‘Coming Out Party’ planned for Tuesday
A new community center is anticipated to open this fall in Lawrence, and it aims to help young queer and trans folk — particularly those of color, or QTPOC+ — not only survive, but thrive.
Haus of McCoy is founded and run by Black and Brown community leaders and allies. Cody Keith Charles (all pronouns), who is also a columnist for the Times, will serve as the center’s executive director. The board president, treasurer and secretary are Dr. Aramis Watson, Bulaong Ramiz and Darren Canady, respectively.
Charles said one goal is to provide youths — primarily middle- and high school-aged people of color — with a safer space to explore their identities, dreams and passions, and to be in community with other queer and trans youths. However, the center can’t guarantee safety because physical, mental and emotional violence occurs everywhere, Charles said.
All queer and trans folk are welcome to the community hub, but “our personal politic (as an organization) holds Black trans poor disabled women at the center,” according to information from Haus of McCoy.
Charles said the center’s work will be fluid, responsive to the needs of the people it’s serving. It may look one way one year and be completely different the next, they said.
As such, financial support for the center should come only with the expectation that funds will be used to support the needs of queer and trans youth — not restricted in any way.
“It is a community that values a no-strings-attached giving model – giving that is immediate and agile to meet the ever evolving needs of our most marginalized populations in Lawrence,” information from the center says. “It is a community that lives in alignment with their values.”
Charles said that many in the Lawrence community pledge support for marginalized people — so they question why no such center already exists.
Charles wrote in a Facebook post announcing Haus of McCoy that they would like to fundraise about $350,000: “I know it sounds like a lot of money, and that’s because it is for many of us. And we have to be honest about the money and resources that reside within this community.”
“This money would allow me to hire a few positions so all of the labor doesn’t rest on me, a Black fat trans human,” Charles continued. “Moreover, some of the money would go to our radically queer programming.”
Charles wrote that some members of the community could write a check for the entirety of that $350,000 without feeling a real impact on their lifestyle.
“Money is here, in Lawrence. And honestly, white folks and whiteness are socialized to hoard everything,” Charles wrote. “Admit that you have so much more than you need to live. Ask your children or the young folks in your lives whether they want to inherit more money than they will ever need to live or help folks to live right now! I would be grateful for any amount of money. And if you give $5,000 to this project and you have millions, it’s probably time for you to reevaluate the things you care about.”
The center is named in memory of educator Dr. Sheltreese “Treese” McCoy, who died in 2018 at age 37.
“Treese was known as a radically loving human being. She was a healer, a truth-teller and a fearless Black fat disabled woman,” according to information from Haus of McCoy.
“Treese contributed many research hours around queerness and transness of Black and Indigenous People of Color in higher education. … Moreover, Treese was a fierce facilitator, a disability rights advocate and a femmetor to many. Treese gave her heart and energy to Black queer and trans folks. She taught many of us about grace, accountability and liberation.”
One of McCoy’s most widely known contributions is the creation of the first and most comprehensive Queer People of Color Resource Guide.
A Coming Out Party planned for next week will close out Pride Month and celebrate the beginning of this change for Lawrence.
There will be an appearance from a special guest from RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 6: Silky Nutmeg Ganache. New episodes just started airing on Thursday.
There will also be performances by Lawrence’s own Cuee, Micha Anne and Novacayne DeMornay.
The event is set for 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, June 29, at Abe & Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St. Organizers ask that attendees please wear a mask if they’re not fully vaccinated because it’s an indoor venue.
“Join Haus of McCoy for a night of laughter, joy, and liberation!” the Facebook event page says.
Note: This story was updated at 1:16 a.m. Saturday, June 26, to add details about fundraising.
— Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached via email at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-422-6363.