In 2020, there was tremendous grief in our communities who are mourning and healing due to COVID-19, state-sanctioned and gender-based violence, and the heartbreaking loss of beloved Black trans women and siblings. Through API Chaya’s Queer Network Program, we saw the compounding impact on our Two Spirit, transgender, non-binary, intersex, sick and disabled, sex workers, parents, QTBIPOC survivors of color residing on Duwamish and Coast Salish land.
We, QTBIPOC, are so precious. We are so sacred. We are interdependent. We are collective care. We are ancestral. We are so worthy of healing. I love you, we love us.
Last year, API Chaya’s Queer Network Program created intentional, collective spaces for healing to honor this profound grief and loss we held as a community. We partnered with Shelagh Brown and Gerard Miller, two beloved Black queer herbalists, to facilitate multiple spaces that spoke to our unique needs and strengths. One was Homegoing – for Black Trans and Queer community in Seattle. Shelagh also facilitated Plant Allies for Resilience and Resistance – Plant Medicine class for QTBIPOC. Further support was given by local plant medicine makers creating and delivering herbal care kits, and food was provided by Taste Tutor for each participant.
In the fall, API Chaya’s RISE! Program, for survivors of sexual violence, and the Queer Network Program organized a Healing Gathering for QTBIPOC with Ignacio G. Rivera of The HEAL Project and Blanca S.Villalobos for a weekend of workshops on reclaiming sexuality and dream work for survivors. This is all part of the work to nurture resilience, growth, and healing for our most impacted community members. We further cultivated a support pod during the pandemic that meets regularly, comprised of five Queer and Trans survivors of color to provide a sense of belonging, share skills, connection and fun in these difficult times.
We further worked to meet the moment of pandemic conditions and issues through skill building, including a series on Decolonizing Non-violent Communication led by meenadchi. This focused on holding ourselves and others with empathy and compassion during times of conflict. We also provided spaces for BIPOC Parent Survivors and Caregivers on Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Harm. This was an intimate space for parent survivors to build community, talk about hopes, fears and dreams of healing as survivors while parenting their children. Understanding how the pandemic intersected with large political moments, we coordinated a workshop on Community, Spirituality and Ritual of Surviving and Thriving to support QTBIPOC after the 2020 Elections, creating space for participants to think about community, spirituality, self-care and healing collectively and individually.
While moving through the waves of grief and loss this past year, our communities continued to deepen care, connection and healing, that QTBIPOC have always cultivated and provided for each other!
The Alphabet Alliance of Color, a project with The Queer Network Program, celebrated the launch of The Alphabet Leadership Institute in 2020 – a Leadership and Mentorship program for Two-Spirit, QTBIPOC in Seattle and King County! The leadership program continued to meet virtually throughout the pandemic creating more connection and community for QTBIPOC.
AAoC also practices mutual aid through their QTBIPOC Support Fund to support mental health, medication, surgery and transportation costs for queer and trans BIPOC Seattle community. In partnership with the Seattle Public Library, AAoC created an Intergenerational Pen Pal program where QTBIPOC artists designed stationeries that were provided to QTBIPOC pen pals! AAoC continues their COVID-19 Community Care Workshops that create collective spaces to talk about care webs, pod mapping, collective living, communal support, COVID-19 Vaccine, recovery, and COVID-19’s impact on incarcerated folks. Gratitude to Fox Hampton and Karissa Masciel, AAoC Program Coordinators, Lulu Carpenter and the lovely facilitators who made these workshops possible.
I invite you to dedicate, support, and give to Trans and Queer BIPOC led organizations, collectives and individuals in Seattle, King County and beyond today!
In loving memory of Constance Blakeley our beloved sister, best friend, keeper of secrets, shit talker extraordinaire and Core Member of TWOCSN.
Art by Lourdez Velasco in memory of Constance Blakely, a Black Trans Woman and dear friend. The image is digital drawing of Constance adorned with a flower crown and a red mask that says “Taking Black Pride” with a quote by Constance “To empower another, is to empower yourself. To celebrate another, is to celebrate yourself. And to free another is to free yourself. I say empower, celebrate, and free them all. – The Universe” – You are our Universe, Constance.”