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

Jan 23-24, 2015
Murphy Institute


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” was 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.






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



Stuart Appelbaum
Stuart Appelbaum became President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on May 1, 1998.  He also currently serves as an Executive Vice-President of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.  At the UFCW International, Appelbaum serves as the Director of the Legislative and Political Affairs Department. Appelbaum is a Vice-President of the national AFL-CIO and a member of the federation’s Executive Council.  He also currently serves as a vice president of the New York State AFL-CIO. He serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store International Union and Industry Benefit Funds.
Appelbaum is the President of the Jewish Labor Committee.  He is also a board member of the Latino Victory Project. He is an officer of two global union federations:  IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations) and UNI (Union Network International). Appelbaum is President of UNI Global Commerce (representing 160 unions and 4 million workers worldwide). He is a Vice President of the Consortium for Worker Education. Appelbaum was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to the Regional Economic Development Committee for New York City, where he serves on the Executive Committee.
Appelbaum is a member of the Democratic National Committee, and serves on the DNC’s Executive Committee and the DNC’s Resolutions Committee. He also serves as the Vice-Chair of the DNC Labor Council. Appelbaum served as a delegate to the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions and an alternate delegate to the 1992 Democratic National Convention.  In 2008, he served as a member of the Electoral College as an Obama elector from New York.
Appelbaum is a summa cum laude graduate of Brandeis University, where he was named a Louis Dembitz Brandeis Scholar and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He graduated with honors from Harvard Law School.  He is a member of the bar of the State of Connecticut.  Appelbaum resides in New York City.

Kenyon Farrow
Kenyon Farrow is an award-winning writer and activist. Whether serving on a board, staff member, or rank-and-file organizer, Kenyon has spent the last 15 years working in social movements on campaigns and projects large and small, community-based, national and global in scope. Well known for his racial and economic justice work withing LGBTQ organizing, he is the former Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice. His work in HIV/AIDS has also been well documented, and he’s now the current US & Global Health Policy Director for Treatment Action Group, is an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, a vaccine, and a cure for AIDS, where he has also expanded his work to include tuberculosis (TB) policy and advocacy. Kenyon is co-editor of Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out, A New Queer Agenda (an issue of Feminist & Scholar, an online journal of the Barnard Center for Research on Women) and his essays appear in many books and online news outlets including the recent titles, We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America (PM Press 2012), Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage (AK Press 2010), and Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call (Vintage Entity Press).Kenyon has been a panelist, lecturer and keynote speaker at many conferences and universities including New York University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin/Madison, and Hampshire College, University of California/Berkeley, Antioch College, University of Texas at Austin, and Macalester College.

Sebastian Margaret
Sebastian Margaret is a disability justice community educator and a disabled Trans* queer immigrant. Kept deliciously exhausted parenting a pair of gorgeous kids, they are passionate about the validity and glory of imperfect body/minds. Co-founder of the Disability Justice Collective, Sebastian has been inserting disability justice into the progressive left and multi –issue politics into disability communities since the late ‘80s and are thrilled to be a 2014-16 member of NCAVP’s movement building committee.

Scot Nakagawa
Scot is a community organizer, activist, and public intellectual. He has spent the last four decades exploring cultural production and hegemony, racial injustice and racial formation through community campaigns, cultural organizing, popular education, writing, and direct political advocacy. Scot’s primary contribution has been to the fight against vigilante white supremacist groups, white nationalism, Nativism, and authoritarian evangelical political movements. In this work, he has served as a strategist, organizer, and social movement analyst. Scot is busy at work on a number of projects, including writing a playbook for anti-fascists, and a primer on race and power. His writings have been included in Race, Gender, and Class in the United States: An Integrated Study, 9th Edition; Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence; and Eyes Right!: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash.

Andrea Ritchie
Andrea Ritchie is a Black lesbian police misconduct attorney and organizer who has engaged in extensive research, writing, and advocacy around criminalization of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color over the past two decades. She is currently Researcher-in-Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality and Criminalization at the Social Justice Institute of the Barnard Center for Research on Women. In 2014 she was awarded a Senior Soros Justice Fellowship to engage in documentation and advocacy around profiling and policing of women of color – trans and not trans, queer and not queer.
Ritchie is the author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women and Color which will be published by Beacon Press in July 2017.
Ritchie is co-author of Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women (African American Policy Forum July 2015); A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV, (Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School 2014); Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon Press 2011), and Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the United States (Amnesty International 2005); and Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBT Youth, YMSM and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex, Urban Institute. 2015; and author of Law Enforcement Violence Against Women of Color, in The Color of Violence: The INCITE! anthology (2006, South End Press).
Ritchie was lead counsel in Tikkun v. City of New York, groundbreaking impact litigation challenging unlawful searches of transgender people in police custody, contributing to sweeping changes to the NYPD’s policies for interactions with LGBTQ New Yorkers. She also served as co-counsel to the Center for Constitutional Rights in Doe v. Jindal, a successful challenge to Louisiana’s requirement that individuals convicted of “crime against nature by solicitation” register as sex offenders, and Doe v. Caldwell, the class action filed to remove all affected individuals from the registry, resulting in relief for over 800 class members.

Miriam Frank
Miriam Frank grew up in Newark during the 1950s. She retired from fulltime teaching at NYU in 2014 where she is currently Adjunct Professor of Humanities. She has also taught Labor History in union education programs in New York City and in Detroit, where she was a founder of Women’s Studies at Wayne County Community College.
My roots as a scholar lie in the literary humanities and I remain devoted to the foundational texts of my own education. However, in a varied academic career, I have contributed deeply to the fields of labor studies, women’s studies and queer studies. These disciplines have transformed my writing and teaching and have challenged me to enhance my original training with new methods of research and new ways of understanding the humanities.

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
Jessica González-Rojas is Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the only national reproductive justice organization working to advance reproductive health, rights and justice for the 28 million Latinas in the U.S. She forges connections between reproductive health, gender, immigration, LGBTQ liberation, labor and Latino civil rights. Jessica is a frequent contributor to El Diario/La Prensa, the Daily Beast, and Huffington Post on pressing reproductive health issues in the Latina community. She has also been honored for her work by several outlets and organizations, including Latina Magazine as one of 2014’s “10 Most Inspiring Latina Activists” and was named one of “13 Women of Color to Watch in 2013” by the Center for American Progress.
Jessica frequently speaks about the National Latina Institute’s work at national conferences, and provides policy expertise including testimony at congressional briefings. She provided content for the groundbreaking publication, “Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change.” Jessica has been a leader in the community, as an elected official, and in numerous local and national organizations promoting social justice advocacy. Jessica chairs the Latina Task Force and the Health Committee on the Board of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and is on the Steering Committee for the NYC’s Young Women’s Initiative.

Reina Gossett
Reina Gossett is an activist, writer, and filmmaker.  Along with Sasha Wortzel, Reina wrote, directed and produced Happy Birthday, Marsha! a short film about legendary trans activist Marsha P Johnson starring Independent Spirit Award winner Mya Taylor.
As the 2014-2016 Activist-In-Residence at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women (BCRW) Reina produced and directed No One Is Disposable, a series of cross media platform teaching tools used to spotlight the ways oppressed people are fighting back, surviving and building strong communities in the face of enormous violence. She is currently working on the short animated film The Personal Things about iconic black trans activist Miss Major.
A long time community organizer, Reina worked as the membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project from 2010 to 2014 to lift the voice and power of trans and gender non conforming people and helped lead the successful campaign to end healthcare discrimination against low income trans and gender non conforming New Yorkers. She also worked at Queers for Economic Justice where she directed the Welfare Organizing Projected and produced A Fabulous Attitude, documenting low-income LGBT New Yorkers surviving inequality and thriving despite enormous obstacles. Prior to her work at Queers for Economic Justice Reina worked with Critical Resistance organizing with low income LGBTGNC New Yorkers in a campaign that successfully stopped NYC’s Department of Corrections from building a $375 million new jail in the Bronx.
Reina is a 2007 Soros Justice Fellow, a 2009 Stonewall Community Foundation Honoree, and the recipient of the 2016 Ackerman Institute Community Award. Her work has been supported by the Open Society Foundation, Art Matters Foundation, and the Astraea Foundation’s Global Arts Fund. She was a 2012-2013 fellow of filmmaker Ira Sach’s Queer/Art/Mentorship.  Along with Eric Stanley and Johanna Burton, Reina is an editor of the forthcoming New Museum anthology on trans art and cultural production to be published by MIT Press in 2017.

Kate D’Adamo
Kate D’Adamo is a National Policy Advocate focusing on the intersecting issues of criminalization of HIV and sex work. Prior to joining the Sex Workers Project, Kate was a community organizer and advocate for folks in the sex trade with the Sex Workers Outreach Project and Sex Workers Action New York. In this role, Kate developed programming to promote community building, provide peer support and advance political advocacy to support the rights of people engaged in the sex trade both on and off the job. Prior to this, she worked on these issues at the International Commission for Labor Rights, Global Workers Justice Alliance and the Open Society Foundation, as well as campaigns including Human Rights for All, which sought to integrate sex worker rights into the UN’s Universal Periodic Review. She has a BA in Political Science from California Polytechnic State University and an MA in International Affairs from The New School University.

Hamid Khan
Hamid Khan is a Pakistani writer, politician, supreme court lawyer who is currently serving as the Senior Vice-President of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Khan a prominent lawyer has served as the chairman & Vice-Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, former vice-Chairman of Punjab Bar Council, former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. In earlier positions he served as the President of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (1992–93). He is an Advocate of the Supreme Court and High Courts of Pakistan and is one of the founding partners of Cornelius, Lane and Mufti, a law firm based at Lahore.

Riya Ortiz
Born and raised in the Philippines, Riya Ortiz was uprooted from her motherland and transplanted to New York City in 2000 where she has taken roots in the Filipino American community since then. As a queer immigrant Filipina butch and daughter of a domestic worker, she has 18 years of organizing experience with the  most marginalized Filipinos in the Philippines and in the US, including Filipino migrant workers and their children. She served as the Founding Chairperson of the Gabriela Youth chapter in her college in Manila and a founding member of Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Linking the Children of the Motherland) in NYC. Her other passion includes photography, running, and taking care of her cat Kabang.

Veronica Bayetti Flores
Vero is an immigrant queer rabble rouser, music lover, and activist. She writes, works for reproductive and social justice, and co-hosts Radio Menea, a Latinx music podcast. Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants’ rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color’s interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Amanda Lugg
A social justice activist and advocate with more than 25 years experience, Amanda began working full-time in the HIV/AIDS field in 1994. In 2000 Amanda joined African Services as the AIDS Housing Coordinator followed by positions as the Independent Living Skills Coordinator and as the Community Advocate.
Since 2008, as the Director of Advocacy, Amanda works at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and immigration by advocating for public policy change to improve the treatment, care and support needs of HIV positive immigrants in the US. Additionally, Amanda’s work includes advocating for global AIDS treatment access and the resources necessary to sustain and expand that access.
Amanda serves on a number of national and international coalitions and workgroups and is the Steering Committee Chair of Detention Watch Network, Board Chair of Health GAP (Health Global Access Project), a member of the Post-2015 HIV Civil Society Working Group and a member of the New York City HIV Planning Council.

Ola Osaze
Ola brings over ten years of experience in development, community organizing, and program management, working for such organizations as The Opportunity Agenda, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Queers for Economic Justice, and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. As a community activist, Ola has been involved with the Audre Lorde Project in NYC – co-founding Trans Justice – and Uhuru Wazobia, one of the first LGBT groups for African immigrants in New York. Ola is a 2015 Lambda Literary Fellow, with writings  appearing in Black Public Media, Black Girl Dangerous, and anthologies, including Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought,  Queer African Reader, and the soon to be released Outside the XY: Queer, Brown Masculinity. From a very young age Ola has had quite a sweet tooth and harbors a serious obsession for all things pie.

Terry Boggis
Terry Boggis is a nationally-recognized leader and activist whose work has focused on LGBTQ families. She currently works with the Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ President and Board of Directors to to increase the organizations efficiency and effectiveness.
For 17 years, Terry was the Director of Family Programs at the LGBT Community Center in New York City, where she led programs to provide comprehensive family social support, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ parents, their children,and those considering parenthood. Earlier, she served as the Center’s Director of Communications for two years. Terry also directed the Ettelbrick Family Project at Stonewall Community Foundation, an 18-month Ford Foundation-funded project to advance and enhance understanding of LGBTQ families and their contribution to family evolution and sociology. Terry was a founding board member of Queers for Economic Justice, working as a board co-chair, and serving on the board for over 10 years

Tei Okamoto
Tei Okamoto has, for two decades, been part of a progressive, holistic health movement which seeks to understand the interconnections between health disparities and class, race, gender, and sexuality. Tei was part of a research team at UCLA which addressed issues of Child Sexual Abuse and HIV among women of color, and then went on to join the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies TRANS project, where Tei advocated for alternative sentencing for trans people and lead the substance use pre-treatment program. Tei was also part of the management team at Tenderloin Health in San Francisco, which served the health needs of some of the most hard to reach, highest risk, homeless Trans and queer populations in the city.  Tei then moved to New York and managed the opening of the Trans* Health Clinic, a health clinic devoted specifically to the needs of API and Trans* of color populations in New York City.
Tei Okamoto is a fellow for the Rockwood Leadership Institute and New York Out In Front in 2013, and former Board Chair for Queers for Economic Justice. Tei currently serves on the Center for LGBTQ Studies Board of Directors and is the Vice Chair of the HIV Prevention Group for New York City. Included in the 2013 Trans 100 List,  Tei has shown unwavering and ongoing commitments to transgender issues.
In addition to the Love and Affection Project, Tei is currently working a second oral history project: The AIDS Epidemic and House Music: Twenty Years of Children of Color at Church, explores how the house music scene provided an alternative space of community and healing for queers of color in the midst of the devastation of the AIDS epidemic in the early to mid 1990s. Tei is also the founder of p.i.s.s. :Public Intellectual SpaceS, which curates various political/intellectual/activist queer events. Recent panels include: Queer Gen(d)erations: How to Leave a Legacy in a Broke-Ass Economy (Denise Infinity of House of Infifnity, Cecilia Gentili, J Jack Halberstam, Tanya Saunders and Imani Uzuri); Remembering Marlon Riggs (Robert Reid-Pharr, Jackie Nassy Brown, Gayatri Gopinath, Kenyon Farrow); and Neon Baby: Juan Extravaganza and Queer Latino Performance (Arnaldo Cruz-Malave, Jorge B. Merced and Gayatri Gopinath).

Cara Page
Cara Page is a Black queer feminist cultural worker & organizer.  She comes from a long ancestral legacy of organizers and cultural workers from the Southeast to the Northeast.  For the past 20 plus years she has worked within the queer & trans liberation movement, reproductive justice movement, the racial and economic justice movements and the National People’s Movement Assembly.  She continues to organize; create cultural and political spaces that honor our leaders, movements, communal legacies, and mobilize transformative spaces for the safety and well being of our communities.
Cara is currently the Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project. She is also co-founder and former Coordinator of the Kindred Collective; a southeastern network of healers, health practitioners and organizers seeking ways to respond to and intervene on state violence & generational trauma. She is the former National Director of the Committee on Women, Population & the Environment; and a proud member of Southerners on New Ground, Project South, and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence.