Event Recap: Queer Creatives Retreat

Event Recap: Queer Creatives Retreat

Editor's Note: Queer Creatives meets monthly on Zoom on the second Friday of each month from 5:30-7:30pm. This program is designed to provide support and opportunities for LGBTQIA+ writers and artists to shine and build community.  We aim to connect queer creatives with peers because we know that our lives are enriched and affirmed through collective story-making and story-sharing. 

Hello Lighthouse Community,

October 14-16th we hosted the first annual Queer Creatives Retreat!

Our retreat started with a happy hour and keynote on Friday evening. The room radiated with the energy we strive to cultivate and I am proud to have witnessed it alongside many of you. Our keynote speaker, 6th annual Pikes Peak Poet Laureate, Ashley Cornelius, encouraged us to seek “deep, revolutionary joy!” I’ve heard from many folks that her speech was one of the best they have heard in a long time and I couldn't agree more. It was truly an honor to have such a bright spirit in our midst. I was particularly struck by her insistence that merely existing and showing up for one another as our authentic selves can be enough to change another person’s world. 

At Queer Creatives we believe that no matter how your creativity manifests, no matter how your queerness manifests, this is a space for you! We are enough, just as we are.

The retreat weekend was full of beautiful moments of connection and creation both during the workshops facilitated by our fabulous instructors and at the free community events. Here are some quotes from the attendees:

From a participant in the Writing Queer Time craft seminar: “Sasha was tremendously prepared and they have a gentle, wise voice that really shores a person up when one’s head is sort of exploding from all the knowledge imparted in one day. And I tapped into memory of existing outside of time, something I otherwise had forgotten/buried. Sifting through that was useful and even metaphorically and monumentally significant.”

For me, the best parts of the weekend were the community events. People were passionate about attending "Spellwriting" with Assétou Xango and the feedback was a pleasure to read: 

“One of the best classes I've taken in a while, I only wish it had been longer.”

“The activities were creative and communal. In fact, I feel like we bonded in some major arcane (but not inane) way in this session. Like we are all linked for life via tarot and word-skeleton-bone-raising play. We played with swords, bondage, overflowing cups, and there was no judgment. Who gets to do this stuff? Joyful people. Poets and movers and snappers and shakers. Playful people who think queerness is a gift. No, we know it. We own it. We stay to converse over dinner about it and then we stay even longer to hear one another and SEE one another.”

The community dinner was full of warmth and laughter, not to mention delicious food from Tocabe: “That fry bread took me straight back to New Mexico, and the fixings and sides were good, too…The table setup invited us to get to know one another. The most authentic family feel I have ever experienced at a Lighthouse dinner.”

Saturday culminated in an open mic: “It was a wonderful reading, energized, thanks to MC Helen, fabulous poet Assétou…What a space. What a crowd. What uplift and a chance to occupy and engage and embrace one another. QC is the future and so is truth through poetry. Cheers and a five-star review.” 

The open mic was one of our proudest moments as a planning committee. Tons of folks read, including a youth participant. Thank you to everyone for being brave and sharing your kickass work!

On Sunday, we enjoyed a cozy community brunch as Brian Byrdsong read from his short story collection, The Queerest Touch. Fellow author, Nancy Viera, joined him onstage to ask about his writing practice and inspiration. One of our participants said we threw an awesome party and that the culmination of this weekend “reminds us we can push away the dreary and find sunshine in our togetherness.”

We concluded the weekend with reflection and gratitude for all of the folks who have contributed to the Queer Creatives program over the years. We are particularly grateful for the folks who contributed historically to the founding and growth of our sibling program Writing in Color, which led to the creation of Queer Creatives in the first place. Special shout outs to Suzi Q. Smith, Halo Lahnert, Jesaka Long, Helen Armstrong-Weier, Manuel Aragon, Jasmine Griffin, Twanna Latrice Hill, and of course volunteer extraordinaire, paparouna Stavropoulos!

Thank you to everyone who brought this retreat to fruition including the planning committee, Lighthouse Staff, and our volunteers. Lastly, thank you to all of you who participated in the retreat and who come to the monthly Queer Creatives meetups! We are building this weird, wonderful, brilliant community together and I can’t wait to see what magic unfolds at next year’s retreat!

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