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Laverne Cox Makes Special Trip to BreakOUT! *UPDATED*

on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 22:26

Actress, producer, and transgender activist Laverne Cox made a special visit to BreakOUT! this afternoon to talk and share with members.  The trip came after members launched a social media campaign asking her to make a trip to our office before she speaks at Tulane University this evening.  Members shared stories with Laverne about living in New Orleans as young, Black transgender women and their experiences with criminalization and organizing in their communities.  We also got advice on things we can do to ensure our success and the importance of affirming self-love.  Afterward, we posed for plenty of photos and even got her to write a note to one of our incarcerated members on the inside.

After the visit, Laverne sent this tweet:

Thank you for coming to visit, Laverne!

BreakOUT! To Perform "Say My Name" in New York, Philadelphia

on Sun, 02/16/2014 - 19:36

BreakOUT! will be hitting the road again in March to perform "Say My Name, Say My Name," our theater production with Ping Chong + Company, in New York and Philadelphia.  If you remember, we used this project to kick off our Healing Justice Program back in October, when we were invited by the Arcus Foundation to develop and perform the piece for the Neighborhood Funders Group Convening in Jackson, Mississippi.

The performance, written and directed by Sara Zatz and Mieke Dee, is based on interviews, writings and conversations with the cast and members of BreakOUT!   The 45 minute theatrical performance features the true stories and life experiences of five Black transgender young women who are members of BreakOUT!  It explores the dynamics of growing up transgender against the backdrop of

START YOUR ENGINES! BreakOUT! Hosts Fantasy Drag Race Fundraiser

on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 14:46
You've heard of Fantasy Football. You've (hopefully) heard of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Now get ready for BreakOUT!'s RuPaul's Fantasy Drag Race Fundraiser!
The rules are simple: Each week players will pick a team of queens and earn points based on their weekly performance. BreakOUT! will track your score and update you each week as you choose your next top queens. Either watch the show each Monday beginning on February 24th to root for your favorite queen- or just keep up with your score online as we update you on your progress each week.
The price to play is a $25 donation to BreakOUT! and at the end of the season in May, the person with the most points will win a special prize and become...
BreakOUT!'s next Fantasy Drag Superstar!
Not sure who to pick?  Meet the queens.

BreakOUT! Attends, Presents at 26th Annual Creating Change Conference in Houston, TX

on Fri, 02/07/2014 - 17:49

Above: photo by Miriam Mimi Madrid Puga (MMMP)

Reflections on Our First Creating Change Conference

By Milan and BreakOUT!
On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, four BreakOUT! staff took an amazing road trip to Houston, Texas for the 26th Annual Creating Change LGBT Conference.  Over 4,000 people attended this year.
Our road trip was rocky in the beginning- three of us were supposed to be flying out that morning but due to the cold weather, our flights were all either delayed or cancelled so we jumped in the car instead to take the road trip to Texas.  Once we got in the car though, we realized that they had declared a state of emergency and I-10 was closed down until right outside the Texas border!

BreakOUT! & Streetwise and Safe (SAS) Launch National LGBTQ Know Your Rights Network at Creating Change Conference

on Fri, 01/31/2014 - 01:45

Streetwise and Safe (SAS) and BreakOUT!, two organizations made up predominantly of LGBTQ youth of color with experiences of policing and the criminal legal system,are launching a national Know Your Rights Network for LGBTQ youth to know and share resources for reducing the harms of interactions with the police and other law enforcement and organizing for systemic changes in policing practices.

Born out of workshops, surveys, and conversations with LGBTQ youth organizations across the country at the Allied Media Conference and at FIERCE’s Connecting Our Roots convening, the newly launched network aims to meet a need consistently identified by LGBTQ young people for media, materials, and strategies for sharing information about their rights with the police that are tailored to their

BreakOUT! Hosts Missouri GSA for Peer Exchange on LGBTQ Youth and School-to-Prison Pipeline

on Thu, 01/30/2014 - 17:04

Thanks to the GSA Network, BreakOUT! enjoyed a peer exchange with the Missouri GSA Network in January to talk about the school-to-prison pipeline and criminalization of LGBTQ youth in our communities, especially transgender youth of color.

Over 2 days, young people gathered to learn from each other, breaking down experiences being criminalized in Missouri and New Orleans, visiting juvenile court, holding storycircles, and planning for next steps over po'boys and barbecue.  We even took some time to write to BreakOUT! members currently in the prison pipeline to show them love and solidarity!

One of the Missouri GSA youth members had this to say:












BreakOUT! looks forward to continuing to build relationships with our friends in Missouri!

Human Rights Watch Releases Report Echoing BreakOUT! Member Stories

on Wed, 12/11/2013 - 14:44

"Police went through my purse and called me a 'thing' and asked what I needed all those condoms for..."

-transgender woman in New Orleans, excerpted from "In Harm's Way"

Report Further Proves Need for Policing Reforms, Tackles Other Major Public Health Crises

On Wednesday, the international organization, Human Rights Watch, will release a 57-page report, “In Harm’s Way: State Response to Sex Workers, Drug Users, and HIV in New Orleans.”  According to Human Rights Watch, the report "documents government violations of the right to health and other abuses of at-risk populations in New Orleans."
"The Human Rights Watch report just further proves that New Orleans continues to have a problem with discriminatory policing practices and further validates the stories we continue to hear

BreakOUT! Responds to HRC’s 2013 Municipal Equality Index

on Wed, 11/27/2013 - 15:31

Making the Grade: Equality for Who?

by Derwin Wilright, Jr.

For LGBTQ youth of color in New Orleans, it seems that we might have missed a community memo.  Big Gay Inc. came to town and we didn’t receive an invite to the party.

Every year, the Human Rights Campaign releases their Municipal Equality Index, an assessment of LGBTQ-inclusivity at the city-wide level through evaluation of several factors, from relationship recognition to law enforcement.  Just recently marked the release of the 2013 Municipal Equality Index.

While the report acknowledges that “The MEI specifically rates cities on their laws and policies” and that  “it is not a measure of an LGBT person’s lived experience in that city,” BreakOUT! was still surprised to see that New Orleans was given a score of 91% - due in

"Pray for the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living!"

on Wed, 11/20/2013 - 05:00

Quote from Mother Jones, Labor and Community Organizer
Photo by Ted Moree from 2011 BreakOUT! Memorial Vigil

BreakOUT! Commemorates 15th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance

by BreakOUT! Member, L'lerret Jazelle Ailith

BreakOUT! was founded on the structures of community, advocacy, and action for those LGBTQ individuals residing in the greater New Orleans area who need it the most. We have an obligation to uplift those in our community that are consistently marginalized and misrepresented. With most of our members identifying under the trans* umbrella, it is necessary and pertinent that we take the time to truly give a mic and a light to these brothers and sisters during the time of TDOR. 

TDOR (Transgender Day of Remembrance) occurs annually on November 20th to memorialize those

Curtain Up!

on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 15:39

BreakOUT! Healing Justice Program Kicks Off with Ping Chong + Company Theatre Performance

BreakOUT! was recently invited by the Arcus Foundation to partner with Ping Chong + Company, an internationally acclaimed theater company from New York, to put together our own version of their “Undesirable Elements” project, an oral history theater series that uses the voices of real people to explore issues of identity and difference.

After a lot of deliberation (How do we tell our stories from a place of power?  Who gets to hear our stories?  How will we use this in our campaigns?  Who are these people from New York anyway??), members and organizers at BreakOUT! decided to take on the task.

Now, after a week of workshops, rehearsals, games, and scripting, we are happy we did!

BreakOUT! spent all