SONG started Gaycation several years ago out of a deep need for us to be together as LGBTQ+ people, Black people, people of color, immigrants, rural people, and working-class Southern people. With sincere heartbreak, we had to cancel Gaycation this year. Keeping our people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make it impossible for us to convene larger numbers of our members together physically.

With the funds allotted for Gaycation, we invited SONG members to envision a space of collective joy in their communities and submit a proposal to make Staycation happen. Below are our selected Staycation winners!

Utopia for Cultural Workers: Atlanta, GA 

Many people are familiar with the quote by Nina Simone “It is the artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live.” Now is a better time than ever to make art. Life is our art, which means everyone is an artist. Believe that.  Many artists and cultural workers are challenged at finding space to create and tithe their talent. How may I be of service, if I’m not a street team person or a logistics person? Where do I fit in? Our hope is to build out an art studio/screen print studio in the SONG warehouse, to build out some much-needed community/artistic infrastructure. 

We will be able to sustain this space with community art events, donations or jobs from organizations looking to partner with S.O.N.G for printed merchandise and S.O.N.G would also be able to print swag in house. This equipment will be able to be mobile if there is a truck available to transport.

Our hope is to have a Staycation event after the build out is complete and invite comrades and community to come and enjoy the space and have an opportunity to print 1 out of 3 designs onto a poster board or a garment of their own.

Queer Abolitionist Film Drive-In: Athens, GA

SONG members within Athens will create a series of three queer abolitionist drive-in film events in partnership with the Athens Mutual Aid Network. Each of these events will show two to three queer BIPOC created and centering films, curated by Ronika McClain, a queer performance artist, cultural critic, and MFA at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. These drive-in events seek to be a practice of radical visual resilience that has already been expressed through Black Lives Matter and precedential civil rights movements–resilience that is more than a simple return to a status quo, but a fluid queering (and thus, overturning) of heteronormative and white spaces. 

This event is threefold. It offers to the city of Athens education through radical, visual resilience (respecting CDC guidelines); it raises awareness of mutual aid work and movement work within Athens (this work very often being led by queer folx); and it encourages the coalescing of a SONG chapter in Athens.

Porch Sit Premiere: Announcing our Center and Highlighting Community Joy: Boone, NC 

The purpose of this event is to announce our Radical Kindred, Black in Boone community center. Goals of the event include hearing from the community what they want and need, gathering name suggestions for the space itself, providing both necessary resources and staycation themed packages, and base building for S.O.N.G. in the High Country.

The event will take place outside of a local business and will start with an introduction by Radical Kindred and Black in Boone representatives. After the introduction, participants will be able to collect pre-packaged lunches, staycation packages, share their dreams for the space, and suggest names for the center itself. Community members will share their wants and needs by writing on a banner, one at a time, which will then be hung up in the physical space. Suggestions for the center name will be submitted via survey that will be shared through both social media and QR codes at the event. 

Staycation packages will be based on the five senses. Packages will include a grocery gift-card (taste), an Amazon gift card used to rent a documentary recommended for education (sight), candles or essential oils made by small local businesses (smell), items targeting kinesthetics such as puzzles or playdough (touch), and a gift card to a local bookstore and audiobooks (hear). Because not everyone will feel comfortable coming to an in-person event, we will be having a giveaway on both Black in Boone and Radical Kindred social media pages. There will be 5 staycation packages raffled off on both accounts. People can enter by following both pages and tagging two friends in the comments. People will also be able to submit their wishes and dreams for the space, as well as name suggestions, through an Instagram story and Facebook post.

Barbeque, Cocktails and Film in the Park: North Miami, FL

Barbecued food, cocktails, movies in the park, all are staples of the perfect vacation. As COVID runs rapid, we aim to bring those perfect elements to the members of SONG Sol, in a safe way of course. We would go to the local park, set up a grill, pop open some bottles, and enjoy a nice film in the park. We’ll provide a food folks can grill and everyone will also be given a drink where they can craft their own cocktails. Coordinators of the staycation will also follow the proper protocols to serve other visitors in the park who would like a meal as well. This event will also be used to talk to prospective members and bond as a new chapter.

LGBTQ Day of Care: Houston, TX

SONG Houston crew members will put together an LGBTQ Day of Care, with a series of free online classes taught by LGBTQ instructors to help the community rest and heal together during the pandemic. Participants will come and go as they please or stay all day if they’d like. We hope to have a yoga class, cooking class (communal lunch break right afterwards), a self-massage class, a guided painting class, with a guided meditation at the end. Pre-registered participants will also be sent a gift bag with things to help them participate throughout the day!

UnBLOCKed: Black Joy on the Move, a traveling block party: Nashville, TN

The Travelling Block Party (TBP) is an entertaining way to meet our people where they are by bringing the party to them. The TBP will feature several vehicles, pickup trucks and/or other vehicles towing flatbed trailers. This will serve as an opportunity for joy, resistance, base-building, and resource sharing, including political education. 

Historically, block parties are used as a method for community engagement among various resistance movements globally including Hip-Hop, “Reclaim the Streets”, Mardi Gras and “Orange Alternative”. As we continue in the struggle for Liberation from Oppressive Regimes, we intend to observe and continue the legacy of those on the inside by finding more creative ways to build community.

Queer Centered Virtual Festival: Knoxville, TN 

Our Queer Centered Virtual Festival will offer education in political organizing, arts and local culture, and have live virtual performances! We would also love to have a lil video documentation for the event, to show the process and to hopefully get some good skate videos with shots of our communities in Knoxville. Because the entire event is virtual, this ensures that we can stay safe! 

The offerings during the festival have the potential to become regular monthly offerings from our chapter, ensuring that we can truly be a political and social home for our Queer Kin in Knoxville and East TN. We can stay engaged in our town! Our hope is that these offerings become a lasting and growing thing in our community.

Black Life Response: New Orleans, LA 

Solidarity Black Life Response began in May 2020 with the current wave of uprisings throughout the world against violence towards Black lives and bodies, with the goal of abolishing the police state and all systems of white supremacy. We in the SONG New Orleans chapter co-created an altar space and series of rituals, the Black Life Altar: “A publicly created and curated space for remembrance, reflection, & celebration, where we honor the sacredness of BLACK LIVES and come together as a community in caring SOLIDARITY.” Images of people we have lost, screen-printed banners, offerings of flowers and candles, racial justice articles, and a variety of other community co-created offerings including a beautiful letter by our 8-year-old comrade, Simone, recognizing collective grief and offering the neighborhood a call to action.

We propose to expand on these practices, by centering those most impacted by these same systems of violence, and creating a space for connection, creation, and restoration for Black Trans People. This is a space rooted in peer development and planting the seeds for a longer term network of Black Trans creators, healers, and organizers. We propose to utilize a generous offering made to us by Foxfire Ranch, Black-owned family land that is dedicated to supporting the work of social justice and creative expression.

They offer to host us for a full week-long residency for up to 10 people. It’s our hope that through this process, we’ll provide platforms for artists that don’t often have such access and provide reinvigoration for their practice and their spirits, and nourishment to sustain them in their ongoing work and community. We also hope that by being in community with each other, we will be deepening each other’s political and creative analysis, and manifesting a Black Trans think tank that can provide thought leadership. We hope to create a container where participants can practice being free from fear, reimagine community in real time, and be in this practice of collective transformation with one another.

Off We Grow Organic Community Farm: Atlanta, GA 

Our team will  gather local neighborhood children ages 7–16 to teach them about seeds, the nutritional value of all fruits and vegetables, and what effects they have on our bodies. They’ll learn to recognize which foods provide the highest amount of natural vitamins and minerals. And also teach them how to look for and recognize wild herbs which can be eaten.  We will also like to take a trip/walk through the neighborhood to look for free fruit and nut trees. 

There will be two types of gardens, raised beds and aeroponic towers. This gives them the opportunity to learn a variety of gardening techniques.  The raised beds as well as the towers will require assembly so again, the kids get to work with their hands to build.  Everything grown can be consumed straight from the gardens so the kids get the satisfaction of seeing the work of their efforts mature and grow.  We will ask for organic seed donations and purchase organic seeds from non-Monsanto seed companies ONLY.  Guest gardeners will be invited in to speak on the importance of having the lifetime skills of gardening.  Everyone gets to partake of the garden, share with their families, or Home Plate will be available to prepare them a really nice and healthy meal.

Starlight Drive-In/DIY Movie Night: Clarkston, GA

We’ll host a night of community and movie magic! We will first join together over dinner to break bread, and then we will either caravan to the Starlight Drive-In for a queer-ass double feature, or we’ll ask folks to bring blankets and lawn chairs, pop some popcorn kernels to get stuck in our teeth, and sit back to enjoy a queer-ass movie projection together! 

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