Building bridges in the struggle for equality

March 22, 2010

OAKLAND, Calif.--Activists for LGBTQI rights came together here to discuss next steps in planning for the upcoming Equality Across America conference, with about 25 organizers attending a meeting at the UNITE HERE Local 2 union offices on February 25.

The goal of the conference is to create and foster a grassroots network of connected activists and organizers dedicated to solidarity and common struggle as it ties to the LGBTQI community. Among the groups represented were One Struggle One Fight, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, UNITE HERE Local 2, the Alice B. Toklas Society and Out4Immigration.

Questions that were repeated throughout the evening were: What is the overarching theme going to be? How do we ensure inclusivity among underrepresented groups in the community? How can we build solidarity between LGBTQI struggles and other movements for social and economic justice? How can this conference network activists in the struggle for full federal equality and build action?

The theme of the conference will be "Full Federal Equality for All." The conference will be built in such a way as to make it absolutely clear that exclusion, tokenizing and partiality will not be tolerated. Activists are organizing outreach that will invite people from several communities--transgender, communities of color, HIV-positive, elders, immigrants, youth and "anyone else who does not fit within 'conventional' categories."

More than one attendee spoke to the need of solidarity among struggles and cross-movement organizing. The feeling around the table was tangibly one of fierce unity with those struggles, with the stated understanding that we fight together or lose. Examples of the areas targeted for outreach were labor, immigration and budget cut fightbacks, among others.

Participants were eager to discuss building some sort of direct action or protest both during the conference and to come afterward, as it was recognized that full federal equality for LGBTQI people will not come without action in the streets.

Our stated goals coming out of this meeting are to build radically inclusive grassroots networking, communication and task-sharing abilities among the LGBTQI communities in Northern California "so that what happens in San Francisco is not disconnected from...San Jose."

Ashley Simmons contributed to this article.

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