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Richmond's Ice Cream Support Group Has Big Plans For Encouraging Diversity in Art 

click to enlarge Jafar Flowers and Christian Something of Ice Cream Support Group have become known locally for holding queer dance parties and other events that allow people of color and any others who feel marginalized to feel safe.

Scott Elmquist

Jafar Flowers and Christian Something of Ice Cream Support Group have become known locally for holding queer dance parties and other events that allow people of color and any others who feel marginalized to feel safe.

Some people would get upset when rejected from film school, but Christian Something used it as a springboard to get a collective off the ground.

Feeling a need for an outlet for creativity — Something consulted friend, Jafar Flowers, who suggested that immediately was the best time to start — and Ice Cream Support Group was born. “Because who doesn’t like ice cream?” Flowers asks rhetorically. “It’s a universal thing, and we’re an all-inclusive group.”

Ice Cream Support Group — including Something, Flowers, plus musicians and artists Dazeases, Mango Lakay and waBeya — wants to create events where people feel safe and don’t have to experience racism, homophobia or transphobia. The group says it wants to “[free] the blueprint for the future of the creative and curious.”

“We wanted to do stuff and make things happen,” Something says. “Originally, we were just going to be a music collective, but we wanted it to be more fluid than that. Wherever people want this to go, we’ll go.”

The result has been a year of activities including movie nights, workshops, pool nights and networking sessions, prioritizing space for people of color and encouraging those who are too infrequently given the opportunity to explore their interests and talents.

One of the group’s most popular events has been the Ice Cream Social: the Queer Dance Party, focusing on music such as trap and new R&B that doesn’t get much play in Richmond. It began at Gallery 5 last summer and has since moved to Flora’s larger digs.

Flowers says they were especially gratified when a visitor from Montana who attended one of the socials — and met a host of new friends — not only thanked them, but was moved to start a support group upon returning home.

Flowers and Something want people to know that they have options.

“That’s the reason for the variety of events,” Flowers says. “It’s a more intimate setting for small groups to meet up. And with the Ice Cream Socials, we want people to know they can come out, hear music they might not hear and feel safe.”

Last summer the duo made a video for each of Ice Cream Support’s events, some of them garnering more than 1,000 views. Eventually, they hope to create TV shows — online to start, with dreams of eventually making shows for television — as part of their intention to create a bigger brand without following in the steps of a traditional media company.

Part of that plan includes establishing a brick-and-mortar location where the group can offer workshops, including some for public school students to explore their interests and expose them to knowledge they might not otherwise experience.

“It would be an artistic platform for anyone in Richmond,” Something says. “We know people here with a lot of talent who have the potential to go places. We’ve got a lot of artistic minds coming up at the same time. We gotta make something out of that.”

The group’s talent for creating something from nothing has already been acknowledged. In April, Flowers and Something were part of a panel about the rebirth of do-it-yourself at Macrock, an annual college music conference and festival in Harrisonburg, and they’re considering other speaking opportunities.

Ice Cream Support is holding the Nü Richmond Fest in late August, a do-it-yourself extravaganza that will feature gay artists and artists of color. Musical acts will include Verbena Blossom, DJ Haram, Listless, DJ Sissy Elliot, and Ice Cream Support members Mango Lakay and waBeya. Until then, the two are focused on exploring every platform, even if it’s only documenting the events to which they play host. “We encourage each other to keep working at your art until you get better,” Something says. “The big thing for us is to make as much art as possible while you can.”

For Flowers and Something, the Ice Cream Support Group is both a collective that offers the opportunity to meet fellow artists from whom to learn, with whom to collaborate and to teach, as well as a network for the members of the group to promote their own work.

“I hope what we and our friends are doing can be a step toward a change in Richmond,” Flowers says. “We like to dream big.” S

Nü Richmond Fest, Aug. 25-26, 4-11 p.m., 3 Moons and Crystal Palace, $7 per day, $9 per day at the door. facebook.com/nurichmond.

CORRECTION: London Perry performs under the name Dazeases. The story has been changed to reflect the name.
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