Queer Women of Color Community Statement
QWOCMAP prioritizes queer women of color in our work, including our Filmmaker Training Program and our annual Queer Women of Color Film Festival. We serve this community first and foremost and honor its dynamism and constant growth. We recognize the important role our allies play in supporting our community and in celebrating the incredible work of our QWOCMAP Filmmakers. We welcome our supporters to attend all events and screenings during our Queer Women of Color Film Festival.
If you are a queer woman of color, we kindly ask that you prioritize yourself by arriving to Film Festival events early. Our highly popular and free screenings usually fill to capacity, in which case we must turn away those who arrive late. We strictly adhere to our first-come-first-serve policy as a fair and equal system of admission and we diligently observe the YBCA Center’s fire safety codes so that we can continue to enjoy this fine venue in the future. Our greatest desire is to see you at the Film Festival, after all, YOU are what QWOCMAP’s programming is all about! Please value your own time and get to the theater early. These sexy, kick-ass films are truly worth it.
Genderqueer & Transgender Communities of Color
QWOCMAP stands in solidarity with transgender, gender queer, two-spirit, gender nonconforming, intersex and queer people of color. We are resolute in our commitment to all members of our multi-faceted, vibrant communities in fighting oppression through art and activism. We are dedicated to the creation, exhibition and distribution of films that explore the dynamic experiences of all gender identities and gender expressions. We work in collaboration to face common challenges and collectively honor all of the groundbreaking artistic, cultural, spiritual, and political work that continues to expand and influence radical change and social justice.
Transgender, genderqueer, two-spirit, gender nonconforming and intersex queer people of color are welcome and included in our Filmmaker Training Program. In 2005, we conducted a Filmmaker Training Program workshop specifically dedicated to queer people of color on the Butch-FTM spectrum and we showcased these films at our Queer Women of Color Film Festival. In Fall 2010 we offered a workshop focused on Gender & Gender identity and Sex, Sexism & Sexuality. In 2012, transgender women of color and transgender men of color filmmakers created 25% of all of the films in our Film Festival.
QWOCMAP’s community of Filmmakers, Board, Staff, Volunteers and Community Partners, relies on the leadership of gender non-conforming, genderqueer and transgender people of color just as our social justice movements need the voices and visions of our sisters, brothers and sisters. We are committed to forging partnerships in the spirit of community growth, cross-pollination and social justice.
Understanding that low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately bear the burden of environmental pollution and injustice, QWOCMAP’s goal is zero waste. As we grow, we continue our steadfast commitment to sustainable and earth-friendly practices by recycling and composting for the duration of our three-day Queer Women of Color Film Festival. We provide compostable utensils, cups, plates and napkins so that we can move toward zero waste. For the past four years, we have maintained an average of 97% diversion rate. Please help us uphold our commitment to a sustainable and healthy environment by following disposal protocols at Film Festival events.
We believe that food nourishes both the body and the soul. In celebration of the vital role that food plays in our communities, cultures, and histories, we offer a free reception of delectable delights before each screening. We honor the sacredness of food at our events and screenings by paying special attention to food quality and collaborating with supportive local vendors who donate to the Film Festival. We provide as great of a variety as we can, including vegetarian, vegan and wheat-free options whenever possible. Throughout history, our communities have developed recipes using a variety of ingredients to create dishes that would sustain us. We acknowledge the history of these foods, and though we may substitute components that are now deemed “healthier,” we accept our traditional foods as vital to our cultural heritage and memories.
We honor bodies of all shapes, sizes and abilities. We work diligently to accommodate the diverse and significant needs that exist in our communities. We value healing, health and wellness in our communities. QWOCMAP strives to create vibrant, multi-faceted and inclusive events. As we cannot anticipate all needs, we encourage audience and community members to contact us at least two weeks in advance of any particular event with specific requests. We will do all that we can to create welcoming, respectful and fantastic spaces for everyone to enjoy.
Healthy at Every Size
QWOCMAP believes that we can be healthy at every size. QWOCMAP focuses on the overall well-being of our community and knows that good health is achieved independent of size. Therefore, we think about pleasurable activities, self-acceptance and eating food that is good for us and good to us.
QWOCMAP strives to end body policing based on race & ethnicity, gender presentation, ability and size. Sizism and fatphobia take a toll on our mental and physical health. It has resulted in oppression, self-hatred and preoccupation with food and our bodies and those of others. It means people of all sizes are not at peace with their bodies. We do not engage in the body shaming of fat people.
We support all people in addressing health by adopting healthy behaviors. The best ways to improve the health of our communities is to honor all of our bodies. We encourage our allies to accept and respect the natural diversity of body types, shapes and sizes. We encourage us all to find the joy in moving our bodies in the ways that we can, to increase our vitality.
The QWOCMAP community encompasses people with disabilities and chronic illnesses on our Staff, Board, Festival Team, Volunteers, Community Partners and Filmmakers. We acknowledge that ending ableism is an ongoing process. Therefore, we provide seating for those who need to sit rather than stand for long periods or need to be seated inside. If this is you, please make your way to the front doors and communicate with our Safety Crew.
We respect community members who are environmentally at-risk and sensitive to strong chemicals and scents by using earth-friendly cleaning supplies and avoiding strong fragrances. Please help us by avoiding scented-products (perfumes, laundry soap, fragranced body products) and leaving your pets (except service animals) at home. For those who, like us, have severe chemical sensitivities, we have a scent-free section in our theater. Community members with service animals are seated in a different section so as not to prompt allergies.
Currently, QWOCMAP provides ASL interpretation for films that are subtitled and for Panel Discussions. QWOCMAP is hard at work to find funding so that we can caption all of our films for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. When we do this, we will provide ASL interpretation for all of our opening remarks and Q&A sessions. We will also offer visual description for the blind as we are able to do so. We strive to make the Film Festival accessible and welcoming to all who want to come. Please bear with us as we work on bringing the films to you!
To our beloved QWOCMAP Community,
QWOCMAP serves multiple communities that have experienced direct trauma as queer women of color and transgender people of color. As we embody the intersections of identity, issues and community, we are also survivors of multi-generational trauma brought on by histories of racism, sexism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, sizism, ageism, classism and other forms of oppression. As artists-activists who work within and for our communities, we also recognize that many of us experience secondary trauma as we bear witness to the direct trauma experienced by our family, friends and allies around the world.
QWOCMAP advocates for the creativity, leadership and empowerment of our communities. We encourage all of us to think about our true needs and to make decisions that allow us to heal. Therefore, we support people in doing what makes them feel comfortable and safe.
As artist-activists, crisis counselors and survivors of violence ourselves, QWOCMAP supports our community to create safety plans addresses emotional triggers and provides space for healing in ways that honor their feelings, experiences and agency.
At the Queer Women of Color Film Festival, our Safety and Self-Care Crews, as well as volunteer crisis counselors from San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR), are committed to assist audience members so that they can attend and enjoy the Film Festival in peace, comfort and joyful celebration that is respectful of everyone.
As survivors of violence and trauma, as well as advocates for our communities, QWOCMAP recognizes that there is more than one type or form of justice. To depend on the criminal legal system for justice sends a message that the state, institutions and policy are not responsible for the violence we experience and witness. QWOCMAP believes that we must define what justice is for ourselves, and work with our communities to achieve it. Therefore, QWOCMAP is committed to transformative justice that allows us to develop alternatives for safety, support, healing and accountability from violence within our communities.
QWOCMAP understands that there are times when it is necessary to call the police to intervene. However, law enforcement often escalates, facilitates and perpetrates violence against our communities. We believe that police involvement in our communities causes serious harm and makes our community less safe. Therefore, we believe that it is important to have strategies that provide safety for survivors of violence that do not involve the police.
If attending our Queer Women of Color Film Festival potentially poses a heightened level of fear and emotional triggers for survivors of violence, where they may feel the need to call for law enforcement in order to feel safe, we ask that they refrain from subjecting themselves to such risk. QWOCMAP believes that it is best for their healing, and the protection of our entire community, not to attend our Film Festival. We ask that our community members contract with QWOCMAP in a way that is in keeping with our values around healing for survivors and transformative justice.
QWOCMAP strives to make the Queer Women of Color Film Festival as warm, welcoming, comfortable and as safe as we possibly can for everyone. Therefore, we are deeply concerned by the call for us to ban certain people from attending the Queer Women of Color Film Festival. We do not have the resources nor the capacity to address all of the harms that happen outside of the space that we create inside the Film Festival.
It is very challenging for us as an organization to be called on to serve as police, judge and jury for situations involving our community members. We do not support the retributive/punishing nature of the criminal “justice” system as it stands, nor do we wish to bring that system into the spaces that we create together.
For us, calling law enforcement into the Queer Women of Color Film Festival compromises the safety of our entire community by creating more fear, trauma and pain. Additionally, we do not wish to create a situation in which our Safety & Self-Care Crews, our Festival Team, QWOCMAP Staff or volunteers are called to act as police against our community and within the context of our programs. This is difficult for these loving community members who work so hard to welcome the rest of us into a celebration of who we are.
While we do not have the resources to act as mediators, we work hard to address any needs that are brought to our attention by community members and we take that feedback to make the Film Festival better every year. We are more than willing to ask our Community Partners to support us all in developing models of community accountability.
Process for Creating Safety
QWOCMAP’s goal is to create safety at our Queer Women of Color Film Festival through means including crisis counseling and conflict resolution.
Our Safety Crew will respond accordingly to any problems, conflicts and/or altercations that may arise, always working from a philosophy of de-escalation and efficiency to create safe spaces.
Our Self-Care Crew will work with the support of our Community Partner SFWAR, who will have their volunteer crisis counselors and staff members on site at the Novellus Theater. At any time, audience members who may feel emotionally triggered may communicate approach the Front Desk, who will connect them with crisis counselors for short-term support.
Designated Festival Team members will work with SFWAR and CUAV, to assess any given situation and make the determination as to whether the police should be called. We believe that police presence will disrupt our Film Festival, and should an audience member disregard our contract and involve law enforcement without our knowledge or consent, we will negotiate with officers outside of the theater to find a resolution.
We are more than happy to assist in figuring out a safety plan within our community that utilizes alternative means for creating safety. If we can offer additional support within the resources that we have available or if audience members need specific support around being a survivor of interpersonal or state violence, please reach out to SFWAR and CUAV.
QWOCMAP believes that in order to effectively advance social justice in communities that our movements aim to serve, the people doing the work must have the space and the resources to take care of themselves. They must also have the support to acknowledge the impact of oppression and traumas, which queer women of color and trans people of color face on a daily basis, has on our wellbeing. QWOCMAP is committed to the wellness and self-care of our Festival Team Members, volunteers and audiences. We strive to provide resources and to ensure that all have access to this space during the Film Festival.
Self-Care when Triggered
Adapted from CUAV’s work specifically for the needs of the Queer Women of Color Film Festival
The films shown in Film Festival, as well as its environment and the individuals and communities that attend, might trigger some hard feelings for us as survivors of trauma. QWOCMAP honors that many of us might be healing from trauma, violence, or abusive or hard relationships. We want to remind all of us that the feelings that arise from these factors are completely normal, and yours to experience in safe and healthy ways.
We encourage all Festival Team Members and volunteers to do these things to promote safe and healthy experiences:
- Listen to your needs: maybe you need to not see something, take a walk, do some journaling, ask for a hug, go home; it’s all OK and we respect your taking care of yourself.
- Drink a lot of water: it physically helps us move out toxins and chemicals that get released when we are triggered and it replenishes our bodies.
- Reach out: ask for a break, text or call a friend, sometimes telling someone that you love them or letting them know you are having a hard time is enough to remember we are not alone.
- Rest and eat before coming to your shift: it is easier to identify and address your emotional needs when your basic, physical needs have been fulfilled.
- Understand and have ownership over personal boundaries and limitations: please do not sign up for more shifts than you can reasonably handle. Please do not sign up to be a member of a Crew where you think your personal boundaries and limitations might be challenged (ie. If you are trying to maintain a sober lifestyle, please acknowledge that volunteering for the BAR Crew might compromise your sobriety). As Festival Team Members and key volunteers, we have a personal responsibility of being accountable to our own boundaries, limitations and needs.
In addition, we invite you to remember that:
- Connect with your RESILIENCE! Being a Festival Team member, a volunteer and the audience of a Film Festival that honors our stories of survival and resistance is a beautiful example of how fierce and resilient you are, and how celebratory and healing it can be to come together.
- Be GENTLE with yourself. There are all kinds of feelings that arise when we are healing, so it makes sense to have mixed emotions. We invite you to remind yourself that the feelings will pass and that you are doing the best that you can.
- Seek SUPPORT. There are many ways to feel supported, and you get to define what that means for you. If you some assistance in thinking through what you need, please speak with Self-Care Crew or one of the volunteer crisis counselors at the Film Festival. You can also reach out to SFWAR (415-647-7273) or CUAV (415-333-4357).