Leadership is necessary.
A core function of leadership is that a leader is thinking about the group as a whole, and not only about one’s membership in the group.
In LGBTQ communities and elsewhere there is sometimes significant resistance to leadership and to leading. Some associate leadership with authority, arrogance, or oppression. These associations can sometimes arise from past negative experiences with leadership and result in the attitude that we will “agree to disagree” or “just do your own thing.” But even when people cite examples where a group seemed to function just fine without leadership, one can usually find that behind the scenes there are people who quietly, persistently, steered the group toward success.
In LGBTQ communities, the resistance to lead can also stem from a fear of being attacked or marginalized by heterosexual people or by other LGBTQ people. Widespread homophobia and internalized homophobia have both ended up targeting LGBTQ people who put forth their ideas and seek to garner support from others in enacting them. In the Midwest, the urge to lead is sometimes also thwarted by regional biases that suggest real leadership is found on the East Coast and West Coast of the US; some of us have been made to feel small by this huge social limit.
But there’s a real advantage in having the leadership responsibility clearly designated. Leadership is necessary, and the leadership function must be filled. The more people who consider leading, the better.
To think about LGBTQ communities effectively, we have to be able consider the group as a big thing and the members of the group need to be viewed simultaneously as individuals. Leaders must be able to hold both of these perspectives while considering where we’ve come from, what is happening now, and what is likely to happen in the future with or without planned action.
While some argue that great leaders are just born that way, it is also widely agreed that solid leadership is also developed, supported, and cultivated.
At Diverse & Resilient, we have worked hard to develop leaders to find their power and exercise it on behalf of LGBTQ communities. From our program advisory committees and health promoters to our staff and Board of Directors, we work to make big things happen in Wisconsin’s LGBTQ communities.
Learn more about our programs related to cultivating leaders: