BY MERRYN JOHNS
How has misogyny, racism, classism, ageism, and ableism impacted the quality of your life?
As I face the third act of my lesbian life, I have accepted the fact that the picture of my existence is not completely documented, acknowledged, or accepted in the way that it often is for heterosexual, cisgender folks. And yet I know, as a long-term lesbian with deep community roots, that queer women have historically overcome systemic challenges to create amazing LGBTQ lives. We have invented new relational structures, challenged oppressive paradigms and thrived with little support from mainstream society. The danger in not documenting our lives is that they will be lost to time, trapped in the underground of our otherness, little more than obscure in-community knowledge that never sees the daylight of policy or reform. Should we do something to change this fate?
This was the discussion queer feminist activists Dr. Jaime Grant and Urvashi Vaid had around three years ago.
While it was a relief to see the incoming Biden administration express its goodwill to the LGBTQ community, Grant and Vaid — both women have long careers advocating for LGBTQ+ socio-economic justice — knew that tangible change is most often driven by policy, and policy is driven by hard data. But there is little to no data on America’s queer women. And LGBTQ+ women are often not even centered in our own community and equal rights movement.
The solution? To launch the first-ever comprehensive National LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey. Grant and Vaid gathered an advisory committee consisting of community activists and advocates who, combined, have hundreds of years of experience in the LGBTQ+ community.