History of Fierce
FIERCE was founded in 2000 by a group of LGBTQ social justice activists primarily from New York City’s communities of color coming together to resist gentrification in the West Village and particularly the West Side Pier, a cultural site and “safe space” for LGBTQ youth of color, particularly youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness. In 2017, FIERCE, moved from lower Manhattan to The Bronx. While we continue building a groundswell of youth across the city, our work is deeply grounded in our local communities, and currently have active campaigns to end youth homelessness, to increase community accountability with police, and to create more designated “safe” or “brave spaces” in schools and communities across New York City.
Our Mission and Vision
At our current drop-in center, FIERCE has 300 active members, approximately 60% of our members are homeless or in an assisted living situation. In addition, 20% are recent immigrants and the majority of our members provide necessary economic support for their families and households. FIERCE’s drop-in center, programs, services, events and campaigns primarily serve Black and Latinx- and LGBTQ-identified youth of color and immigrants, ages 13 to 25 from across New York City but mostly the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. FIERCE continues to serve as one of the nation’s few grassroots organizations whose mission is to engage LGBTQ youth of color in community organizing in response to these statistical realities.
Our drop-in center is a brave space where FIERCE members and other LGBTQ youth can be themselves in a safe environment free from judgment, persecution, and harassment, and access lifesaving services, referrals and support and leadership development. All our members can benefit from therapeutic, holistic programs and services rooted in our belief in the connection between personal healing and growth and collective transformation. Our drop-in center, programs and services are grounded in FIERCE’s 7 Roots model that center the safety, healing, and growth of our members:
- Leadership development (goalsetting, skills and capacity building, training and holistic individual and group support)
- Arts, media and culture (therapeutic arts, media advocacy, cultural & narrative change, communications and spokesperson skills)
- Youth-led community organizing (peer outreach, youth-led campaigns for policy and cultural change)
- Restorative & social justice (advocacy, conflict resolution, alternatives to violent policing and punitive anti-bullying measures)
- Healing justice (nutrition and cooking education, self-care and mind-body education using trauma-centered approach, recovery and managing health needs, advocacy for policies that promote healing and wellness)
- Therapeutic programs & services (access to holistic health referrals, culturally relevant physical and mental health care, in-house services)
- Peer education (political and civic engagement education, youth-led education, outreach and curriculum on issues affecting youth and particularly LGBTQ youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
FIERCE integrates healing and restorative justice in its holistic community organizing approach, and our work is grounded in the belief that realizing and manifesting our personal and collective power is critical to changing our conditions, shaping our futures and becoming effective agents of change in our own lives, communities and cities.