When institutions and social services fail to provide adequate relief to marginalized communities—especially during crises like the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic—individuals from those communities are often left to take care of each other through mutual aid.
Trans activist and writer Dean Spade defines mutual aid as “a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions; not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on their representatives in government, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable.”
According to a 2021 report from the Williams Institute at UCLA, 56 percent of Black LGBT adults live below the federal poverty line, and at least 20 percent of Black queer women are uninsured. While the country is experiencing a housing crisis, homelessness has always been a critical issue for transgender people. The National Center for Transgender equality reports that one in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated against when seeking a home. And more than one in ten has been evicted from their homes because of gender identity.
Black LGBTQ+ people have been modeling mutual aid for generations, but it’s clear that much more needs to be done for collective liberation.
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Pride this month, rather than giving your money to corporations that participate in rainbow capitalism, consider donating to the following mutual aid groups actively working to support Black LGBTQ+ people year-round.
For The Gworls is a Black trans-led collective that raises funds to directly support Black trans people in the U.S. and around the world. Founded by Asanni Armon in 2019, the group first began as a rent fundraising party for two friends who were facing eviction. Since then, the organization has raised and redistributed more than $2 million to Black trans people to help pay for rent assistance, gender-affirming surgeries and critical medical expenses, including travel assistance.
For The Gworls is currently fundraising $750,000 during Pride Month. Make a donation to their collective here.
Third Wave Fund is a New York-based gender justice organization that provides direct funding to grassroots activists and projects. The organization was created by and for Black women and women of color, LGBTQ+ people, intersex people, and sex workers under the age of 35. Since 1996, Third Wave Fund has resourced millions of dollars in grants for hundreds of BIPOC-led grassroots organizations, including G.L.I.T.S Inc., the Black Sex Worker Collective and the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective.
Individuals looking to support Third Wave Fund can do so on the organization’s website. Donate directly to the fund, or specifically to the Sex Worker Giving Circle.
According to its website, the Black Trans Fund is “the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting, resourcing and building the capacity of Black trans social justice leaders.” Launched in 2020, the fund has awarded more than $400,000 in grants to dozens of Black trans-led organizations. In their five-year plan, BFT aims to support even more Black transgender and gender non-conforming communities through additional grantmaking and philanthropic organizing.
The Black Trans Fund is currently accepting applications for their Community Care Grant, which provides $3,000 to $10,000 in funds for six months to Black transgender, gender non-conforming and gender expansive organizations. Applications close on Sept. 15.
BFT is developed by the Groundswell Fund, one of the largest funders of social justice groups in the United States.
Existing at the intersection of Black and queer can come with many nuanced challenges and social barriers, such as having poor access to quality healthcare that adequately addresses one’s unique lived experiences. The Black LGBTQIA+ Therapy Fund is a UK-based program that aims to help bridge this gap by providing therapy funds to Black LGBTQ+ people.
Rose Frimpong’s own personal experiences with depression and anxiety are what motivated her to start the fund. During lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to raise close to 90,000 British pounds (approximately $112,000) to fund 12 weeks of therapy for Black LGBTQ+ people. The Black LGBTQIA+ Therapy Fund’s goal is to make therapy more accessible for Black queer people.
The F2L: Relief Fund provides commissary support to queer, transgender and/or two-spirit BIPOC individuals who are incarcerated and facing criminalization in New York State. The fund was created by the F2L Network, a community-led organization that works to end the incarceration of its community through mutual aid and grassroots organizing.
Since 2016, F2L has “organized over 50+ Pack the Courts, raised over $225,000 in commissary, bailed out eight individuals, and kept many more community members out of state custody by securing adequate legal representation and providing financial assistance during trial,” according to its website.
The F2L: Relief Fund grants $900 total to each incarcerated individual so they can purchase food, toiletries, gender-affirming clothes and other needed items.
The Queer Food Fund is a mutual aid project that provides monetary support to Black queer and trans people experiencing food insecurity. According to a research brief by the What We Know Project at Cornell University, approximately 37 percent of Black LGBT adults in the U.S. experience food insecurity, and Black queer adults are more likely to experience food insecurity than non-Black queer people.
The Queer Food Fund was launched by the Queer Food Foundation, a nonprofit organization that elevates and funds queer food spaces and builds community for queer people working in the food industry, in an effort to establish a more equitable, intersectional food system. The fund first opened last year in February, in honor of Black History Month, and granted $100 each to 96 applicants. This year, according to its Instagram, the organization raised more than $11,000.
The 2022 fund closed in March but will likely reopen in the near future. The Queer Food Fund is supported by donations from the public. Donations can be made here.
The QTIPOC Survival Fund is a Black-led, volunteer-run mutual aid initiative that provides direct funds to LGBTQ+ BIPOC living in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, or rural North Carolina. Since the onset of the pandemic, they’ve redistributed more than $140,000, with some of the funds coming from LGBTQ-focused social justice organizations like the aforementioned Third Wave Fund and Race Forward.
Founded by Sharon P. Holland, Ph.D., and Bakari Roscoe, the initiative is currently working to provide long-term support to its existing recipients, with the goal of giving $500 each month for two years, according to its website.
The QTIPOC Survival Fund is actively looking for people to sign on to their Solidarity Pledge, which will also help them start a general fund for non-recipients in need of emergency assistance. You can also send money directly to their PayPal here.