SQ:UAD Festival: four festivals unite for a one-day virtual fest open to queer womxn, non-binary, trans and intentional allies

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SQ:UAD Festival Organizers (L to R, top to bottom) Stacy Sakamoto, She Fest & Jen Labarbera, San Diego Pride; Stacy Clavert, Clexacon; Joslyn Hatfield Vegas Women's Fest (staff writer Las Vegas Spectrum); Kimberly Hooper, Clexacon; Cindi Hall, Vegas Women's Fest; Yinka Freeman, SumofUs Festival; Jess Wiener, Sumofus Festsival; and Madison Eker, SumofUs Festival.

When COVID-19 led to the cancellation of festivals across the U.S.,  organizers from four major queer, womxn-centric festivals united to create one big virtual event.

This Saturday, Aug. 15,  Clexacon, She Fest, SumOfUs and Vegas Women’s Fest will host the SQ:UAD Festival,  a  free 12-hour, virtual community event, beginning at 10 a.m and featuring workshops, panel discussions, entertainment, curated watch parties and even a sing-a-long. Among the highlights are performances by Sonia Leigh and other live music acts , movie watch parties hosted by Clexacon, discussions on queer politics and activisim, sexual wellness and white allyship.

SQ:UAD Festival originated after representatives from the different LGBTQ+ women-centric festivals met up at this year’s Consolidated Association of Prides International Conference, and walked out with plans to someday collaborate. Creating a way to come together during the global pandemic is their first event.

“We spent a lot of time before, during, and after the panel swapping ideas and war stories. There was just an instant connection, and we knew we wanted to find a way to work together,” said Stacy Sakamoto, Chair of She Fest, who was one of the panelists at CAPI discussing ways to create inclusive spaces for queer women, non-binary and trans individuals.

Some of the SQ:UAD Festival organizers at CAPI in February.

The collaboration makes for a perfect union of like-minded efforts.  She Fest, is a women-centered festival, celebrating talent and contributions by women in the LGBTQ+ San Diego community; SumOfUs festival is designed to empower and evolve womxn, trans and non-binary communities through wellness and education;  Clexacon is a fandom event for LGBTQ+women, trans and non-binary fans; and Vegas Women’s Fest is a festival and ongoing effort designed to engage, elevate and support LGBTQ+Womxn in Southern Nevada.

“Every organization that is bringing the festival to life is doing such good work and brings so much to the table, we can’t wait for the big day, and importantly, for what the future holds,” said Kimberly Hooper, Director of ClexaCon. “This collaboration has been so exciting for us – and we can’t wait to introduce our ClexaCon community to everyone at SQ:UAD Festival.”

The festival will be accessible on Remo through any web browser that allows interactions between participants, presenters and organizers for attendees to connect on a much more personal level than other platforms on the market,  said SumOfUs Founder, Madison Eker. “Our virtual space fosters interaction in groups large and small.”

Registration for the festival is free. Scheduling, guests and other information is available at squadfestival.org.

“The beat of our drum is measured by wellness, connection, authenticity and perhaps most importantly, queer joy,” said Joslyn Hatfield, Director of Vegas Women’s Fest, who was also on the panel this spring discussing the importance of inclusive spaces (Hatfield is also a Spectrum staff writer).  “Our community provides space and opportunity to celebrate and elevate the voices of queer womxn, trans and nonbinary individuals.”

The  SQ:UAD Festival will be held 10 a.m-10 p.m. on Aug. 15., through the online platform, Remo. Registration and attendance is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information and to register, go to squadfestival.org.

The  SQ:UAD Festival will be held 10 a.m-10 p.m. on Aug. 15., through the online platform, Remo. Registration and attendance is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information and to register, go to squad festival.org.

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