” in Qnotes to stay updated on our progress in the South.
All my best,
P.S. If you’re interested in joining our Out in the South Network, please contact me at <ahref=mailto:[email protected]>[email protected] The Out in the South Network is for funder representatives who would like to have conversations with each other, to learn more about how Southern LGBT populations and issues intersect with their own funding priorities, and to share experiences and best practices.