What is your work? Who shares your work? Where is your work done? Whom does that work serve? How is your work rewarded or not?
Conversations about queer and trans folks at work focused solely on issues of legal inclusion can fail to address larger systems of oppression and discrimination targeting these communities.
Legal measures such as gay marriage, the right to be "out" in the military, and non-discrimination policies that extend benefits to employees' partners and make workplaces more accessible and safe are important. However, the ways in which these campaigns are fought largely do not challenge underlying issues of prejudice, hate, and discrimination that queer and trans people face in the job market and at work. These systems of oppression affect everyone negatively: homophobia and transphobia, for example, harm straight and cis- folks too. We believe that the work for economic and labor justice in and outside of the workplace doesn't end with legal battles, and shouldn't even necessarily start with them.
A conversation about queer and trans folk's work must begin with our lived experiences. As well as building strength and solidarity around our shared experiences, we must examine the differences and divisions among us. Too often only white, middle or owning class, gay and lesbian cis-men and women with advanced degrees are represented in political and economic discourse. Too often classism is perpetuated in queer and trans activism and community organizing. Too often class gets (silently) dropped from the organizational and coalitional social justice agendas for being "too complicated" or "too controversial." These omissions and injustices harm individuals and communities and weaken our movements. We need to take a stand to reverse these trends.
Our conference aims to center the experiences of people who face or have faced discrimination and violence in their working lives by celebrating the stories of working class people, unemployed people, undocumented immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, trans folks, queer folks, drag kings and queens, religious minorities, cis-womyn, youth, elderly, and all others who share or work in solidarity with their struggles. By listening hard to what these beautiful people have to say, we unlearn damaging myths and stereotypes. We learn that to talk about work, we need to be talking about paid work, under-paid work, unpaid work, forced work, domestic work, sex work, collective work, movement work, creative work, and care work. To talk about the workplace we need to be talking about systems and expressions of classism, racism, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia. We need to talk about internalized oppressions, silencing, and physical and emotional violence. Whose work gets valued, and by whom? How do different forms of work reproduce or challenge social hierarchies? How can we apply what we learn in these conversations to our own lives and organizing?
This year's conference brings together activists, scholars, and performers to address the lived experiences of queer and trans people in their working lives. We come to these questions and conservations with humility, hoping that they may serve as starting points for conversations and collaborations around work and class justice in more queer and trans communities.
For a color-coded, calendar-style schedule of events, click here
WORKSHOP, Miriam Zoila Perez '06
"Queering Reproductive Jusice"
4:30-6pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
LECTURE, Eli Clare
"Listening to the Freaks: A History of Circus Tents and Every Day Gawking"
7-8:30pm, Science Center 101
The lecture will be recorded and rescreened on Saturday and Sunday at 10am, in Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
LUNCH & WORKSHOP, Eli Clare
"Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies"
12-2pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
LECTURE, Dorothy Allison
"The Dangerous Life - Being Mythic in America"
4:30-6pm, reception afterward, Lang Concert Hall
The lecture will be recorded and rescreened on Sunday at 12pm, in Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
"STILL BLACK" by Kortney Ziegler
7pm & 10pm, Science Center 199
WORKSHOP, tiny from POOR Magazine
"Survival Sex, Survival Work and Survival"
12-1:30pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
WORKSHOP, S. Naomi Finkelstein
"Counteracting Normalcy- The Cripbutch at Work and Un(der)Employment"
2-3:30pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
WORKSHOP, Eli Clare
"Moving Beyond Pity and Inspiration: Doing Disability Ally Work"
4-5:30pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
DINNER AND INFORMAL DISCUSSION, Queer alums at work
6-7m, Sharples Dining Hall
PERFORMANCE, Roots and River Philly Collective
"Queers at Work"
8:30-10:00pm, Olde Club
PERFORMANCE, Cirque Manikk
"TERRA mini - Circus Performance"
10:00-11:00 pm, Olde Club
PARTY, DJ Lil' Reezy (Riley Ramanathan '11)
11:00pm-2am, Olde Club
LECTURE, Jay Toole and Juliet Johnson from Queers for Economic Justice
"Queer Homeless Transition into the Queer Workforce: How QEJ creates space for the Queer homeless population to learn about the working of a Queer nonprofit, from how to be a Queer advocate, to the administration desk"
2:00-3:30 pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
LECTURE, Lindsay Roth '07 and Kahn Miller from Sex Workers Outreach Project Philadelphia (SWOP Philly)
"An Injury to One is an Injury to All: Queer/Sex/Worker Liberation"
4:00-5:30 pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
CATERED DINNER & PANEL DISCUSSION, Claire Galpern '10, Fred Ginyard, Saeda Washington from Youth United for Change
"LGBT Organizers in the Youth Organizing Movement: Dinner with Youth United for Change Organizers"
5:45-7:30pm, Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
The QTC planning committee will be kicking off the conference with a parlor party. Participants may record their ideas about their gender/sexual identity on pieces of fabric, which will then be assembled into a large quilt-like collective installation piece.
The societal construct of sex work as sex, negating the work, is just one of many factors contributing to the oppression of those in the sex trade. Through reframing the discourse into one of labor, the suppression of basic, universal workers' rights becomes apparent. It is the perception of sexual deviancy which justifies the marginalization and policing of both the sex work and LGBTQ communities. The parallels between the two and experiences of those who occupy a place in both worlds demand a new discourse on the solidarity and alliances between the queer/sex/workers' fight against oppressive institutions. A victory for one is a victory for all!
This workshop, lecture and performance will look at the struggle to survive in a capitalist society as a Queer/Trans poor person, indigenous person, person of color through the experiences of poverty, racism, houselessness, gentrification, criminalization and violence to name a few. Led by a poverty skola, poet, teacher and mama-worker from PeopleSkool/Escuela de la gente @ POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE this will also include an exploration of work itself for poor and indigenous peoples in this stolen land known as amerikkka
Why should the queer and trans community care about reproductive justice? This interactive workshop lays out what these two communities have in common, and how they are working together in the struggle for bodily autonomy.
Oppression often lodges in our bodies, stealing them away from us in a myriad of ways. What stories do each of us have to tell about this thievery and the ways in which we resist it, working to reclaim our bodies? Using storytelling, images, and journal writing, this workshop explores these questions and issues across various identities, communities, and systems of oppression.
Many people, both on college campuses and in the non-profit world, frequently interact with disabled people but with little awareness of disability as an issue of cultural competency and social justice. Often the major disability issues faced by disabled people are not about health but about disability-based marginalization and discrimination, which in turn impact access to education, employment, housing, and social services. Participants will leave this training with tools to create more disability access in their work places and communities.
What does the history of the freak show have to teach us about bodily difference and oppression, resistance and exploitation? Join Eli as he explores the connections between the circus tents of a century ago and the everyday gawking of today. Through storytelling, images, and analysis, he weaves race, disability, imperialism, and queerness together into narratives of pride and witness.
Normalcy requires the players in a system working along with it, despite the fact that they are being exploited by it. Those of us who are being exploited- the queer, the trans, the disabled , must ask "How do we resist?" The cripbutch offers a model of such resistance. Breaking down binaries of gender and resiting individualism, the cripbutch offers a new path for resisting hegemony and celebrating the destruction of normalcy. In this workshop S. Naomi Finkelstein will share hir insights into being an activist cripbutch and will offer ways of counteracting hegemony with the body and through collective action by creating alternative economies economies and alliances.
An hour and a half multimedia performance that engages this year's theme, "Queers at Work" by five artists, Najee Haynes-Follins, Petra Floyd, Cyree Jarelle Johnson, Yandeh Sallah-Muhammed ( Manikk Arte) and j.D. Stokely. The performance will cover identity politics at the workplace, the unionization of strip clubs, immigrant labor, working artists, and the masks we wear as we navigate the world. They'll present their original work using video projections, dance, and theatre experiments, and sculpture.
Dorothy Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. Now living in Northern California with her partner Alix and her teenage son, Wolf Michael, she describes herself as a feminist, a working class story teller, a Southern expatriate, a sometime poet and a happily born-again Californian. An award winning editor for Quest, Conditions, and Outlook—early feminist and Lesbian & Gay journals, Allison's chapbook of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me, was published with Long Haul Press in 1983. Her short story collection, Trash (1988) was published by Firebrand Books. Trash won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing. Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, (1992) a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, an ALA Award for Lesbian and Gay Writing, became a best seller, and an award-winning movie. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages. *
White, disabled, and genderqueer, Eli Clare is a renowned and respected writer, speaker, activist, teacher,and poet. Clare has written a book of essays Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation (SouthEnd Press, 1999, 2009) and a collection of poetry The Marrow's Telling: Words in Motion (HomofactusPress, 2007) and has been published in many periodicals and anthologies. Clare has spoken, taught, andfacilitated workshops and discussions about disability, queer and trans identities, and social justice atconferences, community events, and colleges all over the United States and Canada. Among other pursuits, he has walked across the United States for peace, coordinated a rape prevention program, and helped organize the first ever Queerness and Disability Conference.
S. Naomi Finkelstein is a mixed race Jewish, fat, cripbutch genderqueer educator and writer whose work and activism explores the intersections of the construction of whiteness and class and the body politics of queerness, fat, transgender, race, poverty and disability. He is an alumnus of Hedgebrook Farm Writers' Retreat and a graduate of New College of California. Naomi now works as a Certified Peer Counselor for the Crisis Solutions Center of DESC, a crisis diversion and harm reduction center for homeless, formerly and nearly homeless people in mental health crisis in Seattle, Washington. Naomi is a core collective member of the Seattle Disability Justice Collective, a scrappy, grassroots organization run by chronically ill and sick, disabled people with other marginalized experiences. Hir work appears in the QLQ, The Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, The Best Transgender Erotica, Fat Girl, Bridges, GCN and Real Change. Above all he is a bear.
Miriam Zoila Pérez is a queer Cuban-American writer and activist focusing on topics relating to race, health and gender. She has been working in the reproductive justice movement for over seven years, both online and off. Pérez is the founder of Radical Doula, a blog that covers the intersections of birth activism and social justice from a doula's perspective, and she recently published The Radical Doula Guide: A Political Primer for Full-Spectrum Pregnancy and Childbirth Support. She was an Editor at Feministing.com for four years, during which time the site was awarded the Hillman Prize for Blog Journalism. Pérez has received various awards and recognitions for her work, including a 2010 Barbara Seaman Award for Activism in Women's Health. Perez is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. For more about her work, visit miriamzperez.com.
Roots and River Productions grew from the small seed of an idea. Artistic Director Azure D. Osborne-Lee moved to New York City and experienced firsthand how difficult it can be for an emerging artist, especially an artist of color, to make headway in the theatre. And so, out of a desire to foster artistic community for queer artists of color, Roots and River Productions was born. Roots & River's mission is to produce creative work grounded in the LGBTQ community. The company is an artistic home for queer artists of color residing in the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. Roots & River serves as an incubator for new work, a site of artistic exploration, and an agency for community outreach.
Five members of the collective are going to come to QTC:
Najee Haynes-Follins is a costume designer and fine artist who graduated from Hampshire College in May 2011. Her work at Hampshire centered around costume and character with an emphasis on the practice of representing race for an audience. She has designed several major Hampshire theater productions including: "The Last Stop Between Us" by Khi Armand, "B.F.E." by Julie Cho, and "The (Sexual) Liberation of Mammy" by J.D. Stokley. Her current work is a continuation of her exploration of race, identity and representation through mask-making. Najee also hopes to open a thrift store of her very own in the next few years.
Petra Floyd is a Liberian-American visual artist from Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2012 with a B.A. in studio art. Petra has been a branch artist at Roots and River Productions, a Brooklyn based non-profit art production company, and is a founding member of its collective branch in Philadelphia. In 2012, Petra received Hybridge Arts Collective's Blueprint Breakout residency in which she co-created, co-wrote, and designed the multimedia performance "Ode to Shalimar" with co-conspirator, j.D. Stokely.
Cyrée Jarelle Johnson is a Black Femme dyke writer, essayist, zinester, and poet. Cyrée Jarelle is committed to relocating Femme culture from margin to center using writing, non-formal education and communal publication. Hir work has appeared in Sprinkle: A Journal of Sexual Diversity Studies, Kush Magazine, and Pink and Black Attack, as well as numerous other zines and publications. Ze is a regular contributor at the blog Elixher.com. Hir collaborative zine project, Femme Dreamboat, addresses concepts of gendered homelands, lesbian patriotism, and feminine fabulosity. Ze remains a crippled Jersey Grrl abroad; in hir swollen feet ze is a wanderer, but hir heart is in the foodcourt at the Woodbridge Mall.
Yandeh Sallah-Muhammed (Manikk Arte) is a multicultural inter-disciplinary musical, visual and performance artist. With a passion for all things beautiful Manikk uses many different methods in expressing thoughts, trials and tribulations. Born in Virginia and raised in The Gambia, West Africa, Manikk recieved an upbringing that truly formed the artist into the person that they are today. Spreading the message of power through the fashion line, Poison Fashion Designs, to their poetry and music, this artist wishes to create and bond the elements of delicate and destructive.
j.D. Stokely graduated from Hampshire College in 2011, where they studied playwriting, directing and applied theatre. They recently helped produce two shows in Brooklyn, NY as a part of an Emerging Artist Mentorship Program with Roots and River Productions, an arts-production company that focuses on emerging queer artists of color. Other projects they've worked on include "There's So Much I Want to Tell You" (actor), "The (Sexual) Liberation of Mammy" (playwright & director), 5-College Multicultural WORD Festival 2010 & 2011 (playwright & director). Stokely worked on an interactive multi-media installation, "Ode to Shalimar", with Petra Floyd as one of Hybridge Arts Collective's first Blueprint Breakout Artists. They are looking forward to forthcoming collaborations with the newly formed Philadelphia Collective of Roots & River.
Tiny (aka Lisa Gray-Garcia) is a poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, lecturer, Indigenous Taino, Roma mama of Tiburcio, daughter of Dee, and the co–founder of POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE/PoorNewsNetwork. She is also the author of Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America, co-editor of A Decolonizers Guide to A Humble Revolution and currently working on her second book- Poverty SkolaShip #101- A PeoplesTeXt-
Jay Toole is a 63 year-old butch identified lesbian who battled addiction for 37 years, during which time she was homeless for 25 years, and often lived on the streets and the NYC shelters. That same year, 1999, at age 50, she completed her GED and began volunteering with The Coalition for the Homeless as a shelter Monitor. In November of 2000 she left the shelter system for her first ever apartment in her own name. Since 2001 she has graduated from The Resource Training Center to become a alcohol and substance abuse counselor with a award and prize for leadership in education, worked part-time as an out-reach worker to the shelter system on recovery issues at the LGBT Community Center. In 2002, she became a founding member of Queers for Economic Justice. In 2004, she was hired as the Shelter Organizer for QEJ. In 2006 she received the Richard L. Schiegel National Legion of Honor Award for Emerging Activist. In that year, she also helped with other organizations get the city to write policy that ensures Transgender folks to self determine what shelter to enter. In 2011, Jay was honored for her service to the queer community by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Email Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sex Workers Outreach Project Philadelphia [SWOP-PHILLY] is a grassroots organization and part of a national network dedicated to improving the lives of current and former sex workers/those with experience in the sex trade in the Philadelphia metro area, on and off of the job. SWOP is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy. SWOP is open to current sex workers, past sex workers and their allies. Check us out: www.swop-philly.com
Lindsay Roth has been working as a community advocate and educator in Philadelphia, PA for several years around issues of reproductive justice and access to health care. Lindsay works as a community educator with Project SAFE, which provides direct services to women working in the sex industry. She is also a HIV Medical Case Manager at the Mazzoni Center, a GLBTQ health clinic. Finally, she serves on the Board of Directors of SWOP-USA (Sex Workers Outreach Project) and co-founded SWOP-Philly, a collective of sex workers and allies committed to ending stigma and violence towards those in the sex trade. Lindsay received her BA from Swarthmore College in 2007
Kahn Miller is a Philly native, sex worker, member of SWOP-Philly, and the Executive Director of Project SAFE, a harm reduction organization for and by women sex workers in the Kensington neighborhood of north Philadelphia. She studies medical sociology with an emphasis on the history of drugs in America and substance-dependent women through a feminist lens.
Kahn and Lindsay met in 2011 and have been hustling, staying out too late, and fighting for the rights of their community ever since.
Youth United for Change (YUC) is a youth-led, democratic organization made up of youth of color and working class communities, with the "people" and political power to hold school officials and government accountable to meeting the educational needs of Philadelphia public school students. This is done through a process of school/community-based organizing where a diverse group of youth come together, identify common concerns in their schools/community and act collectively on their own behalf to create strategies for whole school reforms in the Philadelphia Public School System that better meet the needs of youth of color and working class communities. YUC believes that every young person deserves a quality public education that prepares him or her for success at a 4-year university, for a living wage job, and for active participation in civic life.