Discussion and Movement Building: Responses from the #Not1Story Twitter Town Hall

Yesterday, we hosted a Twitter Town Hall using the hashtag #Not1Story to discuss the findings from our 2016 report and build together for the future. We tweeted out four guiding questions, and our fantastic friends, coalition members, community members, and other LGBTQ and anti-violence organizations took care of the rest!

Here are some great responses from yesterday’s Town Hall. From the conversation, it’s clear that the LGBTQ anti-violence movement—in collaboration with other movements—will need to work to uplift the voices of people with marginalized identities, promote stories of resilience, survival, and ordinary joy, and work toward concrete goals, like affordable housing, support for immigrants, and truly community-based pathways for healing and justice. But it’s also clear from these responses that none of us are alone in this work. We must—and we can—come together to work together toward liberation and self-empowerment for all people impacted by oppression and violence.

Q1: How will we work in our everyday environments to end violence and discrimination to ensure all LGBTQ people can thrive?

 

Q2: This year we saw more hate violence online. Where else is hate violence happening that we need to be talking about?

 

Q3: What are some of the community-based pathways to healing & justice for LGBTQ people that will help us move forward?

https://twitter.com/thejessicaraven/status/874698621563940864

 

Q4: Beyond stories about violence, what are stories about LGBTQ people that we need to be sharing with the world?

In fact, there were so many great responses that we can’t fit them all here. Check out our feed at @antiviolence and the hashtag #Not1Story to read more.

 

Three Tips for Taking Care of Yourself—and Your Community—One Year after Pulse

Leading up to today, you may be reading many articles about Pulse, what it means to our communities, what we can learn from it, and what we can do to come together and work to end violence against LGBTQ communities as hate speech and violence are on the rise. This article is not about that. This piece is about how we keep ourselves and communities whole as we do the necessary work of fighting to make things better. It’s about how we take care of ourselves and of each other, and how we heal ourselves and our community.

From our experiences at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), leading a team of counselors and advocates, working alongside organizers, trainers, policy advocates, and attorneys, the majority of whom identify as part of the communities most impacted by violence—queer and trans folks, people of color, immigrants, youth and more—we know that the folks who are on the front lines are also directly impacted by this violence.  It bears noting that the night Pulse was attacked was Latinx Night, again impacting queer and trans people of color.

At AVP we see firsthand, in the first person, the toll that it takes to overcome hate and live without fear. We recognize that to keep fighting this fight—and to win it—we must ensure our movements are sustainable over time and that we are not depleting our own resources in the face of the systemic violence we face.

To do this, we believe three things are necessary:

  1. Taking care of ourselves (aka Self-Care)
  2. Taking care of each other (aka Community-Care)
  3. Finding your own balance between the two.

Self-Care

Audre Lorde famously said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  We agree that caring for ourselves is an important component of ensuring we can continue to work to build safety, justice, and equity for LGBTQ and allied communities. But some of us may be feeling a little self-care fatigue, may even groan when we hear it mentioned.  We get it, and understand that some of the information out there about self-care may not feel accessible to many of us. Solutions may feel out of reach, may not reflect our individual cultural practices, don’t feel helpful or simply feel overwhelming to think about!  Sometimes self-care is not “one big thing” you can do, but may require “a lot of little things.” Here are a few ideas or tips that we hope can be helpful to you when thinking about your own self-care. Figure out:

How you’re doing:  Take an inventory of how you are feeling, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Too often, we minimize how we’re feeling to push through and get all the urgent things we need to do, done. But those things that we’re minimizing will only get worse if not attended to. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Where does it hurt or feel achy?
  • How’s your energy level? Your mood?
  • When did you last drink water and eat?
  • How are you sleeping?
  • What feels pretty good?
  • When did you last stop to think, reflect, meditate, pray, or take a few breaths?

What might help:  You really are the expert here—what makes you feel better? If you are stuck, reach out to your community for ideas. Some may be exactly what you are looking for and others may not feel right for you—that’s ok!  Consider attending to all of your areas of health (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual), and keep in mind a few common culprits:  dehydration, exhaustion, being triggered in your trauma.  Then, focus on what you can do to address what’s happening—in the moment, in the next few days, few weeks, and over the course of the year.

How to get what you need:  Make a self-care plan and reach out for help. We often create these plans in response or reaction to something that’s already happened.  It’s really great to have a self-care plan before you need it, and to make sure you have a list of folks you trust in your community that you can turn to if you need support.  It’s not always easy, as marginalized communities who are so often told we need to “be strong,” to reach out and ask for help. It is essential to believe that we are deserving of support and that we too have the right to ask for help—for ourselves.

If you need help knowing where to start, you can always call us, 24/7 at AVP: 212 714 1141. Our hotline counselors are available to you, wherever, whenever.  You can also make a report online, and ask a Counselor to reach out to you.

Community-Care

We can’t stop at taking care of ourselves, because we can’t do this alone.  The idea of self-care as the only way to approach healing is well-intentioned, but flawed: it can be isolating, it puts the responsibility for healing on each of us as individuals, and it doesn’t allow accountability to and responsibility for one another’s wellness. We can’t isolate or silo ourselves and leave others high and dry. We are in this together! Community care means taking care of each other. Checking in with your co-workers, your fellow activists, your loved ones, and working to support and nurture them as your community is equally—if not more—important. It’s essential to continuing in the struggle. We must work in solidarity, to honor the lives we have lost, and to uplift all of us who are still here and still fighting. Too often, we make space for action, and we do action really well—we hit hard, we go all out, and we make real change. But then, we retreat to care for ourselves, alone. What we’re missing is making space to heal, together, as a community. We came together to fight for each other, and we have to fight just as hard to help each other heal, so we can be stronger and fight even harder, and win.

Balance

The important thing here is to remember that both Self-Care and Community-Care are important—as we say at AVP, it’s a “both-and,” rather than an “either-or.” You can’t really do one without the other—taking care of yourself in isolation won’t likely be enough when you spend so much time in community, and ignoring your own needs and taking care of everybody else will led to burnout—or worse—really quickly. In taking care of yourselves and each other, here are some links that might be helpful:

Cat Shugrue dos Santos and Darlene S. Torres are Co-Directors of Client Services at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (www.avp.org).

Surviving when it’s close to home: remembering Pulse one year later

I remember that night like it was just yesterday. Looking at my phone and seeing the pictures of two people l consider family, one being like a son to me and one being like a sister to me.

I remember saying – “Oh my god, I wish I was there with you. Have fun for me and be safe.” And then I fell asleep.

I woke up several hours later to many frantic text messages from my sister telling me she cannot find my son and that there was a fatal shooting at the club. I looked at the message and couldn’t believe what I was reading. But then I turned on the TV and started texting people in my circle, including my son’s partner. They told me that this was really happening and that my son was still missing.

My heart was racing, pounding so hard I thought it would come out of my chest. I kept calling and texting my son, but got no reply.

Later that evening, I finally received the call that he was okay but still in shock. However, he couldn’t find one of his best friends. Later on we found out that his friend never made it out of the club.

It’s been a tough year, especially being so close to not one but two survivors of that tragic night, where so many who were out just enjoying themselves lost their lives through an act of hate.

I count my blessings every day that I have the privilege to work with an organization like the New York City Anti-Violence Project, where we’ve been providing services for nearly 40 years to LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence. It came as no surprise that we made ourselves ready to assist those in crisis due to this horrific tragedy.

In my role as a Senior Counselor/Advocate, I spoke with many clients and community members about their fears and trauma following the shooting at Pulse Nightclub. I also held and worked through my own personal experience, and the experiences of my loved ones.

Collectively, we all began to move toward healing.

Living with this – or any – experience of violence is an ongoing process, and we are always here to help.

If you or someone you know has experienced or witnessed hate violence, or if you just want to talk about the feelings that remembering Pulse has brought up for you, please call our 24 hour bilingual hotline at 212-714-1141.

Sleep in peace to all the 49 fallen angels.

Chanel Lopez is a Senior Counselor/Advocate at the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Today we Honor Those We Lost and Commit to Fight for the Living

Last year, our country suffered the loss of 77 LGBTQ individuals to senseless hate violence. Most of these hate violence victims were people of color and many were transgender and gender nonconforming. One year ago today, on June 12, 2016, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando took the lives of 49 mostly Latinx LGBTQ young adults, wounded over 50 others and deeply traumatized hundreds. This massacre shook the LGBTQ community and our entire country to the core.

Along with 28 other LGBTQ hate-based homicides last year, the Pulse shooting made 2016 the deadliest year on record for hate violence against LGBTQ people in the United States. By June 11, 2016, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) had already responded to twelve hate-related homicides of LGBTQ people. Nine of those twelve victims were transgender women of color. The shooting at Pulse was deeply connected to the continuous hate violence being committed against LGBTQ people, and in particular LGBTQ people of color every day in this country.

Today, one year after the Pulse shooting, NCAVP is releasing its 20th annual report on LGBTQ and HIV-affected hate violence. For the 20th year in a row, we are calling the nation’s attention to the many ways hate—in the form of homophobia, transphobia and racism—can turn into violence against members of the LGBTQ community, especially those who are already marginalized, discriminated against and abused in our society.

 

The report, which analyzes 1,036 incidents of hate violence reported across the country, highlights that these homicides are occurring in a larger context in which anti-LGBTQ hate violence is persistent, daily and happening everywhere in our society. Hate violence is occurring at schools, workplaces, in our homes and communities. The majority of hate violence survivors experienced violence at the hands of someone they knew, not a stranger on the street. And in the current political climate in which attempts are being made to roll back or limit the rights and protections of LGBTQ people, already unsafe places are being made even more dangerous for our community members.

Last year, of the 28 non-Pulse hate violence homicides reported on in the 2016 NCAVP Hate Violence Report, 79% of the victims were people of color (18 Black and 4 were Latinx), 68% were transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) and 61% were transgender women of color.

Now, halfway through 2017, it is clear that we have not begun to turn the tide to end this cycle of violence. So far in 2017, NCAVP has received reports of 21 LGBTQ lives taken by possible hate-related violence, and the majority of these victims have been transgender, gender-nonconforming, and people of color.

Today, as we remember the Pulse shooting and celebrate the lives of those we lost in Orlando a year ago, let us also remember the other 28 LGBTQ lives lost to hate violence last year, and the 21 already lost in 2017.

As we lobby for gun reform, let’s also demand our elected officials stop dangerous religious exemption laws and other anti-LGBT legislation that contribute to a climate of hate and violence.

And when we attend vigils in the memory of Pulse, let’s also make a pledge to speak up when we hear anti-LGBTQ and anti-HIV hate speech or see people being targeted for who they are.

Let’s support community-based organizations that are working to prevent violence and find alternatives to systems that continue to criminalize and oppress our communities.

We still have a long way to go, but together, we can stand up for love and respect and make our world safer for everyone.

Beverly Tillery is the executive director of the New York City Ani-Violence Project. Follow her on Twitter: @BeverlyTillery

We can #LiveWithoutFear. You can help.

Here’s what’s happening: a 45% increase in hotline calls. A 46% spike in reports of hate violence. A 67% increase in new clients seeking counseling.

At AVP, we’re here for you whenever, wherever. Counselors are ready to talk one-on-one. Lawyers are ready to advocate for you in court. We organize LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities to create a culture of respect and safety throughout NYC.

We’re asking you to join us as a fundraiser to make sure AVP remains a lifeline for survivors of violence. Welcome to Day 1 of our #LiveWithoutFear campaign.

From now until May 15th, we’ll be working to raise $25,000. Join us as a fundraiser to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence across New York City.

It’s easy to get started, and we are here to support you every step of the way. Here’s what to do:

  1. Set up your own fundraising page. On it, tell the story of what AVP means to you.
  2. Share your page with friends and family, and ask them to give a gift to sustain our crucial work.
  3. Check out our detailed fundraising guide, which will walk you through every step of the process.

 

Together, we can build a world in which all LGBTQ and HIV-affected people are safe, respected, and #livewithoutfear. Help us make it a reality.

#ValueTransLives

Vickie Cruz, star of The Death and Life of Marsh P. Johnson and former AVP Senior Counselor/Advocate sat down with Executive Director Beverley Tillery and Lead Organizer LaLa Zannell to discuss valuing trans lives in the past, present and future.  Watch their conversation below.

Help us honor the lives of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and other transgender leaders by joining us to #ValueTransLives.  Check out our campaign and let us know how you plan to value trans lives! We’ll be sharing responses back to you and the rest of our community here.