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'Bolder Than Out' features variety show, panel discussion
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2018-04-11

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As a part of the Coalition for Justice and Respect ( CJR ) sixth annual Bolder Than Out ( BTO ) conference, "Kitchen Table Action," Chicago State University's ( CSU ) Student Government Association ( SGA ) and In Demand Entertainment ( IDE ) hosted the BTO Ball April 6 at CSU.

The event featured a VIP reception, free HIV testing provided by South Side Help Center, a ballroom-fundamentals workshop, variety show, ballroom competition, the premiere of the audio documentary Who Knows Best produced by IDE Founder and Executive Director Solomon Arnold ( Icon Solomon Infiniti ) about queer and trans empowerment and a panel on "The Phobia Complex: An Interconnected Discussion About Gender Identity, Sexuality and the Empowerment of Queer and Trans People of Color."

Arnold moderated the panel discussion, which featured The Association of Clinical Trial Services ( TACTS ) founder/executive director, epidemiologist and bioethicist Sista Yaa Simpson; Kristian Michaels Talent Career Center founder and clinical mental-health counselor Donita M. Lake; Chicago House and Social Service Agency research manager and Legendary Overall Mother Jasmine Ferre ( "mother" being a ballroom term ); House of Enigma Legendary Mother Charisma Enigma; Howard Brown Health Human Resources Manager Tatyana Moaton ( Legendary Tati Rodeo ); Brave Space Alliance program director and Legendary Mother Myah Mizrahi; and Cut Magazine publisher and House of Enigma founder Aaron Brown.

Arnold asked the panelists what they would tell their younger selves. Simpson said she would tell herself to be more confident and not worry about what others think. Ferre spoke about telling herself to continue to strive even when life gets hard. Lake focused on not hiding behind a facade and being genuine and authentic with every interaction while Mizrahi said she would have practiced more verbal self-love and let more things go that do not contribute to her growth as a person. Brown explained that if he could go back in time he would have finished college faster. Moaton said she would live her full truth and that includes not dimming her lights for anyone's comfort. Enigma noted that when she was younger she thought of her trans sisters as competition and now she know that is not true.

In terms of how each panelist has been able to turn things around so they could be their authentic selves, Ferre and Mizrahi said all of their adversities have made them the confident people they are today. Simpson explained that delving into the public health realm made her realize she had a voice in science and now she wants to open those doors for other Black people to become scientists.

During the audience Q&A session, CSU SGA Speaker of the Senate Angel Buckley sparked a spirited discussion among the majority transgender panelists regarding labels within the LGBTQ community, specifically regarding the Black experience.

Both Arnold and SGA Senator Mario Knowles hosted the Ballroom competition.

Among the many Ballroom competition winners were: Best Dress Spectator ( Mother Africa Ultra Omni ), Transman Realness ( Founder Overall Father Antonio Lauren ), Butch Queen ( BQ ) Executive Realness ( Detroit Father Andre Ultra Omni ) BQ Schoolboy Realness ( Mylon Lauren ), Women's Face ( Buckley ), BQ Up in Pumps and European Runway ( Rio Valentino ), American Runway ( Legendary Reavis Royalty ), Virgin Runway ( Montel Ultra Omni ), BQ Vogue Femme ( Lil Magik Moskow ), Virgin Vogue ( Prince Bangy Ultra Omni ), Realness with A Twist ( Kenny Bvlgari ), Hand Performance ( Zizi Lauren ) and Dance Off ( Draya ).

Ahead of the ball, an afternoon luncheon organized by CJR ( including a focus group that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office coordinated ) took place at the King Center. The focus group, which Alicia Crosby led, focused on the U.S. Justice Department's consent decree regarding how the Chicago Police Department is supposed to conduct itself in the wake of police shootings of unarmed Black and brown people. CJR Founder/Executive Director Marc Loveless, SHARP President Thomas ( Icon Tommy Avant-Garde Moskow ) Sampson ( keynote address ) and Arnold also spoke following the focus-group discussion.


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