From the seventh to the tenth of June, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) Committee hosted a campaign-building intensive which included advocates from all over the world. The workshops were held in Bangkok and attended by organizations like ILGA, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, All Out, Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, Equal Rights Association, Outright Action International, CREA, Iranti, Common Language, and the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, among other important organizations.
The four days that gathered brilliant campaigners from all over the world resulted in fruitful discussions and brainstorming on how to compose a successful campaign. Here are 5 key points yielded from the four days:
1-Context, context, context.
The conditions that LGBT people live under vary from country to country. Even within countries, there are differences in local contexts. Some countries may have long histories of gender non-conforming or third gender identities for example, while others don’t. Some countries might have power religious authorities that influence cultural norms. And some countries have been colonized by others, which can lead to complicated and violent realities that stem from colonialism.
Ignoring context can result in missteps on the part of campaigners. Without context, campaigners can choose goals that are either too modest or too ambitious, or they might even cause a dangerous backlash that the campaign was meant to aid.
2-Know your audience.
Being aware of an audience’s interests, what they respond to, and the platforms they use are all vital elements to consider. To engage youth, for example, the go-to method is to target social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can disseminate information quickly among youth that may not have otherwise been reached.
By knowing our audience, we don’t waste time or money on methods that wouldn’t be as effective on the particular group of people we’re trying to reach. And given that many of us are working with limited resources, it’s important that we maximize our impact with the knowledge we do have.
3-Collaboration is key.
Working in groups can be tough — large groups of people can mean many different personalities, needs, and styles of work. But working with others means that we get the combined brainpower and efficiency of everyone included. Within collaboration, there are many rounds of review to ensure each step of a campaign is near perfection. A group can also make sure that each member is accountable to deadlines and individual roles.
It’s also nice to talk to people, to vent about frustrations, and to share personal stories about successes that we can learn from and failures that need not be repeated. Campaign-building is much tougher done alone than with others.
4-Don’t limit your tools.
Many campaigners may draw a distinction between online and offline campaigning — and might even value offline campaigning more than online. For some, activism that happens offline creates more substantial change than its online variant.
Whether this is true or not, the reality is that we need all the tools we can get to incite change. That means that both online and offline activism needs to be used as tools. Undermining one method can result in divisiveness. We don’t need to choose one particular tool. We can meet people where they are and encourage them to engage based on their capacity. Some people simply can’t be activists offline because of a disability or chronic illness, for example; that doesn’t make their contributions any less valuable.
5-Celebrate your successes.
The work of creating change can be heavy, because we are constantly being subjected to different forms of discrimination, stigma, and marginalization. This can negatively affect our emotional and mental health.
We can acknowledge that we have work to do while also celebrating how far we’ve come! Celebrating is a key point in ensuring that we’re taking time to appreciate ourselves, each other, and the work we do.
We’re honored to have participated in the IDAHOT Campaign-Building Workshop, and we celebrate the work being done to address oppression worldwide.
Prepared by Alex Quan Pham.