A Community Response to Rivers of Honey

Rivers of Honey is a women-centered monthly cabaret at WOW Café Theatre in NYC. Since it began in 1998 Rivers has served as a major cultural institution, a launch pad for artists and producers whose work might never have been seen and celebrated in mainstream venues, and a vital, queer-centric POC community space.

In August 2011, a small and closed Rivers of Honey team stated the cabaret is now a "platform for womyn of color, defined as female-bodied individuals." Under this new policy trans women are no longer welcome to produce or perform. Trans men and other female-assigned gender non-conforming people are still welcome provided they identify with the "female-bodied" women's only space.

For the past 8 of Rivers’ 13 year existence, trans women, trans men and gender non-conforming people have all been welcomed be a part Rivers of Honey. Until recently, language inclusive of all women and trans folks has appeared on Rivers of Honey fliers, the WOW website, and Facebook and MySpace pages. A Rivers of Honey mission statement that was collectively written and agreed upon in August 2009 states that: "Rivers of Honey is a monthly women's cabaret featuring queer and trans artists of color."

Questions about how these decisions were made, requests for clarification, and objections to the policy have been met with silencing, dismissal, and the refusal of further discussion.

Rivers of Honey is an important institution for our community. We love and value it deeply and therefore do not wish to see it replicate the trans misogyny and transphobia we struggle so fiercely against in our larger society.

Why Should I Care?

  1. The exclusion of trans women of color from the women's space of Rivers of Honey is an act of trans misogyny – a form of transphobia directed specifically against trans women. Such exclusion is part of a damaging pattern of discrimination that contributes to the already tremendous degrees of bigotry, harassment and violence that trans women of color face.
  2. The current language is not truly inclusive of trans men and gender non-conforming people of color. Just as the current language implies that trans women are not truly women, it also implies that trans men and gender non-conforming people are, in the end, actually women despite their own self-identification. In both cases, people are being robbed of their agency to define their own identities.

What We Want

We, queer and trans people of color, community members, past performers, producers and audience members want to see:

  1. Rivers of Honey reject trans misogyny and include all women of color equally, whether they are cisgender women or trans women;
  2. If trans men and gender non-conforming people of color continue to be welcomed as performers at Rivers of Honey, the language of Rivers of Honey should be changed to "a space for all women, trans men and gender non-conforming people of color";
  3. Rivers of Honey return to its longstanding tradition of being an open, accountable, and collectively-run space where dialogue is encouraged, disagreement is allowed, and decisions are made in an open, transparent, and community-inclusive manner.

How to Get Involved

We ask our community members and allies to join us in voicing your opinions and concerns. We offer these ideas for participation:

  • Distribute widely: Share this letter with your communities, families, colleagues, and friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, personal blog, etc.
  • Endorse this letter to publicly voice your support. Your endorsement will appear on this website. Both individuals and organizations can endorse!
  • Let current producers know your opinion: If you choose not to attend or perform at Rivers of Honey because of these changes, or if you attend or perform but disagree with or have questions about these changes, please voice your questions/concerns to the current producers at riversofhoney [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Join us on Facebook: Show your support by RSVP'ing to our Facebook event. It will be updated to take place at the same time as each monthly Rivers of Honey until the policy of trans inclusion is reinstated. Updates about actions related to trans inclusion at Rivers will also be sent to folks who RSVP to the event.

Endorsements

List in formation – please join it! All individuals' organizational affiliations are listed for identification purposes only. Sorted by organization name or last name with organizations listed first.

Total endorsers to date: 168

Alianza Ciudadana en Pro de la Salud LGBTTA
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Audre Lorde Project, Inc.
New York, NY
CUNY Law OUTLaws
Queens, NY
Freedom Train Productions
New York, NY
Green Bodies (GB) of UZURI
Seattle, WA
none
Los Angeles Trans Leadership Academy
Los Angeles
PrettyQueer.com
New York, NY
Former member of WOW
Puerto Rico Para Tod@s
Raha Iranian Feminist Collective
New York, NY
Rebel Cupcake
Brooklyn, NY
Monthly queer cabaret that includes many acts that are WOW performers
Seattle Copwatch
Seattle, WA
The Queer Commons
New York, NY
TransGender New Hampshire
New Hampshire, USA
Transsexuals and Transgender On the Move
San Juan, P.R.
Wild Seed Wellness Massage
Oakland, California
Lauren A.
Richmond, VA
Mona Afable
Myra Aguirre
Brooklyn, NY
Yasmin Ahmed
Brooklyn, NY
Past attendee
Mariela Alburges
Ramses Alexander
Brooklyn
Milo Ampersand
Santa Cruz, Ca
Marie Aponte
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Jack Aponte
Brooklyn, NY | Palante Technology
Former ROH production assistant, former WOW producer, performer, and member
Aisha Awadallah
Julie Baber
New York, NY | the late 20% Theatre Company
Past WOW Producer
Blyth Barnow
San Francisco, CA
kay ulanday barrett
jersey city, nj. | recipes for the people
trans gender queer performer/poet who has performed at roh in the past.
Michelle Brotman
New York, NY
Melanie Brown
New York, NY | Queer Commons
WOW member, have attended ROH shows as well
Julienne Brown
New York | FIERCE/Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Natasha Brown
Uk
Nora Butler Burke
Montreal, QC, Canada | ASTTeQ (Trans Health Action of Quebec)
Olivia Canlas
New York, NY
Luzviminda Carpenter
Seattle, WA | Green Bodies (GB) of UZURI
Mike Cecilio
Ottawa, ON, Canada | AIDS Committee of Ottawa
Chungyen Chang
Berea, KY
I am a trans person of color!
Leslie Ann Charles
New York
Sherri Charters
Canada
Ching-In Chen
Naomi Clark
New York, NY | Sylvia Rivera Law Project
have performed at WOW (as a musician) and been to many events
Cora Clement
Joshua Bastian Cole
Brooklyn, NY
Sebastian Colon
Brooklyn | trans activist/psychotherapist
transman of color/community member
Claudia Copeland
Bronx
Cheryl Courtney-Evans
Atlanta, GA | TILTT, Inc. [Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth, Inc.]
(D.) Deen
Playwright, have previously been produced at WOW
Elise Delacruz
New Haven, CT
former audience member
Erin Doherty
Olympia, WA
Red Durkin
Brooklyn, NY | prettyqueer.com
Sean Evans
Yasmine Farhang
New York, NY | Raha Iranian Feminist Collective
past audience member
Bran Fenner
Brooklyn
Former audience member
Maria Flores
New York
Kim Ford
Bronx, NY
past audience member, QPOC organizer
Elliott Fukui
Brooklyn
Julianne Gale
Chitra Ganesh
Brooklyn New York
Regular audience member, queer qoman of color artist
Malachi Garza
W. Haywood Burns Institute
Lucia Leandro Gimeno
Brooklyn, NY
gloria
Puerto Rico
Zil Goldstein
Brooklyn, NY
Reina Gossett
Brooklyn | Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Ellie Green
United States
Anna Greenwood
Brooklyn, NY
Erin Greif
Des Moines, IA
Margarita Guzman
Brooklyn, NY
Naa Hammond
New York
Woman of color audience member
Kemeya Harper
Brooklyn, NY
Kris Hayashi
New York, NY
Shauntee Henry
Brooklyn, NY
former audience member, volunteer staff, performer, and co-producer.
Imani Keith Henry
The Republic of Brooklyn
Performer/Playwright affliated & in love w/ WOW & ROH since 1998; 1st Trans Artist to have play produced by WOW Collective, July 2002
Kissimmee Hernan
Kissimmee FL
Fan
Susanna Hernández
Brooklyn, NY
Audience member
Rion Heroux
Los Angeles, CA | Trans Leadership Academy
Discrimination against my Brothers and Sisters IS my relationship.
Hannah Howard
Los Angeles | Gender Justice LA
Athena Huckaby
New York, NY
I've seen plays at WOW - including an awesome one by Kate Bornstein that was all about trans issues!
Kiwi Illafonte
Oakland, CA | Rapper - Native Guns
Jessica Inda
Berlin, WI 54923
Shayna Israel
Philadelphia
Former Performer
Cris Izaguirre
New York, NY
Former ROH Producer, WOW member
A. Naomi Jackson
Occasional Rivers Audience member
Nichelle Johnson
Montclair, NJ
Current Audience Member
Catherine Judge
San Francisco
audience
Cynthia Kaselis
New York City
Attendee
Bryn Kelly
Brooklyn, NY | Founding Collective Member, Theater Transgression; Actor, Musician, Playwright
Jamila Khan
Brooklyn, NY | Sylvia Rivera Law Project; Palante Technology; Department of Transformation
Previous Stage Manager at WOW shows
Mik Kinkead
Brooklyn, NY
WOW event attendee
Angela Koné
France
Gael Krajzman Johns
New York City
bean l. y.
seattle, wa | tadaima seattle
W. Brandon Lacy Campos
Queers for Economic Justice
Andre Lancaster
Audience Supporter
Jacob Lau
Los Angeles | UCLA Department of Women's Studies
Sandra Leon
Bronx, NY
One of the 1st Lighting Designers for ROH, Former ROH Producer and Performer, and Former WOW Board Member
Milo Hugh Leraar
New Westminster, BC, Canada
Dru Levasseur
Brooklyn, NY
Syd London
Brooklyn, NY
WOW Performer
Brittany Luck
Counterpublic Collective
Velina Manolova
Counterpublic Collective
Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz
San Juan, P.R. | TTM, ACPS-LGBTTA, TRans Latinas Coalition
Amy Waihili Marsh
Alex Martin
Zavé Martohardjono
Brooklyn, NY
Filmmaker, films shown at Rivers of Honey
riKu matsuda
los angeles, ca
Karla Mejia
Los Angeles | INCITE! , Gender Justice LA, Hollywood Youth Pride
Supporting friends who've performed or volunteered at Rivers of Honey
Ryth Mendez
Los Angeles CA | Queer Alliance at UCLA
Morgan Mentzer
Leticia Miranda
SANTA CRUZ, CA
Soniya Munshi
New York City
Sabelo Narasimhan
Brooklyn, NY
Have attended many ROH shows
Hope Nastri
Yoyo Negrete
orange county, ca
Akemi Nishida
Brooklyn, NY | Graduate Center, CUNY
Marcia Ochoa
Santa Cruz, CA | Feminist Studies, University of California - Santa Cruz; El/La Para TransLatinas, San Francisco
Doyin Ola
New York, NY | Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Attendee
Alex Ramses P.
Manuel Padua
Los Angeles | Barangay Los Angeles
Archana Pathak
Richmond, VA
Jennifer Patterson
Brooklyn, NY
Laura Perez
Santo Domingo
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Oakland/ Toronto | brownstargirl productions
longtime supporter, QTPOC arts magic maker, femme shark, performer
Kristen Plylar-Moore
Rachel Quinn
Ann Arbor, MI
Fareen Ramji
Brooklyn, NY
Community Member
Enoch Riese
United States
Alexandra Roberts
England
Staci Robinson
Chicago, IL
Lauren Russell
Pittsburgh, PA
Audience Member
Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan
Durham, NH | University of New Hampshire
Meche Salazar
Denver, Colorado
Sam Scholl
Jackson Heights, NY | Queer Student Union (Hunter College), Housing Works
Elizabeth Seibel
United States | Women of Color Coalition at The Evergreen State College
none
Pedro Julio Serrano
Lolan Buhain Sevilla
Brooklyn, NY | Cultural Worker, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)
Zakiyyah Shabazz
former volunteer staff member and producer of Rivers Honey
Karalyn Shimmyo
Brooklyn, NY | The Queer Commons
event attendee
Saul Silva
Brooklyn, NY
Avy Skolnik
New York City
Phoenix SOng
Oakland, CA (self) and New York, NY (The Door) | Self and The Door
Past performer, audience member. Brought queer and trans-youth at The Door to various shows including rivers of honey
Ariel Speedwagon
NYC | NYC Performer at large
WOW member, performer, attendee
Annie Sprinkle
San Francisco | Love Art Lab
Been there many times over the years. Many friends performed there.
Laura Stempel
Chicago
cuthbert storm
Oakland, CA
Aleza Summit
Brooklyn
Attendee at many WOW shows
Amita Swadhin
Mana Tahaie
Tulsa, ok
Charles Theonia
Brooklyn, NY
Selly Thiam
Brooklyn | Founder of None on Record: Stories of Queer Africa
Work appeared in show. Audience member.
Yumi Thomas
Brooklyn
fan of Rivers of Honey; marched in NY Pride with Rivers of Honey because of a friend's invitation in 2010
Dex Thompson
Betty Tisel
Minneapolis MN | Minnesota Community Sings
friend of people who have attended and/or performed there
Kenji Tokawa
Toronto, Ontario, Canada | the Trans Access Project, the Trans Inclusion Policy Development Team of the 519 Church St. Community Centre
as a trans artist of colour whose siblings are all those across the border doing similar work, as a potential audience member in the future once my gender allows me to cross borders
Cal Trumann
NYC
former WOW member; occasional performerat trans-inclusive WOW events
Laurel Mei Turbin
Brooklyn
Supporter
Taino Vasquez
Brooklyn, NY
Former performer to ROH & former wow performer
Manny Vaz
Brooklyn, NY
Genderqueer Drag King, Switch n' Play Member, performed at WOW, ROH audience member
Juan Vega
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Jackieleen Verdejo
Brooklyn, NY | N/A
Former Member
grey vild
Yael Villafranca
San Francisco
Alicia Virani
Los Angeles, CA
I used to regularly attend Rivers of Honey when I lived in NYC.
Adrien Weibgen
Brooklyn, NY | The Queer Commons
Former attendee & organizer in qpoc communities
Erica Weinstein
Brooklyn, NY
Former WOW member
Jennifer Williams
Brooklyn, NY
member/audience
Felicia Wong
Mia Yamamoto
Los Angeles, California | Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance of Los Angeles
Judy Yu
Brooklyn, NY