Every year August predictably brings us additional heat and humidity. (And with that, more swimming! I swam three times this week!) This year in particular, however, August brings us a unique gift – Femme Conference 2012: Pulling Together the Pieces. An exciting gathering that occurs only once every two years, I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the organizers announced the Femme Conference would be held in Baltimore this year.
Go check out www.femme2012.com real quick, bookmark it, and then come back to find out why I think you should attend. Why I think this is such a special opportunity gifted us. And why we need to support it.
The organizers of the Femme Conference have been working tirelessly on getting this gig together. I cannot express how much I appreciate them taking on this stressful and rewarding job – it’s the type of work that I used to love to do but can no longer and so I’m endlessly grateful to them for making this happen.
August 17th through the 19th will be jam-packed with so many amazing activities, it will be difficult to choose what to attend. Workshops run the gamut from topics like confronting racism and colonialism in femme communities to the fine art of dirty talk, from trans-misogyny to cabaret costuming (co-presented by the transcendent Ms. Vagina Jenkins who graced Durham with her saucy burlesque wiles on the Femme Body Heat Tour). There’ll be vendors hocking their one-of-a-kind creative goods, sex toys, and plenty of other fun stuff. Nomy Lamm and Pratibha Parmar will give keynote speeches. There will even be a play party at The Play House (that I’ll be co-hostessing with four other fantastic folks – and should you be nervous or shy to attend, we’ll be on hand the entire night to put you at ease, help hook you up with potential play partners, and make sure everyone is having fun). Durham’s own Fran Varian (talented writer, head of the hella pretty lyme fighting army, and all-around badass femme) will be performing Friday night at FemmeSPEAK, the literary showcase. And too many amazing names to mention will be gracing the stage at the cabaret performance, FemmeWERQ, on Saturday night. My head is already spinning with the possibilities!
More than anything, the Femme Conference is a treasured opportunity to bridge our communities. It brings us together for love and support while we do important work to learn, grow, discuss multifaceted issues, and further our many causes. It’s a rare day for femmes to gather in a safe space where we can all see each other, be seen and acknowledged for who we are by our supporters, and do this exciting work.
The conference is open to all members of our communities – you need not identify with any particular label in order to attend. Or perhaps you’re questioning what it means to be femme – what a more perfect venue than this in which to find out? I’ve encountered many folks lately who’ve been wary of the label “femme” simply because they feel as though their version of femme or their gender expression does not fit neatly in that box. I’m here to tell you that femme is a far-reaching (and welcoming) umbrella that has endless incarnations of gender expression and identity. There are workshops at the Femme Conference for trans femmes, femmes of color, indigenous and two-spirit femmes, fat femmes, working class femmes, disabled femmes, non-female femmes, and femme survivors, in addition to those geared toward more masculine-identified folks, transmen, and non-binary folks. Whether or not you identify as femme, you are welcome to attend. Many butches, trans folks, and other community members who don’t care to label themselves will also be in attendance. I think the most important qualifier is that you have an appreciation for femmes and respect for femme identity.
Because the Femme Conference is located on the East Coast for the first time ever, I feel it’s especially important for us to support it. In doing so, we let organizers of queer tours, conferences, and other events know that we want more of this kind of thing in our neck of the woods. Our support sends the message that the South in particular (a severely underserved region by touring queers) is hungry for more, that we want to bring them here, and that we’ll put our support behind it. Baltimore is a pretty accessible drive for most of us in the Triangle (only five hours away, depending on traffic) and even sans such a fantastic conference, it’s a fun and quirky city to visit.
So register today! Talk your friends into going along and make it a road-trip adventure! Or go to www.femme2012.com and post on the rideshare board to find other folks who want to carpool. (They also have a housing forum if you can’t afford a hotel and need a place to stay.) Who knows when such a unique queer event will be happening so close to us again? Let’s take advantage of this chance and make North Carolina a presence at Femme Con 2012!
In lust, love, and all things woo,
Column originally published in The Triangle on August 1, 2012.