To Be Bi And Femme: Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

In recognition of Bi Visibility Day, Rebecca Fox, Astraea’s Vice President of Programs, shares a personal reflection celebrating bi visibility, transcending binaries, upending expectations, and embracing fluidity.

For this year’s Bi Visibility Day, Joy Chia, Astraea’s Executive Director, asked me to write a piece on what bi visibility means to me. Unlike most of my writing projects, where I marinate for a few days and then I can easily write it, this assignment had me stuck. I’ve been bi since my first girl crush in 1999. Before queer was common parlance and reclaimed proudly, bi was what felt right to me. I liked boys, I liked girls, and I had yet to meet people who identify as gender non-conforming. I quickly realized that bisexuality isn’t simple and that being constantly asked, “Are you really bi?” or “Are you dating a man, or woman or GNC person now?” is draining.

Through my coming out process, I figured out not only my sexual orientation, but also my gender. I’m high femme. For me, that means wearing clothes, jewelry, make-up and reclaiming physical trappings of femininity. The overlap of these two identities quickly left me with not more visibility, but with a kind of double invisibility. I quickly realized that “who I was” to others was being defined by who I was dating. It has taken me many years and a lot of support from my femme community – trans and cis – to push aside the bullshit and stand as myself.

Our movements are working to transcend binaries and break down these rigid boxes. but we continue to live in a world where who we are, and what rights are accorded us, is defined by litmus tests set by other people. We are asked to contort ourselves, shrink parts of ourselves, bend uncomfortably, just to be seen as being part of ill-fitting spaces. At Astraea, we fund organizations and movements that are breaking those binaries, that are helping people be seen as they are versus how others define them. Our grantee partners do this by changing the narrative, building power, and challenging normative assumptions.

Both the joy and challenge of feeling free to live outside of the boxes that people put us in is that we get to define who we are. We get to upend expectations and embrace fluidity. We get to choose what is important to us, choose our kin, and choose how we live our lives. Yet, it’s also a lot easier for us as humans to fall into the habit of using boxes (for ourselves and others). It’s easier to define ourselves by what we are opposed to, rather than what we stand for and who we are.

Bi visibility means celebrating my queerness, my bi-ness, my femme-ness, regardless of who I am in love with or in bed with. Bi visibility matters to me, not only because it’s how I see myself, but also because it’s how I want to be seen. Not just parts of me, but all of me.

In solidarity,
Rebecca Fox
Vice President of Programs

Kerry-Jo’s August 2022 Reflection: Rest and Reimagination

Kerry-Jo reflects on her time at Astraea, rest, renewal, and reimagining, “a world where we can all thrive and the work we do to create that world is like planting trees under whose shade we may never sit.”

Dear Friends,

If I’m to be completely honest (and vulnerable), this reflection has not been an easy one to write. After seven years, I have decided it’s time to leave Astraea Foundation and my role as Deputy Executive Director.

At the very core of all that I am proud to have achieved at Astraea — and even the choice I have made to leave – is this: reimagination. The audacity to believe that we could build a partnership with governments without compromising our values and integrity, the seismic shifts in our operations and culture, and a deepened investment in our people. Looking back, I’m sure I couldn’t have even imagined what we would do together so many years ago.

In truth, reimagination has been at the very foundation of Astraea. Our Founding Mothers had to envision a world where feminists, lesbians, queer folks of color would dare to raise the resources we needed to support each other, to trust each other, and to believe that we could indeed make the world a more just place for us to thrive. 

45 years later, Astraea is still committed to that world. In all my roles — as a staff member, executive leader, space-holder, Black queer immigrant cis-woman — I have borne witness to an organization grappling with how to remain accountable to and aligned with its feminist values, staff, peers, grantee partners, and to the LGBTQI movements that we serve. 

The work we do is hard, uncomfortable and, at times, messy. How could it not be if what we aim to do is step outside of systems and ways of being that no longer serve us? You see, reimagination isn’t always about rainbows and unicorns — to do it well also involves having the most difficult conversations, holding curiosity, grief, sadness, and anger as we release what we have been in service of what we could be and emerge on the other side renewed. 

This is the cycle of reimagination and, as I move towards my own sabbatical of rest and renewal, I know that the Astraea I leave today is far sturdier than the one I joined in 2015. Over the last few months especially, I sense a new horizon of hope that — while tenuous and precious — comes with dreaming about what might now be possible for Astraea and each of us finding our own place in that possibility. We are finding courage in our vulnerability, balance in our boundaries, and learning how to meaningfully build community across distance and difference.

There is much more to be done to get to where we want to be, but the path Astraea is charting to do it is more sure-footed, strategic, and overall stronger. I’m truly excited about what’s yet to come.

And so, I’d like to thank all our staff (past and present), grantee partners and supporters for sharing in my last reflection, and I hope if you remember nothing else, it is this: we are imagining a world where we can all thrive and the work we do to create that world is like planting trees under whose shade we may never sit. 

Until we meet again,
Kerry-Jo Ford Lyn

Deputy Executive Director

June 2022 Reflection: “This is the fight for ALL of our lives”

At Astraea, we affirm that any person who wants to have an abortion should be able to, and not have to explain themselves. We refuse to lean into the darkness of despair. We proclaim our power to choose – to choose to live in our truths, to choose what we do with our bodies, to choose when and whether we want to be parents, to choose pleasure and liberation.

June is Pride Month for many of us and marks a time of joy, celebration, and gratitude at Astraea Foundation for the activists who came before us that fought for our collective liberation.  

Yet, I am also carrying a profound sense of loss and anger about the world we find ourselves in. We continue to see the erosion of fundamental human rights in every region of the world. Today,, the United States Supreme Court stripped away national abortion rights, opening the door to the dismantling of hard earned rights gained over the course of five decades by social justice movements. 

It is OK to be angry. I sure am. I am angry that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision is yet another example of how governments seek to control our bodies and regulate what we are able to do. I know that regressive views on abortion access cannot be separated from attacks on trans kids’ bodily autonomy, the criminalization of LGBTQI-affirming care, and the relentless efforts to erase our history, memories, and our very existence. 

I am angry at the hypocrisy of invoking individual “choice” around vaccines, gun control, and the exercise of religion, while ignoring the daily violence faced by those of us who are not cis, white, straight, or male, especially as our rights are stripped away. I am angry that some leaders are using an alleged concern for children’s wellbeing to manufacture moral panic. I am angry at the cynical decisions being made over whose lives are essential, whose lives matter, and what is worth protecting. 

There has been a roadmap for decades that seeks to promote conservative and patriarchal agendas, especially related to abortion and LGBTQI rights around the world. American Christian Right groups have spent over $280 million dollars on five continents to fuel anti-gender campaigns against feminist and queer communities. Through this decision, they are telling us exactly what they are going to do. The goal is to control us, to hide us, to ban us, and to even obscure our humanity. 

There is a way forward: we can’t let them. We have to keep imagining and creating a better world.  

In our darkest moments, of which there are many, there have been multi-gendered and multi-racial groups of people fighting for something more. Building power requires a long-term investment in collaborative movements with the energy to make transformative change. 

I look for inspiration in places like Poland, Chile, and Colombia, where organizers are shifting the legal and cultural landscape for the better in their countries. Two years after women-led protests successfully moved Chile away from its dictator-era Constitution, Chile has legalized same-sex marriage and could soon become the first country in the world to give constitutional status to abortion rights. 

In Poland, LGBTQI people continue to organize in defiance of social and governmental hostility while building broad coalitions with feminists, farmers, union workers and others to reject rising authoritarianism. In the past four months alone, abortion has been decriminalized in Colombia, while LGBTQ representation in Colombia’s Congress has tripled. 

At Astraea, we affirm that any person who wants to have an abortion should be able to, and not have to explain themselves. We refuse to lean into the darkness of despair. We proclaim our power to choose – to choose to live in our truths, to choose what we do with our bodies, to choose when and whether we want to be parents, to choose pleasure and liberation. 

This is a fight for ALL of our lives. 

In Solidarity,
Joy Chia
Executive Director

We Honor the History of Juneteenth

This Juneteenth, we highlight one of our Black-led grantee partner organizations, NQTTCN, working for healing justice across the United States. We are proud to fund this vital organization working for mental health and wellness in a country with a long, ongoing legacy of traumatic violence against Black people.

This Sunday (June 19) marks the 157th anniversary of the day enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, were finally told they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation declared it so. The following year, Juneteenth began as a celebration for and by Black Texans to commemorate this day.

Celebrations spread to other Black communities across the United States and last year, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. As the societal consciousness shifts with this new designation, we at Astraea honor Juneteenth’s historical roots as a Black celebration of emancipation and freedom. We acknowledge the work needed to eraticate anti-Black racism and abolish all slavery and forced labor, including mass incarceration and human trafficking.

Today, we highlight one of our Black-led grantee partner organizations working for healing justice across the United States. We are proud to fund this vital organization working for mental health and wellness in a country with a long, ongoing legacy of traumatic violence against Black people.

The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN ) is a healing justice organization working to transform mental health for queer and trans people of color in North America. They are working toward a world where all people have access to healing resources rooted in social justice and liberation to recover from trauma, violence, and systemic oppression. They build the capacity of queer and trans mental health practitioners of color, increase access to healing justice resources, and provide technical assistance to social justice movement organizations to integrate healing justice into their work.

As we honor Juneteenth and Pride this month, we remind our community that both of these celebrations are part of a greater pursuit of liberation for Black and LGBTQI people. To quote Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” As we celebrate our 45th birthday this year, Astraea remains committed to combating anti-Black racism and championing human rights for all.

Learn how to support The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network at nqttcn.com.

In solidarity,
The Astraea Team

May 2022 Reflection: May Her Memory Be For a Revolution this #IDAHOBIT

Today, as we honor IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia), Urvashi Vaid’s life and work is a clarion call for how to proceed. She pushed for rights and policies, but never took her vision off our collective liberation.

As I sat down to write this piece, I found out Urvashi Vaid had died. Urv, as she was universally known, was a force beyond nature. She was the first woman of color to lead the National LGBT Task Force, a founder of Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC) and the author of Virtual Equality and Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class, and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics. When the public face of the gay and lesbian (as it was then known) movement was universally white, gender conforming, and male, she was brown, visibly queer, and proudly lesbian. She was loud and uncompromising. Her relationship with Kate Clinton was the stuff of legend: two powerful women in love, each leaders in their field, and a visible exemplar of tangible support and love.

But beyond her resume and numerous accolades, she was the person who told you that you were messing up (never in that gentle of language). She told you in the toughest and kindest way possible that you needed to be doing more. As news of her death spread, texts and conversations with friends and my partner all had the same theme: “She told me to do more on this issue I was scared to work on and she was right.” She pushed each of us, not on assimilation and whitewashing, but on trans rights, homelessness, criminal justice, and economic inequality. It was an honor when she told you to step up: that the movement needed you, that you needed you, that she needed you to. Her words were always spoken with love and a belief in the world that you could be a part of creating.

Today, as we honor IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia), Urv’s life and work is a clarion call for how to proceed. She pushed for rights and policies, but never took her vision off our collective liberation. As the LGBT movement in the United States professionalized, she never changed who she was or what she believed to fit in. She talked about sex and sexuality, she talked about race and class, and she pushed us to recognize how misogyny pervaded the present day movement.

We stand at a moment where so much that Urv fought for is being threatened. May 17 was specifically chosen as IDAHOBIT to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. Yet, today, we see conservative actors around the world fanning the fires of fear by vilifying those who live beyond strict and harmful stereotypes of gender and sexuality. Eroding reproductive rights, curtailing racial justice, erasing LGBTQI histories, and scapegoating LGBTQI youth – the anti-rights political project to regulate and control our bodies, our lives and our futures is clear. But so is our work to create a world where everyone belongs. 

In my last call with Urv, I told her I was leaving my job to become Vice President of Programs at Astraea. She paused and said “We need Astraea. I’m glad you took this job, do good work and don’t fuck it up.” I was a little flustered, a little flattered, and mostly just wanted to keep her respect. I promised her I wouldn’t. 

In Judaism, social justice Jews have taken the traditional mourning phrase of “May her memory be for a blessing” and made it into “May her memory be for a revolution.” Urv’s life and memory already are.

In solidarity,
Rebecca Fox
VP of Programs

Shining a Light on Lesbian Visibility and LBQ Movements

In 2021, Astraea gave over 20% of our funding to LBQ-led groups and supported numerous groups and organizations in regions like those in the U.S. South and the global south that have historically overlooked or obstructed lesbian and queer activists — and still do to this day. I invite you to join Astraea as we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day 2022 and continue to uplift, resource and stand with our LBQ colleagues, family, and members of the global community.

As the queer mom of a little girl (for now), this time of year has special resonance for me.WIth Lesbian Visibility Day on April 26 and as my daughter heads into the end of her school year, I feel deeply grateful to live in a state that recognizes the love that my wife and I share and lets our daughter talk about her two moms safely at school. I recognize this isn’t true for many other LGBTQI children and parents, as we’ve seen a swath of legislation in United States with an abrupt rise in states attempting to make LGBTQI persons invisible in their own schools, homes and communities. As a community, we hope this day allows us to take stock, stand in solidarity and celebrate the gains of our vibrant community as we push towards full liberation. 

Globally, only 8% ($20.6 million) of the total $560 million in LGBTI funding could be identified as LBQ-specific. In 2021, Astraea gave over 20% of our funding to LBQ-led groups and supported numerous groups and organizations in regions like those in the U.S. South and the global south that have historically overlooked or obstructed lesbian and queer activists — and still do to this day. I’m proud we supported these groups that work intersectionally and across issues of gender, racial, environmental, and economic justice to meaningfully realize what justice looks like for all of us. To be clear, for us at Astraea, women includes all women, cis, trans, and intersex.

LBQ organizing around the world is growing and the groups are nimble, resourceful and robust in their organizing strategies. Most LBQ groups (89%) have been founded in the last twenty years! Utilizing cultural change strategies, knowledge production and research as well as capacity-building, advocacy and movement building strategies, these groups have achieved incredible strides with few resources. Our report “Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements” (published with Mama Cash) reminds us that grassroots LBQ groups are often underfunded or under-recognized, facing barriers that prohibit them from fulfilling their full potential. 

The innovation of LBQ groups is also rooted in collaboration and partnership across geographies, across movements and at all levels from the hyper-local to the international stage. Grantees like Movimiento Lesbia (Peru) and Women in Front (Cameroon) invest in feminist leadership to increase visibility of LBQ leaders within different social justice movements, while also focusing on transforming LGBTQI movements as well. We-Change Jamaica (Jamaica) is claiming political space by increasing the participation of LBQ women in national and regional leadership and decision-making processes. LIFS Peru (Peru) is organizing at the national and international level to push for increased protections related to diverse families and for policy-making to ensure that LBQ women are seen as rights holders and political subjects. 

On that note, I invite you to join Astraea as we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day 2022 and continue to uplift, resource and stand with our LBQ colleagues, family, and members of the global community. Please watch and share our video above with your networks!

Imagining New Technicolor Worlds: Joy’s March 2022 Reflection

In commemoration of TDoV, Astraea is delighted to collaborate with Acacia Rodriguez on their illustration “Trans Joy is Resistance!!” Astraea is committed to supporting queer art and LGBTQI artists because we believe that art allows us to see ourselves in the worlds we live in and are creating, and is a vital tool for social transformation.

Dear Friends,

March is one of my favorite months—in the Western Hemisphere, many of us emerge from grey slumber into a world of promised color, and March is Women’s History Month! Astraea celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 by closing our offices to give our staff an opportunity to rest and reflect on feminist movement building around the world, to celebrate how far we have come, and to take stock of what lies ahead.

March also brings us Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV). Today, we celebrate the power and resilience of trans movements worldwide. Astraea’s longstanding support of trans justice and rights is grounded in our commitments to gender justice and to shifting power to under-resourced communities. Astraea made our first grant to a trans organization in 1994; today, we rededicate ourselves to resourcing trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) futures:

  • In 2021 alone, we moved more than $1.8 million to TGNC-led organizing worldwide.
  • More than 35% of our total 2021 grant-making funded TGNC-led organizations.
  • 100% of grants supporting TGNC organizing in the United States supported groups led by and for people of color.

In commemoration of TDoV, Astraea is delighted to collaborate with Acacia Rodriguez on their illustration “Trans Joy is Resistance!!” Astraea is committed to supporting queer art and LGBTQI artists because we believe that art allows us to see ourselves in the worlds we live in and are creating, and is a vital tool for social transformation. Holding on to this blend of joy and resistance is essential even as we fight against the current waves of anti-LGBTQI legislation banning trans girls from sports, prohibiting transgender youth from accessing health care, and erasing LGBTQI people and experiences from classrooms. These laws cynically instrumentalize the rights and lives of children and LGBTQI peoples to manufacture moral panic and serve as a cultural wedge for political gain.

Acacia’s art reminds us of what we are fighting for—a world where all people can actively and enthusiastically belong, and the ability for all of us to live in technicolor. To me, to live in technicolor is to live in a place of flourishing- where we are able to make choices that allow us to thrive. It means that we will move out of the shadows and transcend false binaries. It means we can act from a place of security–where the measure of love is not fear or loss, but joy.

I wish us all the ability and space to imagine new technicolor worlds, taking Glinda’s words to Dorothy to heart: “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it yourself.” 
 
In Solidarity,
Joy L. Chia
Executive Director

P.S. We would love to hear from you! At Astraea, we are currently assessing how we reach and engage our communities so that we can better communicate with you. Take 10 minutes to share your experience with us! The deadline to respond is April 8. Please take our survey here!

Joy’s February 2022 Reflection: Honoring our Black Communities, Celebrating Black LGBTQI Futures

At Astraea, we began the year with a renewed focus on our transformative work. As we continue to navigate through challenging and uncertain times, Astraea is reinforcing our commitment to collective care and continuing our everyday work to build power and resilience with LGBTQI movements around the world.

Dear Friends,

I hope the beginning of 2022 has been a healthy, safe, and generative period for you and your communities. At Astraea, we began the year with a renewed focus on our transformative work. As we continue to navigate through challenging and uncertain times, Astraea is reinforcing our commitment to collective care and continuing our everyday work to build power and resilience with LGBTQI movements around the world.

I write to you as we reach the end of Black History Month – an annual month for reflection and appreciation to collectively pay tribute to Black communities across the U.S. and around the world, and to recognize their contributions and sacrifices in shaping our nation, and our world. 

We condemn the systemic racism that overtly and covertly perpetuates injustice in institutions and communities across the United States. The field of philanthropy itself is not immune to structural racism; we are acutely aware that we have much work to do to better practice our values of equity and justice within our own organization. This moment is an opportunity to elevate the fight for racial justice and honor the Black-led organizations and leaders who have given so much in the name of liberation and justice.

But our commitment extends far beyond the month of February. Astraea was founded on the principles of supporting lesbians and women of color and has a long-standing commitment to uplifting Black leaders and movements in the United States. LGBTQI People of Color battle historic and contemporary structural inequalities, as they live and work at the intersections of racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and classism. Astraea strengthens organizations and movements that acknowledge and fight these multiple barriers to self-determination. We stand on the shoulders of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color, trans, and queer movements that have come before us and are committed to supporting and resourcing sustainable movements. 

Last year, 97% of our U.S. funding supported queer and trans BIPOC-led groups, including grantees such as Law for Black Lives, BYP100, MediaJustice, Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, just to name a few. On top of that, 100% of our trans and gender nonconforming U.S. funding was for groups led by and for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. As our former staff member Sandy Nathan noted in her poignant blog post last year, “I am Black everyday: A reflection on Black History Month”, “these are our foundations, the legacy on which we build to ensure Black liberation, and indeed the liberation of all peoples and the healing of our planet.”

To celebrate the month this year and advocate for Black liberation, we launched the #BlackLGBTQIFutures campaign across our social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter. We invite you to join us in sharing these stories and the stories of other Black heroes who have carried the torch for justice. We continue to work through our own internal challenges with racism and have begun the deep work to hold ourselves accountable for past mistakes and ask the tough questions, to help cultivate an inclusive, anti-racist, thoughtful and productive workplace culture and a community that authentically reflects our values. I’m humbled by your support and camaraderie in my first few months as Executive Director. I’m excited to work with each and every one of you to identify and resource radical movement leaders who are pushing for true equality. Let us lead with empathy as we fight for those who have been overlooked, underrepresented, silenced and disempowered. 

In Solidarity,
Joy Chia

Image credit: Intersex Community of Zimbabwe (ICoz)

Joy’s December 2021 Reflection: On Community, and the Light Ahead

I am grateful to everyone who remains deeply committed to making sustained social change. This work of building power and shifting resources requires time, energy, collaboration, and long-term investment. As a global public feminist foundation, Astraea’s mandate is to make those dedicated investments in our LGBTQI, feminist, People of Color, and Global South-led movements so that they can go on with the daily work that is history-making.

In the Northern Hemisphere today marks the Winter Solstice, which means that while today might be the shortest and darkest day of the year, tomorrow and onward bring only more light.

As we come to the end of a long 2021, I am reflecting on the past year and holding close the challenges that we have faced as both individuals and as communities. Yet even as I think about the heaviness this past year has brought and worry about what might lie ahead, I find myself turning to the advice of Bing Crosby in one of my favorite songs: “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

In my first three months at Astraea, I have felt incredibly blessed to witness glimpses of the bright sparks, bold imaginations, and incredible power of our many feminist, LGBTQI communities around the world, and what I do know for sure is there so much more of that to come.

With that, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you, the Astraea community – our staff, our grantees, our partners, our donor activists, and our board members – for welcoming me into the Astraea ecosystem and family with such open arms. You have made my transition an exciting and enjoyable one, and I am thankful to be on this journey with you.

I am grateful to our powerful grantee partners, who are some of the strongest, most resilient LGBTQI and feminist activists, artists, organizers, and changemakers around the world, working towards our collective liberation. We are immensely grateful for your dedication and courage.

I am grateful to everyone who remains deeply committed to making sustained social change. This work of building power and shifting resources requires time, energy, collaboration, and long-term investment. As a global public feminist foundation, Astraea’s mandate is to make those dedicated investments in our LGBTQI, feminist, People of Color, and Global South-led movements so that they can go on with the daily work that is history-making. I am grateful for the important responsibility that Astraea holds to resource this critical work well.

From December 17th until the new year, the Astraea staff are hitting “pause”. This is part of our now bi-annual tradition to take a break, truly disconnect from work, share dedicated time and space with our loved ones, and importantly, to rest. I hope that many of you will also be able to take some moments of rest as we bring this year to a close, and prepare for all the good fights ahead of us in 2022, and beyond.

Until then, sending my absolute best to you and yours.

Joy’s October 2021 Reflection: On joining Astraea, our feminist history, and our lasting LGBTQI legacy

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.

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,
Joy