The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

Queer People’s Movement Assembly at the USSF

The United States Social Forum, with its ocean of workshops, panels and People’s Movement Assemblies is in full swing.  Detroit is currently hosting some 20,000 people here with a strong will to make the United States a better country. Underneath many signs that say “USSF 2010”, there’s a phrase declaring, “Another World is Possible, Another U.S. is Necessary.”  The vibe in the opening downtown march on Tuesday afternoon was one of people unified–reflecting the kind of inclusive world they want, where many worlds can fit. It was powerful for me to have the opportunity to march down the streets of Detroit feeling connected to so many amazing and committed activists.

The overall mood at the Forum is exciting and the level of positive energy is invigorating. As a first time Social Forum attendee, I’m thrilled with the way ideas and solutions to eliminate injustices in the U.S. are getting shared and learned. People have poured in from all over the country, and in some cases all over the world, with a will to engage in meaningful conversations about the current health of our country in this critical moment in history.

Some of those conversations I delved into today had to do with culture, human rights, and the queer justice movement.  For many queer people of color, like myself, trying to identify and stay connected with the gay mainstream movement is hard.  An agenda that doesn’t look at–or at best sidelines racial, economic, and immigrant justice issues–is an agenda that can marginalize non-white queer people and works to benefit one group of people, often at the expense of another.  The assembly I attended on Wednesday, connected all of these issues and it was great to be in a space where people recognize the many realities queer people are facing as people of color, immigrants, low income, single parents, and urban and rural youth, just to name a few.

The Queer People’s Movement Assembly (QPMA) helped facilitate a series of group and one-on-one discussions in which we were able to share and connect what we felt were some of the most urgent issues affecting our specific communities with the rest of the group.  It began with a one-on-one round. I was able to partner randomly with Siria, a young immigrant organizer from Miami.  With a small window of time we wrote down our three top issues on sticky notes, shared them and explained how they were affecting our local region.   We were then able to post them up on the walls under themes such as: Housing, Policing, Public Services, Immigration, Violence, Health, and Labor/Employment. In this session, Siria and I expressed many things that we could see connected between her in Miami, and me in New Mexico including: anti-immigrant legislation, criminalization of youth of color, and health disparities.

There are many realities that intersect and for a lot of queer organizers its up to us to engage in the struggles in ways that are not divisive. The QPMA was a very inclusive space that recognized that we come from many different backgrounds but that that does not mean we are alone, trying to hide one oppressed side of us from another.  The QPMA was a strong snapshot of the nation-wide queer movement and showed that collaboration with all type of folks in the various movements is necessary to achieve real change that gets at the root of the issues that affect everybody, including queer people of color.

Candelario Vazquez, Media Justice Organizer, Media Literacy Project

June 24, 2010 Posted by | USSF, USSF_mlp | Leave a comment

queer/trans people’s movement assembly

I am reporting from Detroit, Michigan and the 2010 US Social Forum (USSF). This forum is a movement building process. It is not a conference, but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the 
economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our
 struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sector, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and
 changes history.

Each afternoon, the forum offers several Peoples’ Movement Assembly (PMA), which is a gathering of people to discuss and analyze our conditions, to come up with demands, commitments, and visions for how things could be different. Each PMA is a facilitated space to decide and coordinate, actions that will bring us closer to those visions.

I attended the Queer/Trans PMA from 1 pm – 5:30 pm on Wednesday, which was facilitated by members of the more than 10 nationwide organizations that make up the Roots Coalition. The room was packed with more than 100 beautiful Queer/Trans people from around the country. There were 4 goals for this PMA, to clear pressing issues, to seek out a possible direction for a new national LGBTQ campaign, to gauge the group so we can move together in a chosen direction, and to develop a Queer/Trans agreement that will be present to the USSF National Planning Committee on Saturday at the National PMA.

The facilitators led us in a series of group activities before we got down to business. Our first task was to find our respective regions posted on each wall (North, South, East, West). I work in the New Mexico, so I went to the West region. Normally, this activity is not that challenging, but with more people than the room could handle, it was very challenging for folks to make it from one side of the room to the other. This became very obvious to me when my group realized we were only three. Really, in a room of over 100 people, only three of us work in the West? No, we knew it couldn’t be right. For the next activity, we were given three Post-it notes to write down what were three issues most important to our communities. After this we did two rounds of “speed dating” with folks sitting around us to share what our issues were. Next we connected our issues to larger themes like Education, Immigration, Policing, Housing, and Safety. This was an opportunity to see where our issues intersect and mirror each other. The facilitators wanted us to be able to walk around the room, so we could read what others wrote, but since all of us didn’t really fit, it was virtually impossible to accomplish. Our facilitators saw this was not happening as they expected and called out the bad idea.

Next, we were broken up into 6 groups, half of which moved into another room. In these groups, we discussed 3 topic issues that came out of local PMA’s from around the country, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Jobs Creation, and Real ID Act. Our job was to talk about and assess the potential for each issue to be a national campaign for Queer/Trans communities. The Real ID issue my group felt was the most relevant, winnable, bold, and could really grow capacity and give our communities the opportunity to work with organizations we might not traditionally look to as partners.

Thinking about this issue in terms of healthy communities and identity, it seems to me that all people, even white people, generally appreciate privacy and having their identities respected. While the Real ID Act will have serious implications on all communities, we are sure there will be serious ramifications for Queer folks especially. The impact this legislation has will look different in each community, and can be used as a tool against queer/trans, and people of color communities.

For anyone interested in this struggle, please contact FIERCE.

thanks for reading,


June 24, 2010 Posted by | USSF, USSF_mlp | Leave a comment

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