on being a young dyke in the 80s

January 3, 2013

Yesterday, as a result of talking with MTB about Ani DeFranco and some other stuff, kind of related to queer history, I ended up listening to some old womens/womyns/wimmins music. Meg Christiansan, Holly Near, Chris Williamson, Ferron . . . names I’d filed away somewhere in the back of my 21 year old brain. I was never a big fan of the music and I’m not even sure I owned any records, myself, but I got the cultural significance for sure, even if I only went to Michigan once, which was ground zero for the womens music movement. Actually, the whole point for me, was the cultural significance, although it was also pretty powerful to see dykes up on a big stage singing about being dykes. But what blew me away, and what I mean by cultural significance (and that may not be the right phrase), was the whole thing of coming together and creating a safe space to be an out and open dykes. It was a big ass deal. At that point in the early, 80s, the Gay Pride movement was new and festivals were just starting to get organized across the country and even then, a lot of that didn’t really take off in midwest (outside of Chicago) until the 90s.  So the upshot is that when I was a young dyke there wasn’t a place to go where you could and be out and proud and safe en masse. Except festivals. And in retrospect, I got lucky because The National Women’s Music festival was held in Bloomington for at least 5 or 6 years during my 20s. And while it was not as intense as Mich, it was, at the time, amazing to have 1000s of lesbians descend on Bloomington and take over a small section of IU campus and create an alternative reality, where it wasn’t just safe to be out, it was fun and hot to be out. So a shout out for that part of history and that I got to be in it.

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