Building Community Among Queer Women of Color

The idea to build a community for queer women of color (QWOC) on the UMBC campus stemmed from the sharing of similar experiences of feeling alone at the intersection of our race, gender, and sexuality. We began to rant about the lack of community, or lack of visible community, for queer women of color, specifically black women. Through our initial discussion we also uncovered that when dealing with student organizations that cater to only one part of your identity, left room for one to have to interact with people who did not accept the other parts of your identity, such as sexuality. The frustration of not having having a community that caters to our marginalized demographic led us to call to action.

Our goal was to facilitate a starting point to have a safe space for women of color in the LGBT community at UMBC. We thought it was beneficial to create a space for queer women of color to share our experiences, problems, and successes. We decided discussion-based event would benefit our long term goals of building a sense familial community, as well as attract more QWOC students for attendance.

To create our event, we sought out support from several existing student organizations that would have queer women of color in their populations or have a commitment for equality and diversity. The Women’s Center at UMBC agreed to initially allow us to use their space and time that is reserved for their weekly meeting called Between Women. The meeting is used to discuss various topic concerning women in the LGBTQ community.

We also realized we needed to advertise our event heavily to make sure that any QWOC that was interested in our initiative would have the opportunity to attend our discussion and voice their concerns about our community on campus. Due to a lapse in communication between group members, we did not get our flyers printed and distributed in the desired amount of time. However, we advertised our event on social media, in various student organization group chats, and verbally in various student organizations such as the LGBTQ Student Union.

Our discussion was held on April 22nd, 2019 at 3:30 PM in the Women’s Center’s common room. As we were supposed to used the time slot reserved for Between Women at 4:30 PM, it was spontaneously decided that our discussion would occur and hour before their scheduled discussion. We had a moderate number of student attend, more than we expected due to our lack of advertising. We used a fun slideshow to display our questions to the group. The question topics ranged from QWOC representation in media to stereotypes of QWOC. We also had an activity that displayed the diversity amongst the attendees.

During our discussion, we learned that our negative experiences in life as well as with other student organizations was almost universal being QWOC. We also learned that students who are QWOC would like to have more QWOC faculty and staff for representation. It was also mentioned that there needs to be a clear communication channel to address concerns like ours to the appropriate staff members. We considered our event a success.

During this project, we discovered that by simply putting a little effort toward fixing an issue is considered activism. We also learned that activism does not necessarily require academic merit, but it does require passion and copious amounts of communication between parties. It also requires other interpersonal skills such as active listening and dependability. Overall, we learned, that with the right cause, there is a little sense of activism in all of us.

Mental Health in the LGBTQ+ Community

Hannah Wilcove and Callie VanAntwerp

For our project, we made a zine focusing on the how mental illness affects the LGBTQ+ community. Initially, we hoped to make and distribute copies of the zine around UMBC’s campus, but due to time and logistical constraints, we switched to uploading and posting it digitally (a few excerpts of it are featured below). In either case, the zine’s focus on intersectionality is very important because LGBTQ+ individuals face significantly higher rates of mental illness than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Therefore, we found it especially important to provide resources for members of this community, particularly individuals at UMBC. Continue reading

Our Truth

our truth

Shira and I both became interested in this project since we have both recently come to terms with our Jewish identities and being queer women.

Shira and I created this reader to be a compilation of different teens and adults that identify as both LGBTQIA+ and Jewish. This reader includes testaments from people in various areas in the U.S., a wide age range, and people with religious background that range from Orthodox to Reform Judaism.

The purpose of this reader is to help individuals grow and learn with their Jewish and queer identities just as Shira and I have.

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Activism With my Daughter – LGBTQIA Allies

Activism With my Daughter – LGBTQIA Allies

I had the pleasure of doing my activist project with my teen daughter, Valhalla. As a queer family, we knew we wanted to do a project that would in some way help out the LGBTQ people in our community. Our plan became more focused when we were
approached by a mother who’s teen daughter had come out and was bullied so badly in her school that she attempted suicide.Talking to this mother inspired us to do a project directed at LGBTQ youth. Continue reading

Keeping Maryland Fair: Transgender Activism

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act was an anti-discrimination bill proposed in 2014. The bill aimed to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in terms of housing, employment, credit, and public accommodations, meaning services and/or employment could not be denied based on a person’s gender identity. Though sexual orientation had been protected under anti-discriminatory laws since 2001, Continue reading

Activism and its Influence on My Career Path

downloadIt seems cliché to say that I never thought I would have an impact on the youth of my community, especially as a teenager myself. When I came out as queer in the spring of my sophomore year in high school, my (thankfully accepting) mother asked me if I wanted to go to a “support group” of sorts. Desperate to meet other LGBTQIA people my age and to wax and wane about the struggles that came with being openly out in the microcosmic world of high school, I vehemently agreed. This group, the Rainbow Youth Alliance, met during the weekly meetings of the Columbia chapter of PFLAG, or the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. As I continued to attend these meetings, I came to realize how many teens made the half-hour trek from the Towson area, a particularly difficult task if one did not have a car and/or accepting parents. Since I also made this trip every Tuesday, I decided to do something about it.

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