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COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks

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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the particular vulnerability of queer, transgender, non-binary and/or intersex Black, Indigenous folks and other LGBTQI+ people of color (QTIBIPOC folks). Due to our community disproportionately experiencing a lifelong arc of violence and discrimination, many of our community members are impoverished and housing unstable.

Many folks in our community are self-employed or in the service economy, and living with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and/or compromised immune systems.

Realizing a need for mutual aid for our communities at this time, and inspired by Ijeoma Oluo's efforts to support her community of fellow artists in Seattle , Amita Swadhin launched this fund on March 14, 2020 and has since invited their trusted comrades Treva Ellison, Natalie Havlin, Carrie Hawks, Ren-yo Hwang, and Alisa Zipursky to help manage the financial records and design and manage the process of fund distribution.

None of the people managing this fund (and none of their household members) will receive monies from this fund.

We are prioritizing LGBTQI+, non-binary, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming people of color because we often have less ties to familial support networks, we have historically been simultaneously overlooked and surveilled by welfare state systems, our needs have been surplus to mainstream political formations, and we tend to work in the gig economy. 

We recognize that the nation-state does not provide a safety net for so many people, and that the United States government’s response to COVID-19 has only deepened pre-existing hierarchies that make people vulnerable to premature death. We hope for a world in which universal basic income, universal health care, and other functioning social systems exist. We know that what we are doing is an imperfect solution to a very large problem, but we are trying anyway.

We did not place geographic constraints on this campaign and thus have received requests from all over turtle island that far exceed the funds we have raised. As of 11:50am on March 16, there are 451 individual requests for financial support.

We talked with other mutual aid funds about how they decided to distribute the money they raised and decided that we wanted to absolutely avoid parsing through people’s narratives and deciding whose needs were more important than others. We agree with adrienne maree brown who quotes Lao Tzu (author of Tao Te Ching) in Emergent Strategy : “If you do not trust the people, they will become untrustworthy.”

We are choosing to trust the people. We are not social workers and we refuse to replicate that position and dynamic. Most of the pool of people who have requested funds thus far are not employed full time, have a chronic illness or disability and before COVID-19 closures were already impoverished.  

In our commitment to mutual aid, we have decided to support funding requests in the style of a rolling jubilee . Here is how it will work:


Click here to fill out the survey and apply for financial support. 

For folks who request funds before 11:59pm (Pacific Standard Time) on Tuesday, March 17th 2020:

In “Round 1,” we will redistribute $100 to every person of color who is LGBTQI+, non-binary, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming who is self-employed or working in the service economy (even if they asked for less).

In “Round 2,” if there are more funds available after the first round, we will prioritize additional fund distribution to applicants who are (in no particular order):

Sex Workers
Disabled/Chronically Ill
Transgender or non-binary
Not enrolled in or employed full-time at well-resourced educational institutions
Not eligible for paid sick leave through any organization
On the cusp of losing housing (especially looking at cities/states that have not yet passed eviction moratoriums)
Food insecure

We will move folks who live at the intersections of these identities or experiences to the front of the line.

Round 2 of funds will be distributed according to the following formula:

* Give every person who asked for $101-400 the full amount requested
* Give every person who asked for $401+ 60% of the amount they requested, or $400, whichever is greater.
* Individual grants will be capped at $1500.

Funds will be distributed via Venmo, CashApp, and PayPal payments.

We would like to thank all of the wonderful folks who have responded immediately to our call for mutual aid.

We will continue to raise funds through mid-April.

We are also distributing a list of various local mutual aid funds and mutual aid processes to every person who applied, and we are sharing our applications with several mutual aid funds. For instance, we are sharing all applications from LGBTQI+ disabled people of color with the Disability Justice Culture Club  so they can assist us in meeting those requests for support.

We also hope that you will join us in calling for rent and mortgage moratoriums, universal healthcare, free childcare and the abolition of the fear programming that tells us that we cannot collectively take care of one another and create a world in which we all live in abundance!

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  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 4 yrs
  • Leo Farbman
    • $2,500 
    • 4 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 4 yrs
  • Jennifer Hsu
    • $260 
    • 4 yrs
  • Maxe Crandall
    • $50 
    • 4 yrs

Fundraising team (3)

Amita Swadhin
Duarte, CA
Tara Jae
Treva Ellison
Team member
Natalie Havlin
Team member

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