Meet our grantee partner, Immigrant Youth Coalition

An interview with Immigrant Youth Coalition’s Communications Coordinator Yessica Gonzalez.

The Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC) is an undocumented and queer/trans youth led organization based in California, that mobilizes youth, families and incarcerated people to end the criminalization of immigrants and people of color. Through story-based strategies and grassroots organizing, IYC brings the struggles of directly impacted communities to the forefront of our movements to create social, cultural and policy change.  

In the video above, IYC Communications Coordinator Yessica Gonzalez shares more about the importance of the organization’s work, as well as what it’s meant to receive support from Astraea.

Learn more about Immigrant Youth Coalition.


Video transcript:

I think meeting other resilient queer, undocumented folks who have become my best friends, and creating a different world that we’re envisioning forward, that’s been one of the powerful moments doing this work.

There’s a lot of media attention around immigrant visibility, and we always see the good, light-skin student who is valedictorian as the one who should get citizenship. So when there are other folks who don’t fit into that criteria, they’re easier to be targeted because then they don’t seem as the ones who are deserving of all these other treatments.

A few years ago we launched a campaign called the TRUST Act to stop the collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration. That was really instrumental because it would stop people getting targeted. Or, at least, when they were stopped by police and asked for an I.D., or questioned for anything, they wouldn’t be directly funneled into a detention center, and it would give more security to folks who were victims of domestic violence, or who had been victims of a crime to call upon somebody and not fear that they would be deported or fear direct persecution or direct criminalization through immigration enforcement.

We know that citizenship isn’t the answer because a piece of paper isn’t going to take away the anxiety, depression, trauma that a lot of people are going through or absolve the targeting and criminalization of folks. Colorism is a reality, so by saying “it’s beyond citizenship, and it’s about stopping deportations,” I think that is more of the framing that we want to go towards.

Astraea was actually our first funder back in 2013, and thanks to the support of Astraea, we’ve been able to get more access to funds and sustain the work that we’ve been doing and supporting it through leadership development. And we are seeing other youth who are undocumented and who are queer creating more spaces for themselves. And, also, supporting other folks so we can continue the work and create long-term visioning.

I think personally, growing up undocumented and getting to know other undocumented folks and knowing that we’re resilient people! Everybody thinks that we’re this sad story but no, undocumented people are great! Yeah, we’re hard-working but yeah, we also know how to have fun, you know? We also know how to smile. We also know how to laugh. We also know how to do other amazing things. And I think seeing somebody reunite with their family after they’ve been incarcerated or detained, being able to mobilize, empower themselves to tell other people about the work and that it’s okay to fight back and it’s okay to take on your own case. And then seeing them outside of a detention center, when they’re back with their community, back with their family, to me that has been the highlight of this whole work. And it always reminds me why we continue to do this.

Ellen Page and Jason Reitman to hold CASABLANCA live read benefitting Astraea

Join us on December 13, 2018 for a special live reading of Casablanca with Writer/Director Jason Reitman and Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page! All proceeds will benefit Astraea.

Come away with us to Casablanca as Writer/Director Jason Reitman, in collaboration with Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page, brings back his acclaimed “Live Read” series with a modern diverse cast of artists reimagining the classic 1940s film. Cast members will include Ellen Page, Kiersey Clemons, Hannah Gadsby, Emily Hampshire, Indya Moore, Kate Moennig and Olivia Wilde.

Enjoy an evening at the iconic Ace Theater in downtown Los Angeles and show up in true Casablanca style with your trench coat and fedora. Cocktails will be served, and nostalgic memorabilia will be available for purchase. Join us there!

Date: December 13, 2018
Time: 8pm PST
Location: Ace Theater, Los Angeles, California

*All proceeds to benefit LGBTQI grassroots activists through Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, which supports the bravest and most radical organizations fighting for change.




Press about the event:

For more information, please contact Astraea’s Develop Officer for Special Events, Sally Troncoso, via or 212-810-4155.

Astraea’s 2018 Fueling the Frontlines Gala

Mark your calendars: Astraea’s signature West Coast event Fueling the Frontlines returns to Los Angeles on Thursday, November 8, 2018!

Mark your calendars: Astraea’s signature West Coast event, the Fueling the Frontlines Awards, returns to Los Angeles on Thursday, November 8, 2018 at the NeueHouse Hollywood. Join us as we celebrate and honor activists, artists and philanthropists who are leading the new era of resistance and fueling the movement for LGBTQI justice.

Purchase tickets here!


Angela Bowen – It is our job to know her!

Honoring the life of Black lesbian feminist activist and dancer Angela Bowen.

Black. Lesbian. Feminist. Artist. Activist. Organizer. Mother. Mentor. Writer. Professor. Intellectual. Her influence lives on in anyone who watched her dance, heard her speak or read her words.

It is with profound respect, sadness, awe and gratitude that we honor the life of Angela Bowen who died on July 12, 2018 at the age of 82, after fighting Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years. Astraea was privileged to recognize her formidable influence and the gift of her life by presenting her as an Acey Social Justice Feminist Award honoree in July 2017; the award honors lesbian and trans women of color over the age of 62 who have made significant but under-recognized contributions to our movements. It uplifts their legacy and tells their stories.

Angela Bowen followed her uncompromising vision across the decades of her life in the face of poverty, racism, sexism, ageism and homophobia. She influenced and inspired legends by being herself, encouraging people to have faith in themselves, to discover their own talents, and to follow their dreams, but not for themselves alone, rather to “move the line forward,” she said, reminding us “we don’t have to do just one thing.”

“I’m a black, lesbian, feminist, writer, activist,” Bowen once said. “I see all of those as equal functions. I feel as though I’ve got a mission to be out front.”

And indeed she was.

She trained and taught at the legendary Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in Roxbury from 14 to 22. Her talent and skills enabled her to dance professionally and establish the Bowen Peters School of Dance in inner city New Haven, Connecticut, which she ran with her husband for nearly two decades. In the 1970s, she discovered feminism and specifically the work of poet warrior, Audre Lorde, leading her to follow a new life path. Bowen came out as lesbian in the 1980’s and was an active speaker, writer, and advocate for groups such as the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays. She was one of the first recipients of a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies at Clark University. As an Audre Lorde Scholar, she wrote and spoke about the connections between and across social justice movements, advocating fiercely for black youth.

She met her longtime partner, Dr. Jennifer Lynn Abod, while living in Cambridge, and after more than 30 years together, she and Abod married in 2013.

When stories exploring the complexities of black lesbian women’s lives are rarely told, Angela Bowen is someone we should all know.

“Angela Bowen’s name should roll off our tongues with pride. She danced in and through her identities, owning blackness, lesbian feminism, vision and grace. It is our job to know her. This is why and how we need to stay connected,” said Astraea Executive Director J. Bob Alotta.

Read this interview with Jennifer Abod on the life and legacy of Angela Bowen and the film she made “The passionate pursuits of Angela Bowen”—because in the words of Audre Lorde, “Who would believe our stories unless we tell them?”

Dignity and Power Now

Dignity and Power Now was created to be the principle organization for a multifaceted, trauma informed, healing, motivated movement to end state violence and mass incarceration.

Dignity and Power Now was created to be the principle organization for a multifaceted, trauma informed, healing, motivated movement to end state violence and mass incarceration. Dignity and Power Now is founded and chaired by Black Lives Matter Cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullors. Dignity and Power Now (DPN) is a Los Angeles based grassroots organization founded in 2012 that fights for the dignity and power of all incarcerated people, their families, and communities. Our mission is to build a Black and Brown led abolitionist movement rooted in community power towards the goal of achieving transformative justice and healing justice for all incarcerated people, their families, and communities.

Meet our grantee partner, TGIJP

Listen as TGIJP current and former staff share more about their work supporting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated trans and gender nonconforming people.

TGIJP was founded in 2004 with the mission to challenge and end human rights abuses against transgender, gender variant and intersex people, especially transgender women, in California prisons and beyond.

In the video above, TGIJP current and former staff share more about their work supporting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated trans and gender nonconforming people.

Learn more about TGIJP.





Video transcript:

[Miss Major]: My generation has leaped over cars, ran from police, been beaten, stoned, puked, had, thrown underneath the bus, and then told, “What’s your problem? Why can’t you just get over it?”

Well the things that were happening for the transgender women of color at the time that we began was primarily the same thing that’s going on now. That they’re being picked up and harassed for just doing things that involve their daily lives, that they haven’t done anything that warrants them being taken up off the street, abused and beaten and thrown into jail.

And so the purpose of us was to give them a sense of hope, a meaning, to let them know that somebody gave a damn about who they were.

[Janetta Johnson:] The majority of the women that come in for services are formerly incarcerated homeless transgender women. There’s a lot of psychological and emotional abuse. When trans women are basically verbally attacked by the jail staff, it puts trauma on top of the trauma that we already face being trans people.

There’s not a system set up in there to provide adequate, culturally competent medical and mental health.

[Janetta Johnson into megaphone]: “Our incarcerated members know that we’re here and we support them.”

[Miss Major:] The funding from Astraea was a blessing because, you know, nobody wants to deal with anyone in prison, period.

The money that we got gave us an opportunity to take those things that people thought about my community, and change them by educating them, by giving them the opportunity to alter and change their lives to something better.

[Janetta Johnson:] Astraea gave us an opportunity to continue to support our programs. We bring in a bunch of volunteers and we correspond to trans, gender nonconforming folks that are in prison and getting out of prison.

We have a family concept, and you know, Miss Major’s the mother of all of us.

I’m very happy and grateful that I get to lead this organization into the future.

I would like to see TGIJP be able to provide a lot more support

for transgender women that are in prison and be a collective of all Black trans folks taking care of each other and taking care of our community.

[Miss Major:] I went to prison, I lived in the street, I had to struggle. You know.

And once you’ve done that you go, “Oh god, if I can stop some young girl from having to go through this, I gotta do it.” You know.

And you have to reach down and help the next person up.

Meet Astraea donor, Alice Hom

Astraea donor Alice Hom shares why she chooses to #GiveToAstraea to support grassroots LGBTQI activism all over the world.

Astraea donor Alice Hom is a historian and community builder invested in bridging diverse and overlapping communities. She served on Astraea’s board during the early 00’s, and now serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women, California Humanities, and Borealis Philanthropy.

In the video above, listen as Alice shares why she chooses to #GiveToAstraea to support grassroots LGBTQI activism all over the world.

Listen to Alice Y. Hom’s podcast, Historically Queer, uncovering historical and contemporary stories about LGBTQ Activists of Color, at

Want to join Alice as a long-time Astraea supporter? Donate here or join our donor alliance!

Honor author and activist Jeanne Córdova with us in LA

Astraea is thrilled to announce that we will be honoring Jeanne Córdova at our 2018 Fueling the Frontlines Awards on November 8th in Los Angeles.

“Jeanne looked ahead and saw her generation of lesbian feminist activists, many of whom had been blessed to make comfortable lives for themselves, many of whom didn’t have children of their own, and felt it was really important to get the word out to them about giving to their lesbian and queer children, about giving back to their community.” –Lynn Harris Ballen, Jeanne Cordova’s partner

Astraea is thrilled to announce that we will be honoring Jeanne Córdova at our 2018 Fueling the Frontlines Awards on November 8th, 2018 in Los Angeles. Author, activist, and Chicana-identified butch woman Jeanne Córdova devoted her life to activism on behalf of the LGBTQI community. Although best and most recently known for her award-winning memoir, When We Were Outlaws, Córdova’s activism and collective organizing spans decades–from founding the popular 1970’s lesbian feminist newspaper The Lesbian Tide to acting as President of the Stonewall Democratic Club. Córdova’s contributions to the lesbian feminist and extended LGBTQI communities are phenomenal, yet at all times it was the power of community and shared lesbian leadership that fueled her philosophy. In A Letter About Dying, to My Lesbian Communities she thanked the thousands of members of the national lesbian communities whose activism, lives, and loves touched her own–“especially those dykes who have become family and siblings of choice over the last 40 years.”

Jeanne was committed to helping sustain the movements that supported her as a young Chicana-lesbian activist. Before Córdova passed away in early 2016, she proclaimed, “It is wonderful to have had a life’s cause: freedom and dignity for lesbians,” and announced that her estate would donate $2 million to Astraea to carry out just that goal. “We need to think about giving to our gay and lesbian youth and institutions like Astraea or other lesbian organizations. They’re the ones who are nurturing our real daughters right now, around the world,” Córdova wrote in her final letter announcing the donation. In 2017, the Jeanne R. Córdova Fund supported 14 powerful grassroots organizations in South/Latin America and Southern Africa that focus on movement-building, human rights, journalism and cultural activism among lesbians, feminists, butch and masculine and gender nonconforming communities.

Jeanne created so much more than a considerable legacy with her intentional bequest — she created decades of possibility — for Astraea, for our movements, and for our people. Jeanne exemplifies the visionary philanthropy we celebrate and depend on every day. It is in this spirit that we both honor and celebrate Jeanne’s formidable life and legacy at our Fueling the Frontlines Gala on November 8th.

Celebrate Jeanne Córdova with us on November 8th!

Tickets to the gala are now available at an early bird rate! Buy yours via the button below to #FuelTheFrontlines of LGBTQI activism and celebrate Jeanne Córdova’s legacy with us:

Purchase your ticket



Questions about our Fueling the Frontlines Gala? For more information, contact Sally Troncoso at 212.810.4155 or


A New Global Acceptance Index for LGBT people

Today, the Williams Institute, as part of the LGBTI Global Development Partnership has released three new research reports detailing the average levels of acceptance for LGBT people around the world.

Today, the Williams Institute, as part of the LGBTI Global Development Partnership has released three new research reports detailing the average levels of acceptance for LGBT people around the world. The findings reveal that LGBT rights have increased globally since 1980, though acceptance has become more polarized; increasing in the most accepting countries and decreasing in the least.

The Global Acceptance Index ranked 141 countries on their relative level of social acceptance of LGBT people and rights. Findings were analyzed from 11 cross-national, global and regional surveys and reveal that 80 countries (57%) experienced increases in acceptance. Forty-six countries (33%) experienced a decline in acceptance and 15 countries (11%) were unchanged.

“The Global Acceptance Index provides a consistent and comparable way to measure attitudes and attitude change, which could better understand inclusion of LGBT people in many areas of social, economic, and political life,” said lead author Andrew R. Flores, Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute.

Two additional studies used the Global Acceptance Index to analyze the effects of LGBT acceptance and inclusion. Examining the Relationship between Social Acceptance of LGBT People and Legal Inclusion of Sexual Minorities found that democracies with a commitment to a free press and the rule of law had the strongest relationship. However, the relationship between acceptance and legal inclusion becomes weaker in shrinking civic spaces, such as autocracies and anocracies.

A third study, Links between Economic Development and New Measures of LGBT Inclusion, affirmed previous findings that the inclusion of LGBT people is linked to a country’s economic performance.

Some key findings include

  • Legal measures appear to be stronger predictors than social acceptance.
  • Legal rights and social acceptance may be stronger predictors of GDP per capita when combined than when they are alone.
  • Countries with the most inclusive Legal Environment Index showed a statistically significant addition of $8,259 in GDP per capita.

These new measures allow for global, cross-national comparisons of public sentiment about LGBT people and their rights. “The Global Acceptance Index,” notes Kerry-Jo Ford Lyn, Director of the LGBTI Global Development Partnership, “provides a critical global benchmark for measuring and comparing progress we make in ensuring that LGBT populations are protected from violence, stigma, and discrimination wherever they are.”

Astraea is committed to supporting the LGBTQI grassroots organizations around the world who are working to reduce violence and discrimination, and bring lasting social justice to our communities.


Note: These reports were produced as part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Global Development Partnership. The Partnership was founded in 2012 and brings together the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Arcus Foundation, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, the Williams Institute, the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights (RFSL), and other corporate, non-profit, and non-governmental organization resource partners.

Meet our grantee partner, Annalise Ophelian!

Grantee partner Annalise Ophelian and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, the subject of Ophelian’s documentary, MAJOR!, discuss the film and what it meant to receive support from Astraea.

Today, we are pleased to introduce you to filmmaker and 2015 Global Arts Fund recipient, Annalise Ophelian!

Annalise Ophelian is an award-winning filmmaker and the producer/director of the documentary about Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, MAJOR!. She is a white, queer-identified cis woman, psychologist, and consultant whose work includes Diagnosing Difference (2009).

Miss Major is a formerly incarcerated Black trans elder and activist who has been fighting for the rights of trans women of color for over 40 years. She is a veteran of the Stonewall Rebellion and a survivor of Attica State Prison, and previously worked as the Executive Director of Astraea grantee partner Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) based in San Francisco.

In the video above, Ophelian and Miss Major discuss MAJOR! and what it meant to receive support from Astraea.

Learn more about Annalise Ophelian and Miss Major.


Video transcript:

[Director, Annalise Ophelian]: As a queer woman, I feel like my life is lived on a path that Miss Major has paved and I hope that being able to document her life in this film is some small part of paying homage to what I think we all as LGBT folks owe our foremothers.

[Trans Activist/Community Leader, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy]: I believe that through this documentary, there is an opportunity for the girls to see we all struggle, you know, and that finally there’s an older transgender person out, proud of who they are, ready to tell you about it.

[Annalise Ophelian]: The Astraea Global Arts Fund was really pivotal in the production of this film. That funding was the difference between having a film and not having a film.

[Miss Major]: One of the things that happened is, through the blessing of Annalise, I got an opportunity to see me, and to take a breath for a minute: “Wow, I’ve been really busy.” Why I have been doing this over 40 years? It’s because it’s needed to be done this whole 40 years.

[Annalise Ophelian]: One of the things that I really love about Astraea is that they don’t just fund, but they’re also so committed to networking. We are really excited to be able to partner with Astraea in terms of just bringing the film to audience.I mean so much of Major’s work is about her personal interaction with community, and the film is a way that Major gets to actually have that connection with folks globally.

[Miss Major]: Astraea helping the film was just great. I mean, because it’s like they appreciate Annalise, and by them appreciating her, it meant that they appreciated me. And how wonderful is that to know that somebody appreciates you?

[Annalise Ophelian]: I think that film has so, so much power to influence people and to change the world.

[Voiceover]: …it will serve as an enduring reminder of our legacy of resilience, of where we are now, and of how far we must move and journey together.