A portion of the OutSummit segment titled, “An Historical Analysis of 25 Years of Global LGBTIQ Activism,” engaged panelists in the complicated question, “have we created a truly global movement?”
Grace Poore, OutRight’s Regional Program Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific Islands, began the discussion by challenging the commonly oversimplified idea that individuals fall neatly into adversarial categories of privileged and unprivileged [00:01:43]
Her challenge of this idea was prompted by a question surrounding how we might change the majority of our [LGBTIQ] movement to address the people who are invisible and how we might make space for people who are less privileged to exist within these movements.
“I often wonder, when we are talking about people with different kinds of oppressions, whether it should be assumed that a person is fully opressed without any privilege because I think the people who are disadvantaged also have some privilege in a different context. Then we have people who are experiencing multiple levels of disadvantage and they have no privilege at all. It becomes very complicated when we think about people being purely victims or purely privileged. We will never move forward if we look at it that way.”
Grace went on to explain that using the intersectionality framework is probably the best way for activists to create a truly inclusive international LGBTIQ movement.
Julia Ehrt, Executive Director of Transgender Europe (TGEU), followed up on Grace’s comments by emphasizing the importance of ensuring that the organizations working on human rights issues are setting an example for how power and privilege should be disseminated and redistributed within society [00:02:50]
“I do as well believe ...that the more privileged people usually are in the more privileged positions...this is a reflection of how society as a whole works. We still need to be doing better than the rest because, as human rights activists, we want to hold society accountable for being just. We have to set an example.”
Julia also suggested that we need to make a constant effort to hire people who are coming from different backgrounds and that we must make an effort to create a space that allows for disadvantaged individuals to be on board.
Social Psychologist, Gloria Careaga, wanted to emphasize that, while we should acknowledge that many of those who are working as human rights activists are privileged, we should be careful to not make the assumption that all are [00:04:00]
“In many regions, most of the LGBT work has been done in a voluntary way...many of the individuals that are here participate in the international arena too, but it is not the same as those people who have been paid...they are very different situations and it depends on the region and the country.”
Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director and Senior Scholar at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, ended the discussion with some thoughts that really combined and solidified the words of each panelist [00:05:20]
“I like to use the analogy from a long time ago that a social justice movement is like a symphony of liberations. There are many, many players and actors...intersectionality is the best concept we have for that….we all have multiple identities and most of us have multiple levels of power and privilege and disempowerment within ourselves so that if we think of it as a symphony that needs to hear all the voices, I think that we can talk about what are the voices we are not hearing enough.”
“We have to think about power and privilege not just as something terrible, but as something we use to make space for more people, to make space for the marginalized to be heard, to make sure that those voices are there...the key to that is listening for them and figuring out how to amplify that part of the movement and not being afraid of the difficulties--not being afraid of the challenges that we will all face when we have to hear how we’re perceived.” [00:06:58]
Panelist responses revealed we still have much to work on within the LGBTIQ movement before we can render it truly global. Namely:
- Reconstructing how we understand power and privilege- examining it within an intersectionality framework and recognizing it as a tool for amplifying voices of marginalized individuals
- Acknowledging that not all human rights activists are privileged, and that much of the ground work that has been done has been completed voluntarily and regionally. Yet, this work is equally as valuable as the paid work being done by individuals in the international arena.
- Ensuring that the organizations fighting for the rights of LGBTIQ individuals are reflecting, in their own structure, what the distribution and dissemination of power and privilege should ideally look like within the societies they are attempting to influence.
Listen to the full segment with panelists: Grace Poore, Gloria Careaga, Michael Ighodaro, Charlotte Bunch and Julia Ehrt, and moderated by Allison Jernow. Share your comments with us on social media via #OutRight:
Published on April 5, 2016 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization