#GetWoke formed in March 2017 and has become a quarterly artistic event series for Kansas City queer and trans people of color. #GetWoke discusses current issues affecting these communities through video storytelling, artistic showcases and by hosting uplifting community events that celebrate all shades of brown and black folks. Randall Jenson and his team are proud to work with and promote queer and trans artists of color, empower marginalized voices and create events that are unapologetically sex positive. The program formed as a response that would generate resiliency in the wake of 5 homicides of queer and trans people of color in Kansas City, as well as the infamous 2016 Pulse Massacre in Orlando, FL.
A Rocket Grant will enable #GetWoke to elevate its ongoing event series by producing a video series (also titled #GetWoke), which they hope to release on a regular basis. The team will also host a #GetWoke Artistic Festival for the community, bringing together many fierce LGBTQ artists of color and showcasing the performance talent in Kansas City.
The first four videos in the #GetWoke series will be introduced and narrated by original event host Monique Heart (now a contestant on Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race) as well as a new event host, Moltyn Decadence. Both of these performers are also humorous drag queens of color with accessible, authentic and vulnerable personas.
Drag has quickly become commercialized, and a tool that can bridge LGBTQ audiences with mainstream crowds. Recognizing this, the team wants this new #GetWoke series to emulate formats that already work– such as MTV Decoded with Franchesca Ramsey, but also to become something fresh and innovative that is well received and sustainable. Importantly, they wish to build a strong artistic appreciation for LGBTQ artists of color and their issues, both in Kansas City and nationally.
The #GetWoke Artistic Festival (planned for March-April 2019) will remedy a lack of artist showcases for LGBTQ people of color in Kansas City. It will focus on the ways that the community has developed strategic coping strategies to respond to violence, through creative, campy, resistant and empowering arts. In addition to featuring artists and media makers, the Festival will include a film festival, and breakout workshops that discuss and teach basic elements of documentary filmmaking, storytelling, playwriting, sound engineering, DJing, drag performance, vogueing, hiplet (hip hop ballet) and song writing.
Rocket Grant funds will be used to place a call for LGBTQ and trans people of color artists and performers to participate in both the peer-led video series, and the festival. It will also pay artist stipends and assist in covering post-production and editing costs. In these ways this grant will contribute to growing a sustainable pipeline of artistic leadership in this community, and help develop the supportive and affirming space the #GetWoke event series has already begun to establish.
Randall Jenson (aka DJ STUNT QUEEN) is a queer, multiracial anti-violence advocate and artist of color. For the past 16 years, he has worked closely with street-based youth, youth of color and LGBTQ youth, as well as in the fields of youth programming and anti-violence advocacy. Randall is the Director of SocialScope Productions, a consulting and coaching company focused on LGBTQ multimedia projects, community storytelling and building innovative youth program design models. He also serves as the Producer and DJ for the #GetWoke event and web series, focused on uplifting queer and trans artists and communities of color, and the Program Director for Transformations, a KC transgender and gender expansive youth group.
Randall’s intersectional media projects have received multiple awards, including “outstanding anthropological work” by the Association for Queer Anthropology. He is also a published writer, having been featured in “BOYS: An Anthology,” and a blogger for The Huffington Post, Out Magazine, Bitch Media, The Advocate. In 2015, Randall was appointed as the lead advocate to help loved ones and their communities cope and heal from 3 LGBTQ homicides in Kansas City. He has also received national awards for his leadership and work with young people and homeless and vulnerable youth, racial justice advocacy, addressing the juvenile legal system and media’s impact on queer lives. His work as an artist and documentary filmmaker has been featured at many venues across the country and his many prestigious speaking engagements include an appearance on The Oprah Show!
David Seymour has a sincere passion and natural talent for bringing people together for a greater purpose. He also believes that one of the best forms of protest is to “be who you are, wherever you are, all the time.” He has served as a host and organizer of the #GetWoke parties and is interested in building a stronger and more robust LGBTQ community.
Dr. Alberto Villamandos is Associate Prof. at the Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Missouri-Kansas City. He specializes in Spanish literature from the 1970s and 1980s and his books and articles deal with intellectual history, immigration, gender studies, and the graphic novel. He helps organize the quarterly #GetWoke events.
Jacory Dean has been in political activism since 2003, from protesting the Iraq invasion to supporting LGBTQ initiatives in the present. He works as a Graphic Designer, Artist, and Dance Instructor when not supporting various causes. He is proud to help organize and be part of the #GetWoke family as its resident “Daddy in Charge.”
Paul Oldham is a local graphic designer, event producer, and entrepreneur in Kansas City, MO. He formed his company Odd Fox, Inc. in 2015. Paul is passionate about supporting the visual and performing arts in Kansas City, and believes that white people need to make room at the table for People of Color and to shut up and listen. He is the Lead Designer & Web Developer for #GetWoke: Queer & Trans People of Color