2017 Gathering

Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore
August 2-6, 2017
Tampa, FL
Lesbians of Color Intensive August 2

The theme for the Gathering was Old Lesbians Mobilize for the Future.

The Gathering of Old Lesbians from across the nation presented us with a thrill in one of those rare opportunities to be in our larger community, our Lesbian center. Workshops, two keynote speakers, entertainment, caucuses, and a dance—all produced by Old Lesbians, for Old Lesbians. This was an opportunity to share with and to learn from each other and especially, to enjoy ourselves together!

A Big “Thank You” to Gathering Organizers and Participants
By Jean Taylor, 1944

The highlights of this smaller OLOC Gathering, with about 120 participants, were many and varied.

At the opening, Ali Marrero Calderon acknowledged the Indigenous people and Alix Dobkin presented the Del Martin Award winner, Carol Anne Douglas. On Thursday, the panel on intersectionality covered class, poverty, race, age, skin colour, education, ability, immigration, politics, religion, profession, and sex. We broke into small groups to discuss where we stood personally and politically on these aspects of our lives. After dinner, we watched the filmed address and life story of the Lesbian poet Kitty Tsui, beautifully filmed by Jennifer Abod. This was followed by the talent show organized by Alix Dobkin, where Ardy Tibby told her life story in five minutes, and I read part of the Introduction to [my book] Lesbians Ignite!

Friday started with a report of the Wednesday all-day Lesbians of Colour Intensive, which sounded extremely worthwhile. We then formed small groups to discuss what kind of work we are doing to combat racism. Ubaka Hill was the inspiring keynote speaker. That afternoon, I went to Alix’s “The L Word” workshop, where there was quite an outspoken resistance to the challenges we are facing from trans people. That evening, Mimi Gonzalez entertained us with an hour of her laugh-out-loud stand-up comedy routine.

First thing on Saturday, I went to Ubaka Hill’s “The Power and Joy of Women’s Drumming” workshop with a borrowed drum to learn a couple of songs and drumming routines. This was followed by the memorial slideshow of our Lesbian sisters who have died. After lunch, a choir, organized and led by Ann Schmidt, performed several songs. In the afternoon, we enjoyed another inspiring film by Jennifer Abod, The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen. Afterwards, Ardy and I went up to the Book Room, where writers were selling their books—including Lesbians Ignite!—and I had a chat with the other writers about our writing. After dinner, the live auction of donated goods raised some money for OLOC, as did the raffle. And afterwards, we danced up a storm with DJ LucyBlu.

The Speak Out on Sunday morning wrapped everything up with thank-yous and reports. Ubaka’s Drumsong Orchestra, formed at her workshop, was a fitting conclusion. Playing our drums and singing was a lively ending to the Gathering.

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