While Detroit REPRESENT! is a local collective, we try to frame the work we do within a broader context. In 2014, we worked with FIERCE!, National Youth Pride Services, Youthprise, and Trans Youth Support Network, to organize the Move Up, Fight Back! Network gathering at the Allied Media Conference. Since then, we’ve begun branching out and building relationships with LGBTQ youth organizers of color across the country.
Detroit REPRESENT! is a sponsored project of the Allied Media Projects (AMP). Through fiscal sponsorship and countless other forms of support, the folks at AMP have been a huge support to our process. Along with AMP, our collective has been supported by countless community organizations, activists, and adult allies who donated funds, as well as time, space, and energy, in the interest of helping us succeed. Some of them include the La Vida program of CHASS Center, Spirit of Hope Church, AIDS Partnership Michigan, Detroit Latin@z, Ruth Ellis Center, and Connect 2 Protect.
Detroit REPRESENT! was first imagined in the spring of 2011, when a small group of youth from the city of Detroit decided we wanted to use media as a tool to create community change. The youth who first collaborated on developing Detroit REPRESENT! came from all across the city, and had connections to lots of different groups and organizations. Most of us had participated in youth services programs for several years, and while those experiences were meaningful and often life-changing, we were eager to create systemic change on our own terms. We wanted a space that wasn’t set up for us by someone else, but a community we created using our own skills, based on our own ideas.
When youth first came together to form Detroit REPRESENT!, we made a conscious effort to draw upon what we’d learned from the range of other organizations and spaces we’ve been a part of. We know our work builds upon a rich legacy of LGBTQ people of color organizing work here in Detroit, and we are committed to learning from that history, and from the people behind that work. That’s why, before we begin any new programs or projects, we always make sure to check in with the organizers, agencies, mentors, and youth workers who support our work. Tending these relationships helps us stay conscious of our history, and ensure our plans for the future are recipes for success.