30 September 2006

First Muse

When your face appeared over my crumpled life,
at first I understood only the poverty of what I have. 
Then its particular light on woods, on rivers, on the sea,
became my beginning in the coloured world
in which I had not yet had my beginning.

Miss Barbara Grosch gave me this poem, Colours, by Yevtushenko, in 10th grade English class (these are just the first few lines). I learned the poem by heart, and my heart sang this poem to Miss Grosch. She was a flower child from Charlotte, North Carolina, and she taught me about the Holocaust and Black Power. (She looked a little like Dorothy Allison, come to think of it.)

She took me under her wing, drove me around in her orange Beetle convertible (listening to Carole King sing "You've got a friend" on the radio), gave me dinner at her house, and most of all, she gave me her friendship and her love of poetry.

Miss Grosch gave an assignment to write a poem. This may be my first written poem (I used to make up songs to sing myself to sleep). I was 15, it was 1970, and I believe Miss Grosch is solely responsible for my subsequent career as a poet. Thank you, First Muse. If you're out there, please contact me! (Click on the image to see an enlarged version.)

Click to see enlarged image
Below is a self-portrait circa 1970. The list is called "Need for Summer" - I was planning what to bring on summer vacation to the Maine coast, the place that inspired my first poem for Miss Grosch. (Click on the image to see an enlarged version.)

Click to see enlarged image

29 September 2006

Stories of Origins

I don't know what light my early poems and drawings might shed on the woman and poet I am now, but I know I'm very glad that I've kept them. The Woman-Stirred women have been discussing our earlier lives this week, and wondering why we choose to share certain stories and images with each other. Are we simply looking to build connection, and sharing whatever aims to do that best? Or are we deliberately constructing a particular image, a preferred image for all the others to see?

I wanted to be a writer as young as age seven, probably a lot earlier. In fact, my publishing ambitions may have their origins in a lecture Miss Lambert gave my first year infant class when I was still a small four-year old. A lecture? To four year olds? It had that effect on me, certainly. It was a stern and solemn lecture. In other words, a telling off. She told the class that we should all be ashamed of ourselves, for not one of us would be appearing in the school magazine that year.

This was an important lesson. It may have been my first real and personal understanding of injustice. I knew I had worked very hard in my first term, and this news hit me hard. I remember feeling hot and bothered and almost incapable of keeping still as I sat on the floor with legs crossed, struggling to remain silent. Perhaps it was not our efforts but our age that was against us?

In that moment, as Miss Lambert made me feel shame, I was determined never to find myself in this position again, not if I could help it. I never again wanted to have that feeling of underachievement. And that placed a whole new burden on me for the rest of my schooldays. I would work harder and harder, until my work was acknowledged. Except working harder and harder soon became the norm everyone expected from me.

This is a long preamble to a couple of poems I wrote as a seven or eight year old. I don't know what these poems have to tell the world now. Cartoons are good, perhaps. They fire the imagination; just don't watch too many. Be sure to maintain a balance and keep an eye on the natural world also. I don't know. Perhaps these poems say: never underestimate a child.

Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry
Were having a tug of war with a berry.
Jerry went ouch,
And Tom went eugh.
It splattered on the floor,
And Tom's bottom became sore.
Tom ran after Jerry,
Jerry hid in a bottle of sherry.
Tom drank the sherry,
And there was Jerry.
Jerry ran across the lawn,
And landed in a prawn.
Tom ate the prawn,
His tail felt like it had been sawn.
He spat Jerry out,
And Jerry looked about.
Tom turned red
And went to bed.

Birds

Birds are singing,
Birds are swinging.
They build a nest
Away in the West.
The babys are squeaking and cheaping,
I can hear a bird weeping.
We have got twenty three budgirigars,
In budgirigars there is two r's.

© Nicki Hastie the Younger, 1976/1977



Perhaps I should be grateful to Miss Lambert. Did her words actually fire my desire and passion to write? Just look at those red teacher ticks I was getting for my drawings by age seven!

28 September 2006

Judy Grahn on Woman-Stirred Radio

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Join me this Thursday, September 28th, at 4:30 pm (EST), for a conversation with Judy Grahn, co-director of the Women's Spirituality MA program and Program Director of the MFA in Creative Inquiry, at New College of California. Grahn is also editor of Metaformia: A Journal of Menstruation and Culture.

Judy Grahn is well-known and respected throughout the world as a cultural theorist; she is an early, and foundational contributor to the literature of women's spirituality. Her work engages the reconstitution and recuperation of the rituals, stories, and values of sacred, feminine traditions, and her decades-long work is integral to the holistic body of lesbian-feminist theory.

Grahn's identity as a lesbian-feminist informs all of her work, which includes poetry, essays, herstory, cultural theory, social practice, fiction, and post graduate education.

Her most recent book, Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World (Beacon Press) outlines a new origin theory of culture, which she believes emerged from the peaceful blood rituals of primitive and ancient women. Blood, Bread, and Roses explores cultural perceptions and social mores that both encapsulate menstruation as a curse and the female body as unclean and perverse.

Within the context of metaformic theory, Grahn's most current project is writing a book that explores the origins and trajectories of goddess practices.

Judy Grahn's books include:

Mundane's World: A Novel
Fragments Of Desire: Sapphic Fictions In Works By Hd
Really Reading Gertrude Stein: A selected anthology with essays
Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna
The Common Woman Poems
She Who: A Graphic Book of Poems
Edward the Dyke and Other Poems
A Woman is Talking to death
The Work of a Common Woman
The Queen of Wands
The Highest Apple: Sappho and the Lesbian Poetic Tradition
Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds

So tune in Thursday, September 28th, 4:30 pm (EST) to WGDR Plainfield (Goddard College) or stream it live. Tune in at 4:00 and enjoy Woman-Stirred music before the interview!!

Be part of the dialogue! You can call the air studio at: 802 456-1630.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by a grant from Samara Foundation of Vermont, and airs every Thursday afternoon from 4:00 until 6:00 pm (EST).

21 September 2006

Helen Caldicott on Woman-Stirred Radio

Unfortunately Dr Helen Caldicott could not appear on 21 September and her interview will be rescheduled

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Please join me this Thursday, September 21st, for an interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott, one of the world's foremost antinuclear activists. Her new book, Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, examines the costs and consequences of nuclear energy.


Naomi Klein refers to Helen Caldicott as someone "who has the rare ability to combine science with passion, logic with love, and urgency with humor."


So remember: Helen Caldicott and Woman-Stirred Radio. September 21st at 4:40 pm(EST). Woman-Stirred Radio can be
streamed online at www.wgdr.org.

20 September 2006

Woman-Stirred Radio Guest Schedule

Listen in to Woman-Stirred RadioThere's no better place to spend your Thursdays than with Merry Gangemi and Woman-Stirred guests.

For the latest guest details please click here

Listen to Woman-Stirred Radio on WGDR Goddard College community radio at 91.1 fm, if based in Vermont.

Or stream it live at www.wgdr.org by clicking on the "Listen Live" link between 4pm and 6pm EST each Thursday.

Have a question for a guest? The air studio phone is (802) 454-7762.

On Woman-Stirred Radio over the next few months, you can enjoy interviews with ...


Guest details have been updated in a more recent post

For the latest guest details please click here

Diana Souhami
Author and biographer of famous lesbians, including Gertrude & Alice and Gluck
13 September 2007 Time to be announced
Major Jackson
Award-winning poet, author of Hoops and Leaving Saturn
4 October 2007 5:00pm EDT
Sharon Bridgforth
Lambda Literary Award winning author and performance artist, currently touring with The love conjure/blues Text Installation
11 October 2007 5:00pm EDT
Morgan Hunt
Author of the Tess Camillo mysteries
8 November 2007 5:00pm EST
Charles Fishman
Award-wining poet, editor, and poetry consultant
15 November 2007 5:00pm EST
Melissa Ferrick
Folk-rock singer-songwriter
To be rescheduled

You have already missed (but shows can be enjoyed up to 21 days after broadcast at the WGDR archives):

Paul Ponieheart
Musician
6 September 2007 5:00pm EDT
Broadcast of interview with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls30 August 2007 5:00pm EDT
Broadcast of Leslie Feinberg's speech (WINGS)23 August 2007 5:00pm EST
Meet the women of Woman-Stirred:
Julie R. Enszer, Nicki Hastie, and Jan Steckel speak with Merry Gangemi
16 August 2007 5:00pm EST
Jenny Ladd
Philanthropic advisor & co-founder of Class Action
Becky Liebman
Philanthropist
9 August 2007 5:00pm EST
Felicia Kornbluh
Assistant Professor of History, Duke University
2 August 2007 5:00pm EST
Paul Beaudry
Vermont right-wing talk show host
26 July 2007 5:00pm EST
Julia Vinograd
Berkeley street poet
19 July 2007 5:00pm EST
Dr. Helen Caldicott
Physician, author, speaker, and international activist on nuclear and environmental crises
12 July 2007 5:00pm EST
Janell Moon
Author, poet, and counselor
28 June 2007 5:00pm EST
Eloise Klein Healy
Poet, academic, founding chair of the MFA program at Antioch, LA
7 June 2007 5:00pm EST
Three-part special series on queer youth and homelessness17 May 2007
24 May 2007
31 May 2007
Deela Khan
South African poet & activist
10 May 2007 5:00pm EST
Bettina Aptheker
Professor of Feminist Studies & History, University of California, Santa Cruz
19 April 2007 5:00pm EST
Merry Gangemi
The host of Woman-Stirred Radio is interviewed on her own show
12 April 2007 5:00pm EST
Jane Newall
Lesbian Minister
5 April 2007 5:00pm EST
Marla Brettschneider
Author of The Family Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish Lives
29 March 2007 5:00pm EST
Andrew Koppelman22 March 2007 5:00pm EST
Samn Stockwell15 March 2007 4:00pm EST
Marcia Karp8 March 2007 5:00pm EST
Suzanne Stofflet
Bill Lippert
1 March 2007 5:00pm EST
Olivia Burns25 January 2007
Terry Messman18 January 2007
Karen Cerulo11 January 2007
Alison Bechdel7 December 2006
Jean Sirius30 November 2006
Charles Flowers
Radclyffe
16 November
Marv Hiemstra2 November 2006
Scudder Parker26 October 2006
Katherine Newman12 October 2006
Penny Coleman5 October 2006
Judy Grahn28 September 2006
Charlie Anders14 September 2006
Melissa Moon7 September 2006
Joan Armatrading31 August 2006
See other former guest details

12 September 2006

Charlie Anders Comes to Woman-Stirred Radio

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Join me this Thursday, September 14th, on Woman-Stirred Radio for a fascinating conversation and interview with Charlie Anders.

Charlie Anders is the author of Choir Boy (Soft Skull Press 2005) and the co-editor, with Annalee Newitz, of the forthcoming She's Such A Geek (Seal Press 2006).

Choir Boy was named one of the Top 10 Fiction Titles of 2005 in Richard LaBonte's syndicated column and is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award.

She's the publisher of other, the magazine of pop culture and politics for the new outcasts. Her writing has appeared in ZYZZVYA, the Wall Street Journal, Publisher's Weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian, New York Press, Tikkun, Punk Planet, Genre, Watchword, Instant City and on Salon.com.

Charlie's work has also been featured in two dozen anthologies, including Pills Chills Thrills & Heartache, It's All Good! and Paraspheres: New Wave Fabulist Fiction.

She organizes the long-running series Writers With Drinks, which won Best Literary Night the last two years in a row in the Bay Guardian Reader's Poll.

Charlie Anders' satirical web site god hates figs was the London Sunday Times' site of the week, and a Yahoo.com cool site. Charlie is also the author of The Lazy Crossdresser (Greenery Press, 2002).

So plug into the best radio on the net at Woman-Stirred Radio every Thursday afternoon, from 4 to 6 (EST).

10 September 2006

Flavours of The Countess: A Personal Essay

The Countess of Flatbroke by Mary MeriamI always knew that any review I would write of Mary Meriam’s first book The Countess of Flatbroke (Modern Metrics, 2006) would turn out to be very personal. For I feel honoured that she chose me as one of her companions in this journey, even giving me previews of earlier drafts and online access to the full text of a version of The Countess when it was a very different book.

Perhaps, by some happy chance, we chose each other, because I first contacted Mary after reading the poems she posted to the Lesbian-Writers email list. She was hard to ignore as her poetry output was prolific compared to others on the list. But it was the strength of Mary’s voice, the mix of humour and poignancy, and the tone and structure of her poems which caught my attention. I enjoyed how these poems encouraged the reader to engage with other texts, referencing literary traditions and lesbian history.

Underlying the book is the story of another Mary – Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke – who had wealth and a whole library of literary riches, but unlike the Countess of Flatbroke who is determined to tell it like it is, may have been robbed of her voice for four hundred years. The influence of Mary Sidney is handled with characteristic charm and subtlety. Only in the final sonnet, Sir Philip Sidney Speaks, do we learn of her wider significance; the compelling evidence which suggests the Countess of Pembroke may have been the true author of the plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare. The self-referentiality, play and punning of the title therefore opens up a whole subtext of questioning around literary heritage and authenticity. It also gives us another clue to Mary Meriam’s fondness for the sonnet.

Others have mentioned that Mary’s work is "charming and witty" and the title of the collection clinches this for me. The persona of the Countess of Flatbroke enables the poet to describe what it is like to live as an outsider, as a lesbian who has neither the advantage nor security that money might bring. Mary Meriam isn’t afraid to emphasise the personal in this book or to poke fun at herself, while it’s also clear a reader cannot fully 'know' the writer through her poetry alone.

How does a lesbian writer, and one flat broke at that, find her voice and place? As the narrator asks in the collection’s title poem, "What happens when a poet lives beyond/ the time she would have died, except for fate?" The answer is that the poet must continue to write, and it’s clear that sonnets are Mary’s passion and comfort, as well as becoming the practical resource for “recovering [one’s] health” in Frozen Banana Milkshake Sonnet.

Mary Meriam has so many signature sonnets. Positioned next to The Bitter Side of Flatbroke, on facing pages, Frozen Banana Milkshake Sonnet is a serving of "soothing sweetness". Life is never bitterness alone in Flatbroke and this poem epitomises the poet’s belief in the restorative qualities of poetry. Milk and fruit can’t achieve it all; the sonnet form itself also acts as healer. She is explicit about this in Exchange Rate: "The poet solves these problems in a sonnet,/ restoring atoms to their proper places."

Even when detailing hardship and hunger, Mary produces touching, funny, sexy images that desire to connect with the reader as love-poems.

Sometimes it takes a glass of milk to heal
a soul that’s been reduced to shredded rags.
First take a bunch of ripe bananas, peel
and slice them into pint-size freezer bags.
I’ll say this nice and slow because I know
that you’re my baby now
. Put fruit in freezer.
Lie down and listen to the radio
and dream about a recipe to please her.

What helped me connect with Mary so quickly was her absolute understanding that a poem is only complete when it has a reader. The poem is always a desirous exchange between poet and reader, as told in Exchange Rate:

Her book is read by one she hoped to find.
This reader, she adores the book – embraces
the poet – loves her body, soul, and mind.
How slow the reader turns her lover’s pages,
counting the loss and gain of poet’s wages.

As well as the "Flatbroke" poems, there are other gems to be savoured here, like Something Good, which sees the young poet realising her lesbian sexuality as she waltzes with Julie Andrews. This is a classic, speaking for many who have admired Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music as camp icons in queer culture, and the poem can be read in full here.

I think Mary’s writing is often at its best when quirky and cute, as in the opening lines of Karma Log: 5/2/06 where the half-rhyme sounds help to construct a humorous picture which belies the more serious aspects lurking in this poem during a car journey’s brush with nature: the thin line between life and death, sickness and health. "When April ended with a muscle wound,/ I couldn’t stand, and so I sat and rolled/ around". Then there is the direct play with the reader in Perhaps a Little Context Would Help. The riddle is solved in the final three lines, but enough ambiguity remains for the reader to make their own interpretation of "Some are. Some aren’t."

Reader, the secret "some" is out just now:
she’s of the "some who are", and so am I.
How sweet and kind of her to clarify!

Perhaps one of the finest compliments I can personally pay Mary is to reveal that I’d never attempted to write a sonnet until we began our email dialogue about her poems. She helped me recognise the flexibility and beauty of the sonnet, and encouraged me to embrace the heart-beat rhythm of iambic pentameter. As a reader I took the exchange a step further and wrote a direct response to The Bitter Side of Flatbroke on the same day Mary posted a draft for comment at Lesbian-Writers.

Having just enjoyed a sociably queer afternoon at a local LGBT Pride event, I found I had to respond to these words:

If I had money, I’d have time to write
and read and socialize with any femme
or butch or in-between who came in sight.
Or spend my time alone or take a trip.
Then I could call my life a life and not
this constant jungle fight to get a sip
of water, find a place to rest, too hot,
too cold, too worried, hungry, lost, alone.
Perhaps someone will throw this dog a bone.

I threw Mary a sonnet, intending to offer my support and hope that her book would soon find the publisher she deserved.

Dear Countess, I’m an urban socialite
compared to you. In different domains,
I still believe we’re sisters in the fight,
know desperation when injustice reigns.
Today within the park I thought you’d like
to be here, too, an arboretum full
with denizens of Pride. I’m just a dyke,
I have no magic beans, no one can pull
the wool over your eyes. But if we were
in fairy tale I’d hatch your golden text,
transforming jungle space as you prefer.
With words as riches your turn should be next.
I’ll play the Princess, reading all you write.
What’s real is understanding and delight.

One year on, and thanks to Modern Metrics I can now hold Mary’s book in my hands, and share this personal essay encouraging others also to become desirous readers.

The journey I read through The Countess of Flatbroke is Mary Meriam demanding and constructing a place for herself within lesbian and feminist literary history. This often involves a re-reading and fresh approach to personal and literary histories in order to uncover what was once left unwritten, unable to be said. No-one understands this better than Lillian Faderman, lesbian historian and cultural theorist, who writes the Afterword to the book. This demonstrates the successful voice of the Countess, and is Mary’s icing on the cake.

Nicki Hastie
Nottingham, UK
10 September 2006

9 September 2006

Merry's Response to Julie Enszer's "Coming Out" Post

Both individual and collective action is essential to achieving reality-based equality and acceptance. Julie's Queer Culture essay addresses one aspect of the collective strategy: preserving GLBTQ history and culture.

Minimizing and dismissing the concret visibility of individuals within global GLBTQ communities is self-defeating. After all, how can we identify who we are? and how do we connect, if we are “hidden"?

Dismissing the importance of coming out negates the millions of us who have been disowned, prosecuted, institutionalized, fired, ridiculed, beaten, and/or jailed.
That’s a lot of courage and fortitude to sweep away or hide under the rug.

Where would I be if Judy Grahn and Adrienne Rich hadn’t come out? Where would Minnie Bruce Pratt or Joan Nestle be without the Daughters of Bilitis or the Mattachine Society? Without Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon?

Even as I write this, I note that MS Word doesn’t recognize the words “Bilitis” and “Mattachine.” And this is just an example of the subaltern status of lesbians, gays, and their organizations.

How can we preserve Queer Culture if we don't come out and we don't name it? In a sense, we are morally obligated to be both visible and present, or suffer oblivion.

Barthes writes, “And we must learn, when we take, the cost of our participation, or else we shall pay much more. We shall pay our capacity to read [write, think] at all” (S/Z, 1974, ix)

The halls of academia have protected Elaine Showalter, Terry Castle, Lillian Faderman, M. Carey Thomas, and Miss Wooley and Miss Marks. Again, MS Word does not identify the name “Miss Wooley” There is not one female with the surname Thomas in Webster's 11th, let alone a lesbian by the name of M. Carey Thomas, who was an early pioneer of higher education for women, was president of Bryn Mawr, one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Medical School, and a passionate woman whose lovers were women.

Where would my duaghter and stepson be, if both of theri mothers hadn't “come out”? Would they have perceived lesbianism as something shameful? Our obvious, visible identities empowered them to claim their own identities aslesbian and gay.

Our personal experiences inform our sense of self and place within the discourse and dialogues of GLBTQ culture, and before I could appreciate and add to my lesbian cultural identity, I had to take my place within it.

I could not have remained in the margins of lesbian feminism and learned and experienced enough to even conceive such a show as Woman-Stirred Radio.

I daresay none of us could have just “come up” with that idea from the depths of a closet!

And finally, what about all the millions of homosexuals who live in Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Guatemala, Iraq, Iran, Siberia or anywhere for that matter? We must be careful to consider the whole and not focus on or judge the privilege accessible to the so-called developed, free world. Some of these countries are in the throes of fundamentalism and theocracy. What if our visibility made a difference to them? What if they found a book, an essay, a picture? What if they had a choice between a life or a trap? Here is a poem by Muriel Rukeyser, who greatly influenced many of our greatest and most beloved lesbian writers:


Anemone



My eyes are closing, my eyes are opening.
You are looking into me with your waking look.

My mouth is closing, my mouth is opening.
You are waiting with your red promises.

My sex is closing, my sex is opening.
You are singing and offering : the way in.

My life is closing, my life is opening.
You are here.



Muriel Rukeyser

8 September 2006

Keeping On Coming Out

Nicki Hastie's response to Julie R. Enszer's Washington Blade column. Please read Julie's article and join the debate:

Julie R. Enszer won’t be celebrating National Coming Out Day this year. She says the focus on individual action, encouraging each person to come out and tell their story, has resulted in a whole generation of narcissistic queer people and doesn’t further the human rights cause. Julie believes that equality can only be achieved through an awareness of social responsibility and collective action.

I agree with this last part, and that an individual’s contribution to furthering LGBT rights needs to go beyond telling a friend, a family member or a total stranger. But I don’t believe you can ever promote communal responsibility by denying the impact that coming out has for individuals and for our LGBT communities.

Julie recognises how coming out continues to be significant for people newly coming out, but she thinks that “we have exhausted the potential and promise of coming out” beyond this. I can’t support this view. It is the act of coming out which gives the individual their initial access to community and access to the vital resources which are necessary to begin taking political steps forward.

Do we ever really exhaust coming out possibilities, as Julie suggests? Coming out is a process and something we have to do throughout our entire lives with each new person we meet. I’m aware that homophobia and heterosexism lead me to acts of self-censorship (however small) on a regular basis. Most of us don’t have the luxury of being always out. However out I feel in general, I don’t necessarily feel able to talk openly in conversation with everyone I meet. There will be brief encounters when it just doesn’t seem appropriate. There are other times I value self-protection.

Having to make the decision about whether to come out in each new situation reminds me that equality is far from being won. It has often been my individual vulnerability which has spurred me to communal action. Being reminded that coming out can still be a daily hurdle is why I give money to Stonewall, the UK organisation campaigning for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals; it’s why I have volunteered with LGBT organisations; it’s why I participate in high profile Pride marches (I can’t yet bring myself to call them parades); it’s why I write about my lesbian life at every opportunity.

I have highlighted the issue of coming out, and my own personal story, in much of my writing. Does this make me narcissistic, inward-looking? By making my story public I like to feel I’m engaged in building community and encouraging dialogue. When I was a teenager, scared and isolated, I searched for stories that spoke to me as a young lesbian and, unfortunately, I found too few of them. I may have begun my coming out twenty years ago, and my teenage experiences could now be considered historical by some, but I know that people continue to relate to and find value in this story.

There may be aspects of narcissism in queer culture, but I don’t think we should be blaming the cultural emphasis on coming out for this. Coming out isn’t enough to change the world, as those of us already doing it know; but it is a starting place for many who do wish to contribute to a larger vision. When our personal stories are gathered together they build queer culture. They are small parts of the rich queer culture that Julie herself has celebrated in another recent essay, Queer Culture: Our History and Our Legacy, where she states: “We need all forms of collecting, documenting and cataloguing our culture”.

Context is everything, and coming out continues to be powerful and significant in my life. However, I will choose the days I come out, and when it feels appropriate. I don’t need a National Coming Out Day to assist me. But I understand that other people do. So I’m not ready to get over coming out. And isn’t the point of this day that it is a day of collective action; a day we can confront our communal truth that homophobia and heterosexism are societal problems? A day that may encourage others to take their first step into community and begin a commitment to communal well-being?

I may not agree with Julie's whole stance, but I certainly agree we need opportunities to reconsider our actions and define our positions. For this reason I thank Julie for her commitment to encouraging debate, just as I admire her preparedness to be controversial.

Check out Julie's column in the Washington Blade

Getting over coming out
Exiting the closet was never a good strategy for winning equality. Societal problems require collective action.
By JULIE ENSZER    Friday, September 08, 2006

It's been a hard conclusion for me to embrace. I organized "Speak Outs" for National Coming Out Day in the 1990s. I advocated coming out as critical to our liberation.

I've come out to everyone and reveled it in. When I ran out of family members, I moved on to dry cleaners and grocery baggers and state senators and plumbers and metro passengers. I can't think of a person I haven't told.

Even still, it's come time for me to admit that coming out is a flawed strategy. In fact, coming out is the wrong strategy for queer liberation.
Read the full column here

6 September 2006

Melissa Moon on Woman-Stirred Radio

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Join Merry Gangemi, this Thursday, September 7th, at 4:30 pm (EST) for a Woman-Stirred Radio interview with WGDR's own Melissa Moon.

Melissa Mariah Moon is an MTF transsexual, lesbian, priestess, witch, and activist,. She is a member of WGDR's The Quilting Hour collective on WGDR, herbalist-in-training, drummer, singer, artist, has been living in Vermont nearly three years.

To paraphrase Melissa: she loves living in Vermont and she will share her experiences about her past, about coming home to herself, and her current life of learning to live without cars, bank accounts, and family... "and finding joy and love in every minute of it!!"

So join us, this Thursday afternoon, at 4:30 on Woman-Stirred Radio for an intriguing hour with Melissa Moon.

Air studio phone (802) 454-7762.

2 September 2006

New Grant for Lesbian Media Artists Established: The Tee A. Corinne Prize

This information was posted in an earlier post about Tee Corinne (whose memory is a blessing) and we're moving it to the main page to disseminate the information more widely.

A new prize has been created to honor Tee A. Corinne, an artist with bold vision and a fierce dedication to encouraging and preserving lesbian art. The Tee A. Corinne Prize for Lesbian Media Artists, established by Moonforce Media, will award unrestricted grants of up to $1,000 annually. JEB (Joan E. Biren) will choose the inaugural prize winner. Application guidelines are online at http://www.jebmedia.com/5322.html. Applications are due by November 1, 2006.

The prize is for artists working in photography, film, video, digital media, new media, or any fusions of these forms and in any genre including documentary, narrative, experimental, or any other styles or combination of genres. The work may be about any subject.

Lesbian media artists are usually excluded from funding opportunities because the form and/or content of their work lie outside the bounds of traditional grantmaking. This prize furthers Tee’s wish that individual lesbian artists be financially supported to work independently and without censorship.

If you wish to add your financial support to help ensure the ongoing success of this grant, you can send a tax-exempt donation to: Moonforce Media, PO Box 13375, Silver Spring, MD 20911. All checks earmarked for the Tee A. Corinne Prize will go entirely toward funding the prize.

Moonforce Media is a non-profit 501c(3) organization that has been serving progressive communities by producing and distributing documentary films and videos since 1979. Our productions have been broadcast and used by organizers and activists in the peace, feminist and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender movements. We are dedicated to promoting social justice through media and to encouraging queer media making.

Queer Culture: Our History & Our Legacy - An Essay by Julie R. Enszer


As I write this in 2006 I have no more rights today than I did the very first time I went to a kiss-in on the campus of the University of Michigan in 1988 or the day I crossed the threshold of Affirmations Lesbian/Gay Community Center in 1990.

When I am feeling bluesy, that statement distresses more than any other I can imagine. When I am feeling disconsolate, I feel like the first fifteen years of my professional life resulted in nothing. No progress for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. No concrete, tangible advancements for queer folks.

I don’t let myself fall into that fit of depression. I remind myself that there have been tremendous strides in visibility for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. I think about the Academy Award winning films this year, Capote and Brokeback Mountain. I think about 1992 when Debra Chasnoff won the Academy Award for her documentary, Deadly Deception, about nuclear weapons and their environmental consequences—she publicly thanked her wife. I wept. I think about Will and Grace and Jack and Karen. I think about the legions of couples I know that have gotten married in Canada or Massachusetts; the couples that have been civilly united in Vermont. I think about the children of GLBT couples and their parents who are educating every single day they live their lives as they send children to schools and camps and sports practices and school clubs. I feel heartened by all of these advancements.

Still, my exuberance is tempered by the analysis of Urvashi Vaid; virtual equality continues to be the ruling factor of our lives. Virtual equality defines our existence. We have made advance in public visibility and acceptance, but we are without legal protection. How will we achieve true legal equality when, as a result of virtual equality, so many of us live as though we have already achieved full equality?

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