Welcome to “Seven Minutes in Heaven” GO Magazine’s brand new interview series that profiles a different queer lady each day, by asking her seven custom (sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
We first became aware of the boldly-articulate, fiercely-outspoken, unbreakably-strong, force-of-queer nature, Shakira Sofer a couple of years ago. We admired her authentic dedication to activism and her fearless voice from afar, but when we found out the Black Lives Matter Sarasota leader had recently taken on the role of Tampa Bay “Events Producer” for HER (a lesbian app for LGBTQ women) we decided it was time we went all in (and by “all in” we mean “interview”).
And thank those Sapphic Goddesses up above, babes, that we decided to pick her brilliant brain. From calling out hypocrisy on social media to fiercely educating young people about race and sexuality, to planning hot lesbian events, the hyper-passionate Refos is breaking into refreshing new territory… not just on the party scene, but the activist scene.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy Seven Minutes in Heaven with Shakira Sofer (sadly, it will have to be “Seven-minutes in Platonic Heaven” as Refos is most definitely in an enviable relationship with her girlfriend).
GO Magazine: In your words. Who are you and what do you do?
Shakira Refos: My name is Shakira Refos. I’m an Arts Educator and Activist. I’m currently the Director of Education and Community Engagement with a regional Film Festival, Leadership of Black Lives Matter Sarasota and the Tampa Bay Events Producer for HER, the App for LGBTQ Women.
GO: What is the driving force behind your activism?
SR: Calling out hypocrisy. Just doing the right thing. We teach our kids “If you see something say something” and that doesn’t change when you hit adulthood. And community man, it’s all about community. I believe so strongly that it takes a village. Part of the path to true equity involves having open and honest conversations about anti-black racism and racial bias.
Our society is built on creating barriers we often do not even recognize. Practicing oppressive behavior in some way is a part every single person’s actions on a daily basis, which is just the way the world works. Recognizing this and behaving accordingly with this knowledge is the sweet spot for being a good person.
Giving young black kids the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the barriers in structures of racism they will face on their way to success is essential. If they can identify these barriers they are well on their way to jumping and helping to eliminate them. I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of activists out here.
GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
SR: Self-care is so so important, unfortunately, I do not practice it enough. It’s difficult for me to shut my brain down. Honestly, it’s very small things can that revive my spirit, I love hanging out with my friends’ kids, they give me hope.
Ice cream, Ben and Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core, can at times put me at ease. And when I’m in the kitchen cooking while catching up with my partner. She is the person I go to for strength. Always allowing me to process freely and she encourages me to follow my instinct. No matter how emotionally draining the work or any given community conversation has been, no matter how let down I feel, at the end of the day I know she is in full support of me.
GO: Who are your biggest queer lady role models?
SR: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera for their courage as activists and instigators of the second night of Stonewall riots which established the recognition of modern day Pride celebrations. Frida Kahlo for her unrelenting creativity as well as her unapologetic sexual fluidity and androgyny. Lisa Bonet and Joanne Jefferson from RENT for being amazing and relevant representations of highly educated alternative black women weirdos in pop culture when I was growing up.
GO: Describe yourself in three words?
SR: Passionate as fuck.
GO: What music are you listening to right now?
SR: Big Boi’s from Outkast new album Boomiverse, also always Queen.
GO: Where can people find you?
SR: In general? In the clouds daydreaming, plotting strategies, thinking about Kanye West’s first album or worshipping my girlfriend.
Specifically? September 3rd at the HER Tampa Launch party at The Franklin Manor.