I am thrilled to join Astraea as its new Executive Director! My first few weeks have been a whirlwind, but the best part has been beginning the journey of getting to know Astraea and our community more deeply. I feel like an archaeologist—excavating our treasures, gathering stories, and learning about what makes Astraea tick and what makes us unique. I am also unearthing the complex layers of this iconic 44-year-old institution and gaining a deeper understanding of how our personal and community histories are inextricable from the ideas, struggles and politics of our times.
I first heard about Astraea in 2010 during a chance encounter with an Astraea board member. My girlfriend (now wife) and I sat down to brunch with Eleanor Palacios and learned about a scrappy and courageous foundation created by a cross-class, multi-racial group of lesbian and queer Women of Color activists to resource progressive grassroots feminist organizing around the world that centers LGBTQI people and People of Color. I felt like I could see myself in Astraea’s work, that it acknowledged the contradictions of living with multiple identities, that it saw those of us who are made to feel invisible, and that art, storytelling, and movement building were integral to feeling less alone.
More than a decade later, this work is as critical and as urgent as ever. We are grappling with multiple pandemics and crises that have underscored the vast inequalities and injustices in our world. Our movements are still at the forefront of resistance to political agendas of nationalism, populism, and religious fundamentalisms that use people’s bodies and sexualities as sites of state, religious, and economic control. We are still fighting isolation, contradiction and invisibility, but doing so with different technologies, changing conceptions of the world and evolving senses of possibilities.
As we celebrate LGBTQ History Month and Intersex Awareness Day this October, we uplift the contributions of #QueersMakingHistory. Astraea is one of the world’s first queer women’s funds, conceived and nurtured by founding mothers, all history-makers in their own right. More than four decades later, Astraea is still the scrappy and courageous foundation of which our foremothers dreamed—we are still resourcing global movements organizing for social justice and challenging the status quo; and stepping into our power to advocate for more and better resources for our communities.
Yet, with you, our community, we are constantly growing, learning, and evolving. It is important to interrogate who is missing, what harm was done and what still hurts. Yet, to quote Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “[i]f history is to enlarge our understanding of human experience, it must include stories that dismay as well as inspire.” We must grapple with the thorny issues of our pasts that affect how we are in the present. We must learn from our ancestors to understand how we got here so that we can imagine where we can go.
In the next few months, I hope that I will have the opportunity to hear and learn from you about Astraea, our shared histories and our hopes for the future. My personal history is bound up with Astraea’s and I know that yours is too. Celebrations, challenges, and chance encounters all make up the fabric of our interwoven and intersectional lives, and I can’t wait to learn about yours. I invite you to be part of Astraea’s journey together as we co-create our liberatory futures.
All my best to you and yours,