Books & arts
Taking Freedom Home
2010-09-23, Issue 497
Directed and edited by Kagendo Murungi and co-produced by The Welfare Warriors Research Collaborative, QEJ & Wapinduzi Productions, ‘Taking Freedom Home’ chronicles two years in the life of the Welfare Warriors Research Collaborative (WWRC), a project of Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), a New York based non-profit organisation.
The film sheds much needed light on the challenges faced by low income LGBTGNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender nonconforming) residents of New York City as well as their intersectional social justice organising strategies.
Equal parts video postcard and revolutionary workbook, the film utilises memory, artistic expression and group analysis to reveal a process of personal healing and collective empowerment.
‘Taking Freedom Home’ celebrates the creativity and vibrance of diverse LGBTGNC movements and particularly the historical initiatives of trans and gender nonconforming people of colour in New York and throughout the US from the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 to the Critical Resistance (CR10) conference in 2008.
This documentary video was co-produced by Queers for Economic Justice and Wapinduzi Productions to document the Welfare Warriors Research Collaborative’s storytelling process. It accompanies ‘A Fabulous Attitude!: Low Income Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Non Conforming and Queer People Surviving and Thriving on Love, Shelter, & Knowledge,’ the collaborative’s 70-page research report on low income LGBTGNC issues.
The Welfare Warriors Research Collaborative was a participatory action research project of Queers for Economic Justice that convened from 2007 to 2010. We came together to investigate the disturbing and infuriating poverty-related violences low income LGBTGNC people navigate every day.
Trained in research by a graduate student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and in documentary video production by the founder of Wapinduzi Productions, we videotaped 10 storytelling interviews and conducted 171 surveys with low income LGBTGNC people of color and white folks in the NYC area.
Our findings show that the majority of low income LGBTGNC people are strongly involved in their communities and use many strategies to fight for justice. We deal with continual discrimination and violence at the hands of police - as well as staff and guards at government and nonprofit institutions.
Those in our research also create personal and community projects that make their lives richer and stronger. Still, the struggles low income LGBTGNC people face are harsh and isolating – 69 per cent of survey takers have been homeless at some point in their lives and 40 per cent use isolation as a means to avoid being targeted. Our work shows how racism, transphobia, and homophobia entangle with economic injustice to create such conditions.
This film will engage the interest of friends and allies to LGBTGNC movements, advocacy and organizing groups, academics and policy makers, and community members that can relate to the difficulties of being low income and having the desire for justice.
Queers for Economic Justice is a progressive non-profit organisation committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation. Their goal is to challenge and change the systems that create poverty and economic injustice in our communities, and to promote an economic system that embraces sexual and gender diversity.
Founded in 1992 by Kagendo Murungi, Wapinduzi Productions is a US based producer of documentary films, and collaborative creative community spaces for social justice.
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* Kagendo Murungi is director and editor of Taking Freedom Home
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