As we begin LGBT History Month in October, I am excited to share with you all the details of an exciting new social media photo campaign called #WeAreTheSouth /#SomosElSur. This campaign is the brainchild of the Better Together Southern Leadership and Action Cohort (of which I am a member) and is designed to magnify the robust lives, cross-cultural organizing and dynamic leadership of the LGBTQ, people of color and immigrant communities.
The Better Together Cohort began in 2012 as an initiative of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, in partnership with the social justice organization Southerners on New Ground (SONG), to connect and support a diverse set of Southern leaders working at the intersection of racial and LGBT justice in their communities. Now in our second year, the cohort consists of eight social change organizations from throughout the South, including Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign (where I’m a board member). All of these groups organize people across lines of difference and approach their work through an intersectional lens.
Through our partnership, we hope to build power, increase visibility, and secure social and economic justice for queer folks, people of color and immigrant communities in the American South to advance racial justice and LGBTQ liberation.
#WeAreTheSouth/#SomosElSur is a call to action. As immigrants, people of color and LGBTQ folks living in the South, we are a dynamic, complex, multifaceted people who understand that our lives and our works are not contained within single-issue movements. In order to achieve lasting change in our communities — like safe and affirming schools for all young people, equal access to health care, employment, education and housing, and the freedom to express our culture, gender and sexuality free from violence — our activism must engage strategies that build relationships rooted in inclusiveness, unity and a shared fate within the South. #WeAreTheSouth/#SomosElSur builds on the rich history of multi-issue, multiracial and intergenerational organizing in the South and celebrates the resiliency of our communities.
Our purpose with #WeAreTheSouth/#SomosElSur is simple. By collecting and sharing the images of the LGBTQ, people of color and immigrant communities and other organizations resisting oppression in the South, we intend to: (1) increase the visibility of organizations and activists who are often overshadowed by coast-led and single issue organizing; (2) highlight the true diversity of the South and the vital Southern leadership in intersectional LGBTQ organizing that goes beyond marriage equality; and (3) create a space that honors the unique experiences of being immigrants, people of color and LGBTQ in the South.
The #WeAreTheSouth/#SomosElSur campaign reflects elders of LGBTQ organizations that have been leading liberation work in the South for decades, young trans people of color working to end criminalization in their cities, immigrant and queer people working together to stop deportations, a diverse group of citizens demanding a raise to their city’s minimum wage, and more!
We recognize that a “Southern strategy” not rooted in and informed by people living at the margins in the South is destined for failure, and we collectively uplift the legacy of the powerful coalition-building and movement work of the South to reposition our communities as the faces of our movements.
Join us, readers! This campaign is for everyone with Southern ties who believes in justice and knows that we are all better together. We invite you to add your pictures and voices to this campaign by sending us your best selfie and a few words that describe you as an LGBTQ, POC, immigrant and/or Southern ally. Then join us on the #WeAreTheSouth/#SomosElSur Day of Action on Oct. 1, 2014, when we’ll use social media to make these images go viral. Submit your photos and find out more information at www.wearethesouth.org.
One more thing: Call or email Mayor Fischer and tell him to support raising the local minimum wage. He’s on record saying he would support it if it became a local issue, and now we must demand that he not go back on his word. Further, Councilman Jim King is reportedly rallying council members against the increase. Let him hear from you.