Desiring Change

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Desire and gender are brought alive through the ways lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people use their bodies; desire and gender are made poignant and meaningful by the ways we construct or deny our erotic passions and gendered identities in the course of daily life. People will take risks—facing marginalization, isolation, and even violence—to identify and act upon their desires. And they will live out their unique understanding of gender—no matter how dangerous or costly the results. This report represents the integration of joint efforts by the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) and Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), beginning with activist and academic convenings that took place from 2005-07 under the name “Desiring Change,” and culminating in a daylong gathering in 2007 with 21 social justice organizations. At this meeting, participants focused the intersections between LGBTQ and progressive politics, exploring why, despite years of analysis about coalition politics, much organizing remains focused on single issues. Additionally, participants asked why sexuality, in particular, is so often dropped from progressive organizing even as the political Right maintains a laser-like intensity on sex and gender. Ultimately they wondered, how can we change the way change itself is made?

In 2009, BCRW joined forces with QEJ to extend Desiring Change into a jointly produced publication, called “A New Queer Agenda,” which was edited by Lisa Duggan, Joseph DeFilippis, Kenyon Farrow, and Richard Kim, and will be published in the 2011-2012 academic year in BCRW’s webjournal, The Scholar & Feminist Online. This New Feminist Solutions report interweaves the analysis produced by Desiring Change with the work of “A New Queer Agenda,” which was undertaken as a way to bring attention to the ideas and work of progressive queer activists working around the country, outside of the mainstream national LGBT organizations. Short excerpts of many of the essays in “A New Queer Agenda” are previewed in this report as examples of the kind of cross-issue organizing and vision advocated by Desiring Change. This report is born of the fact that in the current political moment, particularly after the financial crisis of 2008, both BCRW and QEJ see an opportunity to bring fresh vision to questions that have long challenged organizations and movements, including questions about how to frame issues of key concern and how to develop effective models for making change. We also see a longing for new possibilities, a way forward in the face of increasing inequality, and a means of keeping our desires at the center of our politics.

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