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THE AUDRE LORDE PROJECT: Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit & Transgender People of Color Communities
LGBTST Communities Opposing War -- an Open Letter
(For more info, please email Joo-Hyun Kang/ALP, or Kay Whitlock/AFSC )
"Within each one of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust."
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) -- Black, lesbian, poet, activist, mother OPEN LETTER TO LGBTST COMMUNITIES OPPOSING WAR (1/27/03)
As Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, and Transgender (LGBTST) organizations and individuals of conscience in the U.S., we stand in opposition to the strategies, policies and practices of the U.S. government's "War on Terrorism". While the U.S. government prepares for an escalated, public and pre-emptive war against Iraq -- and declares the doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes central to the national security strategy of the U.S. -- we call on LGBTST communities to join with other peace-seeking communities in opposing war, and struggling for peace with justice. As residents in this country, we recognize our special responsibility to speak and act out against unjust and immoral U.S. government action (both within and outside the borders of this country).
This "War on Terrorism" will not create safety or security for people within the U.S. or elsewhere. It is an umbrella term that encompasses many unjust and dangerous strategies intended to silence dissent, while entrenching U.S. power throughout the world. The "War on Terrorism" is in reality a permanent strategy for flexible war, where:
1) targets outside and within the US change;
2) the US acts as a global police chief, judge, jury, and executioner -- operating unilaterally whenever international consensus can not be arranged, and seeking to entrench its position as the only global superpower;
3) communities and individuals that are most marginalized within this country are faced with accelerated and deepened economic, social and political attacks; and 4) legitimate grief for those whose lives were lost on 9/11/01 is transmuted by the war machine into a permanent climate of fear, suspicion, and hatred.
WHY THIS IS AN LGBTST ISSUE
As Audre Lorde and others have said, we believe that "there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single- issue lives". Members of our communities and our loved ones have experienced the following since the launch of the "War on Terrorism" more than a year ago:
· Increased violence. The strategy and rhetoric of the "War on Terrorism" creates and relies on a culture of hate, resulting in increased violence against communities of color, immigrants, women, LGBTST people and others. Over the past year, this violence has included domestic violence and hate violence.
· Re-institutionalization of racial profiling. Racial profiling has been re-affirmed as policy and practice – in spite of a growing national consensus against it just before 9/11/01.
· De-prioritization of human needs and social programs (incl. HIV/AIDS, education, housing, welfare and other health & human services), to support increased military and so-called "security" spending. Conservative estimates of war with Iraq project costs at between $60 billion and $100 billion.
· Increasing militarization of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). This has resulted in massive abuses of human and due process rights, including: disappearances, secret detentions on the basis of no evidence, deportations, and chilling new "special" registration procedures that are justified by, and further institutionalize racial, religious, and cultural stereotyping. These measures all serve to support expansion of a profit-making prison-industrial complex.
· Political surveillance and attacks on human/civil rights through mechanisms enabled by federal and local so-called "anti- terrorist" legislation (e.g. USA Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act). This has included re-building dangerous public and now-legal surveillance strategies that echo the disgraceful COINTELPRO policies and abuses of an earlier era.
We continue to mourn the lives lost on 9/11/01. We also mourn the lives lost to U.S. military action and economic sanctions in countries including Afghanistan and Iraq -- and that certainly will be lost elsewhere as the doctrine of pre-emption is implemented. We seek to prevent the loss of thousands of more lives in unjust, immoral wars that will only widen the spiral of retaliatory violence.
Politicians will try to sell these wars as U.S. missions of "liberation." But we know that militarism and war rely on and promote many forms of oppression -- including homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and racism. As LGBTST people, we know what it means to be targets of hate and violence. We understand what it means to be scapegoated. We believe that the ever-changing targets of the U.S. government's "War on Terrorism" simply provide a permanent and unending list of scapegoats – distracting all of us from the challenging and necessary task of building communities and a world based on principles of peace, justice, self-determination and human dignity.
With care and respect, we call on LGBTST organizations and communities to join national and local coalitions to struggle for peace with justice -- and actively and creatively oppose U.S. policies and actions of military/economic/political aggression and war.
* The Audre Lorde Project (ALP). ALP is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit and Transgender People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities.
* LGBT Program, Community Relations Unit, American Friends Service Committee. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.
(The following list is in formation as of 1-26-03. Groups/Individuals without locations listed are based in New York State, where this statement originated. To endorse this statement, please email: )
Organizational Endorsers (as of 1/26/03)
* African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change (AALUSC)
* AFSC GLBTQ Youth Program [Seattle, Washington]
* AFSC Hawai'i Gay Liberation Program [Honolulu, Hawai'i]
* AFSC LGBT Issues Program/Faith Action Network [Ann Arbor, Michigan]
* Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBTIQ Muslims [Washington, DC]
* Astraea Lesbian Action Foundation
* Brazilian Rainbow Group (BRG)
* Colombian Lesbian & Gay Association (COLEGA)
* Community United Against Violence (CUAV) [San Francisco, CA]
* Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
* Incite! Women of Color Against Violence
* Latino Gay Men of New York
* Mano a Mano
* National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
* National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) [Washington, DC]
* NYC AIDS Housing Network
* Pride At Work, AFL-CIO [Washington, DC]
* Queer Economic Justice Project
* South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association (SALGA)
* Southerners On New Ground (SONG) [Durham, North Carolina]
* Triangle Foundation [Detxroit, Michigan]
Individual Endorsers (as of 1/26/03)
* David Fuentes Jr.
* Richard Haymes
* Jeffrey Montgomery [Detroit, Michigan]
The Audre Lorde Project:
Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit & Transgender People of Color Communities Tel: 718-596-0342 * Fax: 718-596-1328 Email: