Discovering one’s “tribe” in Los Angeles goes beyond merely finding companionship. It embodies a deep-rooted history, mutual resilience, and shared empathy.
Against the backdrop of LA’s sun-kissed skylines and iconic palm boulevards, numerous Black and Brown Queer women find not just a community but a resonant space that embraces the harmonious blend of their race, gender, and sexuality.
Within LA’s bustling streets and expansive neighborhoods, supportive havens for Black and Brown, Queer women have emerged. Brianca Williams and Shatondra “Shay” Caldwell created Queer Aunties to echo the voices and concerns of their community. Queer Aunties was initially supposed to be a “one-time event” that stemmed from a prior town hall meeting they put together in response to the current strike in Hollywood. Like others, Williams, a television producer and writer, and Caldwell, an Emmy-winning producer, have felt the blow of the Hollywood strikes.
The two founders spoke with 21Ninety about Queer Aunties’ instant success, its impact, and their plans for the future.
“Bri and I, and some other folks here in LA…we wanted to put together an event for Black and brown creators affected by the writer strike. We wanted them to all come together and let’s hang out, let’s ask questions, and let’s figure stuff out,” Caldwell explained.
“We had our first event during pride, and we had probably over 300 plus Black and brown folks show up. And we were like, ‘I think we did something really. We’ve never seen a space like this. And we’ve been asking for a space like this, and finally, you guys did this.’ So at that point, we were like, ‘Alright, I think we have to keep doing this,” the Clark Atlanta alumna continued.
“We don’t have a space for us, so it was great to create this safe space for folks. And here we are, Queer Aunties,” Caldwell added.
And what started as just one event has expanded tremendously and positively impacted the community.
A Need for A Safe Space
Queer Aunties has carved out a vital niche in the quest for representation and inclusion. Williams and Caldwell created a sanctuary specifically tailored for Black and Brown Queer presenting women and non-binary individuals. Queer Aunties offers a platform for shared experiences, authentic storytelling, and genuine connection.
“There was definitely a need for a space that is for a little bit more of a mature crowd. Because there’s plenty of gay spaces in LA. Let’s be real, they’re very young,” Williams explained.
And in the words of Williams, the two “struck gold” and knew they needed to keep the momentum going.
Queer Aunties offers events as safe havens for personal growth and community-building.
“So many people came up to us at the last event. There’s this one girl that literally had tears in her eyes and was just like, ‘Thank you so much.'” Williams recalled.
“‘Thank you guys so much for curating this space. I’ve lived in LA for X amount of years. I’ve never seen anything like this. We need this. Please keep doing it. And so, I think in moments like that, for Shay and I, this is bigger than just a party. We have to keep bringing these elevated experiences to our community. So yeah, I don’t know if you want to take you back after that,” Williams said.
“We got an email yesterday from a non-binary femme. She said, ‘I’m 33 years old, and this is the first event since living here where I feel seen. I feel heard. Please let me know when your next event is because I want to go to every single thing.’ And so it’s amazing to feel the love that we get from people and finally,” Caldwell added.
Future Programs and Initiatives
The trajectory for Queer Aunties is poised for significant transformation. From its humble beginnings as a small organization, a palpable momentum propels it towards a more expansive future.
“I think, in the next five years I see queer Aunties as more than I think, just event base. We would love for it to be some type of membership situation. Where you can come and sign up for membership, and be a part Queer Aunties like club. I think that’s a goal of ours. And in the next 10 years, we want to be in Europe, London, and anywhere all the Black aunties are,” Caldwell shared.
“I hope we’re worldwide and hopefully, we can, cross the borders. Queer aunties is for everybody, you know what I’m saying? And I hope in the next coming years that Bri and I grow our business that we’re able to hire a bigger team and just really thriving. And a [I] hope is for us to be in Essence Magazine,” she added.
Williams revealed that they have been invited to do movie reviews and hopes to do more events with other organizations. And although, they have had three events, she wants the world to know that they are more than just parties. Queer Aunties will do it all.
“We want to travel and not just be Queer Aunties in LA. We would love for it to be for all the Queer aunties,” Williams stated. “We’re everywhere. In the middle of nowhere Ohio or something. Maybe wellness things. We want to definitely tap into mental health [space] because that’s a big issue within the Queer community,” Williams said.
An Emphasis on Community
Williams and Caldwell leave future Queer Aunties still searching for their tribe with one last piece of advice:
“Come and experience [Queer Aunties]. There’s a lot of people who come to our events, make friends, and meet people who are like them as far as being Queer. We want to make sure that people know that our foundation was built off of community. If anything, and I’m happy to say that Queer Auntie has definitely broadened my community and I have a lot more friends who I identify with and it feels amazing. It feels good. And for anybody who wants to be a part of this and you’re looking for that community be a part of this come,” Caldwell said.