Couple opens Bushwick community space for people of color in the queer community

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A Bushwick couple who felt places for people of color and the queer community were lacking has started their own community space.

Since its opening last month, MetaDEN has been receiving positive feedback.

MetaDEN is a community space that prioritizes people of color within the queer community.

“Going into these spaces where folks are mis-gendering you or they don't understand things about your culture, and there's just like little micro aggressions that come along with interacting in these spaces and sometimes it can be out of the price point that feels accessible to folks,” says Joss Martinez, MetaDEN co-founder.

There's a permanent storefront open to all with products by people of color such as candles, clothing and home decor.

Married couple and co-founders Joss and McKenzie Martinez came to the space on Gates Avenue in December.

"It really just came down to us growing out of where we were. We had a lot of response for space rentals, a lot of response for different types of events and the turnouts were going to be larger than we could handle at capacity there,” says Martinez.

The founders refer to the space as a healing incubator. It is able to hold healing sessions, classes, panel discussions and even a seasonal market.

"There's a narrative that healing is a very like white, middle class thing and that's why we're trying to break that down and actually recognize that everyone is healing,” says Martinez.

The pair picked Bushwick because it is a neighborhood rapidly gentrifying.

"I can speak for myself, as a person of color, walking through Bushwick, I don't feel safe necessarily and I don't feel like a lot of the new businesses that are opening up are catering to me or welcome to me,” says McKenzie Martinez.

Right now they are looking for people to join the team and also funding to aid in offering services at an accessible rate. Fortunately, they plan to stay in the current space for the next five years.

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