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Punq Noire Festival

Underground arts festival in New Haven, CT celebrating queer and BIPOC pioneers of punk.

Written by
Dymin “Indigaux” Ellis

Photography by
Julia Genzano

In 2019, I withdrew from activist organizations and deposited my time into self-education. I read books on the Black Liberation Movement, Womanism, Socialism, Queer Liberation, Trans History, and Mass Incarceration. Through self-education, I began enhancing my merit as a community advocate. In this dormant stage of my activism, I realized that the more I understood the history of oppression and activism, the more confident I became in my place in the movement and in the world. It was also a healing process for me. I realized that education is a great counterattack against systemic oppression, which is greatly founded on miseducation and displacement.

Last November (2021) I went down the rabbit hole of punk history. What began as a curiosity about the life of Little Richard (queer, Black artist and the king of rock music), quickly developed into a personal research project. I found documentaries that showed me that punk has very Black, very queer, very revolutionary origins. As an artist and activist, I was elated to discover this rich and colorful history. Again, through education, I was liberated and healing. Underlying doubts about myself as a creator were whisked away because the history was just so validating. Most people, including myself, have been miseducated to believe punk rock is white, cisgender, heterosexual, man-centered, and alt-right. This leaves people like me — queer, punk, femme, artists of color — to feel invalid and alone in the scene. After properly educating myself, I realized that even though I wasn’t always aware of this history, it has always been aware of me. Myself and many other queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, POC artists are validated by the hard work of our punk predecessors.

"I realized that education is a great counterattack against systemic oppression, which is greatly founded on miseducation and displacement."

On June 19th, 2022 Punq Noire Festival welcomed the public to celebrate queer and BIPOC punk history, being, becoming, and becoming. Debuted on Orange Street, downtown New Haven, Punq Noire kept Orange Street bumping with lots of fun attractions: live music, flash tattoos, films, a fashion parade, a community arts project, and vendors. On Juneteenth, Punq Noire Festival honored the great spirit of liberation that invigorates the entire month of June, also known as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Punq Noire Festival highlighted a plethora of colorful, historically marginalized narratives within the alternative diaspora.

Punq Noire continues to strive to generate intercultural solidarity among creative influencers in Connecticut’s underground arts scene; a community of dedicated artists creating against the odds of systemic oppression. By engaging queer and BIPOC creatives that employ DIY techniques to bring their art to life, Punq Noire events allow artists to network, showcase their passion, make money, and have fun in a safe and uplifting environment.

Artists get to express and present their passions to audiences that value their artwork on an intrapersonal level. Punq Noire intentionally fosters an environment where empathy can thrive and the impact of collective and individual allyship is maximized. Organizers get to co-develop their professional expertise and incorporate unique professional techniques for the benefit of their own communities. Punq Noire recognizes the importance of self-representation and hands-on community research and analysis in public arts organizing.

Dymin “Indigaux” Ellis, Executive Director/Producer of Punq Noire

"We intentionally include and promote people of our demographic to fortify a sense of culture that is empathetic, self-supported, and self-lead."

Punq Noire continues to collect donations to support the cause. Every donation helps to provide sustainable income for our homegrown team of dedicated organizers. By offering sustainable income for our organizers, we are fostering a culture of community-generated wealth and wellness. We will also be ensuring the value of our collective work and impact.

Donations also help to pay featured artists to perform and display their work. By paying every featured artist, Punq Noire shows that we value the livelihood of the arts and the artists. Our goal is to pay artists sufficiently enough to support their future endeavors and their general wellbeing. This is one course of action that Punq Noire is taking to foster a tradition of cross-cultural creative solidarity.

It’s obvious to anyone in the arts community that the pandemic has eradicated countless opportunities for artists. For QT/BIPOC artists, Connecticut has become even more of an opportunity desert. Influential organizations have adopted a “cultural equity plan” to combat these disparities in the creative community, however, QT/BIPOC artists seldom get the chance to present their artwork to their own communities. Instead, they are often presenting for non-queer, non-BIPOC audiences. This pattern may lead to a tradition of artists feeling tokenized and subjected by audiences and organizations.

Punq Noire is important to our community because we are eager to produce opportunities for QT/BIPOC artists to be influencers in their own communities. Punq Noire is a project actualized by the same communities we seek to serve. We intentionally include and promote people of our demographic to fortify a sense of culture that is empathetic, self-supported, and self-lead.

I believe that by highlighting and celebrating the rich, colorful history of punk, other like-minded creatives will experience liberation, validation, and overall joy from knowing that their place in the movement is not accidental. Our place in the movement is founded on over a century of powerful art and revolution.

Keep up with Punq Noire on Instagram @punqnoire. See more work by Julia Genzano on Instagram @juliagenzanophotography.

Have a video that you'd like to showcase at the Punq Noire After Party? Submit your work here for a chance to have it screened on Saturday, October 15, 2022 in Woodbridge, CT. Deadline for submissions is Monday, October 10, 2022.