DMI Blog

Maureen Lane

Watch for Welfare Warriors, a Project of Queers for Economic Justice

This past Saturday, August 5th, I participated in a community forum held at the The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center on West 13th Street in Manhattan. The speak-out is an initiative of the Welfare Warriors, a project of Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Gender Non Conforming people facing issues of poverty had the opportunity to give voice to struggles at a community speak-out, share experiences of poverty and develop a campaign around public assistance.
The afternoon opened with a burst of artistic energy. Through outstanding performances by Shila Rekha, Ignacio Rivera, Cheyenne Ross, Holiday Simmons & Switch N Play, all in attendance were able to connect on a deep level that lifted us out of our seats and into a shared space of creativity, openess and respect.

Building on this deep connection, those in attendance gathered into about ten smaller groups to engage in dialogue about experiences of poverty. The groups shared highlights of their smaller discussion when we all reassembled and the community meeting began to articulate strategies for social justice.

Welfare Warriors (WW) are, in their own words, a group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Gender Non-conforming (LGBTGNC) people with experience of poverty, who are graduates of QEJ's leadership course. In planning this speak out - Doyin, Chris, Ivelisse, Michelle, Penelope, Ra, Reggie and Sandy - did an amazing job of outreach to the community and coalition building with dozens of other groups.

Poor LGBTGNC adults and youth are often ridiculed and put in danger whether they are on the street or in shelters. LGBTGNC Couples are routinely separated and our families are not respected.

As a proud founding board member of QEJ, I urge readers to check out QEJ website and become involved with the Welfare Warriors organizing.

As stated in their stirring 'Points of Unity' document, " WW organize to make the welfare system accountable to low-income LGBTGNC people, and to improve the benefits available for all low-income people. Through direct action, community education, and coalition building with other progressive organizations we seek to empower our communities, and to connect our struggle for welfare rights to larger struggles for social justice."

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 10:01 AM, Aug 11, 2006 in Economic Opportunity | New York | Welfare | activists
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