As many of you know, last year, we chose to intentionally focus on the pursuit of racial justice as a Pride Center. This intentional focus was for the purpose of deepening our commitment to these efforts, as we firmly believe that racial justice should always be an integral part of our work. The year was both challenging and life-giving as we worked to critically interrogate whiteness, endeavored to leverage our resources to support communities of color, and focused our internal and external programs on topics that related to racial justice.
As we move forward, we seek not to depart from these commitments and aspirations, but instead to build upon them. Recognizing that all oppressions are interlinked, and that liberation for LGBTQ+ communities cannot be achieved unless liberation for all marginalized communities is centered, continues to be the foundational value upon which we base our work.
As a team, we have spent the summer critically reflecting on where we have fallen short and where we have been called upon to do better. One particular instance that comes to mind happened during the planning process for a regional conference last year, when we failed to prioritize access and accessibility and caused harm to participants as a result.
Rather than downplay this mistake, we have sought to lean in and further explore the intersections of disability and queerness and what these mean for us - both as individuals and as a team. We have been moved by the words of Eli Clare, author and disability activist, who draws attention to these intersections by saying, “There are so many ways oppression and social injustice can mark a body, steal a body, feed lies and poison to a body.”
We have barely begun to scratch the surface of disability justice, a framework which holds that “all bodies are unique and essential, that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met…. All bodies are caught in these bindings of ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state and imperialism, and we cannot separate them.”
Building upon this, we will be intentionally focusing on disability justice this year in the Pride Center. This intentional focus will take a number of forms:
Partnering with Disability Support Services
Informing our professional development efforts
Prioritizing universal design in all that we do
Using the lens of disability justice to inform our programming
Interrogating and challenging our own internalized ableism
Holding our institutional partners accountable to dismantling ableism
We share this with you both with the intent of transparency as well as to ask for your commitment to holding us accountable when we miss the mark. We are incredibly imperfect yet constantly striving to embody our values, and we can’t do this work effectively without the support of all our constituents.
In the weeks to come, be on the lookout for more opportunities to partner alongside us in these efforts. We hope that you will join us in this ongoing journey of learning and the pursuit of liberation.
In pride & solidarity,
The Pride Center Team