TW: Murder and anti-LGBT violence, specifically: Rebecca Wight.
Dates: May 9 – May 15, 2016
This is our official announcement for the Week of Action 2016, which is coming up in just a few short weeks. After a chaotic start to the year, we are now in FULL PREPARATION mode as we move forward into May. If you’re interested in what we have planned for this year’s event, read ahead, or check out our posts from years past under the “Week of Action” tag to the right!
The first pseudo-Week of Action event took place in the spring of 2011, and participation was limited to Meg and a handful of those closest to her. A few months after her own experience with anti-gay violence, and in the wake of a spate of attempts by her home state to pass anti-LGBT legislation, she quickly realized she needed to do something to prevent herself from succumbing to the belief that the present situation for LGBT people was hopeless.
She asked herself who or what had given her a reason to fight in the past when times were tough for LGBT people. The answer was as simple as it was apparent when she began thinking about it: the stories of those who had been lost to anti-LGBT violence had always prompted her to press on in the face of political setbacks. Why? Because, she said, a better world than the one that killed them was the least we as a society owed to their memories. And if we couldn’t go back and change what happened to them in the past, we had to at least try to prevent such violence from happening again in the present.
In particular, she thought of Rebecca Wight – a name her brain had used as a kind of shorthand during her own assault to get her to comprehend the potential gravity of the situation she was in. Rebecca was a 28-year-old bisexual woman who had been on a camping trip with her girlfriend on the Pennsylvania portion of the Appalachian Trail when she was killed in an act of anti-gay violence on May 13, 1988. A chance encounter with a man who hated gays and lesbians resulted in the couple being stalked for miles and shot from afar while they made love that evening. Her girlfriend survived the attack and went on to write a book about the experience, but Rebecca died at the scene.
Meg realized that May 13, 2011 would fall on a Friday – the same day it had been in 1988. Her ideas for an event came together in the form of a 24-hour “sleep fast” on that date, during which she and those who stayed awake with her would reflect on the stories of the lives interrupted by hate (six in particular). She left this event feeling surprisingly rejuvenated with a renewed will to fight.
The Week of Action as it exists now is an expansion of the first event which took place that spring. It takes place sometime in May every year, with the dates adjusted annually. It remains a combination of a vigil and a statement which pays tribute to the victims of an anti-LGBT society, but instead of a small, quiet, memorial for personal reflection, it is focused on action and change. As the name would suggest, it is a week-long event that centers on action, awareness, and activism under the motto “remember the past, change the present, and hope for the future,” in remembrance of Rebecca Wight and the numerous others who have lost their lives in a world that breeds hate and intolerance.
Our challenge to everyone who is interested in taking part in the Week of Action is to do something positive for the LGBT community during the week. We challenge you to take one action – 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 which was not so great or safe for them to live authentically.
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.
We aren’t calling upon you to change the world in a week. It isn’t possible to knock down all of the systems which contribute to the marginalization of and violence against LGBT people individually or in such little time. However, violence doesn’t spring into existence on its own – violence on a large scale is built upon a foundation of acts of bias, prejudice, and discrimination on a small scale. What we are asking you to do is to destabilize the pyramid of hate by poking holes in its foundation, and by taking care of those who have been targeted by hate.
This can mean calling someone out on their bigoted viewpoints. This can mean reaching out to someone and letting them know that you are there for them. This can mean writing to your legislators to change an anti-LGBT law or prevent one from passing. This can mean spreading awareness of the violence that continues to happen today against the most marginalized members of our community. This can mean providing material resources to those in the community who need them. Whatever you feel driven to do for the LGBT community, we challenge you to use this event as an opportunity do it.
2016 Week and Themes
The Week of Action 2016 will begin Monday, May 9 and will end Sunday, May 15. Our overarching theme for this year is “Take Back the Trails,” which we will explain and expand on in a future post.
2016 marks our fifth year of running the event, and though we could have tried to do something grand for the anniversary, we’ll actually be doing the opposite. In the spirit of the very first WoA we ever ran, it will be a small, low-key event for personal growth and reflection. Meg will oversee the blog posts for this year, and the topics she has chosen are:
Monday, May 9 – “Why We Still” – On why the WoA is still something we choose to run every year, in spite of the fact that there are some years where we are the only participants.
Tuesday, May 10 – “Progress and Pushback” – On the retaliation that comes with significant progressive strides.
Wednesday, May 11 – “Bury Your Gays, Bury Your Gaze” – On the connection between fictional violence, real violence, and the mental health of LGBT people.
Thursday, May 12 – “The Halfway Point” – Collective post, on what we have been able to do so far.
Friday, May 13 – “Speaking as Self-Care and Self-Harm” – On healing, speaking, and not speaking about the most painful experiences in our lives.
Saturday, May 14 – “32 Miles” – On the physical (and mental) test Meg has given to herself for the Week of Action this year.
Sunday, May 15 – “Five Years” – Collective post, on the past five years on a small and large scale.
What You Can Do
Commit to taking on the challenge we have laid out here – take at least one deliberate action that is in some way beneficial to the LGBT community.
Other than that, take part however you feel compelled. The event 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 (we will be posting a list of 50 ways you can take action in a day or two), feel free to use them or modify them as you see fit. If you have an entirely different approach, go for it.
We are all working toward a common goal – the creation of a place which is better and safer for LGBT people than it has been – however we choose to go about it.