By: Nix Chace
Far too often local communities are disconnected from one another, especially within marginalized groups such as queer and trans people of color. The need for safer spaces among people of all ages, and mixed identities is prominent, especially in a white-dominated community like Olympia. “Being in Olympia specifically, it feels like a pocket of whiteness, it’s harder to connect because it feels like there is less of us.” says Masa Kawamura, a volunteer at Stonewall Youth, an Evergreen grad and creator of TQPOConnect. TQPOConnect is a support group and a safer space for queer and trans people of color. Kawamura created the group due to a need for community solidarity for queer and trans people of color in Olympia. “It seems like there’s a disconnect between trans and queer people of color in this community” says Kawamura. This group aims to connect people with these identities and foster a space where people can vent about frustrations, build a stable community, and have fun with one another. “TQPOConnect was a really good meeting. We had pizza and I got to meet new people in the community who experience similar things as I do. I also got to listen to stories about experiences different from my own. I feel more connected and like I have a place to chill out and not worry about oppressive people saying or doing oppressive things.” says a member of the group on their experience at the first meeting. Kawamura says the purpose of the group for the moment is “mainly to connect with each other and have a safer space to chat and have fun together. Ultimately, this space can and will evolve with the members in its mission. It’s my hope that we move toward activism and making positive change in our community together.” TQPOConnect is born out of its parent organization, Stonewall Youth, and is open to all ages. The group has only had one meeting so far, and is excited to gather more people and become a strong support group. “Because we’re really new, we’re hoping to get a lot of people on board” Kawamura states intentions of building a family and a strong communal bond with members of the group.
TQPOConnect is held in downtown Olympia at the Co-Lab, 317 4th ave E, it’s ages 13 and over and is a drug and alcohol free space. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month from 4-6 p.m.