Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies: Impacts of Economic Injustice on Vulnerable LGBTQ Communities

Jan 23-24, 2015
Murphy Institute

See more videos from “Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies” on our Resources page.

Conference program: Download here

Autostraddle Conference Write-Up: Surviving or Thriving: How Economic (In)Justice Matters for LGBT People

BCRW Research Assistant Write-Up: The Conference

Call to Action

Economists have noted that the 2008 global economic crisis has created not a temporary recession, but a rearranging of the global economy that will impact us for decades to come. For LGBTQ communities, not only has the impact of the economic crisis been particularly severe, but also an analysis of the effects of the recession on LGBTQ communities is largely lacking.

This invisibility of the impact of the 2008 economic downturn on LGBTQ communities supports the absence of economic justice issues in the current LGBTQ movement, an absence which maintains the myth of LGBT wealth rather than conveying the reality of class and race as it meets sexual orientation and gender identity in the majority of queer lives.

“Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies” is a two-day conference that will bring together organizers, scholars, activists, and community members to discuss overlooked and often invisible economic justice issues at the intersections of class, race, gender, immigration, non-traditional families, sexuality, and the law. Four panels will focus on the intersections of the following issues in LGBTQ community space:

  1. LGBTQ/queer community members overview of our vulnerable communities & members
  2. immigration, the state, and transnational flows of labor
  3. low wage & precarious workers; a panel to examine the invisibility of the many queer people working in industries like retail, restaurants, or health care that offer long hours, low wages, and very few work protections and the impact of their sexual identities in the workplace.
  4. gender, sexuality, HIV status, drug risk (including hormone use), and an expansive vision of reproductive justice and health.

Conversations will combat the invisibility and stereotype of queerness by shifting the void of information about queer economic realities, making space for the most affected community members; queer immigrants, LGBTQ communities of color, queer workers, HIV+ queer people, queer elders and youth, non-traditional LGBTQ families.

Our goal with “Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies” is to bring together and educate community members and ally organizations to build movement possibilities in the face of economic crisis and queer marginalization. The conference ultimately will advance the concerns of poor and low-income LGBTQ people by making visible queer economic realities.


Day 1

10:00-10:30 Opening – Welcome and Overview of Queer Survival Economies
Amber Hollibuagh
An intro to “Queer Survival Economies,” how this conference was conceived and what we hope to accomplish.

10:30am – 12noon – Morning Panel: Whose Communities? LGBTQ Perspectives on Surviving in Poor and Low-Income Communities
Kenyon Farrow, moderator
This panel will bring together impacted LGBTQ community members, including: immigrant, HIV+, Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming, Low Income, Homeless, Elders, Queer Workers, Disability Activists and People of Color and key organizations working on economic injustice – to discuss the specific ways that gender and sexuality make our community more vulnerable and define ways that LGBTQ and ally groups can organize around economic injustice which disproportionately impacting LGBTQ people.

12n – 1:30pm Boxed lunches for people to meet and talk over food.
Book signing by Anne Bagley and Miriam Frank

1:30pm – 3pm Afternoon Panel: The Impact of Economic Injustice on Queer Low-Income & Precarious Workers
Rebecca Lurie, moderator
This panel will cover critical issues confronting LGBTQ low income communities and labor activism in sectors including: retail and service jobs; street economies such as sex work and drug sales; health care work and HIV/AIDS. This panel will explore the ways that queer low-income workers are particularly vulnerable to targeting in jobs that pay minimum wage and where there are no laws that protect them from employment discrimination. Many of these workers struggle with histories of drug use, incarceration, and homelessness. The scant opportunities for legal employment combined with insufficient wages place LGBTQ people with no security net in a precarious financial position, which leaves them open to criminalization and incarceration. The panelists will include labor activists, immigrant rights organizers, sex worker activists and community workers.

3pm- 6pm – Break Out Groups
There will be specific break out groups conducted by active organizing campaigns including fast food workers, retail workers, domestic workers, livery workers, day workers, formerly incarcerated workers, LGBTQ workers, sex workers, workers centers and non-traditional workers campaigns.

5pm – 6:30pm Community Reception
A casual reception with light snacks for conference participants to reflect, connect, and take a break before the next day’s activities.

6:30pm – 8pm Double Film Screening:
Two documentary films about queer migrant workers, sex workers and HIV+ low wage workers in the global workplace.

Day 2

10am – 12noon Morning Panel: Queer Migrations
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, moderator
The issues highlighted by the LGBTQ, racial and economic justice movements are made even more complicated for people in the U.S. who are not citizens. This panel will highlight the ways that economic injustice has shaped the lives of queer immigrants, both documented and undocumented, touching on NYC as an international gay mecca, transnational service work/labor, kinship, the HIV ban, and the legal battleground that is the U.S. border. It will also discuss current issues for queer, HIV+ and gender-nonconforming people in low-paid day work and undocumented labor.

12n – 1:30pm Boxed lunches for people to meet and talk over food.

2pm – 4pm Afternoon Panel: Gender, Sexuality, HIV and Reproductive Justice
Reina Gossett, moderator
It is no secret that queer and transgender people struggle to access healthcare that affirms their identities and meets their bodily needs. This problem is compounded exponentially by low-paying jobs, poverty and homelessness. This panel will explore the ways legal, social, and economic constraints threaten LGBTQ people’s bodily autonomy and well-being. We will bring forward the need to discuss a wide ranging agenda of reproductive healthcare in prison, issues of sexuality and homelessness, the difficulties faced by non-traditional families, and the tough terrains of access to hormones and queerly gendered lives. Finally, this panel will interrogate issues of bodily integrity and queer identities when economic survival is the centerpiece of real possibilities and risks.

4:15pm – 5pm Closing Discussion & Next Steps
Speakers will give their takes on the conference, bringing themes and questions together, then open that back up to the audience so all people can participate.

Metro cards available if needed


Sign Up on the Facebook Event Page


  • Amber Hollibaugh
  • Kenyon Farrow
  • Ricky Blum
  • Yana Calou
  • Rahul Saksena
  • Margot Weiss


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