Keynote Speakers

Cherríe L. Moraga

Cherrie Portrait

Cherríe L. Moraga is playwright, poet, and essayist whose plays and publications have received national recognition, including a TCG Theatre Artist Residency Grant, the NEA’s Theatre Playwrights’ Fellowship, and two Fund for New American Plays Awards. In 2007, she was awarded the United States Artist Rockefeller Fellowship for Literature.

Moraga is the co-editor of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, which won the Before Columbus American Book Award in 1986. In 2011, Duke University Press published her most recent non-fiction collection, A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings 2000-2010. She is also the author of the now classic Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pasó Por Sus Labios (1983/2003) and The Last Generation (1993), published by South End Press of Cambridge, MA. In 1997, she published a memoir on motherhood entitled Waiting in the Wings (Firebrand Books) and is presently completing a memoir on the subject of Mexican American cultural amnesia entitled Send Them Flying Home: A Geography of Remembrance. Moraga has also published three volumes of drama through West End Press of Albuquerque, New Mexico. They include: Heroes and Saints and Other Plays (1994), Watsonville/Circle in the Dirt (2002), and The Hungry Woman (2001). In Fall 2012, West End will publish a new volume of Moraga’s plays, including: Digging Up the Dirt and New Fire: To Put Things Right Again.

A San Francisco Bay Area playwright, Moraga has premiered and developed her work at theatres throughout San Francisco. Brava’s production of “Heroes and Saints” in 1992 received numerous awards for best original script, including the Drama-logue and Critic Circles Awards and the Pen West Award. Her plays have also been presented throughout the Southwest, as well as in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and New York. In 1995, “Heart of the Earth,” Moraga’s adaptation of the Popol Vuh, the Maya creation myth, opened at the Public Theatre and INTAR Theatre in New York City. Her most recent play, NEW FIRE—To Put Things Right Again, a collaboration with visual artist, Celia Herrera Rodríguez, had its world premiere at Brava Theater Center in San Francisco in January 2012. A co-production with cihuatl productions, the play was witnessed by over 3,000 people in its 10-day run.

For fifteen years, Moraga has served as an Artist in Residence in the Department of Drama at Stanford University and currently also shares a joint appointment with Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. She teaches Creative Writing, Chicano/Latino and Indigenous Studies, and Playwriting.

Cherrie Moraga is a founder and associate artist with cihuatl productions, a cultural arts organization centered in queer and Xicana-Indigenous aesthetics and social justice values. She is also an active member of La Red Xicana Indígena, an advocacy network of Xicanas working in education, the arts, and international organizing. She calls Oakland, California, home.

Jay Toole a.k.a. Super Butch

jay for butch voices

Born in 1948, Jay Toole grew up in an Irish Catholic home in the South Bronx during the 1950’s. At the age of 13, Jay returned home with the classic butch haircut of the day, a flat top. Her father threw her out immediately, with no one and nowhere to turn. For the next 8 years she lived on a park bench in Washington Square Park, a unique viewing perspective for the evolution of the 1960’s in the West Village. Ultimately she did not get off the streets or have an apartment to call her own until November 2000. She spent the five years prior navigating the NYC homeless shelter system. During her time on the streets she was arrested for crimes such as sleeping on a subway bench, sexual deviancy resulting from not wearing 3 articles of women’s clothing and much more. Jay was also beaten and abused by the NYPD regularly; she has visible scars on her leg to this day. She became addicted to drugs and alcohol as the only coping method available. Jay identifies the one reason she made her way out of the shelter system being the assistance of a few supportive queer individuals from the outside.

It’s precisely this kind of hands-on support that led Jay in 2002 to become a Co-Founder and the Shelter Director at Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), a progressive non-profit org. committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation. From 2002-2012 Jay spearheaded movements at QEJ, which resulted in 2 written policy changes at the Dept. of Homeless Services (DHS) and the City of New York. In January of 2006 transgender folks were ensured the right to self determine which side (male/female) of the shelter system to enter. In 2007 a policy was created for homeless queer families to be housed and sheltered together. These policies continue to be honored today. Because of Jay’s work QEJ became the first and only LGBTQ organization to facilitate support groups for queer individuals inside the shelter system. Doors are open in these support groups regardless of gender identity, legal or immigration issues, mental or physical health needs, or substance abuse.

Jay began a new chapter in 2012, moving forward with her long time dream of Jay’s House. Currently she is working alongside her team to create the very first LGBTQ adult shelter in the country. Jay’s House will bring together a resource center, support and services, housing, follow up care, skill shares, mentorships and hold hands as people move through difficult systems, such as health care.

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Jay speaks about her life and experiences in NYC as a queer homeless person in her 1 butch show The Rodent Monologues. Jay has presented at colleges and universities across the country on issues of queer homelessness including: Columbia University, Swarthmore, Kalamazoo, NYU, Hunter and Rutgers to name a few.


  • 2006: The Richard L. Schiegel National Legion of Honor Award for Emerging Activist from The American College in Washington DC.
  • 2011: The Sylvia Rivera Law Project honored Jay for her service to the queer community.