2012 Femme Conference takes over Baltimore this weekend
Starting today Femmes are taking over Charm City for the weekend for the 2012 FEMME CONFERENCE.
The bi-annual gathering—which began in 2006—brings together several hundred queer femmes and allies from all over the U.S. as well as Canada and Europe. The three-day long event features over 40 workshops, performers, a film festival, an art show, and keynote speeches by filmmaker Prathiba Parmar and artist Nomy Lamm (pictured above), just to name a few highlights.
"The purpose of this conference is to showcase cultural works by and about a very diverse selection of femme community members," says Damien Luxe, the co-chair of the Media Committee and one of the heads of the design "department." Luxe has been attending the conference ever since the start and has been working with Femme Collective, the group responsible for making it happen, since 2009 in preparation for the 2010 festival.
Though it's called the Femme Conference, Luxe says "LGBTQQAI* people of all genders, ages, abilities, races, and sizes are welcomed!" She continues, "There are definitely folks who are not 'women' who organize, present, perform, and attend. There are also non "gay/queer" folks who attend, who embrace the power of femme as a part of their identity." Luxe, who's a designer by day also considers herself a "radical technologist and communications diva."
It's important to note that Femme is not just about gender. Broken down, the Femme Identity is at an "intersection of sex, gender, sexuality, embodiment, and power," explains Luxe. This conference creates a space where Femme is celebrated and a dialogue is created. It also helps build community for people whose “identities and work are central to their existence, survival, resilience,” and it strengthens the queer community.
“Cultural development and resistance is not only a hot topic in arts, academia, and political circles—it's a reality, which marginalized groups create. The 2012 Femme Conference looks at the intersections of femme identity with race, class, the political landscape, healing justice, work to end the prison-industrial complex, survivor support, and more,” says Luxe on why people should attend. “Anyone interested in political or cultural movements will find workshops and performances that reverberate with them at this conference. As well, anyone interested in queer communities will find a vibrant and welcoming community at the conference.”
In it's fourth iteration, the conference was started by a small group of femmes who wanted a place that would "address their lives, their experiences, and the powerful activities of their communities," explains Luxe. Today it's run by core collective of 14 people plus a committee of organizers, volunteer presenters and performers. For now it's only put on in the U.S. though it has an international attendance sheet. The next one will take place in the summer of 2014.
After Friday's conference there will a performance of spoken word: FemmeSpeak, and Saturday night's event is FemmesWERQ, a cabaret that explores burlesque, drag, theatre, puppetry, and circus arts with a critical femme eye. The Ottobar hosts the femmes both nights, doors open at 7 and cost $15 for non-conference attendees. Femme folks, femme-questioning folks, and allies are invited.
To view a schedule and a list of performers and speakers, visit the website!