QUEERS & ALLIES
In an auspicious coincidence, last year’s return of the Galveston Pride Parade marked the one-year anniversary of the first meeting of Galveston Queers & Allies (Q&A). It has been a rewarding year of collaborating with passionate and talented folks from throughout our area and a much-needed reaffirmation of the good will that abounds around us.
Q&A began, fittingly enough, with a lot of questions. Why isn’t there a local service organization that focuses on LGBTQIA+ issues and needs? What data is being collected that shows the issues that disproportionately affect LGBTQIA+ adults and youth in Galveston? Who (if anyone) has already done or is doing this work? But most importantly — Who should we talk to next?
To no surprise, Galveston has shown no lack of inquisitive, resourceful, generous, and good-hearted people. The more the initial conversations grew, the more potential seemed possible. A few themes resonated throughout these conversations as important starting points: creating more opportunities to socialize and build community, creating an official organization that could act as a hub for advocacy and resources, and supporting families and queer youth.
For the past year, Q&A has met once a month to work toward these goals. Along the way we have presented events with, volunteered with, raised money for, or otherwise partnered with some amazing organizations to whom we are very grateful: Access Care of Coastal Texas (ACCT), Galveston Island Fundraising of Texas (GIFT) and their Jerry Eubank Angel Fund, Third Coast Pride Fest, the School of Public and Population Health at UTMB, the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Galveston Historical Foundation, the Galveston Arts Center, the Galveston County Health District’s Healthy Concepts program, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Hike for Hope. And we are thankful for and celebrate the local businesses who have provided space and been gracious hosts of these activities, including Bar 43, MarMo, 23rd Street Station, Daiquiri Time-Out, Galveston’s Own Farmers Market, Galveston Island Brewery, and Island Time.
In the coming months, we are working hard to bring other initiatives to fruition, including community education programs and the establishment of a local chapter (as part of a national organization) that focuses on supporting youth, families, and educators.
Additionally, we are working towards building a coalition of local organizations that stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community in these tumultuous times. Since the first meeting, Q&A has described itself as an “informal grassroots effort.” We are not an official organization, and (at least for now) we don’t plan to be. Rather than being a disadvantage, this has helped to honor some of the core values and goals we are working towards. It means building partnerships and supporting the work of other organizations.
It means spreading out into spaces that aren’t typically considered part of the LGBTQIA+ scene and advocating for more allyship in addressing and representing queer issues and interests. It means being good allies ourselves and supporting the powerful work being done to advocate and work towards improving the quality of life for other marginalized communities and identities. It also means we have to share responsibility in order to make a lasting impact and we welcome new voices to help shape what we are about and where we are headed.
It has been disorienting at times trying to reconcile the overwhelmingly positive experience of sharing space, conversation, and inspiration within our group or at our events, against the larger social climate of hate, violence, and mistrust. As we’ve grown from private conversations into a more public platform, we have often had to sit with the heavy weight of fear and uncertainty in the lead-up to events, unsure what might go completely sideways, or worse; it’s gut-wrenching.
Galvestonians know loss and what it’s like to watch everything important wash away in a storm beyond our control. Galvestonians also know what it means to weather difficult times, to rebuild, and to celebrate uniqueness and difference. For Q&A, Galveston has shown itself to be true to its history as a city rooted in resilience, freedom, and welcoming.