Over the course of the past year, a cohort of 7 emerging activists completed our first Fuerza y Orgullo Media and Advocacy Leadership Institute for LGBTQ Latinx Southerners. Throughout this program, our participants attended workshops on Storytelling for Advocacy, Storytelling for News Media, and Storytelling for Social Media, virtual office-hours, and one-on-one coaching sessions facilitated by Joaquín Carcaño, our Director of Southern Health Policy, and Sol Jimenez Palacios, Narrative Strategist at Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.
At the end of the institute, each of our participants created a final project with a focus on an issue impacting their communities using the skills they learned throughout the program.
Project topics included the following:
Advocating for Drivers Licenses for Georgia Immigrants - This project discussed the benefits and barriers to receiving a driver’s license in the state of Georgia for immigrants, the impact upon the community without access, and proposed legislation in the state to address this issue. Insight into the legislative process, ways to plug-in to advocacy, and other state’s processes was also provided.
Navigating Name and Gender Marker Changes in the U.S.- This project discussed the importance of having documentation that reflects a person’s gender identity and how this is especially important for trans folks. Two case studies in Georgia and New York were provided regarding name and gender marker changes on government documentation with additional information on how to navigate this process as an individual.
Access to College for Undocumented Students - This #AccessToCollege campaign discussed how undocumented students face significant barriers to accessing higher education in the state of Alabama due to enrollment and tuition restrictions and bans. Information on restrictive legislation as well as supportive universities and colleges DACA students can attend was provided and included student feedback.
Juvenile Incarceration - This project discussed the juvenile incarceration system in the state of Georgia, factors leading to incarceration, and how the youth LGBTQ community is affected. Strategies for continuing advocacy opportunities as well as additional research was also included.
Stealing Queer Joy One Bill at a Time - This project resulted in the development of an op-ed discussing recently proposed and passed anti-LGBTQ legislation in the state of Tennessee and the impact upon individuals and the community, particularly in regards to mental health. The op-ed included personal testimonial on the positive impact of drag, access to gender-affirming care, and other LGBTQ supportive spaces for the community.
LGBTQ Drought in Mississippi - Building Queer Joy - This project focused on the development of an op-ed discussing the impact of detention and other harmful legislation on LGBTQ immigrants and the lack of LGBTQ and immigrant solidarity work in Mississippi. Successful events and additional strategies to build queer joy and community solidarity and empowerment in order to combat legislation and isolation were shared.
Aquí Estamos - This project created a video to be shared across social media platforms discussing the trans Latinx community, the stigma and discrimination faced, and the power and potential for change through advocacy.
Last year, 6 of 7 leadership cohort members attended our Encuentro in Durham, North Carolina on full scholarship. This year, 4 members will attend our Encuentro in San Antonio, Texas on full scholarship, with 2 serving as workshop presenters and 1 participating on a conference plenary. We are excited to see these vocal advocates continue to shine and be in partnership with us for the ongoing future!
This institute could not have been possible without the incredible co-facilitation of Sol Jiménez Palacios and the generous funding from The University of Houston ACTION Latinx grant. We are grateful for their continued investment in the South and Latinx LGBTQ leaders!