Sexuality in Color: Forward Together

After some much-needed rest and self care, I'm back this week and ready to talk about some of the amazing work that is being done out there to protect, support, and empower queer and trans people of color.

Today I want to focus on a few very important projects: Strong Families, Echoing Ida, Trans Day of Resilience (TDOR), and Mamas Day, which all fall under the umbrella of their parent organization, Forward Together. Forward Together aims to fight for the "rights, recognition, and resources that all families need to live" through research, analysis, and community-building around sociopolitical issues of gender, family, immigration, violence, and reproductive justice. I could spend all day writing about just one of these projects and the work that they do, but I also have to get out of my house and do some gender justice work of my own!.

Strong Families was the first of these resources that I really became familiar with - they're a group dedicated to addressing the 4/5 in the U.S. that aren't nuclear/behind the picket fence, which is to say, that they are comprised of a father who works, a mother who stays at home, and traditionally conceived children. They're most known for the beautiful Mama's Day e-cards that they put out every year around Mother's Day, in which artists of color reimagine the traditional U.S. Mother's Day narrative to include the experiences of people across all sorts of identities (gender, sexuality, race, ability, immigration status, incarceration, and so many more). According to them, a mama can be anyone that helps provide a sense of family, love, community, or support, regardless of how they self-identify. Not only is this project aesthetically beautiful and soul-affirming, but it provides representation and connection for so many folks that might otherwise feel excluded on family-focused holidays (even for those that don't have a mama at all). To the left are two of my favorite mermaids, who remind me that there are infinite ways of being, and that in my own right, I am a star.

Another art-centered representative resource that Strong Families coordinates is Trans Day of Resilience (TDOR), which, again, is near and dear to my heart. Through these visual works, many of the same QPTOC artists offer a companion to Trans Day of Remembrance, a holiday on November 20th in which we honor and raise awareness about the trans and gender non-conforming folks (especially trans women of color) whose lives are lost every year due to aggressive transphobia, incarceration, police brutality, and gendered violence. This is not to detract in any way from the important work that is done by Trans Day of Remembrance, but instead complements it by acknowledging the injustices of those we have lost while also reimagining positive futures.

It can be all to easy to look at news feeds and social media and be overwhelmed by the constant coverage of incidents of violence, racism, and bigotry that queer and trans people of color face every day, and being able to look at beautiful artwork that celebrates our collective beauty, resilience, and tireless efforts to obtain justice is a beautiful thing.

Echoing Ida is another project of Forward Together, dedicated to uplifting the voices of black women and nonbinary people whose writing focuses on the intersections of their gendered and racialized experiences. It's named after Ida B. Wells, a political writer, feminist, and activist who voiced her opinions and organized fiercely about issues like the women's right to vote and the bigoted violence (especially lynchings) that constituted an everyday reality for post-slavery black communities in the U.S. She was one of the people who helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to address the issues of systemic racism and brutality towards people of color during their time. And unfortunately, these issues are still relevant today, and addressing them is exactly what the folks at Echoing Ida are doing - together they've published over 275 pieces across various online outlets, expanding topics to include the experiences of people of color such as incarceration and immigration, reproductive justice/injustice, widespread health disparities and income gaps, and intersectional identity politics.

This week I'm freaking out in the best possible way about a resource created via Forward Together in 2009 to specifically address discussions of sex and reproductive justice in the Asian/American/Pacific Islander community, called Transforming API Communities: Tools for Sexuality Education. This is a comprehensive toolkit of educators and members of the API to address cultural beliefs, values, and stigma surrounding sex and sexuality, written for and by API folks. It's rare to see resources like this in which folks have successfully come together to address barriers to reproductive justice and healthy sexuality within their own community. Not only does it discuss things like cutural traditions, communication within families, and the complexity of navigating a first-generation immigrant experience, but also provides tools and techniques for addressing these issues as they come up, in order to foster a community that supports healthy, individually-defined sexuality from within.

I'm so grateful -- can you tell? -- for the work like this that the folks at Forward Together are doing to help (and help me) make the world a better place for everyone.

Know of a blog, organization, or resource that belongs here? Send it to our curator, Al (that's me!), at al AT scarleteen DOT com.

Interested in contributing as a guest writer for our Sexuality in Color series, or any other part of Scarleteen? Check out our information for writers and then take it from there! Experienced queer and trans writers of color of varied abilities and experiences are always strongly encouraged to apply.