Blog Posts for Arts Spaces for Queer BIPOC During COVID

Arts Spaces for Queer BIPOC during COVID: The Sound of Change

Posted by Cedeem Gumbs, May 19, 2021 0 comments

In the wake of a global pandemic, it is almost universally understood that there are innumerable factors from the past year that have made it difficult to indulge in our favorite art forms. These challenges also have highlighted inequities in the arts sector that can no longer be ignored. In the face of these inequities, artists have begun prioritizing their platform to combat these barriers and to help change the arts sector for the better. The Color of Music Collective, or COMC, is an example of a group of artists/arts patrons who are aware of these inequities and, in turn, seek to use their online platform to engage and dismantle inequitable systems in the music industry. When asked about the origins of the Color of Music Collective, Mia Van Allen, the founder of COMC, recalled her experience as an intern working in the music industry: “As a woman of color working in the (field) it was difficult to find representation.” This experience laid the groundwork for the birth of the collective. COMC is a new organization that developed last year during the pandemic—thus their experience as a collective is unique in that their programs have always been virtual with the intent of remaining as accessible as possible.

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Arts Spaces for Queer BIPOC During COVID: The Show Must Go On

Posted by Cedeem Gumbs, Apr 28, 2021 0 comments

For queer-BIPOC identifying individuals, the endless and unique intersections of one’s identities can make it difficult to find yourself authentically represented in the arts. Working to carve out space for marginalized queer artists, The National Queer Theatre (NQT) elevates those who have been historically, and continue to be, underrepresented in the theater field. The NQT houses a unique initiative known as the Criminal Queerness Initiative (CQI), which focuses on highlighting the narratives of queer identifying international and immigrant playwrights—specifically, the censorship or criminalization they may face within their countries. The efforts of the artists are then celebrated in a culminating event, the Criminal Queerness Festival (CQF). In addition, they host the Criminal Queerness Lab: a (virtual) residency that seeks to elevate playwrights on an international scale by providing rigorous support in the writing and production of new work. I had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Odsess-Rubin, founder of the National Queer Theatre and the Criminal Queerness Initiative, about the initiative’s origins and the importance of conversation surrounding the varying degrees of censorship queer-identifying individuals encounter on an international scale.

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Arts Spaces for Queer BIPOC During COVID: Paris Has Burned

Posted by Cedeem Gumbs, Mar 15, 2021 0 comments

Community as a concept is understood universally; in function its possibilities are inherently dynamic. However, community becomes a necessity when it supersedes formation through common interests and is developed by way of shared experiences. For some queer individuals, and specifically ones of color, the ballroom scene is an example of a community formed through the need to have a space where everyone understands each other through shared experience. In interviewing Noelle Deleon, a Black trans woman from Texas, we are allowed insight into the ballroom community that she recently found herself a part of. When asked about the importance of ballroom she says, “It's where queer men and trans women can go to be free. There is an absence of the influence and presence of people who don’t understand us.” However, there is an elephant in the (ball)room, and that is COVID-19. What happens to trans women when it is no longer safe to host these grand balls with hundreds of other people in the room? 

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