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"Working Our Way Home:
'We are the people we've been waiting for'"

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Burnin' Closets 2001: A Blaqueer Conference

As Black Queer student organizers on this campus, we have noticed many deafening silences within many different communities—one of those silent voices belongs to the Black Queer community. We have all realized that no one will speak for us but us. It is out of this thinking that the idea to host a BlaQueer Conference came about. This conference was held at Oberlin College on November 1 through November 3, 2001, the first weekend after Fall Break.
There are countless issues within our community that need to be discussed and addressed. BURNING CLOSETS will cover a broad range of issues—everything from homosexuality in the Black church to Queer women in prison, to homosexuality in Africa and hate crimes. We aim to utilize this conference as an educational tool to inform not only the Black Queer community, but also larger communities about these issues, as they affect not only queer people, but also their families, friends and those within the community they live. We want to create safe spaces within which to address these issues honestly and within which people can come to hear, see and discuss issues that relate to them and are about them.

As Black Queer people, we spend so much of our lives in the shadows of other communities, whether it be the predominantly straight culture of America, the alleged heterosexuality of most of the Black community or the mostly white culture of the U.S. LGBTU community. For this conference, however, we are creating, naming and defining our space for ourselves. We welcome and expect cross-cultural dialogue between different communities to further ourselves intellectually and politically.

This conference is being put on by Blackspeak Productions, an education through entertainment arm of Abusua. Several ZAMI and Abusua members are already involved in the organizing of this conference. This is going to be a coalition between organizations and communities. One of the most unique aspects of this conference is not only its content, but who will be delivering the content--students will facilitate most of the workshops because we know that we can get through to our peers and we want to engage our peers in a way that we know will be the most successful.

Truly,
The BlaQueer Conference Committee
Kimbery Bryant
Yvonne Etaghene
Jason Tompkins


BLAQUEER CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS

Thursday, November 1, 2001
4:30pm: Homosexualities in the African Diaspora/Facilitator: Yvonne O. Etaghene @ Lord Lounge
8pm: My Mama Didn’t Feed Me No Gender Rolls (Poetry SLAM) @ Lord Lounge
9:30pm: “Blind Faith” screening (by Ernest Dickerson, a suspensful courtroom drama; Black queer man on trial for murder) @ Third World Lounge

Friday, November 2, 2001
4:30pm: “Tongues Untied” screening @ Wilder 101
8pm: “Stranger Inside” (by Cheryl Dunye about Black dykes in prison) @ Saunders Lounge
10pm: “Living With Pride” screening (documentary on oldest known living
Black American lesbian) @ Wilder 101

Saturday, November 3, 2001
1pm: Gitchagitchagitchafreakon: Safer Sex for All / Facilitator: Kimberly Bryant @ Wilder 112
3pm: A Spirit of Fear: Sexuality & Silence in the Black Church/ Facilitator: Jason Tompkins @ Wilder 101
5pm: Who's Hatin' (on) Who? Overlapping Oppressions and Pop Culture Placements/Panel Discussion @ Wilder 101
10pm: D/DC Hip Hop Concert @ Third World House (100 Forest St.)
12am: BlackOUT Ball After Party (WHAT! hip-hop, butch, femme, trans, drag. ALL welcome) @ the Cat N Cream (180 Lorain St.)

The student organizers of Working Our Way Home were inspired by the students who came before us and the amazing work they did organizing in 2001.  It is because of your work that we can now do ours.  Thank You!

Working_Our_Way_Home@yahoo.com / 440-775-6466