Opening Keynote: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and kyisha williams
Pushcart Prize nominee and 2012 Lambda Award finalist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled Sri Lankan writer, teacher and cultural worker. The author of Consensual Genocide and Love Cake and co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities (South End, 2011), her work has appeared in the anthologies Persistence: Still Butch and Femme, Yes Means Yes, Visible: A Femmethology, Homelands, Colonize This, We Don’t Need Another Wave, Bitchfest, Without a Net, Dangerous Families, Brazen Femme, Femme and A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over The World.
She co-founded Mangos With Chili, the national queer and trans people of color performance organization, is a lead artist with Sins Invalid and teaches with UC Berkeley’s June Jordan’s Poetry for the People. In 2010 she was named one of the Feminist Press’ “40 Feminists Under 40 Who Are Shaping the Future.” Her one woman show, Grown Woman Show, has toured nationally, including performances at the National Queer Arts Festival, Swarthmore College, Yale University, Reed College and McGill University. She has taught, performed and lectured across the country, including appearances at Columbia, Oberlin, Texas A&M, Sarah Lawrence, Swarthmore, UC Berkeley, USC, and the University of Toronto. She co-founded Toronto’s Asian Arts Freedom School. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, focusing on creative nonfiction and community-based teaching by writers of color.
kyisha williams is Black, Queer, high femme, ma’star, who is sex and sex work positive. she writes and makes film and she supports the self-determination of all living beings. kyisha began to use activism and art as survival at 15 years old. she has been organizing for over 9 years both locally and globally around violence and intersecting oppressions as they relate to colonialism, poverty, incarceration, gender,status, sexuality and sexual/mental health(status). She currently works at PASAN as the Women’s Community Program Coordinator, providing education and support to women prisoners and ex-prisoners around harm reduction, sexual health and systemic barriers.
Closing Keynote: The FFM (formerly Fat Femme Mafia) consists of Liz Brockest and Chelsey Lichtawoman, who are a Toronto based performance and activist duo on a mission to spread the message that every BODY is a GOOD body. Since 2005 they scratched out numerous weight loss ads with sharpie markers, paraded their chunky selves across a stage, expanded public awareness on issues pertaining to body politics and fatness, and pranced around half naked in public. The FFM are large and in charge and not afraid to make it known. Chelsey and Liz have performed and facilitated workshops all across North America dressed sometimes in their finest moo-moos and other times in their best gold lamé. They are probably the diet industry’s worst nightmare!