Help SONG Celebrate 20 Years of Working with Sexual Minorities of Color in the South
All photos via SONG’s Flikr page
The South often gets a bad rep for being close-minded, non-inclusive and backward. While this may be true in certain circumstances, there is a whole lotta love going on in South, with people who are willing to put themselves on the line and stand up for what they believe in.
This was the thought going through my head when I shared lunch with Salem Acuña, Virginia Field Officer for Southerners on New Ground (SONG). Acuña and his colleagues have been busy preparing for SONG’s 20th anniversary celebrations, which includes an interactive workshop On Wednesday the 23rd and a dance party fundraiser on Saturday the 26th.
Acuña laughs when I tell him SONG truly does God’s work. If you’re not aware, SONG is a queer liberation organization made up of “people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South”. If this sounds like tough but extremely needed work, it’s because it is.
Acuña at a recent SONG Event
What keeps Acuña going with his work in SONG, is knowing the organization makes a difference in the lives of LGBTQ in the South, and also because he truly believes in the goodness of people.
Take Jessica Jude, for example. SONG has provided Jessica with a community she feels is radically proactive in bettering the lives of LGBTQs, whilst also building friendships with those who share her beliefs.
“I started following the work SONG was doing in 2011 when I was a student at VCU” said Jude. “ I was just starting to move around different activist circles in Richmond, and many of the spaces I went to were really not for me. After being really frustrated with different things happening around social movement in Richmond, I had coffee with Hermelinda [Cortes], who is one of our Virginia staff people for SONG. I met new people who were committed to intersectional work around the struggles of LGBTQ people in the south and built stronger relationships with people I knew in town but didn’t know we shared the same values around collective liberation until we came together through SONG.”
While SONG may be celebrating 20 years of existence in 2013, the Virginia branch started up just a few years ago. SONG Virginia went on a ‘road trip’ to towns big and small all over the state. They interviewed folks and learned what LGBTQs in this state were experiencing and where they felt SONG could help them most. Acuña recalls most of the small towns still had some form of an active LGBQT scene, with small Pride festivals even being held in back yards over a barbecue.
Some of SONG’s video work showing issues faced by sexual minorities of color in the south:
It is this sense of grassroots sensibilities that SONG wants to celebrate this week. It is no easy feat for an organization dealing with such sensitive subject matter to reach two decades, so let’s help them celebrate!
On Wednesday the 23rd, a workshop on “building an intersectional LGBTQ movement” will be held downtown at the University of Richmond, from 6.00-8.00pm. On Saturday the 26th, come celebrate not only 20 years of SONG’s good work, but also 10 years of he Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project.
The two not-for-profits are joining forces for a formal reception at 6pm, followed by an over-21 dance party (with a cash bar!) at the Gay Community Center. There is a suggested donation of $10-20, but SONG ensures no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
SONG, the South thanks you for 20 years of amazing work!
Please go here http://southernersonnewground.org/ for more details about SONG, and here http://southernersonnewground.org/2013/10/20yearsinvirginia/ for event information.
Southerners on New Ground aims to improve life for LGBTQs and people of color by educating those who oppress
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