TW: Murder and anti-gay violence, specifically: Rebecca Wight.
We’re officially announcing the Week of Action 2015, which is coming up in just two short months. The Stories Project team is in full preparation mode as we move forward and we’re quite excited about what we have planned for this year. All posts from prior years can be found in the archives under the tag Week of Action.
The Week of Action Movement was created by Meg in 2012. It had been building in progress for a few years before it took its present form and was influenced by a number of different events, from her discovery of a woman named Rebecca Wight to a similar event that she held in the spring of 2011.
In her own words: “This time six years ago, I was extremely unhappy, entirely closeted, and not an activist for anything in any sense of the word. I wanted to do something in support of LGBT people – my desire for activism was triggered earlier that year after watching a film about a gay man who commits suicide – but I was terrified. I didn’t know how to be an activist for LGBT rights without outing myself as gay. At that time, that was out of the question. But even then, I was drawn to the stories of victims of anti-LGBT violence, and that summer, I discovered the story of Rebecca Wight.
Rebecca Wight was a 28-year-old bisexual woman who was killed in an act of anti-gay violence. On May 13, 1988, she and her girlfriend were on a camping trip in the Pennsylvania portion of the Appalachian Trail when they encountered a man who proceeded to stalk and shoot them eight times from afar while they were making love. Her girlfriend survived the attack and went on to write a book about the experience. Rebecca did not – she died at the scene. When I discovered this story, something about it just seemed so incredibly sad. After becoming invested in her story, I decided I had to do something; I couldn’t just sit in silence anymore. Within the next three months, I had come out and begun to do activist work, both of which I give her credit for.
Fast forward to the spring of 2011. I realized that May 13 would happen to fall on a Friday, the same day Rebecca was killed in 1988, and thought, ‘I should do something that day.’ At the time – keep in mind, this was mere months after I was a victim of an anti-gay assault – I was also losing the will to fight and continue activist work, as it was starting to seem a hopeless cause. I decided to lead what I called a ‘Rainbow Vigil,’ a memorial for Rebecca and five other hate crime victims. That day, I made video tributes and wore six colored ribbons on my arm, each representing a different color of the rainbow flag and a different person, in the hopes that it would rejuvenate my will to fight and remind me that these people are the reason I keep fighting. The Week of Action Movement was built from this event.”
The Week of Action Movement
The Week of Action Movement as it exists now is an expansion of the “Rainbow Vigil” Meg took part in that spring. It is still a combination of a vigil and a statement that pays tribute to the victims of an anti-LGBT society, but instead of a small, quiet memorial for personal reflection, the Week of Action is dedicated to action and change. The purpose of the Week is to remember the past, to change the present, and to hope for the future. As the name would suggest, the movement is a week-long event that centers around action, awareness, and activism, in remembrance of Rebecca Wight and the numerous others who have lost their lives in a world that breeds hate and intolerance. It is our belief that we have a duty to speak out while we remember these people, as their voices were stolen from them and they no longer can. The Week of Action takes place during the first or second week of May every year, with the dates adjusted annually.
Our challenge to everyone who decides to take part in the Week of Action is to do something positive for the LGBT community during the week. Just one thing – though you can certainly do more if you like. Something that makes the world a little better and a little safer for LGBT people in memory of those who lived and died in a world where it was not so great and safe for LGBT people to exist. What this looks like is entirely up to you – it can be as small or as large of an act as you want it to be. Call someone out on their bigoted viewpoints. Reach out to someone and let them know that you are there for them. Write to your legislators to change an anti-LGBT law. Spread awareness of the violence that continues to happen today against the most marginalized members of our community. Whatever you feel driven to do for the LGBT community, we challenge you to use this event as an opportunity do it.
2015 Week and Themes
The Week of Action 2015 will begin Monday, May 4 and will end Sunday, May 10. Unlike in years past, the daily themes will NOT consist of a color from the rainbow flag and its corresponding symbolic meaning. Instead, because we will have guest bloggers throughout the week, each day will be themed with the topic each writer has chosen to post about.
Monday, May 4 – “Remembering Our Dead.” Alice will take the day to remember and memorialize all of the LGBT people who have been lost to violence, discrimination, and suicide.
Tuesday, May 5 – “Those Who Survive.” Meg will focus on the survivors of anti-LGBT violence, their loved ones, and LGBT people who are struggling by addressing such topics as mental health in the LGBT community, self-care, where and how to get help, and what it means to survive.
Wednesday, May 6 – “Making It Better Now.” Guest poster Khadija will examine the reasons why the “it gets better” sentiment rings hollow for a number of LGBT people and propose ways to turn “It might get better for you someday” into “I will do my part to make it better for you now.”
Thursday, May 7 – “The Dangers of a Movement that Excludes the Women Who Created It.”: Guest poster Jazmin will provide a history lesson on the true founders of the LGBT liberation movement and a critique of how its radical origins have been co-opted by the largely white, largely cisgender, largely middle-class, mainstream Gay Rights Movement (TM).
Friday, May 8 – “More Than a Martyr: Stunning Stories of Success from the LGBT Community.”: Guest poster Rebecca will highlight a number of stories of happy, successful, living LGBT people because, in her own words, “When all we have are the stories of the dead, it’s no wonder we want to join them.
Saturday, May 9 – “United We Stand (in Solidarity)”: Guest poster Aviva will discuss intersectionality and coalition-building among marginalized groups seeking liberation from oppression and what it truly means to stand in solidarity with one another.
Sunday, May 10 – “A Reflection on the Past, the Present, and the Future.” The details of this post are not yet finalized, but the general idea is that it will be written collectively by all six writers (and possibly others as well), who will reflect on the past and the present and look ahead to the future.
What We Are Going to Do
This year, because there are six people responsible for the Week of Action 2015, we’ve developed a rather ambitious list of ways we intend to take action in addition to hosting the event. We are challenging ourselves to complete each action on the list we put out of fifty possible ways you can take action – either each of us will try to complete the entire list, or we will try to accomplish all fifty actions between the six of us. We will put together a list of names and stories, re-share the Stories Project stories we have collected, broadcast the challenge through our clothing, and document all we find and do here, as we always do. We will also create an updated self-care masterpost, reach out to people who may be interested in participating in the Stories Project, and will likely come together to do something on May 13.
Other things we would like to do for those in our personal spheres include sharing relevant and uplifting quotes, comics, and articles, remind the people in our lives that we care about them through personalized messages, and signal-boost or contribute to crowdfunding efforts created by or for LGBT people.
Meg intends to share an update on the personal story of anti-gay violence she came forward with four years ago, reflect on the videos she took at her first Rainbow Vigil event in 2011, and give a presentation to a local high school GSA about hate crimes.
Finally, we are going to take part in a mini-project that will run throughout the event. We will change our profile pictures on social media to a photo of us holding a sign saying, “I am taking the challenge because (fill in a reason)” and we will ask those who are taking part in the event and accepting the challenge to do the same.
What You Can Do
Take part however you feel compelled! The movement is whatever makes it mean something to you. What is important is that we want to incite change and are choosing to act to make that change happen. If you are interested in the ideas we have laid out for ourselves, feel free to use them or modify them as you see fit; we will have a list of fifty more ideas out soon that you are more than welcome to steal. If you have an entirely different approach, go for it. Those who take part in the Week of Action are all working toward a common goal however they choose to observe it – the creation of a better society for LGBT people through deliberate action.