Lavender Phoenix’s 2023 In-Review
“When your hope shrinks
you might feel the hope
of someone far away lifting you up.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
Palestinian American Poet
Dear beloved community,
We began last year by grieving the shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. Now, less than a year later, we continue to wake up each and every day in the shadow of mass death. Our government is funding the genocide, displacement, imprisonment, and colonization of Palestinians. They are killing the people of Gaza: the friends and families of people we love, and people who we don’t know but who we still love. We organize each other; we sit-in; we make art; we march en masse, and we protest. We continue to fight.
At LavNix’s year-end Core Committee Retreat with our member and staff leaders, our facilitator Michael asked us to locate our self-interest in this moment. Not our selfishness, but our “self-interest, rightly understood”: the embodied understanding of what each of us has to gain from our collective struggle. Eventually, my turn came to share. The grief of the year swept through me. I remembered how it felt, days after the jubilance of Trans March, to learn that San Francisco had allocated $65 million in additional funds to the police, after cutting the same amount from housing, healthcare, and life-giving community services. I thought of Banko Brown. I thought of Jaxon Sales. After a breath, I burst into loud, achy sobs. When I finally gathered my voice, I said I felt desperate, absolutely desperate, for reasons to feel hopeful. The Committee held me with patient, kind eyes.
This year, the sacred duty we hold as organizers has grown clearer than ever—to give our people real, concrete reasons to feel hopeful. We carry it with the people of Gaza, who continue to help each other survive and who demand the world’s support. We witness it in our Palestinian comrades in this country, who have made it a human and political imperative that all of us struggle alongside them for their liberation, and for ours. We honor it in our anti-Zionist Jewish friends, who take over bridge after train station after monument after government building to say, “Never again for anyone.”
And I witness this duty lived out by LavNix’s own members and staff, who shifted priorities at every level of the organization to meet this moment. Our members sat in at Representatives’ offices, helped shut down public buildings, organized thousands of calls for ceasefire, helped guide thousands more to reject pinkwashing, asked funders to support Palestinian-led organizing, and will continue to organize to support Gazans. These shifts in our day-to-day work only sharpen our visions and values: we know fighting for a free Palestine frees all of us.
Even through this year of living from violence to violence, from despair to despair, I see us creating reasons to hope with relentless, loving determination. In this year alone…
- LavNix’s Healing Justice Committee trained nearly 40 trans and non-binary API peer counselors, and provided free mental health support care for more than 20 people.
- Our Community Safety Committee distributed more than 100 free safety kits, and trained 80+ trans APIs and allies on de-escalation and crisis-intervention skills.
- We graduated 6 young QTAPIs through the 14th year of our Summer Organizer Program, and trained nearly 50 rising organizers through our annual Queer Justice Leadership Exchange and our brand new Rise Up membership orientation program.
- We’ve laid the groundwork for bold member-led campaigns to challenge the scale of policing and advance queer visions of community safety in the Bay Area.
…and so much more. Through the love and labor of our members, staff, and supporters, LavNix continues to grow as a political home for our people, and a strategic tool for our movement.
Now, we face a pivotal year in the struggle against the life-swallowing status quo of rising fascism, militarism, transphobia, and more. Through it all, I believe Lavender Phoenix staff and members will hold our communities with love and rigor. We will challenge the ever-expanding policing budgets in the Bay Area; we will continue to provide free peer healing care; we will train rising QTAPI organizers through our leadership development programs; and much more. We refuse to let out-of-touch policymakers and politicians use our existence to perpetuate violence. We will allow our grief and rage to sharpen us as organizers, and to soften us as comrades. We will continue to strive, every day, to give each other real reasons to hope.
With love and commitment,
Click on these graphics to learn more about our 2023 accomplishments!
Graphics by hanul kwon
Full image descriptions in alt text and below:
- Graphic #1: on a grey background illustrated the text “LAVENDER PHOENIX: 2023 IN REVIEW” with some text emerging from a megaphone. At the bottom is a photo of a crowd of trans, non-binary, and queer API (QTAPI) people holding a banner reading “We have always existed, we have always belonged.”
- Graphic #2: a photo of two QTAPIs holding signs, with a Palestinian flag and a transgender flag waving behind them. Small text describes specific actions LavNix staff and members took in support of ceasefire (detailed in the attached letter). Bold text at the bottom reads “TRANS JUSTICE MEANS FREE PALESTINE.”
- Graphic #3: above two purple-hued photos of QTAPIs reads “NEW STAFF LEADERS! We’re excited to welcome Meha Davé and Jenica Garcia to join the LavNix staff team. Meha (she/her, Deputy Director) is a thoughtful, embodied relationship weaver & movement partner who seeks to reflect our aspirations for liberation through our present practices. As our Deputy Director, Meha will coordinate our staff team & resource our organization to help us succeed. Jenica (he/she, Cultural Organizer) is a skilled artist & a long-time leader in LavNix’s Communications Committee, as well as a former Summer Organizer. As our Cultural Organizer, Jenica will help actualize LavNix’s visions through communications, cultural work, & storytelling.”
- Graphic #4: under the header “Community Safety” reads “Gathered 100 community members in a vigil to honor Jaxon Sales’ life & support his family in their ongoing fight for truth, justice, and safety. Trained 60+ trans APIs & allies in crisis de-escalation skills. Handed out 100+ free community safety kits at Trans March.” Under “Cultural Organizing” reads “Trained 120+ queer, transgender, & non-binary APIs on using oral histories as a tool for organizing. Recruited 3700+ listeners to 2 key Dragon Fruit Project interviews. Launched a revamped Dragon Fruit Museum website.” Under “Healing Justice” reads “Trained 35+ transgender & non-binary APIs in peer counseling & healing skills. Provided free peer counseling for 22 transgender & non-binary APIs. Recruited 20 artists to donate art in a community-wide raffle to raise funds to support a community member’s recovery from Long COVID.”
- Graphic #5: in bold font reads “I loved holding space for my community in Peer Counseling! In many ways, I felt held by my co-counselors as well”, a quote from a Peer Counseling program trainee. Next to the quote is a purple illustration of birds emerging from a break in a chain-link.
- Graphic #6: under the header “Leadership Development” reads “Graduated 6 young QTAPI leaders in the Summer Organizer Program’s 14th year! Trained 29 organizers in feminist and values-based organizing skills through the annual Queer API Leadership Exchange (LEX) training series. Launched “Rise Up”, our first-ever new-member onboarding program.” Under “Fundraising + Finance” reads “Recruited 500+ individual donors in our Give OUT Day campaign. Recruited 40+ members to join and fundraise for Give OUT Day. Launched our brand-new Finance Committee to support members to co-manage LavNix’s resources.” Next to the text is a purple-hued photo of a QTAPI person smiling and holding a microphone as they speak.
- Graphic #7: in bold text reads “We started asking each other what we each needed and wanted. We moved away from how we were taught to act by society, and towards embracing honesty and vulnerability”, a quote from a Summer Organizer Program participant. Next to the quote is a black and purple illustration of two birds holding a flower between them while they float.
- Graphic #8: in all-capital text reads “we refuse to let out-of-touch politicians & policymakers use our existence to perpetuate violence. We will allow our grief & rage to sharpen us as organizers, & to soften us as comrades”, a quote from Yuan Wang, LavNix’s Director. A purple-hued photo of Yuan is next to the quote.
- Graphic #9: on a purple and white background is a bright orange illustration of a phoenix. In the bottom right corner is LavNix’s logo in black font.