BreakOUT! Program Director, Shaena Johnson
As we begin LGBT History Month in October, The Better Together Southern Leadership and Action Cohort (Better Together Cohort) is proud to debut an exciting new photo campaign, #WeAreTheSouth / #SomosElSur, to magnify the robust lives, cross cultural organizing, and dynamic leadership of LGBTQ, People of Color, and Immigrant Communities working to advance Racial Justice and LGBTQ Liberation in the US South.
What is Better Together?
The Better Together Cohort began in 2012 as an initiative of The Center for Racial Justice Innovation (Race Forward) in partnership with Southerners on New Ground (SONG) to “connect and support a diverse set of Southern leaders working at the intersection of racial and LGBT justice in their communities.” Now in our second year, the cohort consists of eight social change organizations – BreakOUT!, Center for Artistic Revolution, Fairness Campaign, Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Freedom Center for Social Justice and The Trans* People of Color Coalition – organizing across lines of difference and approaching our work through an intersectional lens.
Through our partnership, we hope to build power, increase visibility, and secure social and economic justice for queer folks, people of color, and immigrant communities in the US South to advance Racial Justice and LGBTQ Liberation.
#WeAreTheSouth / #SomosElSur
#WeAreTheSouth / #SomosElSur is a call to action. As Immigrants, People of Color, and LGBTQ folks living in the South, we are a dynamic, complex, multifaceted people who understand that our lives and our works are not contained within single-issue movements. In order to achieve lasting change in our communities – safe and affirming schools for all young people, equal access to health care, employment, education and housing, and the freedom to express our culture, gender, and sexuality free from violence for starters – our activism must engage strategies that build relationships rooted in inclusiveness, unity, and a shared fate within the South.
As such, #WeAreTheSouth / #SomosElSur builds on the rich history of multi-issue, multiracial, and intergenerational organizing in the South and celebrates the resiliency of our communities.
Through #WeAreTheSouth / #SomosElSur, our purpose is simple. By collecting and sharing the images of LGBTQ, People of Color, and Immigrant communities and organizations resisting in the South, we intend to:
- Increase the visibility of organizations and activists who are often overshadowed by coast-led and single issue organizing,
- Highlight the true diversity of the South and the vital Southern leadership in intersectional LGBTQ organizing that goes beyond marriage equality, and
- Create a space that honors the unique experiences of being immigrants, people of color and/or LGBTQ people in the South.
#WeAreTheSouth / #SomosElSur reflects elders of LGBTQ organizations that have been leading liberation work in the South for decades, young trans people of color working to end criminalization in their cities, immigrant and queer people working together to stop deportations, a diverse group of citizens demanding a raise to their city’s minimum wage, and more!
We recognize that a “Southern Strategy” not rooted in and informed by people living at the margins in the South is destined for failure, and we collectively uplift the legacy of the powerful coalition building and movement work of the South to reposition our communities as the faces of our movements.
We cannot do this without you. We invite you to add your pictures and voices to this campaign.
Get ahead of the game by emailing us your best selfie and a few words that describe you as an LGBTQ, POC, immigrant and/or Southern ally. You could also send us photos of you or your organization in action, doing what you do best, at an event, rally or direct action. Or if you’d rather, submit them yourselves here.
Then join us on the #WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur Day of Action on October 1, 2014.