Supporting LGBTQ Communities to Thrive in All 5 States
In late 2013, PFund Foundation initiated a field scan of the upper Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) called QReach. Its purpose was to deepen understanding about the ecology of LGBTQIA communities in our region.
Through QReach, we supported 16 partner organizations with funding and technical assistance to assess their own communities and shared their findings with PFund Foundation. They also connected with and learned from each other. PFund Foundation heard the strides and challenges organizations faced around infrastructure, networks, and social justice. This is a compacted summation of our findings:
1. Basic needs gaps
There is a common sense that LGBTQ communities in the Upper Midwest have insufficient access to needed social services. In general, it is challenging to secure adequate resources to support and sustain important work.
2. Strong assetsQReach participants cited numerous assets and strengths of their communities and organizations.
Profound experiences of isolation are prevalent in many communities and serve as a barrier to cultivating leadership. There is a desire to strengthen collaboration, even in an atmosphere of scarce resources.
4. Leadership pipelines
Leadership development—both within organizations and in the LGBTQ community—remains a significant focus for many groups. Developing intergenerational leadership is critical to LGBTQ leaders in the Upper Midwest. Leaders find generational gaps to be a formidable hurdle, but innovative work is being done to bridge them.
5. Contextualizing the movement
Documenting community histories is important to contextualize the movement, give it roots, and inform future direction. Sharing stories helps affirm individual experience and provides a counter-narrative to combat negative stereotypes.
6. Building intersectional awareness
The QReach cohort named the pressing need to build greater awareness and analysis of how power and privilege play out within and around their communities. LGBT elders, youth, transgender, and people of color each identify roles and realities differently within the movement.
Voices from the Region
LGBTQ youth of color and their families face tremendous economic, educational, health and legal disparities and there is a need for large and rapid systemic change in our communities. We need to engage in intersectionality in our work. How can we build queer movements that are big enough to hold us all?
I believe that the work of social justice is about healing, hearts, minds and souls to embrace our community as an asset that will allow us to fully thrive.