Alliances in solidarity
by Molly Bryant
Trigger Warning: Sexual assault
May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The theme this year is Alliances in Solidarity, which highlights the need for partnerships within the gender and sexual minorities community.
A further goal is to form alliances with other marginalized communities, allies and organizations fighting for social justice and equality.
The theme this year reminds us the battle against homophobia cannot be won in isolation from other forms of oppression. As the late great Audre Lorde so courageously proclaimed, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
We are not free from homophobia until transphobia is eradicated, biphobia is abolished, racism is a relic of the past, sexism is but a line in the history books…you get the point?
All oppression is connected. And all forms of oppression matter because any form oppression is destructive to the communities in which we live, the people we love, and the future we hope to create.
As we are all aware, the battle for justice does not end with marriage equality, instead it gives us hope and chips away at the enormous war against discrimination, abuse and oppression.
Marriage equality was a huge step in the right direction, but it doesn’t remedy the fact transwomen of color are being killed at exponentially higher rates than any other gender or sexual minority or undocumented men and women are being sexually assaulted in detention centers with practically no repercussions for their attackers.
In addition to interpersonal violence, some of our state and federal policies essentially legalize oppression. Like when the federal government rolled back the rights of transgender individuals to serve in our military or when Oklahoma legislators proposed a bill limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ adoptive parents and legal guardians.
Fighting for justice must happen on multiple fronts with a unified effort.
Since we know ending all forms of oppression requires constant vigilance and endless effort, it takes partnerships with allies to challenge the status quo. We are all allies in certain contexts, and our role in those contexts is to interrupt oppressive behavior and call out microaggressions when we witness them.
What this means is we need to recognize our positions of power and privilege in certain contexts and develop the capacity to use that power to create spaces for those with less privilege than ourselves. Sometimes we need to be less of a voice for the voiceless and instead learn to pass the damn microphone.
Just like the organizers of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia understand, our role as members of oppressed groups and as allies to other oppressed groups is to partner with those who are aligned with our values of equality, equity and justice.
We need to develop a network of like-minded anti-oppression warriors so we can reach out for help when we’re feeling exhausted from the work, teach each other to forgive ourselves when we simply can’t muster the energy to explain why our coworker was being racist, and even send funny memes to our friends when they feel like they’re the squeaky wheel who always has to speak up.
May we continue to fight to end all forms of oppression, despite shackles that look very different than our own.
Molly Bryant, MSW is the Underserved Outreach Advocate at Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS) in Tulsa, OK. For domestic violence or sexual assault assistance, please call DVIS at (918) 743-5763 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800)799-7233.
The Gayly. May 17, 2018. 10:58 a.m. CST.