Strategies for International LGBTQ Solidarity

Michael J. Adee, Director of the Global Faith and Justice Project, an initiative of the Center for Innovation in Ministry, offered an all-day institute on international LGBTQ issues at Creating Change 2018 in Washington, DC on January 25. The Creating Change Conference is the foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement. It is sponsored and organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force, Washington, DC. Over 4,000 activists and movement leaders participated in the conference.

This institute was a historic first for Creating Change as its first all-day institute focused on international LGBTQ issues. Adee submitted the proposal and coordinated the creation of the institute upon its acceptance. Its title was “Crisis & Resilience: Strategies for International LGBTQ Solidarity” and 11 organizations joined the Global Faith and Justice Project in its creation and presentation. Over 100 people participated in the institute which included high school and college students to elders from across the United States and 5 other countries.

The conveners and presenters included: Urooj Arshad, Advocates for Youth; Twanna Hines and Annerieke Smaak, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE); Michael J. Adee, Global Faith and Justice Project; Victoria Petitjean, Global Interfaith Network; Graeme Reid and Ryan Thoreson, Human Rights Watch; Gillian Kane and Jeanne Hefez, Ipas; Jessica Stern and Maria Sjodin, OutRight Action International; Cole Parke and Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, Political Research Associates; Haven Herrin, Soulforce; Evelyn Schlatter, Southern Poverty Law Center; Joseph Tolton and Ann Craig, The Fellowship Global; Addison Smith, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. “I am grateful to know such amazing colleagues and organizations. It was a wonderful experience to create and offer this institute with them,” said Adee.

The focus of the workshop was the global export of homophobia, sexism and transphobia from the United States’ religious and political right which places LGBTQ people, their families and allies around the world in harm’s way. The historic and current waves of neo-colonialism, white supremacy and Christian exceptionalism result in challenges to human dignity and equal rights for LGBTQ people and their families, threats to women’s reproductive rights and health, and HIV-AIDS prevention and care. In the midst of this global crisis, international LGBTQ and ally activists are doing extraordinary resistance work; operating from their own agency and creative leadership; and demonstrating inspiring resilience.

During the institute, we learned about the hot spots around the world — Chechnya, Egypt, Indonesia, Tanzania, and more and went beyond the headlines. We explored the political, religious and social contexts through: a global mapping exercise; two panels with international LGBTQ activists; an exercise decoding anti-equality vocabulary, religious and “natural family” language used at the United Nations and by the opposition in local or regional contexts; and we finished the day by exploring the meaning and strategies of principled international solidarity for US-based activists; and the building of intersectional, international alliances in LGBTQ and gender justice work. Together we are building a world that is free and equal.

Photo: 2009 Pride in Johannesburg.