A Powerful Weekend at The 6th Annual Lesbians+ of Color Symposium!

By Lamika Young, Co-Host of The SafeWordSociety Podcast

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If you are LBTQ+ identified women and non-binary people of color and allies/accomplices but weren’t at Harvard Law School on March 9th and 10th, you missed an incredible experience! SafeWordSociety was one of the Community Media Outreach Partners for The 6th Annual Lesbians of Color Symposium (LOCS) and as the co-host of The SafeWordSociety Podcast, I had the pleasure of attending as well. The the best word to describe this experience is powerful. LOCS attendees showed up ready to engage, socialize, and grow, and I am still buzzing from having spent so much time interacting with such dynamic folks!

After traveling in heavy snow on a Friday afternoon, I was so ready to stretch my legs and let my feet touch the ground. It was well worth the journey! Upon entering Wasserstein Hall at Harvard Law School, I was greeted enthusiastically by members of the LOCS team and then excitedly made my way to the auditorium. Ty Okelemu, an enthusiastic trainer, speaker and coach, kicked off the weekend with information on branding and networking. Here’s one that will help me take over the world! So when you’re at a networking event, remember to communicate these five clear (and well-rehearsed!) points:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What is great about you
  • What makes you different from your competitors
  • What’s in it for them

My elevator pitch is on lock, y’all!

The following Saturday was filled with even more powerfully-delivered information. Trey Anthony, award-winning playwright, executive producer, actor, and stand‐up comedian, gave me my whole entire life first thing in the morning. She gave one of the most intimate, intelligent, and hilarious keynote addresses I have ever experienced! Through sharing her experiences, she moved me to question:

  • How I spend my time
  • Communicate my needs to the people in my life
  • Set boundaries
  • How I shape the path ahead of me

Trey also equipped attendees with tangible things to consider when evaluating the current state of our lives and challenged us to face hard truths about ourselves. In addition to taking home actual tools to improve my approach to living, l was truly inspired by her willingness to share her own journey in the name of impacting lives in our community.

As if that wasn’t plenty, Brittany Ferrell, Co-Founder of Millenial Activists United, blessed us with her gracious presence, detailing her personal narrative and its contribution to her life as a freedom fighter and as a full-time obstetrics RN...because apparently she doesn’t have enough to do. With vivid storytelling and impassioned language, Brittany described her experiences with trauma, how they fostered a very early awareness of the inequity that plagues our society, and how those experiences keep her emboldened in the struggle for liberation. Because the fight for unadulterated Black liberation—one free of ageism, homophobia, misogyny, poverty, transphobia, violence, etc.—is at the forefront of all of my endeavors, her words revitalized me; it was the perfect boost to get out there and continue doing the work.

In addition to hearing from these incredible folks, there were nine break-out sessions ranging from discussions of media representation and entrepreneurship to healthy relationships and the erotic power of grief. Of course I couldn’t attend all of them and so I landed on the session entitled “Seeing Ourselves Free: Using ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ to Envision Radical QTBiPoC Communities of Care” because, well, I’m trying to get free. Our facilitator, CarmenLeah Ascensio, was such a light. She guided our group through a physical icebreaker that immediately broke down barriers and (literally) set the stage. CarmenLeah asked us to close our eyes and visualize oppression in our communities. After guiding us through that exercise, she asked “What gets in the way of freedom in your community” and ultimately were called to act out these barriers. I am not an actress by any means, but the space she created moved me to share my interpretation of homelessness amongst the other narratives that folks were sharing, including capitalism, apathy, and police brutality. This experience was heavy. It was also yet another push for me to stay connected to the issues that motivate me to be in action.

Somehow in the midst of this rich itinerary, LOCS managed to also include a panel entitled “Bisexual Narratives: A People of Color Perspective.” Four bisexual folks of color (including one of our former guests on the podcast, Simone Davis)  responded to questions that called them to share their personal experiences with biphobia, bi-erasure, and navigating a dichotomous experience. They bravely gave voice to our shared narrative, which is so often left in the shadows. While witnessing this discussion, it occurred to me that I had never actually seen or even participated in a discussion like this. This experience of being seen and truly understood highlighted the power in the work that organizations like The LOCS Collective and SafeWordSociety do to create spaces for communities to build with one another.

So, yea, LOCS happened, and I am revitalized. As you can probably tell, I would highly recommend this experience to any LBTQ+ identified women and non-binary people of color and allies/accomplices. I applaud the work of The LOCS Collective in bringing us together to exchange knowledge and provide encouragement to one another, all in the spirit of uplifting our community.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to connect with LOCS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and plan to be there in 2019!

All photos & video taken by Doreen Pierre, SWS Director of Digital Content.