Amplifund is a new philanthropic initiative created by GAY TIMES in partnership with LGBTQ human rights charity GiveOut that aims to amplify queer voices to global audiences.
The initiative was announced in the Benjamin West Theatre at The Royal Academy in London to an audience of LGBTQ activists, community leaders, and LGBTQ rights advocates.
Amplifund will be funded by Gay Times’ corporate partnerships, subscriptions and individual donations, and will channel resources to support queer activism and media, helping to increase the acceptance of LGBTQ communities around the world.
The initiative also aims to bring more diverse voices to the forefront of mainstream LGBTQ media in the UK and the US, where there is often a lack of understanding of experiences of LGBTQ people outside of these contexts.
The first three organisations Amplifund will work with are J-FLAG based in Jamaica, IraQueer in Iraq, and Pink Armenia.
J-FLAG is the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays and last year celebrated their 20th anniversary.
The organisation works for the human rights of LGBTQ people in Jamaica, as well as offering legal reform and advocacy, education, social services and support.
They also organise Pride in Jamaica which brings together queer Jamaicans in a week of celebration, reflection and visibility.
LGBTQ people in Jamaica face legal and social challenges, but as part of their fight for equality J-FLAG want to raise awareness to more positive stories in the country.
“We do have those problems,” J-FLAG’s senior advisor Glenroy Murray said at the launch of Amplifund. “But we also have stories of resilience. We do have stories of Pride.
“We have stories of people who are all but invisible and are accepted in different ways in Jamaica.”
IraQueer, meanwhile, is fighting for an Iraq/Kurdistan region where LGBTQ people are protected by the law, have equal rights, and are protected like everyday citizens.
Their mission is to empower LGBTQ Iraqis through raising awareness of LGBTQ issues, challenges, and identities, as well as advocating for LGBTQ rights.
IraQueer also provides a temporary safe house to LGBTQ individuals fleeing violence in Iraq and has supported more than 200 people in their asylum claims.
Speaking at the launch of Amplifund, IraQueer’s founder and executive director Amir Ashour explained that although homosexuality isn’t illegal in Iraq, it also isn’t legal.
What he means by that is that LGBTQ people simply aren’t recognised as they are living in a country that doesn’t acknowledge their existence.
It’s also a country that routinely fails to prosecute people who are violent towards and murder LGBTQ people.
One of Amir’s missions with IraQueer is to start to change the language that Iraqi media uses towards LGBTQ people, taking it from derogatory terms to correct and respectful usage of identifiers.
He wants to do this by retraining journalists in the country and educating them around correct terminology when reporting on LGBTQ issues.
“What we want to do, we cannot do without each other because each group has access to resources and spaces,” Amir said of IraQueer’s new partnership with Amplifund.
“To move forward as a queer community, we need to move together.”
The third launch partner, Pink Armenia, fights for human rights where everyone in society in protected and accepted regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I believe this is a step-change not just in UK-based LGBTQ charitable thinking and approach, but also a step-change in how we understand, create and distribute media around the world for our community,” said Tag Warner, CEO of GAY TIMES.
“This initiative is not only about raising awareness and acceptance, it’s also a chance for us all to reflect on the current state of our global community. One thing I fundamentally believe is that we all want to be seen for who we are.
“Amplifund will enable our partners to continue their work, empowering queer people to feel understood, recognised and heard in all the places we call home.”
Rupert Abbott, Executive Director of GiveOut, added: “GiveOut is working in new and innovative ways to bring more resources into the LGBTQ human rights movement, which is woefully under-resourced.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with GAY TIMES in establishing Amplifund, to support LGBTQ activist groups around the world in their media work and campaigning.”
To complement the launch of Amplifund, GAY TIMES has unveiled a UK-wide Out of Home (OOH) media campaign in collaboration with Grey, MediaCom and ClearChannel to challenge the perception of what it means to be LGBTQ both in the UK and around the world and to discuss how we think about giving.
The campaign will include a series of striking images where displays of same-sex love, gender expression and queerness have been censored by LGBTQ community flags.
Messaging includes “Some Of Us Have To Keep Our Pride Inside” and “Some Of Us Still Have To Hide Who We Love” to raise awareness of the continued censorship, prejudice and discrimination LGBTQ people face across the world.
Amplifund was launched in front of an audience of community figures and special guests in London, including UK Black Pride’s Lady Phyll, Gaysians CEO Reeta Loi, and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf.