For Our Revolutionary Warrior Sister Jerimarie Liesegang Rest In Power!

Posted: November 4, 2020 in *Celebration*, Call to Action, for your reflection, In Remembrance, resistance

She’s gone. Those words keep moving in my mind. The standard reply when someone has been sick for so long is, “Well at least she won’t have to suffer anymore.” We are all thankful for that. For so long she had to suffer as the cancer spread in her body. But she was determined not to let it get the best of her as she told me, we have work to do. It’s just not right I said to myself over and over. I think of her family, her ex. spouse Lynn who came up from Tennessee to care for Jeri, and her two sons Timothy and Thomas and her daughter Tasha and we think of our community the LGBTQI+ community and all of the people that Jerimarie inspired to grow outwards. Furbirdsqueerly sends our love to all of you.

I sit here, tears on my face, thinking of all the good times, and wishing we had more to come. We had planned to get old together and ramble around her big house in Willimantic, still hoping to be in our right minds so we could cause a lot more good trouble. There is so much left to do, so much we wanted to do, so much more that is needed to be done.

Jeri and I had been in close contact for months working on videos of our peoples stories, Ourstories instead of his-tory. No, we were not going to let “his” have them all. They belonged to all of us! Every last queer person living and dead. Ourstories. There is something beautiful about that word about that idea. In the day following the chemo she couldn’t work and then suddenly I would get an e-mail, “Let’s get going lets get to work.” How I loved to hear those words. Little did she know I had been working steadily preparing the research that I knew would be needed for her to keep going, for our next adventure. To document the struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex rights.  I was and am very proud of our work together not only during the past year but from the time I met her in 1999 at a Stonewall Foundation meeting. She was busy organizing Its Time Ct. and I was busy preparing with my partner Tim an exhibition, Challenging and Changing America: The Struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Civil Rights 1900-1999.  Her organizing took her on a different path for the rest of that year but we kept in touch. I knew that she was the answer to my queer prayers of someone to organize with who understood, really understood the old message of multi-issues organizing and why it was important. We both knew damn well as others before us that we were here, there and everywhere, so all issues were our issues and as queers it was and is the only way to approach life.

We met up with each other many times, at antiwar demonstrations, at rallies, at lectures, meetings and organizing sessions as we navigated our way into the new century. She was working tirelessly organizing in the Transgender community and to me and many others she is the mother of the Connecticut political transgender movement. Up until this point the trans community was mostly help groups, study groups with little organizing for their basic civil rights. No other L or G group seemed at that time interested in supporting the Transgender community politically. We knew that the community had been left out of most legislation efforts by the L and G community over the years and she knew it was time to change that. We knew the wrong road had been taken in 1970 with the break away from the GLF by what was to be the Gay Activist Alliance, interested no more in multi-issue organizing with others who were oppressed but wishing to work only on “gay” issues.

With very little help she followed the example of Penni Ashe and formed Its Time Connecticut and then went on to form The Ct. TransAdvocacy Coalition. Meanwhile she was fighting to get a job as after she came out as Trans she lost her computer company. She finally convinced a person in the Human Resource Department at The Hartford Insurance Company that she was indeed qualified, perhaps overly qualified for the job opening and fought like heck to get it. No it was not always a bed of roses but she succeeded to gain the trust and respect of her fellow employees but not without bumps in the road. Many bumps in the road but with full support of the Human Resource Department, she had a job. She was very proud, after working with many groups in the LGBT and Allied Community when in 2011 the Gender Identity and Expression bill was passed in Connecticut 11 years after she began her work for protections for her community. Not easy all those years not easy at all.

One thing that I knew about Jeri was she could never be satisficed with only herself, she knew that many Trans folks did not have a job, or a place to call a home of their own and went to work meeting with homeless shelters to make sure that the shelters were safe for all trans people. She knew that all Transgender people could and were fired at the whim of many companies if they were even hired. That was just another battle for her. A battle that we all still must face, a constant battle for basic human rights in every state in this country and around the world. A battle that we are all required to fight.

Words from A Mighty Fortress Is Our God comes to mind, “Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,” Yes we can not win alone, we need others. Of course Luther was talking about the fight against the devil, but we surly know again from Luther’s words, “And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us.” No we can not let them do it to anyone. We must battle together, unified as one. We can not let the devils get the best of us no matter what. No matter who, and no matter what side of the street they live on.

So then what is require of us but to build with others, not alone, not as one community striving alone, but together with all communities fighting for justice, peace and liberation. How much richer we are and will be outside of just ourselves. Jerimarie knew this and this was her practice. Building where ever she could with others.

Exhausting to say the least but it is in a revolutionaries blood to keep fighting and fight she did. We use to laugh about all the pans she had on the stove, and you know nothing ever burned. Those last 6 months or so of her life proved that. Yes I could go on and on in tribute to a person I loved and cherished. I wrote a longer tribute to her on this site, just scroll down and you will find it.

Our community the LGBTQI+ community did a video tribute to her. Folks from many parts of her life of many different political persuasions came together to celebrate her and what she had taught them. I worked on organizing this tribute with Lesbian Warrior Linda Estabrook the Executive Director of the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective and Anne Stanback the former co-chair of the Connecticut Coalition for LGBT Civil Rights and the Director of Love Makes A Family. It was sad to be working on such a project but I was overjoyed to contribute to it if only to let our dear friend and comrade Jerimarie know how much she was loved and how much she taught us in our communities. What a tribute it is. I have said to some of the people involved that I fell in love with our people all over again with each and everyone who did a video tribute. I will publish this video tribute on this site at a later date, so many of my readers who didn’t know Jerimarie will get to know her and her incredible work.

I will miss her in the battles ahead as we confront these terrible political times, as we confront the political and religious right and continue to build a radical queer left one united with other communities to stop the spread of the right wing in this country. I know she will be marching with us. Marching to stop the murdering by police of Black and Brown women and men. To abolish the police forces and the prisons, to continue our antiwar work, to defund the military and release all political prisoners, to release all immigrants from the detention camps in amerikkka, and to unite them with their children, to stop the murders of our Black Trans sisters across this country, to continue to fight for above minimum wages, affordable housing, jobs, free reproductive health for all women, health care for all, and so much more.

To build an amerikkka for all of the people not just some, an amerikkka toppled and transformed, not reformed, not a nation where laws are on the books one day and taken off the books the next to benefit the whim of conservative, white wealthy men and their goons, a country where no one has too much while some have nothing. A new day of respect, dignity, and liberation for all. A day where we all share in the pie not crumbs shaken from the masters tablecloth. A day where we truly understand that no one is free until all are free and that an injury to one is an injury to all.  A day when we are giving and restoring rights taken way from the people. A new day, yes a new day rising up from the ashes of the old.  A day of full understanding that everyone is entitled to certain rights and the impediments to those rights should be eliminated by any means necessary. That is what is important, to understand those words.  Let us remember those words, the words first penned by Jean Paul Sartre in his play “Dirty Hands, in 1963 and later by the great Black Revolutionary Malcom X, in 1965. By Any Means Necessary.

Gone? Never! She will live on and on in each one of us as we fight on.

Rest in Power dear friend.

Jerimarie Liesegang Presente”

We thought we could use a song at this point. But what song? What song will do. Finally we here at Furbirdsqueerly chose this song. Adapted from a old hymn. Surly Jeri’s life will flow on, her work will be remembered by each of us, and through her archives housed at Central Connecticut State University students and scholars will know about this great revolutionary Transgender Woman.

The following verse was written and added to the song by Doris Plenn in 1950 and is used by most folks musicians and others. We will keep those tyrants trembling and sick with fear.

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile,
Our thoughts to them go winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Comments
  1. Sunjun Kuru says:

    🌹👆🦋💕🏳️‍⚧️

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