In 2009, over 400 attendees convened in Oakland, CA for the inaugural BUTCH Voices National Conference, a multi-day, multi-media conference created to “enhance and sustain the health and well-being of self-identified Masculine of Center* people by providing activities and programs that build community and empower individuals to advocate for their whole selves inclusive of and beyond their gender identity and sexual orientation.” This year, the conference will recommence during the weekend of August 17-20, 2017 at Oakstop and at surrounding venues in Oakland, CA.
Returning to their original debut city, BUTCH Voices will be building upon the great foundation they started there in 2009 with workshops, panels, performances, and social networking events for people to participate in and enjoy while meeting with other people attending from all North America and beyond. Attendees will have opportunities to network within and outside their similar identities, to really build solid supports with one another and plug into something long term beyond just the initial conference connections made.
This year’s conference theme is “Reconnect. Reflect. Resist” and will take place within the framework of BUTCH Voice’s three initiatives: Community Building, Social/Economic Justice, and Physical/Mental Health. BUTCH Voices’ impressive lineup includes keynote speeches from Gabby Rivera, queer Latinx writer of Marvel’s latest series “America Chavez” and author of Juliet Takes a Breath, and Koja Adeyoha, long-time Two-Spirit activist, educator, and community leader.
“We are so excited to have Gabby and Koja as our keynote speakers this year,” says Joe LeBlanc, Founder and Board Chair for BUTCH Voices. “They each bring with them a unique perspective and resources due to experiences they have had. The need for queer and trans people of color’s stories and voices to be centered and shared first hand, is even more necessary this year. With our theme for 2017, ‘Reconnect. Recharge. Resist.’ we are hoping to connect our community members to critical resources and skills, as well as to each other. The space we create at BUTCH Voices feels even more important now, due to all that is happening around us with the new administration.
Many of us were already facing daily discrimination on the job, being denied access to housing, healthcare, or even restroom access based on who we are, or how we look. Now we are seeing even more instances of violence and hate based in sexism, racism, religious intolerance, homophobia, and transphobia. There are many ways that masculine of center individuals are told that we don’t belong, or that we don’t fit into gendered roles or spaces appropriately.
BUTCH Voices is a place where we can come together to share our stories and resources, lift each other up, and use the privilege that we do have to connect and build more power together as a community.”
Four-day conference passes, or single day passes for Friday or Saturday, are available online at the BUTCH Voices website. You can find BUTCH Voices online at BUTCHVoices.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
*Masculine of center (MOC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.