From December 2-4, more than 200 people from 80 LGBT organizations that focus on empowering LGBT people of color gathered in Minneapolis for the BOLD! Gathering, a strategic convening to build relationships between these organizations. The gathering was sponsored by eight foundations that committed to funding LGBT people of color organizations as part of the Racial Equity Initiative, a project initially led by Funders for LGBTQ Issues.
The PFund Foundation and Astraea Foundation designed the program to create "an opportunity for the leaders of people of color LGBT organizations across the nation to know and learn from each other and also to provide an opportunity for our foundation peers to better understand the LGBT movement from the perspective of LGBT [people of color] organizations,” explained Alfonso Wenker, director of communications and development for the PFund Foundation.
According to the BOLD! Gathering press release, this convening is needed now more than ever because “when the initiative was launched in 2008, there were over $100 million in annual grant awards to LGBT agencies, but only 1% were awarded to LGBT [people of color] organizations. Yet, combined, people of color communities make up a majority of the population in the United States...People of color communities including those from African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American/Two-Spirit and others also tend to experience more conservative attitudes about sexuality and concurrently have the highest incidences of economic, health and educational disparities.”
Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, a consultant who served on the gathering’s planning committee, added, “This is our Movement Moment - one that will be marked by communities of color becoming the majority in this country within the next two decades. As a result, we have an unprecedented opportunity to move the movement towards justice and full inclusiveness."
Theo Yang Copley, a member of the Astraea Foundation’s Fall Campaign Team, blogged for the Foundation’s website from the convening, writing, “The LGBTQI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex] people of color community is learning, evolving and changing in response to multiple oppressions and external challenges and continued investment in it matters. The leaders here work in their communities, building relationships and supporting others so we can have the kind of world that we need…one that supports all people to be who they are.”
Reflecting on the convening, Uma Rao, organizer for the Pride Foundation, shared, "The BOLD! Gathering was the perfect combination of learning, inspiration and fun. I feel blessed to have met so many people across generations and traditions to now be able to call on. As a queer person of color, having this network of peers helps me feel like I can sustain my work."
Lesbian feminist and cultural worker Jewelle Gomez added, “The BOLD! gathering was the product of a lot of hard work and strong spirits, all of which showed in how participants couldn’t stop talking with each other. This historic event, which builds on so much organizing that has gone before, will be the conduit for stronger connections among our QPOC [queer people of color] communities and organizations; make our voices heard in the furthest reaches of the LGBT communities; and help make social change a reality.”
In an interview with GLAAD, Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Southerners on New Ground (SONG) Co-Director & member of the First Nations/Two Spirit Collective, also invoked the organizing history that this gathering builds on. She shared, “In October 1979, Audre Lorde delivered a keynote speech at the National Third World Gay and Lesbian Conference, one of the first national gatherings of LGBT people of color. She asked,
What does the responsibility of community mean? Does it mean only a trick handshake, the latest fashion in cruising clothes, the right only to hold hands in the street? Or does it mean building genuine networks of support for each other and our communities, so that wherever, however, whenever we are functioning within this system which cannibalizes our loves and lives; whenever and however we function within this system, we work to bring about more humanity and more light for each other and for those who, like ourselves, have felt the keen edge of rejection.
The BOLD! conference was a great place to be reminded of both that legacy and the challenge of continuing to create an inclusive movement that centers and values the leadership and vision of LGBT folks of color.”
The BOLD! Gathering has posted four teleconference calls from the convening on their website, titled Locating Ourselves within Movement(s), What is this Movement Moment?, An Organizing Model: Spirituality and Healing, and An Organizing Model: Cultural Work and Organizing. A list of convening participants can be found here.
The gathering has been covered by the Miami Herald, The Bilerico Project and LGBT POV, among other media outlets. For more information, visit: www.boldgathering.org.