October 16, 2017
GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright was recently awarded the distinguished Lavender Rhino Award by the History Project, the only organization focused exclusively on documenting, preserving, and sharing the history of Boston’s LGBTQ communities. Named after one of the early symbols of the Gay Liberation Movement, the Lavender Rhino Award is presented to an emerging activist or organization whose impact on the LGBTQ community deserves recognition. Below, in an excerpt from her acceptance speech, Allison reflects on what this award means – both to her and the clients for whom she perseveres.
I am so grateful to the History Project and feel very honored to accept this prestigious award. But the truth is, I feel very undeserving of this award. I feel undeserving because there were many moments in the last five and a half years that I wanted to or did give up fighting for justice. I’ve struggled with being the only Black attorney at GLAD and living in one of the whitest parts of this country. There were times I wanted to quit and other times when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a lawyer at all.
My fatigue with working in this movement stems from resistance to change.
The LGBTQ movement is in desperate need of a makeover. We need more attorneys of color working in this movement. We need more people of color in leadership positions. We need to accept that racial and economic justice are LGBTQ issues, and most importantly, we need to be open to thinking differently about how we do our legal work with communities of color.
Unwillingness to make these changes is what will keep the LGBTQ movement from tackling some of our most urgent issues that strike at the heart of poverty and racism, which impacts so many LGBTQ people of color. Now more than ever, we need our white allies to speak out, act up, sometimes step aside to make room for people of color, and be open to change.
It is my hope for a more evolved LGBTQ movement, my love for my Black and Brown queer folks, especially my clients, and the unwavering support from my partner of the last five years – plus a little love from our four -year-old chihuahua, Sofie, that has kept me going over the last five and a half years.
I am still pursuing my dream of being a bad ass litigator because of my former client, a Black transgender 19-year-old woman who suffered chronic homelessness for most of her teenage life, and had the courage to stand up to a homeless shelter that denied her equal services.
I have not given up because my former client. an LGBTI activist from Uganda, risked his life and his safety to fight for his people.
I still fight because the mother of my Black transgender client knew that her daughter was being treated differently at school because of her race and gender.
I stay in this fight because my Latinx client whose personal struggles with addiction, homelessness, and poverty did not stop them from challenging a religiously-affiliated non-profit service organization’s differential treatment of queer people of color.
I accept this award for my clients whose resiliency and courage to stand up for themselves and others led to change not only for them but for others in similar circumstances.
By accepting this award, I am also making a promise to myself and to my queer POC family, that although I may get tired or angry, lost and dismayed, I will never stop advocating for us.