The winner of PrideIndex.com’s 2011 Esteem Award for Outstanding Promoter – Female went to Los Angeles-based Black Lesbians United (BLU). And although BLU is not a traditional party promoter we were proud to recognize the organization for its service to the lesbian community for its annual 3-Day retreat filled with an array of workshops and networking opportunities for women who love women.
The BLU Retreat was founded in 2009 as a “post Obama organization making the world safe for lesbians everywhere,” boasts the organization’s Facebook page. The 3rd annual retreat takes place Friday October 7- Sunday October 9, 2011 here’s what Yolanda Whittington the group’s clinical coordinator had to say regarding what to expect of the event which attracted 125 participants.
PRIDEINDEX: Why do you believe it’s important to have an event targeted specifically for black lesbians?
YOLANDA WHITTINGTON: I feel it’s important that we have an event such as the BLU Retreat which is specifically for black lesbians because we tend to be the most invisible segment of the LGBT community. And given our history of how we arrived in the United States as a result of the slave trade and the trauma it caused requires us to be attentive to our own needs. That compounded with our own sexual history means that we have unique needs so it’s important that we have a space where women who have difficulty identifying with their sexual orientation can meet others, learn, heal, and grow.
PI: Are there any workshops that address the needs of single lesbian mothers, gay parenting or child rearing?
YW: Yes there will be workshops in all of the above. It’s important that we address the continuum of lesbians; some who were born gay, some who came out while in their adolescent years and for those who came out later after being in a heterosexual relationship.
We will discuss children of lesbians and how you can raise tolerant children who accept your relationship. Issues of child rearing and development can be quite challenging. There are so many dynamics that come into play such as our children’s relationships with their fathers. We’re going to discuss participating in parent-teacher conferences; where else do you go to have such discussion? It’s about inclusiveness and not just relationships and sexuality. We are the still caregivers, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, god daughters and nieces and must be an advocate for LGBT community.
PI: I’m an avid fan of gay themed-films. Do you have any idea what films you plan to show?
YW: There will not be a traditional film festival however if participants just want to lounge around and watch LGBT themed movies its okay we will have the space for them to watch whatever they want.
PI: PRIDEINDEX has learned the Mobile Homecoming co-founders Julia Roxanne Wallace and Alexis Pauline Gumbs will be participants at the retreat, tell us more.
YW: We’re excited that Mobile Homecoming will teach a workshop and will be documenting the events at this year retreat as part of their archive. We are glad to have them!
PI: Is it too late to register for the BLU Retreat?
YW: No it’s not too late to register in person; we will accept walk-ups, however online registration has closed.
PI: What advice would you offer to a young girl considering coming out to her parents or the world for that matter?
YW: The best advice to me is not to have her come out by herself. If the young lady has not come out to her parents or family I think it’s best that she come out to either a trusted older family member or friend first and have that person by her side when she comes out to her parents. This trusted person should be someone the parents know and respect and can advocate on behalf of the child. Maybe that person can help the parents cope. It’s important to have the support system for emotional reasons.
PI: Where do you see the (BLU) Retreat 10 years from now?
YW: That’s a good question! I hope that ten years from now we will be having BLU retreats across the nation and the LA retreat will be the training ground. I hope the BLU retreat will provide: a sense of community, love, resolve, resilience, personal and professional identity, self-acceptance, community support and collective involvement.
PI: Is there any else you want to share with us about the (BLU) Retreat?
YW: I want to stress that BLU is for all black women that identify as loving other black women be it sexually, emotionally, spiritually and communally or those who have a sincere investment in the well-being of black women and the enduring sisterhood.
About the Black Lesbians United (BLU) Retreat www.blacklesbiansunited.com