WHY WE LOVE OLOC
OLOC promotes Old Lesbian visibility. We exist and we call ourselves Old Lesbians to have our name out in the public sphere. We provide Old Lesbians with the chance to meet like-minded women in our common struggle to confront ageism, share mutual interests, and experience the joy and warmth of playing and working together.
To date, we have produced nine National Gatherings where we:
- Provided financial assistance to dozens of women to enable them to attend
- Provided disability services for attendees.
- Held workshops and plenary sessions on anti-racism and anti-classism, among many other topics
- Presented the Del Martin Old Lesbian Pride Award.
- We produced four Regional Gatherings in years when no National Gatherings occurred
- We promote Old Lesbian visibility by attending conferences of other national and local organizations, presenting workshops on ageism and networking on issues of mutual concern
- We reach out to living facilities, retirement homes, and nursing homes to ensure that Old Lesbians stay visible
- We endorse and promote specific policy changes of importance to Old Lesbians
- We publish a quarterly print newsletter and monthly E-News.
- We operate a website with numerous resources on Lesbians and aging, a list of feminist bookstores, and extensive Internet links.
- We provide members with the opportunity to participate in a Yahoo Group as a discussion and information sharing forum.
- We maintain a Media Library of 100 movies (currently) available for free home use. In addition, the Library has other media such as radio shows, music, and DVDs from pre-OLOC conferences and National Gatherings
- We provide support to the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project
- We honor Old Lesbians who have died in our Memorial Slide show, which we run at National Gatherings
- We sell Old Lesbian t-shirts and other items that promote Old Lesbian visibility with messages such as “This Is What An Old Lesbian Looks Like” in large, prominent print
- Our Research Gatekeeper vets requests for our participation in Lesbian research to ensure it will benefit and include Old Lesbians before recommending participation to our members
- We send birthday cards with positive images of Old Lesbians to members who may not receive many cards from others if they are particularly isolated.
- OLOC offers the strength that comes from having a national identity and connection with sisters in many places
- We provide newsletters, brochures, cards, and other OLOC materials to distribute at events and to individuals and chapters.
- We conduct regular Chapter Coordinators conference calls.
- Chapters are autonomous and choose their own focus. Some work in coalition with groups in their communities, confronting ageism, racism, classism, and other forms of oppression. Other chapters focus on social activities, which develop a sense of community and support. Some choose street activism such as marching in pride parades and participating in events to support #Black Lives Matter, NAACP Journey for Justice, #Black Women’s Lives Matter, and other issues.
- We provide OLOC banners and financial assistance with rent for meeting space
- We allow chapters to join OLOC regardless of their ability to pay dues.
These programs and services are made possible by a primarily volunteer group of Old Lesbians, coordinated by a part-time Administrator. Funding is provided by member and chapter donations and dues, as well as grants and other sources of revenue.
Alix Dobkin – Woodstock, NY
Ruth Debra – Palm Springs, CA
Bonnie Wagner – Woodstock, NY
Sally Tatnall – Lyndhurst, OH
Alí Marrero Calderón – Bayamon, PR
María Cora – San Lorenzo, CA
By Alix Dobkin, 1940
The discussion about changing OLOC’s definition of “old” from 60 to something else has gone on since our beginning. As always, we considered many things from many angles, but now there seem to be more complications: what a member is and what benefits does “membership” bring. Are chapter members automatically counted as National members? Some chapters accept 55-year-old members or don’t have age requirements.
Does “old age” mean more infirm and less able? Some of us have daughters who are over 50 and we do not consider them to be “old” (nor do they). So, what’s the answer?
Our mission is to fight ageism rather than define what “old” means; a 50-year-old who loses her job has to face the very same ageism as older women. However, the perception of “age” has changed since our founding. We are not the same now at 60 as we were way back then because more of us are living very active, productive lives. Therefore, some believe that 65 is a more accurate definition and would like to increase the age.
The latest iteration evolved from discussions about strategic planning that the Steering Committee has undertaken. In them were proposals to lower the age, particularly in light of the lowered life expectancy for those Old Lesbians experiencing the effects of poverty.
Of course, we all want to sustain OLOC, and some of us think that, because we are old and will die sooner rather than later, we need younger members to keep us going. Others point out that so far the current age of 60 has supplied OLOC with the energy to keep us alive and well enough to offer terrific programs and provide excellent resources for Old Lesbians.
Not only that, there has been a perception of a lack of transparency about our process, and that there has been little input from our members about lowering the age. However, we solicit feedback all the time in the Reporter and E-News, though it hasn’t been focused on age. We survey the Chapter Coordinators, but most OLOC members are not in a chapter. Members can observe Steering Committee meetings in action but are not able to participate in the discussion or vote. The dates of the next meetings will be posted soon.
These discussions have never been easy, and after much exhausting back-and-forth, when confronted with a stalemate and too many questions, we eventually compromised with a consensus to lower the age of membership in OLOC to 55.
NATIONAL OLOC STATEMENT
By Jacqui Lewis Miller, 1949, on behalf of the Steering Committee
OLOC is NOT a white organization and we continue to make every effort to encourage the participation of our Sisters of Color.
As you may know, we have been meeting and working to identify and diminish the structures of white dominance within OLOC. This is and will be an ongoing process because racism is so deeply rooted in our culture. We are all affected negatively by the debilitating and unjust parameters of white dominance.
Any woman acting out any form of discrimination will be called on it immediately. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. OLOC is organizing for change! We are the change! First!
Input from Lesbians throughout our membership has made it known that we must work to address the oppression of Lesbians in all areas of our lives.
We are committed to making participation in OLOC comfortable and hopefully enjoyable to all our current members and those to come!
ALWAYS ORGANIZING FOR CHANGE!
While researching a project our WebWeaver came across this wonderful photo.
If you can identify the three Lesbians in the back and the woman on the far left in front please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why We Call Ourselves Old
Society calls us Old behind our backs while calling us “Older” to our faces. “Old” has become a term of insult and shame. To be “Old” means to be ignored and scorned, to be made invisible and expendable.
We refute the lie that it is shameful to be an “Old” woman. We name ourselves “Old Lesbians” because we will no longer accommodate ourselves to language that implies in any way that “Old” means inferior.
We call ourselves OLD with pride. In doing so, we challenge the stereotypes directly. Thus, we empower and change ourselves, each other, and the world.
Download Why Old.pdf
These articles are included here for herstoric purposes. As of spring 2021, OLOC support/membership is open to Old Lesbians in their 55th year and older.
WHY 60 AND OVER
Membership in National OLOC is limited to Old Lesbians in our 60th year and over, in order to give us the opportunity to be together and to speak for ourselves. We are especially sensitive to the ageist attitudes of those who see themselves as committed to the Old, doing “good” for the Old, speaking-for-us.
The age of 60 was chosen because the degree of oppression is greater beyond mid-life, after 60, when we know what it is to be perceived as “Old.” We welcome those under 60 as supporters who are committed to confronting ageism. Download OLOC statement on Ageism.
Download Why OLOC Has an Age Cutoff of 60.pdf