Gin-I Dickerson wanted to connect with other self- identified masculine of center (MOC) women in the D.C. metropolitan area, however finding this space was a difficult task. She decided to take matters into her own hands and create a space to share, discuss, and celebrate MOC individuals.
Through her sharing, Dickerson and her wife Theresa Quitto-Dickerson decided to organize a conference.
“I took the idea and ran with it. I am a planner and organizer and had been working in the community for the past three years, and I thought if my wife wanted something like this, then others in the community [might want the same],” says Quitto-Dickerson.
So, what does Masculine of Center mean? Masculine of Center (MOC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project. The term recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian and queer folks who tilt toward the masculine side of the scale. Some of these individuals include a wide range of identities from butch to trans-masculine to androgynous.
We spoke with the couple about identities and what they hope to accomplish at July’s conference.
Why do you think this conference is important to the LGBTQ community?
Gin-I: It’s extremely important because it highlights a portion of the LGBTQ community that hasn’t really been seen. We’ve been hidden behind the “L” in LGBTQ. This conference allows those of us who haven’t had a voice a chance to voice our opinions, stories, struggles, triumphs in a way that has never been seen before. The theme for this year’s conference is Reveal YOUR truth because it’s time that we reveal our truths so we can uplift everyone by knowing the whole story from all facets of the LGBTQ community.
What can people expect from the conference?
Gin-I: An overwhelming feeling of empowerment and freedom to be themselves. The conference has over 20 workshops designed to cover a range of topics that highlight the MOC life stories.
Theresa: We have a musical showcase of MOC people and allied talent. On Friday, we are also hosting a screening and Q&A with the Director of The Same Difference. On Sunday, we are bringing it all together with a celebrity panel discussion and a town hall forum.
What are you most excited about?
Gin-I: The turnout of MOC people who will be sharing their stories and speaking their truth. Since our stories are seldom heard, I am excited to provide a platform for my community. There are so many stories and varying experiences that are going to be brought to the forefront during this conference.
What do you hope people will take away from this conference?
Gin-I: To know that it’s okay to just be you. No matter what that looks like. A desire to go out and make everyday like the conference. I really hope what we really get out of this is unity. There is so much stereotyping and falling into boxes that it is hindering us from being unified. I hope after this conference we realize the “mean mugging” or judgment isn’t necessary. We are all one community.
Theresa: I hope they get strength and dignity. As the wife of a MOC woman, I see her daily strength to be herself. I hope this conference encourages growth for the whole community to stand strong, be proud, and be leaders.
The couple is already talking about new events and initiatives to keep the conversation going. They hope to “open hearts and minds.”
The Masculine of Center Conference takes place July 28 – 30, 2017 at Tysons Corner Marriott in Tysons, VA. For more information, visit www.mocconference.com.
UPDATE: The conference has officially been moved to the Human Rights Campaign, located at 1640 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.