GetEQUAL, an LGBTQ liberation organization founded in 2010 and famous for its direct action protests against the U.S. military’s gay ban known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” announced today that it will dissolve in light of financial instability, high turnover on its board of directors and a social media storm over its firing of black trans activist Aaryn Lang as the organization’s Movement Building & Campaign Manager.
In mid-March, Lang posted a public letter that accused GetEQUAL of misogyny and anti-black transphobia. She specifically claimed GetEQUAL’s Executive Director Gabriel Garcia-Vera served as “an antagonistic force” and fostered a “culture of retaliation and professionally veiled anti-blackness.”
Although she said Garcia-Vera offered her two weeks of severance pay upon departure, Lang urged followers to #BoycottGetEqual.
Lang later released images and statements for followers to use on social media telling GetEQUAL to meet three demands: to pay Lang three months of severance, to overhaul GetEQUAL’s board to “reflect the community they serve” and to donate to several black queer organizations including the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Trans Sistas of Color Collective, Black Queer and Intersectional Columbus and No Justice No Pride.
— Ericka Hart (@iHartEricka) March 16, 2018
In a statement posted today, Garcia-Vera announced the dissolution of GetEQUAL, writing, “Our financial assets are barely sufficient to cover our operations for more than a few weeks.”
Lang responded to news of the closure with a statement telling future organizations to ensure mechanisms allowing an equal voice for those working within it.
In his statement, Garcia-Vera continued, “Raising new revenue and rebuilding the board would be a tremendous challenge even if we weren’t in the middle of a social media storm. But even more importantly … I don’t feel we can effectively play that role [as a voice for marginalized people] when there has been so much division and hurt among the communities that we mobilize and represent.”
Garcia-Vera has also said the board would not be able to meet any of Lang’s demands considering its imminent closure and lack of funds. He also recognized the “significant contributions” Lang made to GetEQUAL, and added that he felt he did his best to manage her fairly.
“The hiring of both Aaryn and me created a context in which neither of us was well-positioned to succeed,” Garcia-Vera says.
“I will mourn the loss of this organization,” Garcia-Vera concludes. “But communities and movements are much larger than any one organization. I hold the hope in my heart that, somehow, some way, the work will continue: of bold, unapologetic action to make true liberation a reality, for all of us to get equal.”