On Sunday, June 2nd, 2019, as part of our 12th annual festival, we hosted an event called Gay Guerilla: Julius Eastman, featuring the work of the late artist Julius Eastman, a queer, black composer based primarily in downtown New York City until his passing in 1991. This event was lead by Mary Jane Leach, a composer, researcher and friend of Julius Eastman and was facilitated by Nivie from We Are Missing, a collaborative community project that aims to create QTBIPOC programming in K’jipuktuk.
This event caused direct harm to those involved, those in attendance and to the broader communities surrounding our organization, particularly QTBIPOC folks. We recognize and name this as an instance of anti-black racism. We accept full responsibility for this harm and intend to take measures of accountability and transparency moving forward, in hopes of honoring those who experienced violence as a result of our negligence. We sincerely apologize to all those who faced harm/violence as a result of OBEY’s choices in programming this event. We recognize that an apology without direct action and change is meaningless, and plan to move forward by naming the harm caused, working to offer support / healing and implementing structural changes to how we program in hopes of reducing further possibilities of harm.
Three sections follow: a summary of the event and harmful behavior as we currently understand it, statements around background and internal processes, admissions and failures, and finally our intentions / action plan moving forward.