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?”

This 2018, we’ve showed up!

So far in 2018, we’ve been hustling in big and small ways to fuel movements for global LGBTQI justice. Below are a few recent Astraea highlights showcasing the breadth and depth of our collective commitment to liberation.

We’ve been hustling in big and small ways to fuel movements for global LGBTQI justice. Below are a few recent Astraea highlights showcasing the breadth and depth of our collective commitment to liberation. We’re partnering on pioneering LGBTQI research, connecting communities through events and creating spaces that center healing and holistic visions of justice, along with our continued commitment to resource activists on the frontlines. Here’s how we’ve showed up so far this year:

Created space for grantees to share healing justice strategies


Photo: Grantees attend the Healing Justice and Resiliency Gathering

Just before the start of the Allied Media Conference this June in Detroit, Astraea convened members of US Fund grantee partner organizations at our Healing Justice and Resiliency Gathering. The Gathering allowed grantee partners to connect and share healing justice strategies and ideas from their local regional contexts. Later this year, we’ll publish a longer report on Healing Justice and Holistic Security.

Elevated the work we support through the Why We Fund series


Photo: Astraea staff and Why We Fund attendees pose with Aaryn Lang and Katherine Acey following their February 2018 event

Our new Why We Fund event series opened up Astraea’s office in NYC for community members to learn more about who, where, and why we fund. We’ve held events about intergenerational activism, intersex activism, and funding in the Global Southeast, and we’ve lifted up the work of people like Katherine Acey, Aaryn Lang, Pidgeon Pagonis, and Jean Chong. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for announcements about upcoming Why We Fund events.

Reported on digital trans organizing in Central Asia & Eastern Europe


Photo: Mapping Digital Landscapes of Trans Activism in Central Asia and Eastern Europe report

Together with Transgender Europe (TGEU), Astraea released a report providing a regional overview of digital organizing by trans activists in 26 countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The report emphasizes shared patterns of digital usage, barriers to free and safe use of the internet, and resistance strategies to homo/transphobic-motivated censorship, surveillance, and online attacks. Read the report here, and a recently published article via Access Now here.

Convened the first ever regional intersex meetings in Latin America and Asia


Photo: Intersex activists gather at the first Asian Intersex Forum in Bangkok, Thailand

We helped sponsor the first regional intersex convenings in Latin America and Asia. In research from our recent The State of Intersex Organizing (2nd ed) report, intersex groups reported an ongoing desire for convening spaces. The regional meetings provided an excellent opportunity to have focused discussions on regional priorities and strategies; and specific needs for intersex organisations and intersex individuals in the region. Each region produced a statement and two regional networks were set up in Latin America and Asia. Read the statements from each convening: AsiaLatin America.

Connected communities through events


Photo: Attendees pose for a photo at a February 2018 event in Seattle. Photo credit: Amy Tam Co.

Astraea has helped host events in cities all over the U.S. to bring together Astraea grantee partners, donors, and community members to support LGBTQI movements worldwide. We have many more events planned, so stay tuned—we may soon be in a city near you!

Updated our privacy policy to reflect new legal requirements

In order to comply with the GDPR and to shift with the changing digital landscape, we’ve updated our privacy policy. Read it here!

Created the Astraea House Party Toolkit


Photo: Guests attend our event in Washington, D.C. in January 2018. Photo credit: Beverlie Lord of Satsun Photography

Build community with us, call your friends, and maximize your impact by shifting resources to the frontlines! Hosting a house party for Astraea is now easier than ever! Learn how in our new house party toolkit. By sponsoring a house party, you are helping to promote our mission to advance the economic, political and cultural empowerment of LGBTQI people globally.

Amplified the voices of grantee partners and donors in a series of videos


Photo: Members of grantee partner BreakOUT! based in New Orleans

Our online Video Archive has blossomed! We’re creating a dynamic collection of videos that amplify the voices of grantee partners and donors. Hear more about how Astraea started, being intersex in Asia, the fight for sexual and gender diversity in Palestine, and building trans women’s leadership in South Africa. The latest videos feature TGI Justice Project (TGIJP)S.H.E.Achebe PowellKatherine AceyalQawsOii-ChineseAlice HomJewelle Gomez and Diane Sabin, and more!

Strengthened Kenyan activists’ messaging through audience research and testing


Photo: Participants map out strategies at a Strategic Communications Project workshop in Kenya

Over the last year, Astraea has been engaging LGBTQI organizations and activists in Kenya to use social science research on audience messaging to inform their communications strategies. Throughout this pilot project, LGBTQI organizations in Kenya have been working to understand their audiences—specifically, potential allies—in order to create messages that speak to their shared values and encourage them to be more supportive of all Kenyans regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We are currently preparing for the final workshop, where activists will collaboratively analyze message testing and hone their storytelling skills.

Launched our Fertile Ground Fund making a total of $110,000 in grants to 15 organizations

Photo: Members of Audre Lorde Project based in New York City. Photo credit: Jeyhoun Allebaugh

Organizations often require more than just campaign-based support, they need resources to heal, survive, thrive and make change. The Fertile Ground Fund bolsters our movements’ capacities to build power by providing a flexible source of funding based on unanticipated or emerging needs and desires of Astraea’s grantee partners. It supports projects that combat the violence of policing, deepen cross-movement collaborations to end state criminalization, and invest in resiliency strategies for long-term sustainability. Stay tuned for more information on the grantee partners and the next round of grantmaking.

2018 #AstraeaPride Highlights

This Pride month, we’re grateful for all the grantee partners, staff, board, and supporters who are an integral part of the work for collective liberation.

This Pride month, we’re grateful for all the grantee partners, staff, board, and supporters who are an integral part of the work for collective liberation.

Check out the video above for recent highlights from Astraea and our grantee partners–know that you are an integral part of the work for collective liberation.

Read our most recent Annual Report to find out even more highlights from our grantee partners and supporters!

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.

Donate

 

 

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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 www.historicallyqueer.com

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

Meet our US Fund grantee partners!

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s U.S. Fund grantee partners. These are some of the fiercest organizations in the country using transformative strategies to combat criminalization, resist state violence and white supremacy, and build collaborative, sustainable LGBTQI movements where gender, reproductive, racial, migrant and economic justice is not an ideal, but a lived truth for us all.

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s U.S. Fund grantee partners.

Astraea awarded $1M in grants, to 32 organizations, in 13 states! These are some of the fiercest organizations in the country using transformative strategies to combat criminalization, resist state violence and white supremacy, and build collaborative, sustainable LGBTQI movements where gender, reproductive, racial, migrant and economic justice is not an ideal, but a lived truth for us all.

Many of our grantee partners are using multiple and diverse strategies to achieve their aims, and are engaging in cross-issue collaborations that build power at the local and national levels. Organizations are:

  • Increasing visibility of healing justice strategies and the de-stigmatization of mental health services, such as National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN)’s unique online directory of queer and trans mental health practitioners of color that assists QTPoC in accessing mental health services. Since their launch in 2016, the network has grown to over 1,500 active members.
  • Expanding the intersections of racial, economic, and migrant justice movements to center Black queer and trans migrants, such as Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project’s regional community gatherings and organizer trainings that create networks of support for Black queer and trans migrant communities and build leadership to defend and protect Black LGBTQIA migrants.
  • Running powerful policy advocacy and organizing campaigns against discriminatory practices in the criminal justice system, such as Young Women United’s fight against SB 78 and Communities United for Police Reform’s campaign for the Right to Know Act.

We are committed not only to resourcing movements via grantmaking, but also to supporting and strengthening cross-collaborations. In January 2018 we hosted a lively and intimate convening with twenty U.S. Fund grantee partners in Washington D.C. Throughout the day, conversations centered around vulnerability, safety, sustainability, and the need for innovative strategies in this intensified moment of white supremacy, racism, and violence; from politicizing direct service provision, engaging in interfaith organizing, to building cross-movement visions and collaborations. Our partnerships with groups like these underscore why we are meeting this political moment with a renewed sense of urgency—and hope. Please join us in celebrating the work of these formidable grantee partners and read more about their work in the links below. Audre Lorde Project // Black Alliance for Just Immigration // Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project // Black Youth Project 100 // Blackbird: Fueling Innovation into Black Organizing // Black and Pink // BreakOUT! // Center for Media Justice // Community United Against Violence, Inc. // Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) // El/La Para Translatinas // Ella Baker Center for Human Rights // Enlace // Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement // FIERCE // Freedom, Inc. // Girls for Gender Equity // Immigrant Youth Coalition // Law for Black Lives (L4BL) // Mariposas Sin Fronteras // Mijente // National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network // New Voices Pittsburgh // Power Inside // Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM) // SisterReach // SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective // Survivors Organizing for Liberation (SOL) // SPARK! Reproductive Justice NOW // Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) // Trans Queer Pueblo // Young Women United (YWU) By supporting Astraea you are creating ecosystems of resistance that are smart, effective, and unique. We are answering the call of this moment. We will win. And we will do so because of your support. Join us, donate now and sign up to our emails or social media. 

About the image: Freedom Cities is a movement for safe, healthy and thriving neighborhoods and local communities led by Astraea grantee partners Ella Baker Center, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and Enlace. Credit: Ella Baker Center

New report on Digital Trans Activism in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

Astraea and TGEU are proud to release a new report, Mapping Digital Landscapes of Trans Activism in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Astraea and TGEU are proud to release a new report, Mapping Digital Landscapes of Trans Activism in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The report provides a regional overview of digital organizing by trans activists* in 26 countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe (CAEE)**, emphasizing shared patterns of digital usage, barriers to free and safe use of the internet, and resistance strategies to homo/transphobic-motivated censorship, surveillance, and online attacks. It also presents recommendations for funders and tech communities, social media corporations, and government entities.

In CAEE, trans lives are endangered not only by homophobic and transphobic legislation, but also by governments seeking to exert stricter surveillance over civil society by controlling and monitoring internet usage. Restrictions on internet freedom have a disproportionate effect on trans communities in the region who rely on the internet for their activist, personal, and professional lives, making it a critical tool for connecting and movement building.

Trans communities in the region are resisting these challenges using digital tools in creative ways:

  • In Russia, Foundation Transgender, an NGO working with trans people, crossdressers, and genderqueer people, chose to relocate their website hosting to servers based outside of Russia, in order to keep their organizational documents secure from the imposing 2012 Gay Propaganda Bill.
  • Trans activists in Turkey created the hashtag #GameOfTrans in 2017, using various social media platforms to organize a Trans Parade on the streets of Istanbul. The action revealed activists’ power to mobilize communities despite government surveillance.
  • LGBT Organization Labrys Kyrgyzstan responded to increasingly violent homophobic and transphobic hate speech on and offline with a regional email and listserv campaign, sharing information about the incidents with a wider European and Central Asian community of activists, and inviting them to share their own best practice responses and strategies.

“With the growing importance of digital organizing for trans movements coupled with crackdowns on internet freedom and civil society, there is an urgent need to invest resources in trans movements in CAEE,” says Mariam Gagoshashvili, Senior Program Officer at Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Investment in digital infrastructure alongside funding of trans-led groups is crucial to supporting the continuing fight against oppressive power structures and essential for the human rights of trans people in the CAEE region.

Read the report

 

 

To access a version of the report translated into Russian, click here.

P.S. Mapping Digital Landscapes of Trans Activism in Central Asia and Eastern Europe is part of a wider series of Astraea’s country-specific research reports mapping out the landscape of political, economic and social conditions for LGBTQI activism around the world. To read reports covering other regions of the world, including Southern African and Latin American countries, please visit our publications section. This is the first report to focus exclusively on the state of digital organizing and LGBTQI activism.

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*In this report, the term “trans activists” refers to trans people who are actively working towards empowering trans communities and fighting for trans rights either in formal structures such as trans rights NGOs or LGBTQI NGOs, or in less formalized settings such as initiative groups, or as individual voices visible and known to trans communities within their respective countries.

**We use this acronym to include countries in Central Asia, Caucasus, Post-Soviet Eastern Europe, South-East Europe and Central Europe; countries under review are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, FYROM/ Macedonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Today we honor our founding mothers!

Hear Astraea founding mother Achebe Powell and Astraea’s first Executive Director Katherine Acey share what it took to make their vision of a foundation that left no one behind a reality.

More than 40 years ago, a small group of women came together to address the needs of lesbians, women of color, and grassroots feminist organizations. They prioritized inclusivity and worked tirelessly over the years to ensure that they were leaving no one behind.

We recognize the formidable legacy of our founding mothers. Four decades later, and their vision still burns bright! Thank you, Stella Alvo, Audrey Barnes, Nancy Dean (d), Barbara Grant, Joyce Hunter, Roberta Kosse, Cynthia Long, Achebe Powell, Joan Watts and Leslie Kanes Weisman.

In the video above, hear Astraea founding mother Achebe Powell and Astraea’s first Executive Director Katherine Acey share what it took to make that vision a reality.

#GiveToAstraea because as Achebe says, “What we can never forget is there is so much more work to be done.”

Donate

 

 

Meet our new Program Team members

Our program team continues to grow and reflect a global feminist diaspora in the leadership of philanthropy.

Our program team continues to grow and reflect a global feminist diaspora in the leadership of philanthropy. We welcome the breadth and knowledge of U.S. Southern movement organizer Shaena Johnson, our new RJF Program Officer, and the powerful leadership of Courtney Okeke, our new Program Associate. Former RJF Program Officer Miabi Chatterji also now brings her depth of experience in racial justice philanthropy and her sharp analytical mind to her new role as our Senior Grants Manager.

Importantly, we want to lift up Namita Chad in her new role as Associate Director of Programs. In her eleven-year tenure at Astraea, she continues to be a transformative leader for the Program team and Astraea Foundation.

Our team will continue to uplift Astraea’s tenets of advocacy; to resource and be thought partners with LGBTQI global movement leadership as we resist and build collective power and liberation.

Meet our new Program Team members

Shaena Johnson, LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund Program Officer

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Shaena Johnson brings over 15 years of organizing and advocacy experience as well as her extensive work in the community focusing on issues facing LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system. Shaena is also the former Co-Director of BreakOUT! [Read more]

Courtney Okeke, Program Associate

Courtney Okeke joins Astraea’s Programs Team with a wealth of experience leading youth wellness and social justice programming; facilitating healing, power, and oppression sessions; and organizing within Black queer feminist and youth-led movements. [Read more]

Namita Chad, Associate Director of Programs

Namita Chad is Astraea’s Associate Director of Programs. She is a queer South Asian activist with over 10 years experience in social justice philanthropy and over 15 years of experience working with grassroots, LGBTI, immigrant and feminist groups as a board member, staff and in advisory roles. [Read more]

Miabi Chatterji, Senior Grants Manager

Miabi Chatterji has been participating in and supporting cross-issue movements for justice for more than a dozen years. In the past she has been Co-Director of Grants at Resist, a public foundation with a 45+ year history of funding intersectional social movements, and Senior Program Officer for Astraea’s LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund. [Read more]

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 stroncoso@astraeafoundation.org.