Since 2016, WE-Change has hosted This Side of Paradise; a performing arts event during Jamaica’s Pride celebrations (Pride JA) which run in the first week of August. The event features literature, spoken word, book readings, drama, poetry and music all performed by LBT women and our allies. The work shared during this event is meant to empower LBT women and celebrate strong, powerful and talented queer women who live, work, survive and find some semblance of paradise in a Jamaican society which often treats them as second class citizens. It is the only event on the Pride JA calendar which brings the LBT community together to celebrate.
For the past two years, This Side of Paradise has been headlined by powerful, queer Jamaican authors and activists who reside abroad. The name of the event was inspired by the name of a book written by Stacey Ann Chin who headlined the first staging of the event in 2016. Stacey Ann, a poet, activist and mom shared excerpts from her book and shared the stage with other LBT women and allies. In 2017 it was headlined by d’bi young anitafrika who, through her spoken word performances inspired women who are survivors of multiple forms of violence to stay the course and to create bodies of healing around them.
Both events received overwhelmingly positive feedback, on and offline with over 150 persons attending the 2017 event and segments of the event posted online receiving over 75,000 views.
This year WE will host Nicole Dennis Benn, a queer Jamaican currently residing abroad and author of the debut novel, HERE COMES THE SUN. Nicole’s novel has received much commendation: a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a NPR Best Books of 2016, an Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Entertainment Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016 among others.
WE look forward to celebrating Pride JA 2018 with the third staging of This Side of Paradise on August 5 at the Courtleigh Auditorium, headlined by Nicole Dennis Benn with performances by other LBT women and allies.