Being a queer woman of color can be downright lonely sometimes. Lesbian bars are disappearing nationwide, and the queer spaces that do exist often skew very white. As a gay black woman, it’s easy to resign yourself to being the only person like you in your community. But the reality is that all across the country, there are thousands of other queer women of color, yearning for connection with each other.
Grant and Fuller created The Weekend Soiree to fill a gap in the LGBTQ+ event scene. As long-time friends since college, they often traveled to LGBTQ+ conferences around the country together, but they found that these events were too narrow in focus. Some of them only included nightlife events with no daytime offerings to speak of while others were the opposite: all work and no play.
By contrast, during the four days of The Weekend Soiree, attendees can shake their asses, do yoga, and build professional skills all in the same weekend. There’s a robust calendar full of events across multiple dimensions, and participants can pick and choose what works for them.
The Weekend Soiree also takes place in a different city every year, so it’s the perfect opportunity to explore new places and make connections with queer women all over the country. This year’s event even included a singles mixer. Can you say future long-distance boo?
In 2018, the very first Weekend Soiree launched in Denver, Colorado. In 2019, the second weekend landed in New Orleans for “Bedlam in the Big Easy.” The event took place on Halloween weekend, so you can just imagine the vibes: masquerade balls, costume contests, and psychic readings, plus the usual Weekend Soiree goodness of a thorough line-up of offerings, from painting workshops to “twerk til it hurts yoga” to fireside chats about masculinity and femininity. This year’s schedule covered sex, dating, exercise, cooking, fashion, entrepreneurship, comedy, cocktails — honestly, the phrase “something for everyone” never felt so accurate.
Next year’s event is in Washington D.C. “The movement just keeps on growing,” Grant tells GO Mag.
“We definitely experienced a lot of growth from year one vs year two from the number of attendees to the programming,” Grant continues. “Year one we had 120 Weekenders, and we almost doubled that in 2019.”
And it’s not just about numbers. The best way to understand the importance of The Weekend Soiree is by listening to the people who’ve attended. The experience has a profound impact on attendees. Grant says she’s been surprised by “how much people have confirmed that they need it” and “how transformative it’s been for so many people.”
One woman who attended in New Orleans, Ileana, says the weekend helped curb some of that QWOC loneliness.
“There was so much that I really loved but the coolest thing was just meeting other dope queer women of color from all over,” Ileana said in an Instagram video. “Sometimes it can feel a little bit lonely in New Orleans as far as queer women of color are concerned, and now I feel like I’ve got friends all over the country that I can hit up.”
Chelley Chelle of Lez Talk Podcast agreed. “The family, the tribe, the community, the love, the planning,” she said in a video. “It was all felt. I am overwhelmed with love.”
What can folks look forward to at the next The Weekend Soiree in D.C.?
Grant and Fuller haven’t revealed the exact dates or venues for 2020, but they can give you some clues for what to expect. Grant reveals: “More ‘soul food.’ Not literally more food, but enriching programming that feeds the soul. More opportunities to interact with locals and local hot spots. We try to keep the vibe interesting, warm, and safe for Weekenders’ true selves to always shine through. So as we grow we will continue to have sessions that are small but impactful.”
Because the weekend will be in D.C. (during an election year, no less!), there will also be a political component this time.
“There will be sure to be some programming around art, politics, engaging with the government, etc.,” Grant says. “We are absolutely non-partisan, but we do think people should absolutely be involved in civic work as much as possible.”
If you can’t make it to D.C., keep an eye out for other events from the Weekend Soiree team! Grant and Fuller hold the occasional roadshow event outside of the annual gathering. In 2019, they hosted a spoken word event, comedy showcase, and speed dating, plus a virtual event on communications. There will be even more of these types of events next year.
“We do plan on doing more locally-focused events in 2020,” Grant says.
In the meantime, the team will continue to scout locations for future years — places that are must-see travel destinations and LGBTQ+-friendly. Their ultimate dream destination? “I personally have been dying to go to the Maldives, so if we can get there — that would be dynamite!” Grant says.