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QWOC Ally Volunteer Spotlight: Queer Femme Warrior, Beth Rubin!
A Personal Note from Spectra:
In the spirit of QWOC Week, we wanted to highlight some of the people that have made it possible to create such an amazing calendar of events.
Since we’ve made it our mission to create spaces for women of color, we have found that people often forget about the “+” in our name, which stands for allies. But the truth is that so much of the work we do wouldn’t be possible without the help of others who are just as dedicated to this mission, which, in addition to the women of color community, includes our close friends, families, and allies. One such person is Beth Rubin, a self-described “queer femme ally” and a new member to the QWOC Week organizing committee.
Beth has volunteered for QWOC+ Boston at a number of events — she says OUTSPOKEN will always be her favorite — but this year, she decided to roll up her sleeves to help with QWOC Week 2011. And lucky us…! Beth has been a valuable asset to the committee, working both online and offline to coordinate the closing ceremony and recruit collaborators for QWOC week. She brings great ideas and positive energy to meetings week after week, but most importantly, she gives the BEST hugs, hands down.
We thought you all should know what an awesome person Beth is to us. We can only hope that allies everywhere follow suit, in being as open, humble, supportive, and truly passionate about increasing visibility for women of color as she has been, without the rhetoric, without the dos and don’ts, but rather, with so much heart. Thank you, Beth, for being the fierce queer femme warrior woman that you are.
Read her short interview below — written and compiled by our intern, Lina! — and leave Beth some purple love.
How long have you been involved with QWOC + Boston and what attracted you to the organization?
I have been involved with QWOC for just about 2 years now. I began attending events, and then it came time for QWOC Week 2010, and it was so incredible that I’d wished I could have gone every night. I went to Strut, and Outspoken (and as someone who appreciates burlesque, drag, and most of all spoken word, I was on cloud nine!), and then volunteered as well. Each event was more amazing than the next. When I volunteered, I felt welcome, and as though I was contributing to something important.
What project or event has been your favorite to work on and why?
Last year volunteering at Outside the Box was fantastic. It made me want to be more actively involved with QWOC, and I had an excellent time. I met fantastic people (including the lovely and talented Vivek Shreya who performed that night) and I got the behind the scenes look at all of the little things that make great events come together. I also saw my poet friend Idalia perform her work for the first time on stage that night, which was memorable.
This year as an organizer I’m on the committee for the QWOC Week Closing Party. I’m excited to see how QWOC Week 2011 unfolds, with all of the awesome events that are scheduled, culminating with this party we are planning, where everyone can come back together, and celebrate the collective energy that builds throughout the week.
Could you share any particular moment or anecdote from a QWOC + meeting or event that has really stayed with you?
This is my first year volunteering on the organizing committee for QWOC Week. Friends convinced me that being a part of the planning process would be fun; they convinced me that I could do it, so I took the leap. I’m so glad I did. Everyone has so much going on, with careers, home, family, and their fabulous lives! Somehow, though, they get themselves there. They drag themselves, half-exhausted, with sometimes-empty bellies, to make it to these evening organizer’s meetings. They take on these tasks, which they accomplish somehow, on top of everything on their plates. I have done a bit of event planning, but more so for one event. It is seriously impressive to see how much work goes into making QWOC week happen. There are milestones to be met, and there’s work to be done, but somehow there are enough people invested in the process to share the load. Collaborators and sponsors and volunteers somehow appear when they’re needed. People want to reach out and help. It stays with me that people everywhere I look seem to want to step up to the plate and support QWOC.
What advice/insights would you offer to allies looking to build stronger ties with POC organizations like QWOC+? What do you think makes you a good ally?
It may sound strange, but the best thing I can say is that I have learned about being an ally by seeing examples of the kind of ally I DON’T want to be. People who have a point to prove, or a degree that makes them think they know more about a topic than those who have lived it. People who think it’s about them. Guess what? It’s not. They embarass themselves without even knowing it, by puffing out their feathers, or quoting theory that makes them think they get it. Embrace the not knowing. It’s humbling as hell. That you actually just listen. That is a sign of respect.
We hear you really love your job! What do you currently do for a living?
I am an American Sign Language interpreter, which is the most fantastically un-boring job ever invented for someone like me who loves variety, people, adventure, and language.
What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
I am a social butterfly! Surrounded by friends is how I prefer to spend my time. Artsy, poetic and musical fun most of all. My goals this year are learning to play poker, and also Bollywood dancing.
Feel free to leave a comment for Beth. And when you see her during QWOC Week, please thank her again on our behalf for all the love and support she’s given QWOC+ Boston these past few years. She does love to give hugs, though, so don’t say we didn’t warn ya!