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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QWOC Week Closing Ceremony and Spectra Events Dance Party w/ DJ RIZZLA and DHANA (8/6)

Posted By Lina Torres on August 6th, 2011

Saturday, August 6th @ 8 p.m | The Midway Cafe

Register for OUTSPOKEN -- The BLACKOUT EDITION: Queer Women and Trans People of Color Spoken-Word Showcase in Somervillae, MA  on Eventbrite

 At the end of a week filled with new friends, great performances and important discussions, it’ll be time to let loose at the QWOC Week Closing Party!  We’re eager to have you join us in recognizing the hard work of everyone who made yet another QWOC Week a thriving success. All of our volunteers, organizers, and collaborators will be there, ready take off their thinking caps and simply enjoy the night with the rest of the community. And this year we double the reason to celebrate!

We’re Turning FIVE Years Old!

Not only has the team of organizers outdone themselves again with such an eclectic calendar of events, but QWOC + Boston is turning FIVE YEARS OLD this year! An organization that started because of one person’s vision to connect a community has turned into a loving family that continues to grow stronger and larger every year.

But none of that work would be possible without all of you, the members of that family – friends and supporters who keep us going- so we are excited to share this big birthday with you. In honor of these momentous occasion, we will be hosting an early reception to say THANK YOU to all of the individuals that have made these milestones possible. There will be some reflecting and sharing of (tear-jerking) words from volunteers and organizers and a roster of great speakers.

Who Will Be Speaking?

Poet and friend Letta Neely whose ingenious work inspired our founder to start QWOC+ five years ago will be making the closing remarks. We’re delighted that Keri Aulita, and Sylvain Bruni from Boston Pride will be present (as they have been these past five years) to support and celebrate with us. Our 2010 Summer Intern, and Point Foundation scholar, Erika Turner, will share a few words about her personal journey with QWOC+ Boston before she heads off to Japan for her year long study abroad. And, last but not least, we will hear a few words from QWOC+ Boston organizers themselves.

When Does the Party Really Get Started?

Once all the tears have been shed, and the tissues handed out, the closing party hosted by Spectra Events will be in full effect, with music from DJs Rizzla and D’hana playing international house, African rhythms, reggae, soca, and latin music. And if that wasn’t enough to get you going, you can look forward to a mind-blowing closing performance from MICAH!

You won’t want to miss any of this.
The Midway Café on Saturday, August 6th at 8 p.m. Get there early!
Get your advanced tickets here!

QWOC Week International Film Screenings: Spotlight on LGBT AFRICA (8/5)

Posted By Lina Torres on August 5th, 2011

Film is a powerful form of media that allows us to connect with the personal stories of those we may otherwise never encounter. They often highlight important issues and struggles that mainstream media practically devotes no attention to. For this year’s QWOC Week Film Night, we have chosen some fantastic films to do just that. As queer and transgender individuals living in the United States, many of us have privileges that are rare worldwide. We can reach out to resources and communities within the country that allow us to freely express ourselves without fear of harm. This is certainly not the case in the majority of the world. In our crazy and hectic everyday lives, it can be easy to put this out of our minds.

What are the experiences of queer and trans individuals in remote communities in South Africa? How does the LGBTQ community overcome their persecution in Kenya? As part of QWOC+ Boston’s mission to create a diverse social space, we believe it is important to give a voice to those that are rarely heard. The goal of this event is to honor the struggles and experiences of our siblings abroad and to recommit ourselves to learning about and helping these movements. With this goal in mind, we are bringing you two short films and a feature, all of which shed light on the lives of queer or transgender people in African nations.

7 Years
Country: Kenya
Sponsor: NCDO, Hivos and Youth Incentives, 2007, 26 min.

Borders do not bound homosexuality, this is a fact of life that every community has to deal with. Kenya’s rapidly modernizing society is still heavily influenced by tribal, religious and neo-colonial values and practicing homosexuality is punishable with 7 years of imprisonment.

7 Years explores the realities and history of this punishment and provides a glimpse into how gays and lesbians manage to live in this hostile environment. Finding a job, family relationships, going out and sex are daily issues Kenyan gays and lesbians must work through. From a pastor to a male sex worker, 7 Years gives a voice to a group of people who are accustomed to keeping quiet.

Check out the trailer!

Night Star (Inkanyezi Yobusuku)
Country: South Africa
Dir. Kekeletso Khena 13 min.
(Zulu w/English Subtitles)

Traditionally, Zulu woman were barred from household chores during menstruation, and the maidens were isolated in the girls hut, a time for rest and contemplation called Ukuya Enyangeni, “going to the moon.” Lindiwe’s dreams are disturbed by her desire for the Amamqhikiza, her “guide” during this time.

The Sisterhood
Country: South Africa
Dir Roger Horn. 2010. 72 min.

Hazendal Wine Estate farmhands Pietie, Hope, and Rollie are not your typical South African vineyard workers. Hope aspires to winning the local drag queen pageant, Rollie dreams of a husband and retaining the local drag queen crown, and Pietie struggles with his religious upbringing while obsessing over his roses, chickens, and pigeons. These trans gender vineyard workers confront prejudice at every turn, from their own farming community, city trans genders, and the world at large, yet Roger Horn’s film manages to find the fabulous in the fraught and offer a portrait of triumph in togetherness rather than loneliness in victimization.

Check out the trailer!

So join us for a Friday afternoon of relaxing with friends and supporting great causes. The event is free and open to everyone!


150 Boylston Street (Multipurpose Room, 1st Floor)
Boston, MA

OUTSPOKEN: Queer Women of Color & Trans POC Spoken-Word and Live Music Showcase (8/4)

Posted By Lina Torres on August 2nd, 2011

OUTSPOKEN is HERE! Art is a fundamental part of  LGBTQ communities of color and certainly always present when it comes to QWOC+ Boston. In the words of a QWOC Week collaborator, “expression through art allows us to overcome barriers by communicating in a different and powerful way.” Spectra Events is excited to bring you a fantastic lineup of talented black performers. All of their work touches on feelings and thoughts we can relate to… the good, the bad and the ugly. So join us for this great night full of soul and creativity!

After the show, DJ LadySpindrift (yes, she actually spins) will bring down the house with old school R&B, hiphop, house, and top 40!


MICAH is a hip hop artist, and transman from Massachusetts. He has been writing and performing for the past 4 years around Boston, NY and LA. He writes from his own experience in an attempt to show that regardless of all those differing identifiers, human beings have much in common, and much to learn from each other. He just released his first single, the queer anthem “Did it On Em”, and is in the process of recording his first mixtape through Base Trip Records. Follow Micah on Tumblr and on Twitter, and of course, like his Facebook page!


JANA’E JOHNSON is a spoken word poet originally from Sacramento, California. She has performed in numerous slams in Boston, California, Delaware and Virginia; and has recently opened for poet & activist Andrea Gibson. Although she just finished her first year in Boston, she has been involved with the LGBT Community. In particular she is a member of the Boston Dyke March Committee and she was the EMCEE for this years’ Dyke March in June. Jana’e currently works at Simmons College as Assistant Athletic Director.

LETTA NEELY is a spoken word artist — and one of the original OUTSPOKEN Artists (2008) — who has authored two books of poetry, “Juba” and “Here,” and was named “Best Local Author 2001″ by a Boston Phoenix reader’s poll. Twice a Lambda Literary Awards finalist for lesbian poetry, Letta frequents poetry readings around New England and is a regular slam poetry winner. She is an ardent civil rights activist who has done anti-homophobia training and educational outreach. Letta has also conducted writing workshops privately, in public schools, and at juvenile detention. You can follow Letta’s work and words at her brand new blog and Like her Facebook page (and maybe she’ll update it)!

MOFROISM & THE FEEL will be representin’ at OUTSPOKEN with lead singer, vocalist, and slam poet Monique Jarvis, a transformative and compelling fusion of jazz, r&b, funk, and folk with a backdrop of spoken word that issues a soulfully urgent call for social change. Monique is now director of a national award-winning performance arts after school program in the South Bronx and founder of the uncompromising and compelling Spok’N Truth Trio, Mofroism and The Feel. At RENAISSANCE she will be performing with Kera Washington of Zili Musik and bassist extraordinaire Laurie Goldsmith. You can follow Mo’nique Jarvis on Facebook.

PORSHA OLAYIWOLA hails from the southside of Chicago. She is most aptly described as a woman, poet, lover, warrior, sister, and feminist. Porsha received her B.A. in African American Studies while dabbling in U.S. History and Women & Gender Studies from the University of Illinois. She spent the last year in service, helping to alleviate America’s poverty. Poetically, Porsha O. intertwines the spirits of Audre Lorde, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells Barnett, and June Jordan with the bluntness of Hip Hop Feminism, creating poetry that speaks for itself. Porsha O. has opened for Mae Jemison, the first African American female astronaut, Dr. Cornell West, professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies, MC LYTE, pioneering female hip-hop artist and Dr. Angela Davis, activist. A founding member of the Chicago-based political-performance group, “The Unwritten Amendment,” she uses poetry to create a dynamic flow of infra-politics that rebels against the norms and rigidity of society. You might catch her generating a cypher that is all her own; a cypher that is uncontrollable, undocumented, and just plain ole dope. To follow Porsha, send her a friend request on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

ROBIN “BOBBIE” WHITE is the award-winning author of two volumes of poetry, and a forthcoming collection of short fiction, Intersections (Sunset Pointe Press). She is also the author of Omphaloskepsis Twelve Powers Journal a tool for focused transformational writing. In addition, Robin has pseudonymously authored seven children’s books. She is currently working on her third collection of poetry, When Love Departs: Writings of Transition and Loss (Sunset Pointe Press eBooks). She is a Chicago Literary Award Winner, an Urban Media Makers Winner, and is the recipient of the prestigious Lambda Literary Award for Independent LGBT Press as the founder/owner of Kings Crossing Publishing. Visit her websites to learn more about her work: www.robingwhite.com and omphaloskepsisbybobbie.blo​gspot.com

SAPPHIRA CRISTAL, 22, with her bubbly personality and killer smile, reigns from Houston, TX. Often called the “Gospel Diva,” she is a wild energetic entertainer who captures her audience with her “unflinching Focus”. She can be found locally at Jacques Cabaret and Machine Nightclub in Boston. This Fabulous Ebony Diva is a classically trained singer and actor and can also be seen in the Ryan Landry original, ” Peter Pansy,” in Provincetown, MA. She is also a regular featured performer at Spectra Events. Catch Sapphira online via any one of her web channels, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube!

Thursday, August 4th
Doors at 7PM, Show Begins at 8PM
Club Choices
381 Somerville Avenue Somerville, MA

Tickets and Info

Activism & Karaoke: The International Edition (8/3)

Posted By Lina Torres on August 2nd, 2011

At QWOC Boston, we understand the feeling of always wanting to do more but simply not having enough time or not knowing quite where to start, who to donate money etc… we’ve all been there! But look no further — Activism and Karaoke on a Wednesday night is the perfect antidote to your do-gooder paralysis. We’ve created the perfect combination — Sign before you Sing!

Back by popular demand… Activism and Karaoke: The International Edition. Join QWOC+ Boston, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Black and Pink, The Network/La Red, and SoulForce for a fun filled evening of activism and karaoke!

This year we’ll be highlighting international activism and raising awareness around issues impacting the rest of the world. As members of the LGBTQ community living in the United States, we enjoy a great deal of privilege. Although it is certainly not enough, we can find support and resources through community organizations and institutions dedicated to fighting for our representation and equality.

For instance, one of our feature organizations, Soulforce, a national agency that targets religious-based oppression impacting LGBTQ people, is organizing a two- month bus ride around the country (for folks 18-30) that stops at various religious universities and organizations that have anti-LGBTQ policies to host dialogues, trainings and information sessions on creating safer and more affirming spaces. (They’re still accepting applications by the way — pick one up at the event!)

But just as local advocacy is crucial to our safety here in the US — most of us enjoy the freedom of self-expression without fear of being in harms way –it is equally important to learn about, and learn from, those activists who have paved the way for LGBTQ communities around the world. Many have taken huge risks with the goal of achieving great strides. Activism and Karaoke will highlight some of this work and the great deal that still needs our support and attention.

There’ll also be an opportunity to donate items to a survivor kit drive for The Network/La Red!  This is a wonderful organization dedicated to providing support services and addressing partner abuse in LGBTQ and polyamorous communities. TNLR  seeks “to create a culture in which domination, coercion, and control are no longer accepted and operative social norms.” They do amazing work so please consider contributing one of the items listed below. Bring any of these items (roughly valued between $5-10 dollars) and you will be admitted to the event for free!

  • Food Gift Card (Shaws/Stop& Shop/Star, $5-10)
  • CVS/Rite Aid Gift Card ($5-10)
  • Charlie Cards with stored value ($5-10)
  • Movie Theater Pass (1)
  • Deodorant (at least 2)
  • Toothpaste (at least 3)
  • Lotion (Small Bottles/Travel Size)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Tote Bag
  • Umbrella

Once again, you will aso have the opportunity to check out the work of Black and Pink, an organization dedicated to the abolition of the prison industrial complex. Through Black and Pink’s Action Station at the event, you will have the opportunity to check out some great art created by members of the LGBTQ community in prison and to sign up for their pen-pal program. “ I am especially excited to see event attendees making connections with our LGBTQ family behind bars through the Black & Pink pen-pal program (www.blackandpink.org/prison-penpals)” said Dorsey, a member of the organization and QWOC Week collaborator. This is a great opportunity to learn about an important issue affecting our community and to make a tangible difference by establishing personal connections with individuals currently most affected by it.

And last but not least, learn how you can volunteer as an organizer for QWOC+ Boston in the Fall! We have lots of new events coming up and we need more hands. We are hosting several events in solidarity with Latino Pride this year as well as planning our 5th anniversary celebration and various projects to capture, document, and archive the herstory of QWOC+ Boston. As always, you can count on our continuing our Diversity Speaks discussion series, as well as our socials, movie nights, and much more. If you’d like to get more involved, you can email lina@qwocboston.org ahead of time and be sure to speak with an organizer at the event!

There’s so much do to and so much to sing! We are very excited to see you all there!

Wednesday August 3rd, 6PM-9PM
Club Cafe
Admission: Donation Item or $10
209 Columbus Avenue, Boston MA


Collaborating with POC Organizations: Thank You to the Bisexual Resource Center

Posted By Spectra on August 2nd, 2011

Founder’s Note: In the spirit of partnership-building, we wanted to highlight a community organization that has helped us make our purple pride extravaganza possible.

Through partnerships with other institutions that also give voice to members of the LGBTQ community of color, QWOC+ Boston has been able to extend our outreach efforts to include other sub-communities and networks over the years. In so doing, we’ve in turn provided frequent opportunities for other organizations to offer valuable resources and provide critical services to community members they may otherwise have been unable to reach. We believe this is an important part of community building, which is the core of our work. This is why, even when collaborating is challenging — which it often is — we believe it’s worth the discomfort to push through and find ourselves united in solidarity on the other side.

In the case of working with communities of color, and specifically, women of color, it should come as no surprise that many organizations end up doing more talking than actually working towards efforts to provide more culturally competent resources, increase multicultural diversity, or address gender inequities within their leadership. So when an organization extends themselves to us in the way that the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) has this year, with no quid-pro-quo stipulations, no catch, no hidden agenda, just simply because they believe in the importance of the work we’re doing (and know first-hand how hard it can be for grassroots groups to get support), it’s like discovering a natural spring in the middle of the dessert, and then waiting to see if it’s a mirage…

Except it isn’t — the kind of support we have received from the BRC is the kind of support many marginalized groups are in serious need of and thus, deeply appreciate. I have been fortunate to meet and get to know a few members of the Bisexual Resource Center this year. And what has struck me about their leadership is that they continually extend their hands to us year-round; not just when they need co-sponsorship of an event or need us to sign some petition, but to offer words of encouragement after learning about trials we’ve experienced (i.e. racist venues during pride), and similarly, to congratulate us on our successes, and of course, let us know that they were down to help and support QWOC Week in whatever they could.

But what I really want people to know is this: As the co-sponsors of our Open Relationships and Polyamory discussion this past weekend, the Bisexual Resource Center remained enthusiastic and supportive even after the QWOC Week planning committee decided that the discussion would be closed to just people of color. 

This meant that most (if not all) of the BRC board couldn’t attend the very event they were co-sponsoring. But they didn’t all of a sudden become lukewarm (something that we’ve seen happen time and time again once we relay that the kind of support we need is the less visible kind). They didn’t withdraw their support simply because they couldn’t be the center of attention and take credit for the discussion. They stayed on board with complete understanding of why it is that we — as women of color — needed to have the discussion in a safe-space for people of color. In fact, not only did they pay for appetizers for the post-discussion social, but they showed up after the event was over to check in with us and congratulate us on its success. I wish every other organization in Boston could be as gracious, and could push themselves to understand — as the Bisexual Resource Center does — that sometimes, the greatest support you can give communities of color is to take a back seat, and still cheer.

This is part of why we wanted to take a moment to say Thank You, to the Bisexual Resource Center. Beyond also providing valuable resources and support to bisexual women who are part of the QWOC communtiy, we have really appreciated their allyship during QWOC Week. Even though this is a relatively new partnership, we’re excited about continuing our work together and want other organizations to know that our experience so far has been overwhelmingly positive. We may run into hiccups along the way — it’s part of collaborating and learning about each other — but I’m confident that because we’re each coming from a place of real support, we’ll be able to push through any barriers and continue to create bi- and trans- safe spaces for women of color in Boston.

“QWOC, as we run in many of the same circles. My friends who are queer women of color get a lot out of her events; it fulfills their need for community, connection, and mutual understanding in a way that they can’t really find anywhere else. The Bisexual Resource Center has been providing resources to the bi community for over 25 years, and getting the message out about QWOC is a boon to the many folks we serve.”
– Jennifer Bonardi, Bisexual Resource Center

So please read about the Bisexual Resource Center below, and leave them a comment saying thank you on our behalf!


About the Bisexual Resource Center

The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) is an educational organization that was founded in 1985. Originally known as the East Coast Bisexual Network, the organization is headquartered in Boston and provides education about bisexual and progressive issues. It also provides support services by hosting bi-positive events, promoting bi visibility, and welcoming all to their support group. The organization is the most active American bisexual advocacy and resource group. “The Bisexual Resource Center envisions a world where love is celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.”

This summer, we were delighted to collaborate with the BRC to put on our QWOC Week Kickoff Event: A Discussion about Open Relationships & Polyamory in Queer/Trans Communities of Color.

Other fun facts: 

  • The BRC is part of a state wide coalition of organizations led by Mass. Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) to help push the adoption of H.R.1711, which outlaws gender-based discrimination and hate crimes.
  • The organization joined an NGLTF-coordinated coalition of over 360 groups from across the country in ’07 to advocate for a trans and gender expression inclusive Employment and Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
  • It is also the only bisexual organization in the National Coalition for LGBT Health

You can learn more about the Bisexual Resource Center by visiting their website: http://biresource.net/

OPENING QWOC WEEK PANEL: Transgender Women of Color Speak (8/1)

Posted By Lina Torres on July 31st, 2011

Join us for the Opening QWOC WEEK Panel!

In  the spirit of fostering more open dialogue, and as part of our Diversity Speaks discussion series, QWOC+ Boston and TranSCEND of AIDS Action Committee, co-sponsored by Mass. Transgender Political Coalitionare kicking off QWOC Week with a very important sharing circle, “Trans Women of Color Speak”

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/ev​ent.php?eid=19933380676663​5

This event aims to bring queer and trans people of color and allies together to “Listen” to the voices of trans women of color as they speak personally about the wide variety of their experiences they have as full and complex people, and as members of both the transgender and POC community.

But this isn’t a political forum; the diverse and truly personal stories from our panelists will serve as a catalyst for us, as a community, to identify and commit to ways through which we can all become active stakeholders in creating transWOC-inclusive spaces within QPOC communities, and also POC-inclusive spaces within the transgender community at large.


Our speakers hail from diverse backgrounds and careers. Each of them has committed to participating in this discussion to shed light on what is most personal to them in order to bring about progressive change in our community. It is truly an honor to have these three amazing women lend their voices to this panel. Check out their bios below!

Alyssa Kwan

Alyssa Kwan is an East Asian, trans, lesbian, femme woman that is deeply involved and invested in progressive, queer, and feminist politics. She is a software engineer with a background primarily in financial services, and is dedicated to her work as craft. She also writes about personal and political issues in both prose and poetry. Since coming out as a trans woman and beginning medical transition at the age of 30, Alyssa has been tackling the challenge of coming to terms with her personal identity, especially as it relates to community affiliation. As an East Asian trans woman, she has faced discrimination along a wide variety of axes, but has also experienced the joy of shared struggle with different marginalized communities. She is also committed to educating people on the complexities of intersectionality and the kyriarchy. She writes a blog at http://amaevis.tumblr.com/.


Elizabeth Marie Rivera-Valentine (TransCEND)

Elizabeth Marie Rivera-Valentine is a proud Puerto Rican transgender female haling from New York City & has been married and residing in Boston since 2009. Elizabeth has been involved in HIV Prevention & Education and Social Justice Activism/Organizing for the past 15 years, advocating for LGBT2SGNCQ individuals. She was also featured twice in the PBS Lesbian and Gay television news magazine “In The Life”. Elizabeth now works for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. She became a full-time staff member at Cambridge Cares About AIDS in March 2009 as the Health Educator and Web Designer for TransCEND (Transgender Care and Education Needs Diversity; www.transcendboston.org ); a community-based HIV prevention and health education program formally of Cambridge Cares About AIDS (CCA); by and for transgender women now located in Jamaica Plain in the Jackson Square area.  Her new role as the Community Organizer for TransCEND will advocate for clients and their needs externally which are necessary in keeping the voice of our community heard as well as keeping the program connected and visible within the trans social justice movement.

Lina Morales (TransCEND)

Lina Morales is a second-generation jewish mexican-american lesbian trans woman born and raised in the mexican-american neighborhood Little Village (La Villita) of Chicago, IL. She has been used to since forever of being of two or more worlds and defining herself in the intersections. She works for the TransCEND program of AIDS Action Committee and lives in Jamaica Plain.

Mesma Belsare

Photography by Anh Dao KolbeMesma S. Belsare is a Boston-based Indian Classical dancer, choreographer, actor, visual artist and educator. She belongs to a generation of young dancers in the South Asian Diaspora in North America who have created a unique niche for themselves in the realm of classical Indian arts. She holds a Master’s degree in Art Education from the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston MA. Mesma is a recipient of the Government of India scholarship for advanced study of Bharatanatyam (Indian Classical Dance), was once nominated under the Best Dancer category for the Dora Mavor Moore Award by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Canada and twice nominated for Boston Foundation’s Brother Thomas Fellowship for ‘excellence in the arts’. The Theatre Offensive of Boston honoured her as a ‘Gender Hero of Boston’. She serves on the Board of The History Project that documents and preserves the history of Boston’s LGBT communities. Mesma looks forward to sharing her thoughts on the QWOC panel. (Photo Credit: Ahn Dao Kolbe)

Looking forward to members of the diverse queer and trans community of color (and allies) join us for this very important conversation.

Diversity Speaks. And, it is our responsibility to listen.

About TransCEND

TransCEND provides 1 on 1 counseling and group support, HIV counseling and testing, referrals to transgender friendly legal and medical providers, safer sex and injection supplies, hygiene products, complimentary cosmetics and have a welcoming community safe space. TransCEND also seeks to build a network of support, safety, and education to improve the health and well-being of transgender women. They work to address how all forms of discrimination impact HIV prevention and health education, such as unequal access to health care and health-related information, and the lack of recognition of the distinct needs of the transgender community. TransCEND also collaborates with individuals and organizations that advocate for social justice and non-discrimination for transgender and gender-variant people of all backgrounds.


Co-sponsoring Organizations

Mass Transgender Political Coalition
Suffolk University Office of Diversity Services
Suffolk University President’s Commission on the Status of LGBTQ Faculty, Staff and Students
Suffolk University President’s Commission on the Status of AHANA Faculty, Staff, and Students

Building Bridges: Queer Asian Experiences in LGBTQ Communities of Color (8/2)

Posted By Lina Torres on July 29th, 2011

As part of QWOC Week’s mission to provide welcoming and affirming spaces for marginalized groups within the LGBTQ people of color community, QWOC+ Boston is hosting a discussion about the experiences of Asian/Asian-American people in the LGBTQ community.

This event, happening in collaboration with the Massachusetts South Asian Lambda Association (MASALA), Queer Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance (QAPA), and MAP for Health, and its exclusive focus on Asian/Asian-American people within the LGBTQ community, will be a first for QWOC+ Boston, but the idea has been on the table for a few years.

“Spectra and I have long wanted to have a QAPA/QWOC+ collaboration… We both understand the strength of QPOC collaboration,” says Maxwell Ng, a member of the planning committee and steering committee member of QAPA. The main purpose of this event is to create an open dialogue for members of this particular community to bring to light their experiences, especially in regards to the inclusion/exclusion of Asian/Asian-American people from mainstream organizing and social spaces. We want to explore how this ultimately impacts the larger community of queer and trans people of color.

How do queer white people perceive queer Asian people? How do other queer POC perceive queer Asian people? Touching upon sensitive issues in any rich and diverse community such as this one can be a slippery slope. Discussing the perceptions and stereotypes associated with any group can be a reminder of what so many have fought to disprove. However, through this moderated conversation, we hope to use our dedication to increasing QPOC solidarity to propel us through this critical and much-needed conversation.

“Putting together this event has been refreshingly challenging,” according to Spectra, “I kinda wish we could post the transcript of all the intense, passionate conversations that have happened as we were fleshing out this event. We’ve all learned so much about each other already. It gives me a lot of hope that we can replicate this same conversation in the different and overlapping communities we care about.’

Alyssa Kwan, a new QWOC Week organizer echoes these sentiments: “The skill with which everyone [on the committee] has navigated difficult issues bodes very well for the future of the entire queer POC community… Come prepared to have your minds opened!”

We welcome people of color from all cultural backgrounds to join us for this crucial conversation, with the understanding that we will be focusing on queer and trans Asian/Asian-American experiences. Since space is limited, RSVP is required. Attendees are strongly encouraged to sign up ASAP online.

The event will take place on Tuesday, August 2nd from 6-8 p.m at MIT Fairchild Building | 50 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA. It will be followed by a gathering at NU-LIFE (Zuzu Bar) hosted by DJs Dhana and Rizzla. Mention “QWOC Week” and get in for free!

RSVP is required in order to attend the event so follow this link to register for this groundbreaking discussion and other QWOC Week events!

QWOC Week Brings Family and Youth Together at Stony Brook Park (8/6)

Posted By Lina Torres on July 29th, 2011

Saturday August 6th
12 PM – 4PM @ Stony Brook Park
Jamaica Plain, MA

After a week of new connections and invigorating discussions, we have just what you need – a relaxing day under a shady tree at the park!

Join us for what has always been a gorgeous day of sunshine and fun! This event is part of the QWOC + mission to create spaces that support and affirm the many different kinds of families that exist within the queer and trans community of color. Some of us have two moms, two dads, transgender grandchildren, gay uncles and nieces, multiple queer parents, PFLAG parents, multi-racial families, and of course, pets! So bring them all along for QWOC Week’s Family and Youth Day at the Park!

QWOC + values this rare opportunity to bring our families together and share in this loving and supportive network so we look forward to it every year! We know that having children or other family to care for can often times alienate individuals from the queer community with whom they wish to connect. Many LBGT social events often take place on weeknights (or late nights) and thus, aren’t convenient for whole families to attend. This is why the Family and Youth Day in the Park is so important.

The day at the park will also be the very last day to contribute your donated item to our Survivor Drive for The Network/La Red. This wonderful organization works to provide support services and address partner abuse in LGBTQ and polyamorous communities. It’s a fantastic cause so check out our list of items and don’t forget to bring yours by!

Old School Meets New School: An Intergenerational Summer Patio T-Dance (Sun 7/31)

Posted By Lina Torres on July 29th, 2011

Sunday July 31st, 3 pm – 7 pm
REDD’s In Rozzie
4257 Washington Street
Roslindale, MA 02131

What a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than dancing to everything from the Isley Brothers to Beyonce? Join us at this one-of-a-kind social that brings the old school and the new school together! This event has been such a hit in the past that it has now become a QWOC Week staple!

The intergenerational T-Dance is a unique opportunity for QWOC of all ages to get together and have a great time. The social scene that dominates the queer community makes it especially challenging to create strong connections between members of different age groups. For instance, nightlife — which some could argue as being the focal point of mainstream gay culture — often blocks younger people (who are under 21) from accessing community, and, in the same vein, fails to be inclusive of older generations who prefer socializing of the ‘tamer’ sort. It’s hard to get around the 21+age requirement in a city like Boston, but even within the demographic that is of legal age, nightlife and most LGBT social spaces often fail to consider the needs of parents with family responsibilities.

In the words of new QWOC Week organizer, Chareese Allen, “We tend to see the same people hosting parties and doing various activities together.” The QWOC Week T-Dance is designed to bring LGBTQ women of color together across age brackets, neighborhoods, and other various pockets, and the event committee is optimistic about its outcome. “Last year was crazy,” says Spectra, “We had a soul train going at one point, and each person in it was of a different age, ethnic background etc. It was kind of amazing.”

Speaking of music, we will have it all — from Al Green to Aaliyah to Adele. Our playlist will include the greatest hits from way back when all the way up to this summer! And all this inter-generational goodness will be taking place on a beautiful outdoor patio, complete with the delicious tastings of Redd’s, a southern cuisine restaurant in Roslindale Square. If it sounds perfect it’s because it will be.

The Intergenerational T-Dance is being hosted in collaboration with the Power Lesbian Network and Boston Black Women’s Health Initiative. Tickets are available through the QWOC Week online registration. $5 in advance, or $5-10 sliding scale at the door. Hope to see you there.

And now, for a teaser song… (it’s Spectra’s new favorite):


QWOC Ally Volunteer Spotlight: Queer Femme Warrior, Beth Rubin!

Posted By QWOC+ Boston on July 26th, 2011

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.

– Spectra

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!