CHANGE CONTINUES WITH YOU
Inciting change doesn’t just look like standing in front of a crowd. It’s Alex Locust and his fabulously candid platform Sippin’ Saturdays. It’s Corinne Smith and her moving pieces on grief and joy. It’s Roger Kuhn holding up a sign that reads, “DECOLONIZE SEXUALITY.” It’s Cecilia Chung and her decades of advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights and HIV awareness. And it’s Sef Cavendish infodumping in a TikTok video. Progress is a product of each act—large or small—that you make in service of liberation for all. This season, we celebrate LGBTQIA+ activism in all its manifestations.
We know getting involved might seem a little intimidating, so we sat down with five leaders in the LGBTQIA+ community to hear about how they’re approaching activism in their own unique ways.
Alex Locust is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and unapologetic glamputee spreading the word about social justice, one workshop at a time.
“Ensuring that your activism is collective is key. I'm always having candid conversations with people in my life with different identities around Blackness, transness, fatness, different disabilities and immigration. It’s important to be open to accountability and to remember that, of course, these people aren't necessarily experts and can't speak for the entire community.
Know how to apologize effectively—because you are going to mess up. That's part of being both human and an activist. I've made mistakes. If you never want to get called out or called in, if you’re not open to participating in restorative practices or an accountability process, maybe activism isn't for you. Those moments are opportunities to deepen your relationship with your values and other communities. So often, people are always afraid of having a hard conversation. I'm more afraid of people deciding that I'm not worth the hard conversation.”
Throughout the decades, civil rights leader Cecilia Chung has held many roles—HIV Mobile Testing Consultant, HIV Program Coordinator, Council Member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and most recently, Health Commissioner of the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Evaluation at Transgender Law Center—but she’s never wavered as a champion for LGBTQIA+ rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, health advocacy and social justice.
“Let’s not think about it as ‘activism,’ but as making this a better world. Start with something small. It could be art. It could be practicing a random act of kindness everyday. There are so many different ways to make the world a better place, but the most important part is to never do anything alone. Always remember that there are people around you who might be thinking about the same thing. The more you share with friends about your worldview, the more conversations you’ll inspire.”
Dr. Roger Kuhn is a Poarch Creek Two-Spirit Indigiqueer soma-cultural sex therapist and sexuality educator. His work explores the concepts of decolonizing and unsettling sexuality and focuses on the way culture impacts and informs our bodily experiences. In addition to his work as a licensed psychotherapist, Roger is a faculty lecturer of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University, board member of the American Indian Cultural Center of San Francisco, community organizer of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit powwow and a member of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
“First figure out what's going on in your area. Whatever issue you see on a global level—whether it’s the environment or gender-based violence—is happening on the micro level too. I really recommend folks get involved on a local level. Those you meet on a local level will then introduce you to people that are doing the work on a state or national level And then you’ll meet those working on an international level. I started local, with my tribe. Then my uncle introduced me to other Creek people (because the Creek Nation was split during the Trail of Tears). I was introduced to Muscogee Creek people in my youth, and then to other Native people as I got older. And before I knew it, I was part of this network of Native people from different tribes all over the land we now call the United States. Don't be afraid to start small. And if there's nothing in your area, don't be afraid to start it.”