Action Outline

The Lesbian Avengers are a direct-action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival and visibility.

Formed in 1992, The Lesbian Avengers are not part of ACT UP, but there is a good deal of cross membership between ACT UP/NY and the NY Avengers. Below is their action outline about how they plan and conduct actions. It is included here because many of the underlying principles are the same and plus it's really good!

More information about the Avengers and ACT UP/NY can be found in Sarah Schulman's My American History (from which this is taken).

Lesbian Avenger Action Outline

The purpose of an action is to make our demands known, win change, and involve as many as lesbians as possible in all aspects of organizing.

Actions should be as well-planned as possible so everyone knows why we are there and feels involved. But, there is no way we can know everything in advance so we also have to be ready to make decisions on the spot in a quick and supportive way.

When Avengers have an idea for an action they can bring it to the group in two ways.
1) Bring a precise, specific proposal to the floor.
2) Come to the floor with a vague idea. Pass around a sign-up sheet for those interested in developing the project. Then meet as a committee separately and return to the group with a specific proposal.

This way the large group discussion will revolve around a concrete proposal creating a framework for a more constructive and satisfying, task-oriented discussion. Once the large picture of an action is approved by the Avengers, the committee gets to work on specifics. Every action needs two coordinators who are responsible for following up everyone who took on tasks, and for presenting the action to the floor at every step. It is in committee that all the brilliant, wacky ideas can come to fruition.

Coordinators need to address the following questions.


What is the goal of this action?
Who are we trying to reach?
What is our message?


Time, date, and length of action. Why?
the location needs to be scouted as early as possible. How much space do we have/ Inside or outside? Obstructions? Entrances and exits? Security? Public or private property? How wide is the street for banners and props?

What is the visual design of the action going to be? It should let people know clearly and quickly who we are and why we are there. NY Avengers have used a wide range of visuals such as fire eating, a twelve-foot shrine, a huge bomb, a ten-foot plaster statue, flaming torches, etc. The more fabulous, witty, and original, the better.

Type of action. Avoid old stale tactics at al costs. Chanting and picketing no longer make an impression. Standing passively still and listening to speakers is boring and disempowering. Look for daring, new participatory tactics depending on the nature of your action. NY Avengers have used overnight encampments, daring Zaps in the halls of the Plaza Hotel, an invasion of the offices of Self magazine, a torchlight parade down fifth avenue at rush hour without a permit, handing out balloons to school children in an anti-