Women of color hold grassroots gathering

Women of color hold grassroots gathering

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More than 100 women from across the country will gather in Philadelphia next weekend for a conference that seeks to engage and empower sexual-minority women of color.

The LGBTQ Womyn of Color Conference, April 3-4, will fuse both entertainment and education to forge connections among the community.

The grassroots effort developed through the collaboration of a small group of local women last summer.

“We were hearing this constant conversation about this particular community being in need of some type of healing or release or forum in which women can talk about the experiences they’re having and get advice from each other or outside sources,” said Shayna Israel, an event organizer.

Organizer Fatimah Muhammad said the planning process was fueled by the contributions of the community members.

“What’s so powerful about this process is that these are women who aren’t necessarily a part of LGBTQ organizations, but are largely volunteers and professionals in many different fields,” she said. “They’re artists and activists who have a pulse on what is happening in the community.”

The conference, whose theme is “Breathing Fire: Channeling the Power Within,” will draw participants from both the East and West Coasts, the South and even as far as the West Indies.

Soda Nobuhle, president of The Womyn’s Village, a local organization for sexual-minority women of color, said she was impressed by the determination of the organizers.

“These are young women, powerful women wanting to talk about some of the disparities in the community,” she said. “And it’s going to happen in a way that’s natural for women, this natural gathering, and it will be emphasized around arts and culture.”

The opening-night festivities, 5-10 p.m. April 3 at the Christ Church Theater, 20 N. American St., will feature out poet and author Staceyann Chin, who will read from her new memoir, “The Other Side of Paradise,” as well as performances by female hip-hop group 3XLadyCrew and the Nzinga Arts Collective.

From 10 a.m.-5 p.m. the following day, participants will gather at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., to take part in a series of workshops on relationships, sexual practices, spirituality and body/health topics.

For more information, visit www.firetickets.eventbrite.com.

— Jen Colletta

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