Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Older, Lesbian Feminists...More

Okay, so this has been a banner month for seeing older lesbian feminists who inspire me. Last night a friend of mine and I went to see Dorothy Allison speak at St. Mary's College in Moraga (or Orinda, not sure it all gets murky and bland in those parts of Northern California).  And while I never finished Bastard Out of Carolina because of how real the violence, poverty, and abuse was as I read it, I was struck by something she said about marginalized groups, which I repeated to my class today.  She said that as a writer and as a member of marginalized communities (poor, queer, female), she was most interested not in the violence that happens, but in what happens after the violence.  What happens for people after we've survived? What are the questions that we ask ourselves? How does it affect our identities and who we fashion ourselves to be? Personally, I was really struck by it because I think as members of marginalized groups, our lives are so constructed by violence in its various forms, as well as fear, and oppression that it's difficult to think about what's on the other side.  What are our lives like outside of that? I know that personally I am often caught up in "the struggle" of everyday life that I don't pay attention to how rich it is in the aftermath of the struggle--and that maybe it's not happening right now. That doesn't mean that we don't have things to fight for, challenge, and demand change, but if think about what we have individually and collectively already been through as marginalized peoples, it puts a different face on our experiences and our lives. So, bring on more of the older lesbians, I am eager for your wisdom.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sister Comrade

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of lesbian drumming.  It's never been my thing.  I associate it with naked white women running around separatist wimminsland, wild and free.  It also seems like something of someone else's generation, the lesbian generation, a generation that doesn't always feel like me. 

However, sitting in a church on Saturday night in Oakland listening to lesbians of another generation drumming, singing, professing, reading poetry, all the things that I say make me cringe and feel like they override my experience as a young queer Black woman, I came away with a little taste for drumming. More than a taste, but a whole heavy heart for the women that really did do so much so that I can sit here and write this blog as an out Black woman.  And what I will always have a taste for is out, queer, Black women and the women who love us.

I--along with hundreds of other dykes--attended Sister Comrade tonight, a tribute and celebration of two Black lesbians, Pat Parker and Audre Lorde.  Women whose words I read before and after I came out as queer. Women who I wish were here today in their visibility, their words, their commitment, and their determination to have the world exist as they wanted it to (not to mention Pat Parker's butch-ness, I truly miss that, but more about that another day).  I walked away from the event feeling inspired by not only the speakers: Cherrie Moraga, Angela Davis, Judy Grahn, and Jewelle Gomez among them, but also about the intergenerational audience. There were women in our thirties, forties, on up to their seventies and it felt like a real community.  A real lesbian community--something that I haven't felt in a while.  

As long as the majority of the queer community, white people and people of color, have been focused on same sex marriage and integrating themselves more and more into the mainstream, I have felt less and less of a community. This event put a dent in that feeling, in a real and imaginary sense.  It's something that I will hold onto as I walk the streets of a different Bay Area than the one that existed 30 (or even 10) years ago, and as I continue to look for and create a queer black and feminist community.  

In the meantime, check out sistercomrade for more information about the event and the women who put it together.