By: Saida Agostini-Bostic on June 1, 2023
A Message from Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ President, Saida Agostini-Bostic
This month marks the fifty-fourth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprisings. As we move into Pride Month, I think back to my favorite Pride several years ago in Baltimore—the year Big Freedia performed in Station North—and the miles of beautiful and multigenerational Black queer and trans folks dancing up and down North Avenue, the love that shined out. We danced on streets that were sometimes brutal to us, where our blood was at risk of being spilled, and we made it completely our own.
Since the beginning of 2023, over five hundred anti-LGBTQ bills, primarily targeting TGNC communities and drag performers, have proliferated nationwide. In the past two weeks alone, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed bills criminalizing TGNC people using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity, and approving family separation for parents seeking gender-affirming care for their children.
As our organization surveys the trends in far-right organizing, what becomes deeply clear is that TGNC communities are being used as a divisive wedge issue to attack the stability of American democratic systems. The reality is that protecting TGNC communities must be a central focus in any philanthropic strategy to protect democracy in the United States, and around the globe.
We are in a crisis. And yet, the story of that crisis has not yet shifted philanthropic funding. Our tracking report tells a story of a sector that continues to seriously underfund LGBTQ movement work. There is so much beautiful and powerful work happening across the country: TENT organizing at the Texas State Capitol to ensure the voices of TGNC youth and parents are heard, OK Representative Mauree Turner and MT Representative Zooey Zephyr standing up for their constituents despite censure and threats, and thousands of students walking out in schools across the country in protest of laws seeking to deny TGNC youth their humanity. In the moments I feel most hopeless – these are the stories I turn to.
This Pride continues to be a space of reclamation and joy, but it is undeniable that we are in a moment of tremendous attack. Our lives and well-being are under a daily assault. For us at Funders for LGBTQ Issues, we are asking ourselves what it means to come from this powerful legacy, and how it will inform how we show up in this moment for the people we love. Mariame Kaba, famed abolitionist, and librarian said not too long ago, “let this radicalize you, rather than lead you to despair”. This is a moment where we need to fight like hell.
As a sector, we must move beyond celebrating Pride once a year. The Stonewall Uprising does not mark the beginning or end of principled LGBTQ movement building but rather marks a powerful culmination of intersectional resistance work. The best way we can honor those six days of uprising in 1969 is to move towards a daily practice of philanthropic practice and collaboration within our sector, because LGBTQ people, particularly people of color, disabled folks, immigrants and TGNC communities live in a daily practice of resistance.
In the spirit of cultivating a daily practice of resistance, please join us for any and all of the events we have planned this month. In the coming weeks, you can join us for a funder briefing on the needs of state and local organizers on the frontlines of our movement fighting for the rights of LGBTQ communities, attend a member convening to share best practices and strategies to center LGBTQ movements in grantmaking or launch of the next edition of our LGBTQ grantmaking tracking report at the Ford Foundation. If there are ways we can support you and your institution in this moment, please don’t hesitate to call on us. This mutuality and deep care is what makes our membership network powerful.
In Love and Solidarity,