Ring of Keys receives a $1,000 COMMUNITY GRANT from NYC Pride | Stonewall 50

Every year, NYC Pride awards thousands of dollars in grant money to LGBTQIA-friendly and LGBTQIA-affirming organizations. These grants are working grants, which means that in order to receive the grant money, members or volunteers must perform specific functions, as a group, at our NYC Pride events.

We are seeking Keys, Key allies, friends, and loved ones to join our Team to help fulfill our Grant!
EVENT: Pride Island Bag Check

DATE: Saturday, June 29th, 2019

LOCATION: Hudson River Park's Pier 97
(59th St & West Side Highway)

SHIFT 1: 12:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

SHIFT 2: 5:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Check and return items (backpacks, jackets, etc.) with bag check tickets in an orderly fashion, store checked items safely/securely; Set up and break down area upon event conclusion.

Can you help? Are you a Key ally? Have you been looking for the right opportunity to connect with this community but unsure of how? Here’s the perfect chance to help Ring of Keys and be a part of Pride!

We need 10-15 people to work one shift to fulfill our grant responsibilities. If interested, reply to this email or
Become a fiscally sustaining KEY member!
For as little as $5 / month, you can help support Ring of Keys as a monthly donor.

Your contribution will help Ring of Keys fulfill its mission to provide a visible, supportive community, as well as a hiring resource for those looking to work with professional artists who self-identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer, femme, trans, masc, non-binary, and the diversity of genders that queerness contains; as well as to pursue new endeavors to better serve our community and members.
Criminal Queerness Festival

Drowning in Cairo by Adam Elsayigh
Directed by KEY Celine Rosenthal
Friday, June 14th, 8pm

Questions? Key Admin for outing: Andrea Prestinario

Waafrika 123 by Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko
Directed by KEY Éamon Boylan
Saturday, June 22nd, 2pm

Questions? Key Admin for outing: Becky Hermenze
The Criminal Queerness Festival is also costumed designed by KEY Jules Peiperl and has dramaturgy by KEY Linnea Valdivia.

Discount Code (10% off): pridepatrons

Loring Park (Meet at Stonewall Stage)
Sunday, June 23rd
Time TBD

Questions? Reach out to KEY Maggie Mae Sulentic

June 22-23
Time TBD

Questions? Reach out to KEY Meeka Postman


For our June KEY Member Corner, we are spotlighting Mizz June Brown (she/her), an actress, aspiring playwright, singer, rapper, songwriter, and self-described loudmouth.

As you know, at this year's PRIDE we will be honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which was a fight started and led by black trans women, like Marsha P. Johnson. Since we mark the start of the LGBTQ movement with the Stonewall uprising, it seems now, more than ever, is a time to be centering trans lives and stories. As a black trans woman, what are ways you want to see our industry do better in terms of valuing trans lives and stories?

While I see so many - and have been blessed to be a a part of the wave of transwomen continuing to break through and do amazing things in the industry; the entertainment industry giants seem to not want to take a chance on our self produced narratives/productions. I've never seen a Broadway play produced or written by a transwoman. The last time I saw a transwoman producing her own show was back when Laverne Cox produced that makeover show for VH1. There have been no black/brown transwomen who've self produced any films. We're being given visibility - but how is that actually helping? Are murder rates for transwomen decreasing? We're being given these "co-producer" and "associate producer" labels, but are we being paid equitably? If the entertainment industry giants really want to do better by valuing trans lives and stories, our simply being given "visibility" isn't going to be enough. We can't pay them bills with exposure, hun! We need more compensation. We should be given the same - if not more amounts of money than the rest of the production staff during these productions. We're sharing our personal truths, and while telling our truth can be healing and entertaining - it can also be retraumatizing. So I urge those who can - to help our community flourish, just like we help your ratings. If you have the dough, divide the pie equitably.
You launched your music video WAR CALL in December, which you produced, directed and starred in; you have been seen on All My Children and The Deuce; and you've performed at Atlantic Theatre, The Public, and The Lark, among others. How has your queerness influenced your work?
I strongly believe that my queerness, much like my being black, has and continues to be a gift. It influences everything that I do. But, because I occupy various intersectional identities - it's admittedly not always a focal point. I'm not always read as "Othered" when people meet me, either. This was not always the case. In the early stages of my physical transition, I would at times be violently called out for being transgender. I got to see how scared people were of my being trans. I got to see how my comfort in myself as a transwoman made others uncomfortable. I got to see what people do when they fear anything they're not familiar with. And through my navigating the world as a queer person, hidden in plain sight - I still get to see that. Whenever I smile and nonchalantly tell someone that I strike up an interesting conversation with that I'm trans - there's typically a moment where they begin to uncomfortably process what they've been told. A twitch in their face. A quick glance over my body to see if they may have missed any "tell tale" signs. A look of lingering confusion. It's just so interesting to experience. It's like my truth slices through their assumptions and snaps them out of some Matrix-like state. My queer blackness doesn't just influence my art. It has turned me into living breathing art. And, like any other piece of art - I'm aware that I can affect the emotions of others intentionally or unintentionally. When being on stage, or being in front of a camera, or creating content like War Call - and my forthcoming debut album - I use all of my experience: past, present, and what I hope for the future, to inhabit the minds of the characters I become. My intentions are to heal myself through my characters. The trauma I've experienced and continue to experience. Through my art and the art of those who I connect with - it's almost like I'm having a therapy session that everybody gets to watch. It's weird, but as I heal through plays, songs, etc., that healing I experience seems to help others to let go of some of their trauma as well.

You [were] featured on June 1st as part of La Mama's SQUIRTS: Generations of Queer Performance, curating an evening of "Femmes First". What do you want folks to know about this show?

Yes! I'm super excited. Tell you the truth, for some reason - I thought that curating the show simply meant I had to pick some people, perform, and then boom! I'm done! lol... NOPE. I'm actually producing this whole night and it has been an intense labor of love.

Everybody who'll be in the final line up has consistently communicated with me their ongoing gratitude and excitement to participate in this. The audience will get to know a bit more about me by attending.

Every one of the transwomen (along with the drag ally, and cisman and woman) in the lineup are EXTREMELY talented. All of our lives are connected in some way. Bringing them to LaMama with me as one of the Squirts was a way for me to give back and showcase their amazing talents to an audience that may not be familiar with them. Miss Major has not only been my mentor for the last decade - she's also taken on an adoptive mother role in the absence of my birth mother. Me and The Violence worked together when I was homeless. I was the first transwoman Princess Sasha Fierce met back when she was a client of one of the non-profits I worked for. Auset is a member of an organization that I co-founded (FIERCE! - and she'll also be performing the night before. Drag ally Banjela Davis is in the War Call music video (as one of the sets of arms for my Aries/Kali hybrid) and we've also worked together. I grew up with Noele, the head choreo of my backing dancers (The Fantasy), and my other dancer, Antonio, is the ballroom/house son of one of my ballroom/house brothers back when I was in the House of Blahnik. There's no doubt in my mind that this Saturday is gonna be amazing!

Why is being a KEY important to you?

For me, being a key is a stepping stone in the right direction. I used to really REALLY value fame and what I thought that could mean to me and my career. I thought that the more famous I was, that I wouldn't be poor and I'd finally find happiness. Now that I'm grown though - I know that's a bunch a bullshit. I know now that it's not about how many people know you - it's about who you know. And for me, being a key is an opportunity to potentially give me the access to a network of those who can help me elevate myself in the entertainment industry. And, once that door is open for me - I can (and will) enter and open windows, and other doors for the talented girls (and guys, and everyone in between) who were never given a chance for whatever idiotic reason.
For more information on Key Mizz June Brown or her work, visit her resume here.
Do you have work that you want us to showcase? Let us know! Reply to this email, or use the hashtag #ringofkeys on your social media posts so we can know about all the great stuff going on with our Members.
Be sure to check out our growing KEY member directory!
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