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“QWOC+ Boston Fills A Gap In The Local LBGTQ Community—With A Week Long Celebration”

Boston, MA August 1, 2008On August 4, 2008, Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) will launch the first ever, first annual QWOC WEEK, a multicultural pride festival for people of all backgrounds. Intended to increase visibility for LBGTQ people of color and be a rich celebration of pride and authentic diversity for all New Englanders, QWOC WEEK is open to all: from older African-American lesbians to immigrant college queers; from Latino gay guys to transgender pacific islanders; from political allies to non-profit health educators; this festival is open to everyone.

True to its motto – “Diversity Speaks” – QWOC Week 2008 will provide a rare opportunity for the Boston LBGTQ community to connect, collaborate, and “speak” on a variety of 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. With the diverse lineup of events, including a highly anticipated spoken-word/performance show, a Friday night film screening, and a family-friendly day in the park, QWOC Week 2008 promises to be a fun and memorable celebration.

But, more than just fun and games, QWOC+ Boston takes pride in its proactive year-round outreach to under-represented members of the queer community, including other organizations that promote awareness of a variety of issues and/or align with their goal of increasing consciousness via social-networking and community-building. Collaborations with key organizations that promote diverse, inclusive, community-building (such as Black Pride, Multicultural Aids Coalition, Queer Asian Pacific Alliance, MadFemmePride, and Greater Boston PFLAG) underscore the festival’s varied event lineup bound to appeal to a variety of community members.

Working to bolster the local queer scene and provide friendly, authentic community for queer women of color and friends since 2006, Asala talks about the importance (and “fun!” she says) of multi-racial queer community:

“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 non-profit 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.”

DATES AND TIME: Monday, Aug 4 through Sunday, Aug 10

LOCATION: Various locations in Boston, Cambridge, and Jamaica Plain

For more information about QWOC Week, visit

Press opportunities: Press passes to events and interviews with members of QWOC+ Boston will be granted to a limited number of journalists. Interested parties should contact Adora Asala, (617) 848-9593,

About QWOC+ Boston

Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) is a grassroots organization founded in 2006. Run by a diverse group of more than 15 Boston-area LBGTQ community members, QWOC+ Boston is creating a sustainable QWOC+ movement in New England and is committed to providing open-minded, authentic and diverse spaces for LBGTQ women of color (and their friends/allies) in the Greater Boston area.

For more information, visit

QWOC Week Schedule of Events

Monday August 4th at 7PM

Complex Identities: The Challenge of Providing Health Services to LGBT People of Color

Featuring special guests:

Lula Christopher (Boston Black Women’s Health Initiative), Jacquie Bishop (Director of Community Initiatives, American Diabetes Association), Reverend Irene Monroe (Activist, Scholar and Public Theologian), and Lisa Moris (The Network La Red, Dudley Pride Coalition)

MIT (Bldg 14E-304), 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

Cost: FREE

Tuesday August 5th at 7PM

Diversity Speaks On Love, Friendship, and Family: A Discussion on Interracial Relationships within the Queer Community

Co-sponsored by Center for New Words’ “Feminism and Dessert” discussion series

YWCA, 7 Temple Street Cambridge MA 02139

Cost: FREE

Wednesday August 6th at 7PM (Doors at 6:30PM)

QWOC+ Boston presents “OUTSPOKEN: A Queer People of Color Spoken-Word and Performance Artist Showcase” in collaboration with Truth Serum Productions

Co-sponsored by Queer Asian Pacific Alliance

MIDDLESEX LOUNGE, 315 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge MA

Cost: $5

Thursday August 7th at 7PM

Back to Basics Afterwork Social: Summer Breezin’ at DBAR

Co-sponsored by MadFemmePride

DBAR, 1236 Dorchester Avenue Boston MA

Cost: FREE

Friday August 8th at 7PM

Lights, Camera, Activism: Movie Night featuring a Film Screening of “Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World”, “U People”, and “The Donor”

Hosted by MIT Women’s and Gender Studies’ “Chicks Make Flicks” Program

MIT STATA CENTER (32-155), 77 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge MA 02139

Cost: FREE

Saturday August 9th 1PM – 5PM

We Are Family: QWOC+ Boston Day in the Park

STONY BROOK PARK (Opp. Orange Line T-Stop), Jamaica Plain MA

Co-sponsored by Greater Boston PFLAG

Cost: FREE

Saturday August 9th 9PM – 2AM


A Multicultural Pride Celebration for Men and Women of all Colors

Brought to you by Spectra Entertainment

9PM-10:30PM Grown ‘N’ Sexy Reception hosted by Black Pride, Multicultural Pride Coalition, MOCCA, and People to People: Sistah Summit/Sister Insider

UMBRIA, 295 Franklin Street Boston MA 02110

Sunday August 10th at 12PM

Queer Women of Color and Friends Beach Getaway

Hosted by the QWOC+ Boston Organizers and Volunteers

Revere Beach, Revere MA

QWOC Week Schedule of Events

QWOC Week is a multicultural pride festival for LGBT people of color.

We’re putting on this week for the first time in Boston and will appreciate your attendance and support; it is so important that we ALL – boys, girls, younger, older, lesbian, bisexual, gay, trans, straight, and allies – come together as a community to help make this week a success and guarantee it for years to come.

Join the movement. RSVP at any one of our sites, leave some enthusiasm, then spread the word!

Website for Updated Event Details (Pretty Flyers Up!)

PLEASE NOTE: The most current calendar of events will be made available on our website. So, be sure to double-check event details before you head out.

Monday August 4th at 7PM

COMPLEX IDENTITIES: The Challenge of Providing Health Services to LGBTQ People of Color (A Panel Discussion)

Join Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) for a panel discussion and OPEN community discussion on the health challenges facing LGBT people of color, featuring special guests:

Jacquie Bishop (American Diabetes Association)
Lula Christopher (Boston Black Women’s Health Initiative)
Reverend Irene Monroe (Harvard Divinity School)
Lisa Moris (The Network/La Red, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Dudley Pride Coalition)

@ MIT Bldg 14E-304, 77 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge MA 02139

Tuesday August 5th at 7PM

“Diversity Speaks On Love, Friendship, and Family: A Discussion on Interracial Relationships within the Queer Community”

Co-sponsored by Center For New Words “Feminism and Dessert” discussion series

@ YWCA 7 Temple Street Cambridge MA 02139

Wednesday August 6th

QWOC+ Boston presents “OUTSPOKEN: A Queer People of Color Spoken-Word Artist Showcase” in collaboration with Truth Serum productions

Join us for an evening of spoken word and performance, featuring performances from:
Good Asian Drivers, Kit Yan and Melissa Li (Boston)
Letta Neely (Boston)
Judah Dorrington (Boston)
Ignacio Rivera (Brooklyn)
Kay Barrett (NYC)
Shante Paradigm (Brooklyn)
Co-sponsored by Queer Asian Pacific Alliance (QAPA)
Doors at 6:30PM. Show starts at 7PM.

Resident DJs spinning old school R&B, soul, and house music from 9PM onwards. Stay on to mingle, socialize, and dance!
@ MIDDLESEX LOUNGE 315 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge MA 02139

Thursday August 7th at 7PM

Back to Basics: Summer Breezin’ at DBAR

Co-sponsored by MadFemmePride
@ DBAR 1236 Dorchester Avenue Boston MA 02136
Join Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) and MadFemmePride to commemorate the very first QWOC+ Boston event (and MadFemmePride collaboration) at Dbar in 2006! Yup, it’s going on two years, people!

This event routinely draws out a diverse, friendly, progressive, and fun crowd. Come on down after work in your three-piece suit, straight from a day off at home in your jeans and flipflops, or coordinated in purple with three of your best friends – we really don’t care just as long as you’re there.

Weather-permitting, the patio will be open.

This event goes from 7PM-11PM. But feel free to stay on afterwards for more socializing and dancing.

Friday August 8th at 7PM

Lights, Camera, Activism: Movie Night Feat. “DANGEROUS LIVING: Coming Out in the Developing World” and “The Donor”

Hosted by MIT’s Women and Gender Studies “Chick Makes Flicks” Program

@ MIT Bldg 32-141 STATA CENTER 77 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge MA 02139

Saturday August 9th

1PM – 5PM:

Stomping the Yard: QWOC Day in the Park

@ Park Opposite Stony Brook Station (Orange Line)

Join Queer Women of Color and Friends and Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays) for a fun day in the park. Bring poetry/prose to share. Show up with a potluck item to place on the community food blanket. Come dressed for an active game of kickball. Or come with your favorite wing-person for some fun speed-friending. This event is all about community-building, family, friends, and celebrating the diversit
y within our community… together.

9PM – 2AM:

FUSION: The Official QWOC Week Saturday Night Pride Party for Men AND Women

Bring An Ally!
Brought to you by Spectra Entertainment
The Revolutions Takes Place @ UMBRIA 295 Franklin Street Boston MA 02110

  • Bring “Your” Allies! And be part of the revolution…
    • Gay manfriends, Straight girlfriends, Clueless Coworkers, Comin ‘Round Cousins, Supportive Siblings, Moms and Dads (Just Tell Em Before You Get There), Old College Roommates, New Open Flatmates, Too-Busy-To-Clubbers, Coffeeshop Friends, White Friends, Brown Friends…

  • Come UN-ARMED for much love, celebration, and pride in unity
  • Dress/Accent in “Purple” for solidarity in support of QWOC Week
  • Grown ‘N’ Sexy Reception 9PM-10PM

Oh, and did we mention… The First 50 people get in FREE!

Sunday August 10th at NOON

Queer Women of Color and Friends Beach Getaway

Hosted by the QWOC+ Boston Organizers and Volunteers

The QWOC WEEK crew will be taking over REVERE beach for the festival’s final day. Weather-permitting, we’ll be getting some much-needed relaxation after the week-long festival.

@Revere Beach (Blue Line Accessible)

QWOC Pride During Pride


Looking back at the past ‘rainbow year’ (June 2007 – present), I can’t help but feel proud of all our work and contributions to the community; through QWOC+ Boston, MadFemmePride, and my peripheral affiliations with other like-minded groups, change is happening… There are QWOC walking around, being screened at the MFA, planning events in PTown, being seen

It all started last year with Optionz, the diversity pride party Femily and I decided we needed to have after such an overwhelmingly positive response to our “Unladylike” party at Umbria. It was clear that people were sick of the same old clubs, same venues, same kinds of people, and that the Boston queer scene needed a facelift. Where were all the queer women of color? Where were all the grown ‘n’ sexy, married-with-kids couples? Where were the STUDS? And since when were high femmes ostracized from lezziedom because they ‘confused’ people?

The state of the Boston scene was dismal, just dismal. And, in my humble opinion, the reason was because promoters were still running it. I still had to log on to to find out what to do with myself every weekend. “Why?” I thought to myself, “In this age of web 2.0 social networking sites, free text messaging, crackberries and blogs, why am I okay with relinquishing social organizing power to THREE women?” Kristen Porter, Wendy Kelly, and Beth McGurr. Well-meaning they were, I’m sure, but the days of queers having no options but to go clubbing to meet other queers were over – or should’ve been. We’ve become much more than the rebellious, over-sexed, hot and sweaty clubbers the media makes us out to be, and our social scene should reflect that. Yes?

And, finally, it’s beginning to! People have house parties, organize wine-tastings, Obama fundraisers, nightclub options are not many but at least they’re always changing etc. And now, QWOC Week. Ah yes… stay tuned :o)

Hablando de Las Latinas (Continued): Dislocating Cultures

So many of my white American friends have never understood that when my parents come to visit that they of COURSE stay with me in my one bedroom apartment, and that my mother’s underwear will always be found hanging to dry in the bathroom. I know it’s funny, but that’s my life! When I was at MIT, my dorm head couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that when my siblings got out of school for vacation that they’d come stay with me in my matchbox of a dorm room. And, that if my parents had the money to come visit that summer, they’d book a hotel, but would always end up staying with us too! Crazy, yeah? I’ve found that situations like that are really hard for the average white American to understand. If you didn’t grow up poor, and you had the white picket fence and golden Labrador, ‘space’ was a right you acquired when you turned five, along with a play-themed room, which had a door that your parents had to learn to knock on to gain access to. Ha!

“Oh, stop the generalizing, iQWOC!” Well, if for the past eight years that I’ve lived here I hadn’t experienced looks of horror anytime I explained that my entire family usually stays with me during any given vacation/holiday period then perhaps my perception would be different. The fact of the matter is that – whether people want to admit it or not – if you haven’t had the immigrant experience, if you haven’t been dislocated from your culture in a new place, and you don’t even have family members (or even loud enough friends) that can say this, there are things about someone like me which are gonna be difficult to understand and/or relate to. Incidentally, it turns out that, of all the cultural groups that reside in the United States, Latinos are the ones whose experiences have most closely mirrored my own. Additionally, as I have come to identify partly as a “queer woman of color”, it follows that an even more specific subset of Latinos, queer latinas, most closely share my experience.

When I first arrived in New Hampshire for boarding school, the friends that I made instantly were from foreign countries – international students. I think most people would understand why that happened; we were all away from home, we could support each other, share our stories of culture shock, cook for each other etc. By the end of the semester, my group of international friends comprised mostly of students from South America. I honestly think that it was due to the fact that our cultures and general value systems were so close; family was the center of everything, and thus, your accountability to siblings, parents, grandparents… We talked about family and the differences we saw between here and ‘there’ all the time. Even the language barrier wasn’t strong enough to keep us from bonding (I was taking German at the time, not Spanish, but learned as we went along from listening to so much of their music – especially pre-crossover Shakira).

I’ve been asked a couple of times why (in place of Latinos) I don’t relate better to African-Americans/Blacks here, including people from islands like Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad etc. Well, the fact is that those people living here (if, first generation) usually identify as American, which is still very removed from who I am and where I come from. I love to party with those groups hard due to the commonality in the music culture; bass and drums are clear signifiers of African rhythms. But, on the flip side, they don’t know what it’s like to live in a country where everything about your culture is made fun of (or pitied) ALL the time, and perpetuated negatively throughout the media, including to people who LOOK like you. Reggae and Dancehall have become part of the music in this country. Everyone knows and loves old Bob Marley songs, Buju Banton, Elephant Man, Sean Paul, Jay-Z, 50 Cent (even him!), and it’s cool to know their songs, dance to them etc. It is NOT cool to be African in the US, even though ALL of this comes directly from the culture I am so proud to be a part of. Rather, our art is routinely collected (stolen) and displayed in foreign countries as ‘mystical’ and ‘ancient’, while our music is viewed similarly to ‘strange’ foods from Asia, from a distance. Or worse, in some cases (especially when the songs are recorded in English), as a pitiful attempt to ‘copy’, and so ignored thereafter.

Language definitely plays a factor into this. Moroccan hiphop artists will tell you that even though their music thrives in the rest of the world, it has been poorly received in the united states, and any attempt to record in English is ridiculed (Hiphop in French and Arabic? Noooo). So, whereas most of ‘black music’ – Hiphop, RnB etc – and popular music from the Caribbean is readily accessible, and thus, accepted, because it’s in English, this is not the case with African music. They say that the core of culture comprises Art, Music, and Religion. And, none of these parts of Nigerian – or even African – culture, are available to me here. At least, due to the inter-linkage of history between Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico (not to mention the influx of immigrants from neighboring South America), Americans are routinely exposed to Spanish-speaking cultures: bilingual educational policies, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ana Castillo, Hilary and the Latino vote, Miami, Reggaeton thriving as a new genre… all these make it “cool” to speak Spanish and take Salsa lessons. And, before someone mentions “African” dance (as if we ALL dance in the same way all across the CONTINENT), even with that, as I mentioned before, the movements are usually viewed mystically, and placed within the Afro-Cuban religious context. It’s not REALLY my Africa they’re talking about.

African dance… That’s definitely another blog, for another day. My point is that since I have been completely displaced from my culture and work every day to find a place for myself in this country, I am more likely to relate to women in similar circumstances. Immigrant Queers – male or female – take the cake.

Queer Woman of Color, I am… but only here; this identity would vanish the minute I stepped unto Nigerian soil. But, even I am beginning to forget what identity would take its place… and even, what there was before.

Bay Windows Article: We Made The Front Page?

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 w
hat 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 A social at a nearby location to be determined will follow the event.

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