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Six LGBTQ+ Activists on What We Should Abolish and Legalize by 2069

Six LGBTQ+ Activists on What We Should Abolish and Legalize by 2069

Radical Ideas: #15-20 Abolish & Legalize

50 Radical Ideas: Let’s rethink the institutions and laws that shape our world.


It's heartbreaking to see that the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been in existence for 16 years, harming and terrorizing the LGBTQ+ community. ICE held an average of 42,000 folks on a daily basis last year. Detention centers should not be a part of our communities or any system, and no human should go through all of the abuses and human rights violations endured while they're being held. Often the centers don't have enough beds, and they're kept cold, earning the name hielera, or ice box. Moreover, people are starved and kept from accessing medical care. Roxsana Hernandez was 33 years old, from Honduras and living with HIV, when she died in ICE custody. And the deaths of the two young children at the border in ICE custody are completely indefensible. Not to mention, ICE practices lead to families being separated -- sometimes for days, months, or even longer. When LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are turned away by the U.S., they can face violence or die in the desert. If ICE were abolished, people could move freely in any part of the nation and the world. We wouldn't only be free, but we'd finally live in our full humanity and have opportunities to fulfill our dreams. -- Jennicet Guttierez, immigration rights organizer and founding member of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.


The military isn't simply an employer; it's the enforcement arm of the U.S. government to police mostly Black and brown communities around the world and take global resources to distribute to the top one percent. We're not going to get rid of the military until we get rid of U.S. imperialism, which is tied to economic, racial, and gender justice. What's going on for immigrants and refugees at the border is connected to what's going on in Central America, caused by U.S. economic and military intervention that has been going on for decades. No one should be banned from employment -- especially queer or trans people -- but being in the U.S. military is not the future. We need more options for people to work that don't serve a dangerous vision. If you really look at all the ways queers are oppressed in our society, you have to look at Black liberation, you have to look at stopping police violence, you have to look at stopping war and abolishing the military. -- Deeg Gold, Lesbians and Gays Against Intervention (LAGAI) member

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It's estimated that the U.S. government spends $81 billion on mass incarceration each year. Let's not just participate in reform strategy, putting more money into the system for so-called safety -- let's use that money to create spaces and services for transformation and rehabilitation without being punitive. If we abolish prisons, we'd be able to get people to participate in their own healing from trauma and accountability for the harm they've caused. We'd be able to have a real conversation on interdependence, non-disposability, and dignity for all people. We'd actually build striving, sustaining communities where people are not being locked up and policed all of the time by the system. Until we abolish prisons, let's think about how we can actually support incarcerated folks, free them, get them the resources needed so they can sustain themselves, and divest from the prison industrial complex. -- Pooja Gehi, immigration lawyer and activist

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Justice for queer communities includes climate justice because we're actually talking about equality for the most vulnerable communities: poor people, communities of color, and migrants from the Global South who are going to leave their homes because of the impact of the climate crisis. I think about Octavia Butler and the kind of future she envisioned in her books: It was communities of color, Black folks, and queer folks running their own resources and farms. If the most radical version of the Green New Deal passed, it'd be one where there's economic resourcing for frontline communities. People would be trained and resourced to work in sustainable jobs, including within renewable industries. We could create jobs in solar and wind rather than uplifting fossil fuel billionaries and Big Oil like the Trump administration. A queer future is one of sustainability and resources: fresh food we can eat, clean air, clean water, and
protection for our communities. -- Thanu Yakupitiyage, climate justice activist and associate communications director at

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The U.S. is behind when it comes to nationalized healthcare, especially when compared to other nations around the world. What would it look like to not have gender be a factor in which health services a person can receive? We could create a more inclusive system that doesn't say that someone is ineligible for care for a preexisting condition, like having a disability or living with HIV. We could also have more accessible means of healthcare -- like acupuncture and other non-Western medicine -- without it costing more than a month's rent. I envision a world where nobody -- because of who they are, how their body moves, or what they look like -- has to put themselves within the medical industrial complex. I hope that we all feel empowered and have the agency and autonomy to know that we are in control of our bodies, health, and well-being. Any system that claims to be about healing should be working for
disabled folks, trans folks, people of color, low-income folks. None of us should struggle for care. -- Elliott Fukui, gender justice and disability rights organizer

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Sex work is a job like anything else, and LGBTQ+ folks have engaged in it out of survival for centuries, in part due to discrimination from other industries. When the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA-SESTA) was passed last year, it impeded sex workers' ability to advertise their services and made their work less safe because they couldn't screen their clients online. It's time for us to decriminalize sex work and protect workers from being exploited. Black people should especially have our criminal records vacated, because we're heavily policed. I hope there will also be less stigma for Black trans women and people, so we are safer and can find housing and other work if we want to. The narrative of LGBTQ+ people being chased and murdered and arrested for sex work needs to change so we can build a future with better leaders. -- Ceyenne Doroshow, executive director of Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (G.L.I.T.S.)

Clarification: This Green New Deal has been updated to better reflect the interviewee's point about industry being more to blame for environmental conditions than previously stated.

This is one of our 50 Radical Ideas, featured in Out's June/July 2019 issue celebrating Stonewall 50. The three covers feature the enduring legacy of activist Sylvia Rivera, the complicated candidacy of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, and the triumphant star power of actress Mj Rodriguez. To read more, grab your own copy of the issue on Kindle, Nook, Zinio or (newly) Apple News+ today. Preview more of the issue here and click here to subscribe.

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