On Four Years Of #BBATX: An Interview with Chondra Washington
As we reflect on our upcoming fourth birthday, former #BBATX committee member Chondra Washington shares her notes with #BBATX board member Jasmine Brooks on four years of resilience and future-building.
This interview was written, photographed and illustrated by Jasmine Brooks.
Jasmine Brooks: What do you do?
Chondra Washington: Professionally I work for SXSW as their community events organizer and also, after asking for more LGBTQ representation I also program our LGBTQ sessions during the conference. It’s dreamy.
I’ve been doing events for a while, I helped a friend start a bartending company, and after bartending I became a wedding planner, which organically lead me to more events which is how I started working at SXSW as their events coordinator, but then being there for a few seasons and having my friends come and me being there, I was like “where are all the queers?” There were no queers at SXSW and so that’s how I started asking for more representation and talking about how important that was. Finally two years ago, they were like “Alright, we are going to do a series of questions around LGBTQ issues and you are going to do them.” It’s so satisfying to be able to uplift and amplify marginalized communities especially queer people of color—that’s my favorite.
Brooks: When did you first attend a #BBATX event?
Washington: I attended my first #bossbabesATX event in 2015. I was in between jobs, so I went to a meet-up and was just trying to network with people to get a job. That was my first experience. It was really great—it felt like such an inclusive, deliberate space and I left being like ‘yeah this is definitely an organization I want to support” and that time I didn’t know how I was going to support it or how I was going to be involved or that it was going to take me three years to get involved but I would just kind of go to meets here and there.
Brooks: What was your first take away from first #bbatx event you attended?
Washington: The #bossbabesATX events are such a safe space. It feels like the space is very intentional, and I am intentional about where I spend my time being a queer woman of color, so it’s like you don’t really get that environment in any other places in Austin, so it’s where I like to go to just simmer in that intersectionality and womanhood and feminism and acceptance. It’s a come-as-you-are place. It feels really nice to be there, and you might go without any intentions, but things just kind of come to you.
Brooks: How would you encourage people to get involved with #BBATX?
Washington: You don’t have to give a lot of time, or if you don’t have time you can also give money (that’s another way to show up). The thing about being involved in anything, especially bossbabesATX, is that you don’t really know what you’re missing until you go there and you get something. It’s the surprise benefits—I can’t even really vocalize what you get out of it. One example, though, is that I was invited to speak on a #bossbabesaATX panel about pregnancy and I did it. It was amazing and it opened me up to such a positive birthing community in Austin that I didn’t even know existed and we found our birth doula from that. My wife also found an opportunity through #bbatx where she mentors a kid once a week whose parents are incarcerated. It’s just like little things that add value to your life that you don’t even know that you’re missing them. There’s so much more that you gain.
Brooks: What does #BBATX mean to you?
Washington: #BBATX, to me, means being part of a diverse and strong feminist movement. One thing about
#bossbabesATX that I love is Jane—she is a warrior and I think that she is going to go down in the books for being such an organizer. I think it’s so special to be part of that. It’s a movement.
Brooks: Anything to add?
Washington: Commit to making an impact, pay it forward, collaborate and build.