Our Survival Depends on Solidarity: The Strength, Resilience, and Collective Power of LGBTQ+ Arizonans Will Save Our Lives, Livelihoods, and Community
“but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.”
LGBTQ+ people in Arizona and across the country are living and thriving today because the LGBTQ+ people who came before us fought for our lives, livelihoods, and community from the days of criminalization to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We know how to come together and use our collective resilience and power to survive the worst of both nature and human society - it is in the collective and cellular memory of our community.
We also know from our history that those who are most marginalized are most vulnerable. For LGBTQ+ Arizonans during this crisis that included LGBTQ+ people who are immune compromised, of advanced age, working class, poor, sex workers, medical workers, trans and non-binary people, experiencing homelessness, pregnant, in jails, prisons, and detention centers, those who have invested their lives in small and local businesses, are of Black, Indigenous, Asian Pacific islander, and Latinx identity, and have underlying and chronic health conditions.
To this end, Equality Arizona is committed to using our power and voice to continue to fight for the resources, support, and rights of LGBTQ+ Arizonans throughout this pandemic and after. We have launched a statewide LGBTQ+ Solidarity and Community Resource project to fill the gap that government has created by their lack of timely and adequate response to this crisis between what the LGBTQ+ community has today and what we need to survive this pandemic. You can find details about ways to access resources and support here: https://www.equalityarizona.org/solidarity-covid-19.
While we work to secure the resources necessary for LGBTQ+ Arizonans during this pandemic and work to provide the social and community support necessary to sustain the mental and emotional well-being of our community, we are also working to represent and bring to bear our collective political power to meet the needs of our entire community and to fight against opportunistic incursions on our civil liberties, rights, and lives. All of the following are political priorities that we are fighting for during this crisis:
· A People’s Bailout - federal and state funding that will meet the human needs of our community to weather this crisis from safe and affordable medical care to supplementary income for everyone who needs it;
· Affirming healthcare for every LGBTQ Arizonan during and after the pandemic;
· A statewide and even national moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and the shutting off of utilities;
· Stimulus payments directly to individuals and families to supplement loss of income from a loss in wages, salaries, jobs, and businesses;
· Transparent safe guards to protect and prioritize the health and well-being of immune compromised people like those living with HIV/AIDS and with other chronic health issues;
· The release of vulnerable people from jails, prisons, and detention centers and transparent and swift action by the government to safeguard the health of people who remain in these facilities;
· Suspension of student loan payments;
· Widespread and free testing and treatment for COVID-19 and associated illnesses;
· Housing for people experiencing homelessness;
· Production of appropriate and adequate supplies for frontline medical professionals, first responders, and other necessary workers during this crisis;
· Fighting off and exposing extremists committed to using this pandemic to advance an anti-LGBTQ+ public policy agenda.
We ask that every member of the Arizona LGBTQ+ community offer what you can to your family, friends, neighbors, community members, and LGBTQ+ owned and affirming local businesses in terms of support while also maintaining safe social distancing and shelter in place protocols. We also ask everyone who has the means and ability, to participate in our collective resource and relief efforts for the most vulnerable and marginalized in our community. Even if you are not concerned for your own health, consider the members of our community who are more vulnerable to this virus. If you are a non-essential worker ask to work from home, if you are not already doing so, avoid public social gatherings and places, postpone non-essential travel, cancel or postpone in-person gatherings with anyone outside of the people you live with, and if you do have to be a public space respect a 6 to 10 foot distance between you and other people.
The great, Black, lesbian poet, Audre Lorde wrote in a Litany for Survival, “We were never meant to survive.” She was speaking of a harsh and oppressive society that worked to deny the very humanity of LGBTQ+ and other marginalized people. In the same poem she reminds us that the only way to fight against oppression and crisis is by using our individual voices for collective power and action – we may be afraid at first, but when we act, when we use our voice and resources to fight for ourselves and one another, we change the world around us through our survival.
The Equality Arizona Team