At 21 when Daiyon Kpou came out as queer, the West Philly native did what all newly out Philadelphians do, go to the city’s Gayborhood. Her experiences in the Gayborhood did not make her feel as included as she had hoped. “I quickly realized that a lot of spaces that were branded as inclusive were actually permeated by racism and sexism,” says Kpou. In response to this, she formed Her Philly Moves.
her philly moves is a platform that promotes visibility of queer and trans womxn of color in Philadelphia. Kpou, now 24, graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in African Studies; she used her skills honed as a self-taught graphic designer, event curator, and her love of animation to help cultivate her vision for her philly moves. Her team is just as multitalented and eclectic as Kpou herself. “With a vision of promoting cultural shifts that uplift diverse communities of womxn, I work with a team of local creative womxn to create new, more inclusive experiences.”
One of her philly moves inclusive experiences is JUICE Festival, an event that seeks to be a more inclusive Pride Festival. JUICE features performances, art exhibitions with interactive installments, film screenings after sunset, and a resource-sharing space to exchange ideas and build community.
Held during the summer at Life Do Grow Farm, JUICE is described as embodying, “…the concepts of free and unapologetic expression, carefreeness, radical self-love, and cultural preservation and reclamation through art and entrepreneurship.” This year the event will take place on Saturday, June 9th.
We spoke with Kpou about inclusion, art, staying motivated and how you can get involved with her philly moves and JUICE Festival.
For those who don’t know, could you tell the readers what QTWOC means?
QTWOC means “queer and trans women (or womxn) of color”. “Queer and trans” refers to those who identify within the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community. Womxn describes a broader range of gender identities than the word “woman”. Womxn may include people who are: cisgender and transgender women; femme-identifying persons; people who do not identify within the gender binary (AKA nonbinary), and those who may not conform to gender norms (gender non-conforming).
Inclusion has become a sort of “buzzword” in today’s society and media. How do you define inclusion? Do you think our society will ever be truly inclusive?
In my opinion, inclusion is the state in which all persons – regardless of race, gender, ability, sexuality, socioeconomic status, etc. – are equitably provided with the resources and opportunities to thrive socially, economically, creatively, and politically. I believe that inclusion requires societal shifts led and defined by impacted communities. I believe each person, within their resources and capacity, can support cultural and social shifts towards inclusion. For example, her philly moves aims to use art and creative projects as platforms to amplify the voices of LGBTQ womxn. We believe that our work fits into larger feminist and queer rights movements.
I believe that those who dedicate themselves to activism are well-positioned to discuss whether our society can become truly inclusive. I, as well as all members of her philly moves, am an intersectional feminist; but, I am not sure that I can call myself an activist yet. Therefore, I can only speak from a personal perspective.
I would like to believe that our society can be more inclusive, yet I understand that white supremacy, (cis)sexism, ableism and homophobia are upheld in ways that are systemic. I believe that bigotry adjusts itself to fit modern times, which poses new obstacles for social justice work. For example, as movements towards queer liberation have gained national attention, states and the current administration have played off irrational fears to attack basic rights, such as the right for LGBTQ families to adopt children (like, the Oklahoma Senate Bill 1140) and the right for transgender persons to use their correct bathrooms.
What have been some of your memorable experiences being part of her philly moves and JUICE Festival? Were there any challenges?
The most memorable moments within her philly moves have been the learning moments. All the members of the collective are self-taught in the work we do, so we are constantly learning how to improve ourselves and the collective. I recall moments when our DJ, Jamya Day would practice mixing different genres of music; moments when I would try to complete graphic design on my cellphone; and all the late-night conversations about building a sustainable creative collective. So, it has been a challenging process learning how to intersect art, business, and movements towards social justice. But the remarkable thing is that we have allowed ourselves to experiment with ideas, thus allowing us to conceptualize innovative ideas and projects.
Art (in its many forms) is a big part of her philly moves and JUICE Festival, what made you choose that route?
I like that art is multi-faceted; it exists in many different forms that can stimulate people aurally, visually, and conceptually. Art also reflects current culture, politics, and society. So, we want JUICE to integrate music, visual art, and film as a showcase of the varied perspectives of local creative womxn. A reflection of how QTWOC interpret the societies in which we navigate, JUICE was designed to be an experience that attendees can connect to and feel.
What keeps you motivated?
I love being able to create experiences that are unique and interactive. her philly moves allows an outlet for me to express myself and experiment with new concepts. The collective, and the work that we do excites me, thus encouraging me to continuously gain new skills and build with my community. I also enjoy opportunities that bring communities together. Understanding the societal impact that her philly moves is beginning to have, I feel motivated by my community to serve them to the best of my ability.
Queer millennials and youth are at the forefront of creative and feminist movements; we are challenging the norm and shaping the culture. So, I am motivated to support those movements and the people that those movements represent.
On the JUICE Festival website there are some playlists, what song makes you feel powerful or unapologetically you?
This is a great question! I am currently LIVING for black womxn artists across a few genres. I can’t think of just one song, so I’ll just say Janelle Monae’s entire discography moves me. Her musical journey has shown so much vulnerability, and it inspires me to hear her assert herself and her identity.
I am also currently stanning black womxn alternative artists. I grew up listening to a lot of popular emo and rock music, and mainstream outlets rarely featured black artists. So, in my teens, I wrongly assumed that alternative black womxn artists didn’t exist. But, thanks to the rise of social media, I have been connected to all these new creatives.
I particularly enjoy the emergence of sugar trap/pop trap – a fusion of upbeat soundscapes, paired with the braggadocios, aggressive trap vibes. Songs from Bali Baby and Rico Nasty get me hyped up.
How can people get involved with her philly moves and JUICE Festival?
her philly moves is looking to build, so we encourage interested persons to consider volunteering during JUICE. Since the festival is grassroots, we are setting up everything – the tents, lights, generators, sound system, etc. – by ourselves. So, a helping hand would help introduce people to how the collective works together to bring our projects to life. We are also always looking to work with artists and other creatives. So, if someone is interested in collaborating on work that empowers diverse communities, we invite them to contact us by email!
Any future goals or plans for her philly moves and JUICE Festival?
Yes! her philly moves is interested in building movement towards amplifying the voices of local womxn. We are working to create opportunities for womxn to learn, create, experiment, perform, and critique. More details on this work will be released soon, but we want to open opportunities for us to collaborate with local emerging creatives. So, we encourage womxn entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, etc. to contact us.
For JUICE specifically, we are looking to expand it into a more inclusive space, and we welcome ideas and artists for future events. JUICE will happen once a month at Life Do Grow Farm during 2018, including July 21 (in collaboration with Philadelphia Urban Creators’s Hoodstock event) and August 18. The July and August events will be similar to the June event, but with a more intimate atmosphere. Interested persons are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org