On Saturday, October 14, 2023, Fenway Health marked a significant milestone, hosting the 25th Annual Audre Lorde Cancer Awareness Brunch. This event served as a powerful celebration of resilience, unity, and inclusion, specifically dedicated to Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), Queer, Transgender, People of Color (QTPoC), non-binary, gender-diverse, and LGBQIA+ community members and their allies whose lives have been affected by cancer.
The brunch was a heartfelt tribute to the memory of Audre Lorde, a remarkable woman who described herself as a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Audre Lorde’s life was marked by a 14-year battle with cancer, and she devoted her creative talents and her voice to addressing the injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Her legacy serves as a guiding light for those who continue to fight for equity and justice.
This event was more than just a gathering; it was a space for BIPOC, QTPoC, and LGBTQIA+ individuals to share their stories, connect with one another, and rediscover their inner strength and resilience. The brunch provided a sanctuary for cancer survivors, caregivers, allies, and supporters to come together in solidarity, offering an opportunity for self-care and healing, especially in the face of the ongoing challenges posed by the prevailing racial and social injustices.
Audre Lorde was a trailblazing poet, essayist, feminist, and civil rights activist. At this event we proudly present the Trailblazer Award that recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the field of equity work. This year’s Trailblazer Award recipient was Eilakeisha Spencer, LMHC. Eillakeisha is a mental health clinician, specializing in the care of inner-city adolescents, in the state of Massachusetts. She is the co-founder and Deputy Executive Director of Boston Lesbigay Urban Foundation, a nonprofit that serves the black/brown/Latinx LGBTQIA+ community in the inner city of Boston by curating space and providing resources. Her commitment to enhancing the lives of marginalized individuals, commendable efforts to break the cycle of dysfunction within underserved communities, and creating safe spaces is inspiring. Her tireless dedication and impactful work align seamlessly with the values and mission of the Audrey Lorde Cancer Awareness brunch. Eilakeisha shared her personal journey and underscored the importance of inclusion and intersectionality in our quest for a more equitable society.
One notable feature of the Audre Lorde Cancer Awareness Brunch was its unwavering commitment to supporting local minority-owned businesses. All the vendors who contributed to the event were proudly local to Boston, emphasizing the importance of uplifting the community. Stephanie Raymond, the Owner and Fashion Designer of LezBReaL Fashionz, added a personal touch to the brunch by crafting custom earrings that were included in the swag bags. Sister Sadada Jackson, an embodied liberation teacher, conducted a remembrance ceremony that touched the hearts of all participants. The culinary delights were provided by Chef Dave, ensuring that every aspect of the brunch was delicious and meaningful. Musical entertainment by Zili Misik created a peaceful, vibrant, and danceable atmosphere.
As a prelude to this monumental gathering, a vibrant and creative paint party was held a week prior. The painting party embodied the spirit of self-care, community, and the themes present in Audre Lorde’s writings. The event was led by the local creative dynamo and artist Kyia Watkins, with her husband Al providing the perfect musical backdrop for the occasion.
The 25th Annual Audre Lorde Cancer Awareness Brunch was not just an event; it was a testament to the power of unity, resilience, and the shared commitment to fostering a more inclusive and equitable world. As we reflect on this landmark occasion, we are reminded that, like Audre Lorde, we too can make a difference, even in the face of adversity.