With the necessary attention brought to intersectional feminism, Miami welcomed LadyFest 2015 with open arms. This year, the annual LadyFest promised 45 live artists, musicians, and other exhibitors as well as workshops and activities centered on local issues in the realm of wom@nhood (how the festival refers to womanhood), considering the multiple facets of race, identity, sexuality, and more.
According to the festival’s zine, given to guests upon entry, LadyFest Miami “arose out of a need for spaces centered on and filled with wom@n, a need to heal our fragmented community of wom@n, and the desire to begin fostering a sense of sisterhood in Miami.” And the festival accomplished just that, offering women “safe spaces” in three different locations during LadyFest’s two-day span – MADE at The Citadel, the LAB Miami, and Wynwood Café.
Although not very lengthy or large, LadyFest featured layers and layers of activities and activism, from a Youth Center that allowed younger attendees to get creative to a free market swap that allowed attendees to donate and/or take clothing for free. This is only in addition to the main workshops and talent showcases, which ran for hours each day.
Day 1 of LadyFest showcased a more artistic facet of the festival – from performance artists to spoken word to film screenings and more, local issues came to light in more ways than one. Guitars Over Guns, an organization to help at-risk children through music education, appeared at the live music theater alongside singer Omilani and many more. Meanwhile, the rec room showcased spoken word, films, comedy, dance, readings, and live artists such as photographer RADskillZ and video artist Carla Forte. MADE at The Citadel was not only packed with talent on Friday night, but with acceptance and education.
Day 2, however, was more conversational, more face-to-face. With a schedule that ran four workshops at once every hour, it proved difficult to choose between several informative workshops at a time. Yet with a line-up of 20 workshops, there was plenty to learn and listen to, from “How Miami-Dade is Failing Our LGBTQ Youth” to Latinegras (black Latina wom@n) and how they “love the skin [they’re] in,” where the talented Omilani made a reappearance.
Jasmen Rogers’ “You Can’t Sit With Us” seminar in particular – “an interactive discussion that will dissect how the oppressed become oppressors” – discussed how elitism in activism is contradictory and how differences in expression need to be embraced in order to create collaboration. In essence, Rogers outlined what a pillar of LadyFest is: “radical love.”
“We shouldn’t be telling people whether or not they’re ‘real revolutionaries’,” said Rogers. “We need to reframe the conversation… Radical love is respect, understanding.”
In such a diverse place like South Florida, conferences such as LadyFest are imperative. Although the festival only lasts two days, contributors hope that “you will leave with a renewed sense of vigor and connection to one another; with the drive to change our local community for the better.” And with LadyFest Miami coming around once a year, the local community is already becoming a better place.
Check out more photos below or go to www.ladyfestmiami.com.
by Carina Vo