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QWOC+ Boston is a group that promotes diversity by creating and sustaining safe spaces for LGBT people of color in the Greater Boston area.
Posted By QWOC+ Boston on April 19th, 2012

Submit! Nearly There is a zine project meant to address the serious absence and silencing of stories about the experiences of queer people of color.

 

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Bay Windows Article: QWOC Week Kick-Off Boat Cruise

Posted By QWOC+ Boston on August 7th, 2009

Sailors’ delight: QWOC Week weighs anchor with kick-off cruise
by Hannah Clay Wareham
Staff Reporter
Thursday Aug 6, 2009

Cloudy skies didn’t stop 125 queer women of color (and their friends) from lining up on Rowes Wharf on August 2 to board the New Boston for Queer Women of Color (QWOC) Week’s kick-off event: the Uni-T Dance and Boat Cruise.

Presented by QWOC+ Boston and DykeNight Productions, and in collaboration with Men of Color Creating Change (MOCCC), Boston LGBT Social Circle of Color, and Boston Gay Women’s Group, the event was tantamount to the Week’s motto: “Diversity speaks.”

“The best thing about this week is the collaboration,” QWOC volunteer Heidy Gonzalez said. “Every single event [involves] us working with another group.”

“It made sense to celebrate the kick-off of their week,” said Kristen Porter, owner of DykeNight Productions, exemplifying the inter-community support, cooperation, and collaboration typified by QWOC Week 2009, which volunteers have been planning for since February.

For QWOC volunteer Jacob Barela, the cruise “sets the tone” for the upcoming Week’s events. “We’re doing something different,” Barela said. “I mean, you don’t go on a boat cruise every weekend!”

The novelty of the three-hour cruise wasn’t lost on attendees. While Gilligan and the Captain were not in attendance, gay men in sunhats marveled at the yachts that were the New Boston’s neighbors, and lines at the two bars quickly formed.

Once DJ Inkognito started spinning on the open-air dance floor, it was only a matter of minutes before passengers found their sea legs and began dancing the evening away. Some joked that the occasional pitching of the ship only served to improve their dance moves.

“I love to see so many queer people of color together in one room,” Gonzalez said, smiling at the crowd. “It doesn’t happen every day.”

Carnell Freeman, one of the founding members of MOCCC, was also happy with the event’s turnout. “If the message gets out that we’re trying to better the community,” he said, “people will come.”

Later in the evening, the New Boston’s path crossed that of a ferry bound for Provincetown. The boat tipped a little as everyone rushed to the edge to wave to the P-town ferry passengers like they were long-lost friends. The feeling of celebration in the air was catching and, if the kick-off event was any indication, will endure for the remainder of QWOC Week.

For the QWOC Week 2009 schedule of events, and for more information, visit www.qwocboston.org.

James White, a member of Men of Color Creating Change, Adaora Asala, one of QWOC+ Boston’s founding organizers, and Heidy Gonzalez, a QWOC+ Boston volunteer.
James White, a member of Men of Color Creating Change, Adaora Asala, one of QWOC+ Boston’s founding organizers, and Heidy Gonzalez, a QWOC+ Boston volunteer.    (Source: Bonae L’amour Photography)

Transforming Pride: Article About QWOC+ Boston in Bay Windows

Posted By QWOC+ Boston on June 17th, 2009

In case you missed it, here’s the repost from the Bay Windows pride article.

Transforming Pride
by Ethan Jacobs
staff reporter
Thursday Jun 11, 2009

The suncameout on Faneuil Hall Marketplace June 6 for Pride Day at Faneuil Hall, an afternoon of entertainment and LGBT spirit.
The suncameout on Faneuil Hall Marketplace June 6 for Pride Day at Faneuil Hall, an afternoon of entertainment and LGBT spirit.    (Source:Marilyn Humphries)


In the midst of the many changes Boston’s LGBT community has seen over the past few decades Boston Pride has remained an enduring community tradition. This year, however, the focus of Pride is on change itself.

The theme of this year’s Boston Pride, which kicked off June 5 with the ceremonial Pride flag raising at City Hall and runs through June 14, is “Trans-forming our community.” Broadly speaking, the theme calls for people to work to transform their communities by fighting for justice, fairness and inclusion. But the theme also refers to a very specific goal, one often sidelined by the LGBT community: fairness and inclusion for the transgender community. The timing of such a theme is particularly significant: on July 14, the legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hear testimony on House Bill 1728, which would add transgender-inclusive language to the state’s non-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

Kristie Helms, a board member of the Pride Committee, said in addition to the festivities people normally associate with Pride the committee hopes the events foster discussion about the need to advocate for transgender rights and transgender inclusion. As an example, she cited Pride Committee vice president Keri Aulita’s words during the flag raising, where she told attendees, “It’s about time that we stand up and stand behind our trans families, our transgender allies and friends and colleagues and coworkers and neighbors,” and Boston City Council President Mike Ross’s speech, in which he talked about the passage of a transgender rights ordinance in the city in 2002.

“It’s not just a set of words. It’s a discussion we’re having with city councilors, with the mayor, with the community at large and we’re trying to put it out as much as we can and make it a real focus this year,” said Helms.

Reaction from members of the transgender community to this year’s theme was generally positive, but people with whom Bay Windows spoke said the larger LGBT community has a way to go before it succeeds in transforming the community into a fully trans-inclusive space. Joanne Herman, a board member of both Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and the Point Foundation, said the trans-inclusive Pride theme comes at a time when many members of the transgender community feel left behind in recent LGBT political victories.

“In each of the states where marriage happened in New England there’s a trans bill that’s languishing, so it’s a really important statement that we haven’t been forgotten and that folks are still thinking about us and that folks still have a ways to go,” said Herman.

She said she attended her first Pride in 2006, and while she generally felt welcome in subsequent years there have been some performers at Pride in the past couple of years who have detracted from that feeling of inclusion.

“I remember one comment [from a performer on the festival stage] being, ’Where are the trannies?’ And that’s nice that you’re thinking of us, but some of us object to using that word. So it would be nice if it were better this year,” said Herman.

Gunner Scott, director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), praised the Pride Committee for working over the past six or seven years to make the event more trans-inclusive. Several years ago, he said, Scott reached out to the committee to urge them to make Pride a more welcoming environment for the trans community. They responded by taking several steps, including branding the event as “Boston Pride” rather than “Gay Pride” and booking transgender performers for the Pride Festival, including one of this year’s performers, comic Ian Harvie.

“I think they’re on the right path to being a trans-inclusive organization. They do their own work. I don’t have to call them and say, you guys need to do this. They do it on their own,” said Scott.

But in some respects, said Scott, this year’s Pride theme represents a missed opportunity. While many may read the theme as being trans-inclusive, it is vague enough, he said, that others might not make the connection between Pride and transgender rights. He also noted that in a year honoring the transgender community it seems odd not to have any Pride parade marshals from the transgender community. This year’s marshals – the Eastern medicine clinic Pathways to Wellness, the late Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and lesbian rock icon Melissa Etheridge – were all chosen by an online poll on the Boston Pride website. The parade kicks off at noon on June 13 (see parade map, page 13); the festival at City Hall Plaza starts at the same time.

“I think the downside was the process didn’t allow for any trans people to be marshals, so it feels a little weird. … It feels a little one-sided, I guess,” said Scott. He has suggested to the Pride Committee that in the future they choose at least one marshal without community input to make sure that one marshal reflects that year’s theme.

MTPC will be using Pride to spread the word about the effort to pass H.B. 1728, hosting a table at the Pride Festival and urging people to sign postcards to their elected officials to support the bill.

’Strut your stuff at Pride’

Helms said one change for this year’s Pride about which she is particularly excited is the inaugural King and Queen of Pride pageant, which will be held the evening of June 11 at The Estate nightclub. The prospective kings and queens will put Carrie Prejean to shame, competing in a range of areas including talent, eveningwear, and, for the kings, swimwear. The winners will ride on the Boston Pride Committee’s float and entertain the crowd at the festival.

“We’re really super excited about this,” said Helms. “It’s just a chance to strut your stuff at Pride.”

And despite the economic downturn, Helms said the Pride parade is on track to be one of the largest in its history, with 150 organizations representing about 5000 marchers, 25 floats and 45 other vehicles signed up to participate. Helms said this year’s Pride parade is expected to be the largest since 2004, which drew unprecedented participation one month after Massachusetts became the first U.S. to implement marriage equality. She said the Pride Committee offered substantial early-registration discounts to make it possible for organizations feeling the pinch to participate.

“I think people really responded to that. So it’s going to be a wonderful event like in years past,” said Helms.
Pathways to Wellness will be the only Pride marshal putting in a live appearance.

“Pathways is so honored to be chosen as this year’s grand marshal,” said Kristen Porter, the organization’s executive director, during remarks at the flag raising ceremony.
“Twenty years ago we were the first group in the United States to take action against HIV and AIDS and start a free program that brought Asian medicine to people who were affected and infected,” said Porter. “For the next 20 years we will continue to fight for equal access to integrative medicine for all people so that is a right for all, not just a privilege for few.

“Pathways is also the only group in the United States to ever publish material on transgender healthcare and Asian medicine and will continue to be on the forefront of research and service to that community as well,” she added.

Etheridge, picked by voters as this year’s celebrity marshal, was unavailable to attend Pride; she has a concert scheduled in California the day of the parade. Jordan was selected as honorary marshal, a title given to LGBT community heroes who have passed away.

Dykes on the march

Beyond the parade, the festival and the pageant there are a number of other events going on during Pride week, many of which aim to provide an alternative to mainstream Pride events. As it has since 1994, the Boston Dyke March will present a more overtly political message than the more celebratory Pride Parade. The Dyke March takes place June 12, beginning at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common.

Jo Trigilio, a member of the Dyke March Committee, said this year organizers decided to forgo booking nationally known speakers and entertainers and concentrate instead on local acts. Local spoken word performer Jaclyn Friedman and Mrs. Danvers, a queer band formed by students at Berklee College of Music, will perform.

“I think we all just felt like it was time to go back to celebrating people in the Boston community. It’s the Boston Dyke March,” said Trigilio. She said she was particularly excited to give a large spotlight to an up-and-coming band like Mrs. Danvers.

While the Dyke March committee works closely with Boston Pride and has a presence at the festival, the Dyke March remains an autonomous, grassroots, non-commercial event. The goal of the event, said Trigilio, is to show that “people that were not male gendered and didn’t have male privilege have a different political lot in life.”

Trigilio said the Dyke March draws a diverse crowd.

“Our tagline is, ’The Dyke March is for everyone,’ because it’s an all inclusive, non-identity-based march. Everyone who supports dykes can come,” said Trigilio. “What [newcomers] can expect is a lot of people who are excited and happy, most of whom are probably politicized to a certain extent, but some people just show up to find girls. It’s a real mix.”

Black Pride gets a dash of SPYCE

One Pride mainstay getting a makeover in this year of transformations is Black Pride. In past years organizers have planned events targeting the city’s black LGBT community as part of a series of events called Unity Pride or, more recently, Black Pride Boston. This year a new organization called Boston Standing Positively for Your Community Empowerment (SPYCE) has tackled the task of organizing Boston Black Pride. Boston SPYCE aims to create a social network addressing the concerns of LGBT communities of color in greater Boston.

“This year although we wanted to bring something different … we also wanted to follow the legacy that Unity Pride and Boston Black Pride left behind,” said Steven Fleury, president of Boston SPYCE. He said Black Pride would start with the traditional opening cocktail reception, which will be held June 11 at Fenway Health’s new headquarters. Additionally, as in the past, this year’s Black Pride festivities include a ball: the Doll Collection Ball will roll at the John Hancock Hotel and Conference Center on June 12.

Other events on tap for Black Pride this year include the June 12 Black Gay and Bisexual Men and HIV Conference, also at the Fenway, a June 13 fashion show at the Hancock hotel, and a June 14 pool party at the Dorchester YMCA, complete with a hot body contest.

Fleury said one of Boston SPYCE’s priorities is to make this year’s Black Pride a safe environment for all, and that includes people who may not be out of the closet. All of the events, with the exception of the cocktail reception and the HIV conference, are ticketed events; Fleury said organizers are working to ensure that people who are closeted can attend discreetly. Boston SPYCE has also secured four detail police officers for the pool party, said Fleury, “only because an event like this has never been done in Dorchester.”

Despite the new organizers, Fleury said people who have attended Black Pride in the past should feel at home.

“It’s a new journey for us and a new vision, and I’m sure folks will enjoy and have fun while attending the events,” said Fleury.

Third time’s a charm for QWOC+

Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+) Boston and MadFemme Pride will also be working to make Pride more inclusive of communities of color, hosting the third annual Optionz Diversity Pride Party June 11 at Umbria. Tikesha Morgan, one of the QWOC+ Boston volunteers organizing the event, said she first learned about QWOC+ Boston when she attended last year’s Optionz party, and it was one of the first times that she attended an LGBT social event in Boston where she was not one of a handful of people of color in the room.

“I was excited to go to a party catering to women of color in Boston. … I’ve been living in Boston for about six years. I’m a New York City kid, and you don’t really see that here,” said Morgan.

While Optionz focuses on women of color, the party, like all QWOC+ Boston events, is open to all “people who kind of get it,” said Morgan. “Being a person of color and being GLBT comes with another set of issues, and it’s great to be around people who can understand and can also relate.”

For more information on all of these events see www.baywindows.com or pick up a copy of Bay Windows’ Official Guide to Boston Pride.

Ethan Jacobs can be reached at ejacobs@baywindows.com

QWOC WEEK Mention in American Psychological Association Newsletter!

Posted By QWOC+ Boston on October 1st, 2008

Here is the excerpt from the Fall 2008 publication of the APA Divisiono 44 Newsletter. Division 44 is the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues. The excerpt can be found on pages 24-25.

A Framework for Advocacy with Queer African American Women
Konjit Page, University of North Dakota

I’d like to spend our brief time together speaking a little
about what we do and don’t know about working with queer
people of color, specifically Black lesbian and bisexual
women. I’d also like to talk about how to engage working
with queer Black communities through some recent examples
of work I am currently participating in that could perhaps be
seen as a one approach in working with this community.
When we look at the experiences of queer people as described
by researchers and scholars in our field, the experiences
of queer people of color have largely been ignored.
Often the queer community that usually gets referred to is
the gay, male and white populations of this group. When we
look towards the literature on Black lesbian and bisexual
women, what we see is an even a smaller amount of information,
though there are those out there broadening this
work.so we are talking about the experience of being Black in
this country, of being a woman in this country and of being
queer in this country. We’re talking about dealing with racism,
sexism, homophobia—and, in many cases, these experiences
occurring concurrently.

When taking a social justice approach in working with
communities of color, specifically with Black lesbian and
bisexual communities, three things stick out to me as important.
First, taking into account knowledge about relevant
issues pertaining LGB people of color. Second, being able
to engage in difficult dialogues about these issues. Third,
understanding (and addressing) the interactions between
varying forms of privilege (racial and heterosexual) and
oppression. To highlight these three points, I want to provide
an example of some recent work that I have undertaken
in the Boston community:

A couple of years ago, a friend established an organization
called, “QWOC+ Boston”—“QWOC” referring to Queer
Women of Color. The group puts on various social functions
for queer women of color in Boston, really fulfilling a need
that was missing in this town. Last week, the first ever
“QWOC Week” was held in Boston. During the initial planning,
the organizer and I spoke about the lack of information
about health-related issues for queer women of color. Knowing
my research and clinical interests, I was invited to put
together a panel discussion on health- and healthcare-related
issues for queer women of color. In beginning this process, I
first spoke with the other planning committee members and
volunteers (all queer women of color) to understand what
information they felt was missing or that they needed. I also
broadened this to include volunteers and friends of volunteers.

My next step was to get feedback from clinicians and
other healthcare providers in the area that were already doing
this work. One of the things I continue to be amazed about
is how researchers and some folks in our field fail to acknowledge
community activists and community organizations
that may have been doing the work that we’re just now attempting
to do—for the past twenty years. This is why it is
vital for all psychologists working from an advocacy framework
on queer issues to recognize that community members
may not trust you due to previous negative interactions with
other individuals or organizations in psychology.

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

Posted By QWOC+ Boston on August 7th, 2008

Reverend Irene Monroe’s blogs about QWOC+ Boston!

http://www.irenemonroe.com/2008/08/07/sisters-are-doing-it-for-themselves/

—-

With Boston Pride and Black Gay Pride New England (formerly Unity Pride Boston), one would think that the LGBTQ community is well represented. But the group Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) offer an alternative for a group invisible, if not silent, in the queer community.

QWOC+ Boston is a grassroots organization that has successfully, since its inception in 2006, been dialoguing about women’s issue and social networking with the multiracial LGBTQ community of Greater Boston. This week, QWOC has launched it first ever annual QWOC Week 2008  (August 4-10), a multicultural pride festival for people of all backgrounds, “from older African-American lesbians to immigrant college queers; from Latino gay guys to transgender pacific islanders; from political allies to nonprofit health educators.”

QWOC Week 2008 will feature a series of panel discussions on a variety of subjects, from race-related issues such as inter-racial dating, queer friendships across the color line and the challenge of providing health services to culturally layered queer identities.

On August 4, I sat on the panel “Complex Identities: The Challenge of providing Health Services to LGBTQ People of Color.” Lula Christopher, founder and president of the Boston Black Women’s Health Institute (BWHI), Jacquie Bishop, director of Community Initiatives of the American Diabetes Association and Lisa Moris, a social activist affiliated with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, The Network La Red, and the Dudey Pride Coalition joined me to discuss issues critical to LBTQ women of color: health disparities, HIV, depression, anxiety, multiple minority stress (“triple jeopardy”), identity and other related issues as they pertain to us.

The health disparities among LBTQ women are glaringly obvious, not only by the absence of our stories, but also by the fault lines of race and class that contribute to the substandard quality of care we receive.

“I see this all the time,” said Christopher, who stated whose mission at the BWHI is to promote optimum healthcare for Black women across their life span — physically, mentally and spiritually.

Where most hospitals are culturally incompetent when it come to LBTQ women of color, patient advocacy is imperative. To become a good healthcare consumer, we must obtain information necessary to direct our path toward healing.

“I have visited ob-gyns, endocrinologists, in vitro specialists and more. I have endured the heartbreaking news that my symptoms are real and that there isn’t much anyone can do for me and the indignities of a specialist saying, ‘if your hormones were regular you probably wouldn’t be a lesbian.’ He implied that the testosterone domination [of] my endocrine system is the cause of my homosexuality. He said this after making a comment about my anatomy that I found curious at best,” Bishop told the audience.

Moris described a doctor who asked her whether or not there was a chance she could be pregnant. Morris said no, that she was a lesbian, and pointed to her partner, who was along for the visit. “I was outraged,” said Morris, as the doctor performed the test anyway. “He ignored me and my insurance paid for a test I didn’t need.”

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was told that lesbians are at greater risk for it because we are more obese than our heterosexual sisters, smoke more, abuse alcohol more than the general population, and, oh yeah, if we did not bear children. But the risk for breast cancer among lesbians could be drastically reduced by at least 50 percent if we just birth one child.

“I know that even in the most progressive areas of this country homophobia is a major impediment to healthcare, as is racism, misogyny, anti-immigrant fervor and so much more,” said Bishop. “I love the programs I am able to create to help educate our public about their body, how the healthcare system works and how they can become their own advocate.”

QWOC+ Boston’s proactive year-round outreach to underrepresented members of the queer community has given voice and visibility to us women of color. And by QWOC collaborating with the various but fragmented communities of color it has shown us all the truly diverse and magnanimous community we are.

“It’s been most rewarding for me to meet the range of incredible, inspiring women I have met over the past few years, and from all over — the nonprofit sector, healthcare, the service industry, music, art, academia etc. My circle of friends is so diverse, so progressive, and just so much fun because of it. So, my biggest wish for QWOC Week is that people make these valuable connections,” said Adora Asala, a QWOC founder.

Published August 7, 2008 in The New England Blade.

Good Asian Drivers Blog About QWOC Week

Posted By QWOC+ Boston on August 1st, 2008

Good Asian Drivers post about QWOC Week!

Click here to go to their site’s blog!

QWOC WEEK IS COMING!
If you are queer and you live in Boston, it’s nearly impossible for you not to have heard of QWOC+ (Queer Women of Color and Friends). Be mindful of the plus (+); it’s one of the only groups in Boston that organize social events that draw out all members of our LGBTQ community regardless of gender, sexuality, and race. Which really is something that we have been needing here for a while. I’ve been to QWOC+ events and I have to admit, they were a blast. And it’s nearly impossible to get me to leave my house. 

That’s why QWOC+ Week is going to be kind of a historical event. Never before has there been a week-long multicultural pride festival for LGBTQ people of color anywhere in the United States. Literally, all of these intersecting communities (Truth Serum, Fenway Community Health, Center for New Words, Queer Asian Pacific Alliance, MadFemmePride, MIT, PFLAG, Spectra, and more) came together to put together the program this week, which includes discussions on health services, relationships, and identity, artist showcases, film screenings, outings, beach parties, bar crawls, you name it.

In fact, we’re going to be performing at the artist showcase on August 6, at 7pm for the QWOC+ Spoken Word Showcase at Middlesex. Kit and I will be doing some pieces early on in the night as well as at the end, so come support all of our queer artists of color and allies, and stay till you’re all danced out.

All this is to say that we love QWOC+. We love them, love them, love them. They’re doing amazing work that is essential to building our community in Boston. So let’s party!

Bay Windows Article “Queer Women of Color Create a Scene”

Posted By QWOC+ Boston on April 18th, 2008

Queer women of color create a scene
by Ethan Jacobs
associate editor
Thursday Apr 17, 2008

See the article here

About two years ago Adora Asala set out to tackle a longstanding problem in Boston’s LGBT scene: the distinct lack of people of color at the city’s LGBT clubs, bars and events. At the time Asala was part of the group of organizers behind MadFemmePride, which aims to raise femme visibility within the community; she and MadFemmePride head organizer Emily Howe decided to hold a social that specifically targeted queer women of color.

“I personally would go out and attend events, fundraisers, nightclubs, etcetera, and find that there weren’t many people of color,” said Asala. “I was one of three, and we were never out at the same time.”

In October 2006 MadFemmePride held the first Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+) Social at dbar in Dorchester, and Asala said more than 100 people turned out. Asala believed the demand was out there for more women’s events geared towards communities of color and their allies, and she launched QWOC+ Boston as a separate organization. Since its 2006 debut it has hosted about four socials annually and is now expanding to include concerts, health-related events and film screenings. On April 17 QWOC+ Boston teams up with Fenway Community Health’s Boundless program to hold a workshop titled “The Physiology of Pleasure” with the staff from feminist sex toy emporium Good Vibrations, who will help attendees explore the joys of sex toys. August marks a major turning point for QWOC +, as it launches QWOC+ Week, a festival of social nights, health events and panel discussions aimed at queer women of color from Aug. 4-10.

Asala said QWOC+ Boston, which consists of herself and a handful of volunteers that plan events, was confident that the absence of women of color at most LGBT events was not due to lack of interest as much as a failure to reach out to them. She said QWOC+ Boston’s socials have regularly brought out upwards of 200 queer women of color and their allies.

“We’re around. It’s just never been integrated into marketing,” said Asala.
As for how to reach them, Asala said one crucial outlet has been the web, through sites like MySpace and Craigslist. But old-fashioned one-on-one marketing has been just as crucial to spreading the word. Asala said she and her volunteers act as a “street team” to build a buzz, going out to LGBT events, approaching the women of color in each venue, telling them about QWOC+ Boston and urging them to bring their friends to the next event.

“You can’t sit at home on your couch or in your venue and say, everyone come to my event. It just doesn’t work that way. … Maybe you should find out where they are, where they hang out, and go reach out,” said Asala.

That’s how Asala first connected with Heidy Gonzalez back in 2006, a couple months after the inaugural social at dbar. Gonzalez, a Brooklyn native, said that she was used to living in a city with a strong Latina community and a sizable Latina presence within New York’s LGBT scene. Before coming to the Boston area in 2006 she briefly lived in Atlanta, where she said there was a miniscule Latina community but a sizable women-of-color presence within the LGBT community, mostly black queer women.

By contrast, when she moved to Cambridge, Gonzalez said she always found herself to be among a small number of women of color in the room at LGBT venues. She and a friend were at an L-Word viewing party at Diva Lounge in Davis Square when she first met Asala.

“I went to this event. Everyone in the room was white, of course. … And then Adora Asala walked in the room, and it was immediately, ’Who was that?’” she recalled. Adora zeroed in on the pair and briefed them about QWOC+ Boston. Not long after, Gonzalez attended her first social at dbar. She said the diverse crowd, made up of queer women of color, white allies, straight allies and others, felt like an antidote to the overwhelmingly white events she had gone to in the past.

“It was so refreshing. … It wasn’t a rally. It wasn’t taking down The Man. It was, let’s provide a space for ourselves where we can network and make those connections for those rallies and that activist work,” she said.

Gonzalez began to get more involved with QWOC+ Boston as a volunteer, helping brainstorm about future event ideas, edit and proofread event posters and do outreach.

Another QWOC+ Boston volunteer, Stacey Tiamfook, also got involved with the group because she felt that Boston’s LGBT scene had failed to reach out to people of color. She said she moved to Boston about two and a half years ago after college. After going out to LGBT clubs and events she assumed that there were few LGBT women of color in the city.

Tiamfook explained, “Going out with a friend of mine, also from college, we noticed that almost all of the queer spaces were mostly white people. I personally just thought there weren’t many women of color in the Greater Boston area. Then I started going down to Providence, and there’s a space there mixed in terms of gender, but predominantly people of color. … Most of them lived in Boston but were traveling down to Providence.”

She had the same experience traveling to Black Pride events in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, running into people from the Boston area who she had never seen at Boston clubs.

Tiamfook said she has been working with Asala on marketing and outreach. She believes that attracting women of color to events requires much more than simply advertising a “women of color night” on a flyer. QWOC+ Boston makes sure that the music at their events represents a wide range of cultural traditions and eras, to appeal to a multiracial and multigenerational audience.

QWOC+ Boston has also branched out over the past year, expanding its repertoire beyond the regular socials. Last summer at Boston Pride QWOC+ Boston held a party in Roxbury called Options, and Asala said about 300 people turned out on very short notice. This year she plans to move Options to a venue downtown and closer to the Pride festivities, where she expects it will draw a larger crowd.

To mark Latino/a Pride, QWOC+ Boston will be holding a Latina social May 15 at Club Choices in Somerville, a first for the group. And in August QWOC+ Boston will be holding the aforementioned QWOC+ Week, with a slate of to-be-determined events running the gamut from panel discussions to social events. Asala hopes the week’s events will draw queer women and their allies and loved ones from across New England.

QWOC+ Boston has also been experimenting with events beyond the nightlife scene. Last month the group teamed up with slam poet Kit Yan and folkie Melissa Li to host the launch party for the duo’s Good Asian Drivers Tour. In addition to performances by Yan and Li the event also featured singers Joya and Tre Alee. In May the group will host two screenings at the Museum of Fine Arts’ Gay and Lesbian Film/Video Festival, including a screening of the documentary black./womyn.:conversations with lesbians of African descent, with a post-screening Q&A with director Tiona M, and a screening of Amber Sharp’s television series Don’t Go, which focuses on a diverse group of people in Los Angeles whose lives show the complexity of gender and sexuality.

On April 17 QWOC+ Boston branches out into a new area, teaming up with the Fenway’s women’s wellness program, Boundless, for the sex toy workshop. Asala said QWOC+ Boston hopes to do more collaboration with Boundless on women’s health issues, but for their first event they decided to go with a fun topic likely to draw a crowd.

“[We wanted] something fun, something light, because it is our first heath event, so we wanted to ease people into what we’re doing this year,” said Asala.

While all of these events are geared towards women of color, the organizers of QWOC+ Boston say they take the “+” in their name very seriously. Several of the organizers, including co-founder Howe, are white allies, and Tiamfook said that while the group’s emphasis is on women of color, the goal is to make sure that everyone, including transgender people and white allies, feels welcome.

“In general if you’re going to places that are women of color, it’s just women of color, and you find few Caucasian people. … We’re not trying to market and say we don’t want other people at our events. I think we definitely want people who are open-minded and want inclusiveness, and they definitely want to be in this environment as well,” said Tiamfook.

QWOC+ Boston and Boundless’s “The Physiology of Pleasure: Sex Toys and More” will be held April 17 at Fenway Community Health, 7 Haviland Street, Boston, from 7-9 p.m. Light food will be served. The event is free. RSVP (optional) to Julie Ebin at 617.927.6369 or jebin@fenwayhealth.org. A social at a nearby location to be determined will follow the event.