Queer Liberation Rally Speakers & Performers
June 30th 2019, 1 p.m., Central Park Great Lawn, New York City
List in alphabetical order.
Seneca Village, Stolen Land / Shared History: Black & Indigenous Solidarity Social
This closing day event will reflect on the history of Central Park, the space of our rally. Though this land was not owned & has always been inter-tribal, Lenape people lived here and were violently displaced by colonization. In 1825 free Blacks settled the area and established Seneca Village as a free Black community that was later violently displaced by eminent domain. We will also reflect on present-day displacement & gentrification.
ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) Larry Kramer & Jason Walker (speakers)
ACT UP is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. We advise and inform. We demonstrate. WE ARE NOT SILENT.
Furious and terrified about deaths from HIV/AIDS, hundreds of NY gay men, lesbians, other LGBT community members and allies banded together in 1987, goaded by Larry Kramer, to fight for the lives of their friends and themselves. It was a unique concept — direct action, civil disobedience, demanding a cure for a disease. ACT UP’s agenda quickly broadened as members came to understand the scope of the epidemic. They demanded housing as treatment, early access to experimental drugs, health care for all, clean needles for intravenous drug users, a change to the drug approval system, inclusion of women and people of color in clinical trials…and on and on. Their commitment to making themselves experts and then their willingness to confront those in power with urgent, creative and confrontational actions helped lead to better drugs, saved lives and created a model for generations of activists. ACT UP still lives and works on all of those issues.
Larry Kramer is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter (“Women In Love”), celebrated playwright (“The Normal Heart,” “The Destiny of Me”) and controversial author (“Faggots,” “The American People: A History”) Larry Kramer’s rage exploded in a speech to a roomful of gay men in March 1987. “Half of you will be dead in 5 years and what are you doing about it?” he yelled. Within months, hundreds showed up at meetings and ACT UP was born. Larry is a beautiful combination of artist and activist, and is famous for speaking his mind. He’s a co-founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, but attacked the organization when he felt they had lost their activist edge. Larry’s American history is unafraid to name men in history like Abraham Lincoln as gay. To this day, Larry is unafraid to both celebrate and criticize his LGBT family.
Jason L. Walker is a nationally recognized activist, community organizer, and movement builder working within the intersections of black and queer liberation. He is one of the founding members of PrEP4All and is currently the HIV/AIDS Campaign Coordinator at VOCAL New York where he is building political power among low income New Yorkers living with HIV and LGBTQ youth to combat homelessness, mass incarceration, health inequity, and poverty.
Jason’s devotion to black and queer liberation organizing began as a student at the University of Louisville where he served as President of the of the NAACP and Co-founder of BlkOut – the first LGBTQ recognized student organization for People of Color in the state of Kentucky. In 2012, following the murder of Trayvon Martin, Jason was the lead organizer in a citywide solidarity rally, which lead to the creation of #Louisville4Trayvon, now the Louisville Chapter of Black Lives Matter.
His success in advancing an array of social justice issues has earned him recognitions from POZ Magazine, the National Black Justice Coalition, People for the American Way Foundation, as well as City & State New York list of LGBT Leaders on the Rise. His work and advocacy has been featured on Capital Tonight, MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes, and NY1’s Inside City Hall.
Amir Ashour (speaker)
Amir Ashour is the founder and executive director of IraQueer; Iraq’s first and only LGBTQIA+ organization. He has ten years of experience working with Iraqi and international organizations focusing on the human rights of LGBTQIA+ people, sex workers, and other marginalized groups. He holds a masters degree in human rights from Columbia University. He’s been nominated for different human rights awards including The Raoul Wallenberg Academy Prize and the David Kato Voice and Vision Award. Amir and IraQueer’s work has been covered by different international outlets including The Washington Post, The Independent, and Openly.
Kevin Aviance (performer)
With four #1 Billboard Dance hits, over 10 groundbreaking music videos and a fan base stretching from New York to Tokyo, Kevin Aviance is a bonafide living legend. A style icon for his gender bending avant-garde fashions, a dance and music icon in the international dance music scene, Kevin's proud presence and his political activism have made him an LGBTQIA+icon. He has performed alongside Whitney Houston, Cher, Lil Kim, Mary J. Blige, Natalie Cole, Cyndi Lauper, Janet Jackson, Bette Midler, and was featured in Madonna’s “Secret" video. Kevin has also appeared in films such as Freaks Glam Gods and Rock Stars, Naked Fame and Punks.
Kevin brought much needed attention to the epidemic of hate crimes when he himself was the victim of one in 2006, making national news. Kevin was also thrilled and honored to receive his knighthood by the Imperial Court for the 30th anniversary of the Night of a Thousand Gowns. Now hard at work on a new music project called SAMURI Feat.Kevin Aviance, he was recently signed by House Music label Nervous Records.
Topher González Ávila (speaker)
Topher González Ávila was born in México City, México and grew up in Dallas, Tejas. Topher is the first person in his Deaf LSM (Lengua de Señas Mexicana) family to graduate from high school. He completed his undergraduate studies in Criminal Justice and RTVF (Radio, Television & Film) at University of North Texas in 2015. He then graduated from Gallaudet University with a M.A. in Sign Language Education (MASLED) in 2017. Topher currently works at Gallaudet University as an adjunct professor, a freelance video editor and a community Deaf interpreter. As a Deaf Queer Person of Color, Topher recognizes the importance of social justice and intersectionality. He advocates for equal rights, equal access and equity, whether it be through teaching, interpreting or filmmaking.
Alyson Palmer, Amy Ziff, Elizabeth Ziff The band BETTY has been together for 33 years! We are pop music feminist activists and always have been. We are pro-choice, pro-queer, pro-strait, pro-women, pro-lesbian, pro-trans, pro-sex, pro-immigrant, pro-fun, pro-reading, pro-facts, pro-food, pro-love and anti-violence and guns. We tour internationally and have music in film and tv, including the global smash theme song to The L Word. We have ten albums out available everywhere. We have a non-profit called The BETTY Effect (thebettyeffect.org) that enables us to help promote self-advocacy through music and performance to LGBTQIA+ people as well as girls and women worldwide. Follow us on social media: www.hellobetty.com Twitter Facebook Instagram
Black Trans Media, Sasha Alexander and Olympia Sudan (speakers)
Sasha Alexander is a queer trans, black/south asian, adoptee, artist, abolitionist, organizer, facilitator, and healer. A former youth organizer, Sasha has been working at the intersections of LGBTQIA+, youth, media, economic, gender and racial justice movements for over 20 years. In 2013 Sasha was named one of the Inaugural Trans 100 for their organizing and media based work in trans communities of color, after teaching at the intersections of youth media and social justice for over a decade, and called to action by the murder of 21 year old Islan Nettles, Sasha launched Black Trans Media committed to addressing the intersections of racism and transphobia by shifting and reframing the value and worth of black trans people #blacktranseverything.
Sasha works as the Founder and Co-Director of Black Trans Media based in Brooklyn and is also the Membership Director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) in NYC a legal and movement based organization working for collective liberation; as the Membership Director and Co-Director of the Movement Building Team Sasha works to strengthen the leadership of trans, gender non conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) people specifically low income people, people of color, disabled folks, formerly incarcerated people, people living with HIV, and immigrants. Sasha loves time on the land, decolonizing everything, shifting resources, trans reproductive futures, their cat mumia shakur, arts of all mediums, and movement history. Sasha uses the pronouns she/they/he and insists that you mix it up or use their name.
Olympia Sudan is a Afro-Latinxasian Transwoman who was raised in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. She is a poet, healer, multimedia artist, strategist, pop-culture crtitic and facilitator invested in decolonizing spaces. She has been organizing since 2006 around the intersections of violence she and her trans and gnc communities of color face. She is awakened by the spiritual force that drives her to dislocate and dismantle the systems that we are subjected to; that oppress the best part of us, and that is to live. Olympias adversity informs the work she does with community and she is deeply invested in the liberation of all black trans and gnc people of color. Olympia works to restore her spirit from the confines of capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy as a trans warrior. She enjoys adventures with her wife Sasha, reading, and writing. She is the Co-Director of Black Trans Media, working to shift and reframe the value of black trans people thru media, education, and community building. Her pronouns are They/Them and Her-She like the chocolate bar.
Mx Justin Vivian Bond (performer)
Mx Justin Vivian Bond is a trans-genre artist living in New York City. As a performer both on and Off-Broadway, Mx Bond has received numerous accolades winning an Obie (2001), a Bessie (2004), a Tony nomination (2007), the Ethyl Eichelberger Award (2007), The Peter Reed Foundaton Grant, and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. V authored the Lambda Literary Award winning memoir TANGO: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels (The Feminist Press, 2011). Films include John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus(2006), Sunset Stories (2012), Imaginary Heroes (2004), Fanci's Persuasion (1995), After Louie(2016). Television credits include Difficult People, (2017), High Maintenance, (2016) and The Get Down, (2016).
Lydia X. Z. Brown (speaker)
Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, organizer, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. They are currently a Justice Catalyst Fellow at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law where they represent disabled students in Maryland facing school pushout, disproportionate discipline, and criminalization. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor of All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology by autistic people of color and otherwise negatively racialized autistic people, published by the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. Lydia also founded and co-directs the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment, which provides direct support and mutual aid to individual autistic people of color. Lydia has received numerous awards for their work, including from the White House, American Association of People with Disabilities, and Society for Disability Studies, and written for several community and academic publications. They are out and proud as a queerly asexual, nonbinary trans person living free of gender.
Keinon Carter (speaker)
Keinon 33, was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, attending Jones High School and is a seriously injured Pulse Orlando Survivor. Keinon cherishes spending time with his siblings, Adonius and Diamond. Living through the tragic experience on June 12, 2016 has motivated Keinon and has given him the life experience to advocate for those who are in need after becoming a victim or survivor of other tragedies throughout the United States. Keinon has found motivation and strength to advocate and fight against gun violence and promote gun Safety.
Keinon is elated to be an intricate part of the National Victim Support Network with a personal mission to help, support and guide victims and survivors in need. Keinon intends to bring together communities in hopes of spreading enjoyable events to benefit those in need.
Staceyann Chin (speaker/performer)
Staceyann Chin is a celebrated and brilliant spoken-word poet, playwright, actor and political activist. Author and star of the plays “Motherstruck” and “Border/Clash,” she has also written The Other Side of Paradise—A Memoir and co-wrote and performed in “Def Poetry Jam” on Broadway. But Staceyann is most notorious for her willingness to challenge people in power with her dramatic performances of her political/personal poetry.
Gay Liberation Front, members (speaker)
The Stonewall rebellion of 1969 was the catalyst that sparked the formation of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Forty-eight hours after the police raid and resistance, Martha Shelley appealed to the Daughters of Bilitis, and then to the Mattachine Society, to form a protest march. Having participated in civil rights, women's rights and anti-war groups, some march participants came to realize that they could and should at last demand their own rights. More radical in analysis and more experienced in confrontational protest than most members of existing organizations, these activists formed GLF. In a time before anyone used the word "intersectionality," GLF recognized that freedom for any oppressed group should be the concern of all. GLF members were instrumental in organizing the first "pride" march, known as Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, on June 28, 1970. The route of that event, as well as its values, provide the template for the Queer Liberation March of 2019.
Ellen Shumsky and Marc Schnapp, veterans of the open membership Gay Liberation Front, will speak.
Cecilia Gentili (speaker)
Cecilia Gentili started Transgender Equity Consulting after serving as the Director of Policy at GMHC, the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy from 2016 to 2019.
Originally from Argentina, Cecilia found her passion for advocacy and community service when she started working as an intern at the LGBT Community Center in New York City. From 2012 to 2016, she managed the Transgender Health Program at the Apicha Community Health Center. Cecilia is also contributor to Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community, and a board member for Transcend Legal and Translatina Network. Throughout her career, Cecilia has trained more than 3,000 individuals on a range of issues that include LGBTQIA+ inclusion, immigration, drug use, sexual health, trans sensitivity, and intersectionality.
Cecilia Gentili, is a steering committee member of Decrim NY, a coalition of more than 30 sex worker, legal, harm reduction, LGBTQIA+ and health groups, that recently launched an official campaign for decriminalization and an end to incarceration, entitled: The Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act.
Masha Gessen (speaker)
Masha Gessen is the author of the National Book Award-winning The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia as well as The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. A staff writer at the New Yorker and the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Carnegie Fellowship, Gessen teaches at Amherst College, and lives in New York City.
Marga Gomez (emcee - performer)
Marga Gomez is a GLAAD Award winner and one of the first out lesbian stand-up comedians in the business, way before Ellen. She can be seen on Netflix Sense 8, LOGO and HBO's Comic Relief. Marga will be performing at Dixon Place in "Hotfest!" July 11th through July 13th. Visit margagomez.com.
Blair Imani (speaker)
Blair Imani is a writer, mental health advocate, and historian living at the intersections of Black, Queer, and Muslim identity. In addition to being a public speaker, Blair is the author of Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History (2018) and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream (2020). She is also the official ambassador of Muslims for Progressive Values, one of the oldest progressive Muslim organizations to support the LGBTQIA+ community. Blair has been featured in Essence, Out Magazine, THEM, Broadly, and more.
Xavier and Cassondra James (performer)
Xavier was immaculately conceived, contrary to his parents’ reports. Any resemblance he bears to them is purely coincidental. Xavier has received uncoerced praise for his vocal skills from some of the biggest names in the business, including Madonna, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, Devo, Anita Baker, Lena Horne, TV on the Radio, The Rapture, Paul Williams, and Ashford & Simpson. His U.K. debut on Virgin Records "Give Me The Night" earned him a top ten hit. The Boys Choir of Harlem alum has collaborated/recorded with Sir Paul McCartney, Scissor Sisters, Poolside, New Power Generation, JD Samson, Lake Street Dive, Joan As Policewoman, Basement Jaxx vocalists Vula & Sharlene, Diane Birch, Bright Light Bright Light, Stephin Merritt, Michael Bolton, Sxip Shirey, and LL Cool J.
He performs an annual Valentine’s Day themed Ladies Of Soul Tribute at Joe’s Pub.
Cassondra James is a queer activist, musician, actor, and academic who recently completed a run in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Once on This Island in the role of Erzulie. As a musician she has toured with the grammy-award winning artist Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, and has performed with a wide range of artists like Christina Aguilera, Tituss Burgess, The original ladies of Chic, Laura Izibor, Alicia Keys, Gladys Knight, LaChanze, and Wynton Marsalis. In addition to these accomplishments, Cassondra is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she is conducting research on stand-up comedy. Cassondra has music out on all streaming services, and an Ep to be released in January. Follow her on instagram at @kellamity.
Regan de Loggans (speaker)
Regan de Loggans (Mississippi Choctaw/ Ki’Che Maya) is a two-spirit activist, art historian, curator, and educator based in Brooklyn on Lenape land. Their work relates to decolonizing, indigenizing, and queering institutions and curatorial practices. They are also one of the founding members of the Indigenous Womxn’s Collective: NYC. The Indigenous Womxn’s Collective:NYC is a direct action group of Native femme non-binary people and womxn, creating an indigenous community in the city. They have staged actions at The Whitney: Biennial, American Museum of Natural History, and on the MTA Subway in response to continued settler colonialism and institutionalized racism and violence.
John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask (performer)
John Cameron Mitchell directed, starred in and wrote, with Stephen Trask, the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), for which he won Best Director at the Sundance Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor. His recent Broadway production of Hedwig garnered him Tony Awards for his performance and for Best Revival. He won an Obie Award for Hedwig Off-Broadway as well for as starring in Larry Kramer’s The Destiny of Me. He directed Tennessee Williams’ Kingdom of Earth Off-Broadway with Cynthia Nixon and Peter Sarsgaard. He directed the films Shortbus (2006), Rabbit Hole (2010) and How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2018) both starring Nicole Kidman who was nominated for Best Actress Oscar for the former. Recent TV roles include Hulu’s Shrill, HBO’s Girls and Vinyl, CBS’s The Good Fight, and Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle. He stars in, wrote (with Bryan Weller) and directed his the musical podcast series Anthem: Homunculus featuring Cynthia Erivo, Glenn Close, Patti Lupone, Denis O’Hare, Laurie Anderson and Marion Cotillard, which is playing on Luminary podcast platform.
Stephen Trask is the creator with John Cameron Mitchell of the Tony Award winning musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which also he won an Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, a New York Magazine Award, Drama Desk nominations, two Grammy nominations, two GLAMA Awards, and, for the 2001 film version, Entertainment Weekly’s Best Soundtrack Award. Stephen has scored dozens of independent and studio films, including The Station Agent, In Good Company, The Savages, Little Fockers, and The Back-Up Plan. Last year, Trask debuted a new musical, “This Ain’t No Disco”Other work in theater includes arrangements and orchestrations for the Broadway production of Rocky, and original songs for the NYTW’s production of Cavedweller, directed by Michael Greif. Among his current projects is writing music and lyrics for a stage adaption of Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, in collaboration with book writer Chris D’Arienzo (Rock of Ages).
Edafe Okporo (speaker)
Edafe Okporo is a Nigerian LGBTQIA+ writer and activist who fled his home country in 2016 because of threat to his life for identifying as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2017 Edafe authored a book titled BED26, a memoir of an African man's asylum in the United States. He currently lives in New York City and works as the director of RDJ Refugee Shelter, the only shelter for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers in New York City.
Pamela Sneed (speaker/performer)
Pamela Sneed is a New York-based poet, writer, performer and visual artist. She is author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom than Slavery, KONG and Other Works and her short story book Sweet Dreams was published by Belladonna in 2018. She has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Time Out, Bomb, VIBE, and on the cover of New York Magazine. She has appeared in Art Forum, The Huffington Post and Hyperallergic. In 2017, She was a Visiting Critic at Yale and Columbia University and currently is a Professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. She is online faculty at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute MFA program teaching Human Rights and Writing Art. She has performed at the Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Poetry Project, NYU and Pratt Universities, Smack Mellon Gallery, MCA, The High Line, Performa, Danspace, The Bessies, Performance Space, Joes Pub, The Public Theater, SMFA at Tufts, BRIC and was an artist- in- residence at Pratt University, Denniston Hill and Poet-Linc, Lincoln Center Education. In November 2018, Pamela delivered the closing keynote for Artist, Designers, Citizens Conference/a North American component of the Venice Biennale at SAIC. Her work is widely anthologized and appears in Nikki Giovanni’s The 100 Best African American Poems. This year she is a featured poet at the Brooklyn Museum in collaboration with PEN.
Cindy Wiesner (speaker)
Cindy Wiesner is the national coordinator of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and has worked for social justice for 25 years. She co-founded the Climate Justice Alliance, and played a leadership role in the Peoples Climate Movement that organized massive mobilizations in New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, and is an adviser to Groundswell’s new Liberation Fund. Cindy started organizing with HERE Local 2850 in Oakland, became director of organizing for People Organizing to Win Employment Rights in San Francisco, then organized with generation FIVE and Mujeres Unidas y Activas. She worked as Leadership Development Director of the Miami Workers Center and represented them on the U.S. Social Forum National Planning Committee. She’s been active in many movement-building initiatives, including World March of Women, Social Movement Assemblies, International Council of the World Social Forum, Fight Against the FTAA, UNITY, Building Equity and Alignment Initiative and, currently, It Takes Roots and the Majority. She trains organizers in a transformative, radical organizing model and builds counter-hegemonic campaigns that not only fight oppression, but put into practice what needs to be manifested. She is a lesbian of Salvadoran, Colombian and German descent and a grassroots feminist, internationalist, and movement strategist.
Rev. Yolanda (performer)
Rev. Yolanda is a singer/songwriter, trans-femme genderqueer performance artist and interfaith music minister, originally from Muscle Shoals Alabama- The Hit Recording Capital Of The World.
Rev. Yolanda and husband Rev. Glen Ganaway are the founders of the monthly spiritual happening called Church With A 2 Drink Minimum.Rev. Yolanda's ministry and body of musical work has been captured on film with the movie "Rev. Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour" and has been honored with induction into the The GLBT Hall Of Fame, the NY Blues Hall of Fame, and two MAC Awards (MAC-Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs).Rev. Yolanda is currently working on a full length, autobiographical musical theater piece entitled "The Church Of The Alien Love Child Presents: The Passion of Rev. Yolanda".
LaLa Zannell (speaker)
LaLa Zannell leads the ACLU's advocacy and organizing work to support and empower transgender and non-binary people. LaLa spoke at the White House for the first Women’s History Month briefing that included trans woman, the last briefing on transgender people under the Obama administration, and also testified at the first Congressional forum on violence against transgender people. In 2015, LaLa was featured on the Advocate’s Trans 100 list.
As chair of the policy and working group committee for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), LaLa was part of passing Intro 541 which addresses unconstitutional searches by the NYPD. Recently, LaLa created the first Trans Discrimination Survey in New York City to collect data on trans people's experiences in employment. The findings were released in City Hall Park alongside City Council officials and TGNC leaders.
She was previously was Lead Organizer at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) where she led AVP’s public community organizing work by doing advocacy, outreach and networking on behalf of LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers who have experienced violence. And most recently on of the partners for T Times 3 Jewelry line started by 3 trans women of color.