The Power of Our Aging: Old/Elder Lesbians Confront Ageism
Tuesday, October 26, 2021.
Presenters: Katherine Wood, 1954; Matthea Little Smith, 1950; Mev Miller, 1955; Jacqui Lewis Miller, 1949; and Sally Tatnall, 1937.
For the past several months, a small group of OLOC members (Katherine, Matthea, Mev, and Sally) has been meeting regularly to update the 1992 OLOC Handbook on Confronting Ageism. In this presentation, we updated you on our progress. We discussed our personal experiences and gains as we participate in this process with each other of facing ageism. As part of the presentation, we encouraged participants to reflect on the first section of the Handbook: “Claiming Old! Aging and Ageism.”
Facing the Emotions of Death and Dying
Friday, September 17, 2021.
Presenters: Becky Bohan, 1952, and Nancy Manahan, 1946. Facilitated by Ruth Debra, 1944.
OLOC members Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan, death and dying educators and co-founders of the Minnesota Threshold Network, led a discussion on how to talk about and make end-of-life choices consistent with your values. Becky read a passage from her novel A Light on Altered Land describing the dying and death care of a Lesbian partner. Nancy read an excerpt from Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond, their memoir of the last years and intentional dying process of their sister-in-law, Diane Manahan, RN.
Nancy Manahan is a retired college English teacher whose books include Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence and On My Honor: Lesbians Reflect on Their Scouting Experience.
Becky Bohan is a retired small business owner whose latest novel, A Light on Altered Land, explores ageism, medicinal cannabis, and the erasure of Lesbian culture. Look for The Santorini Setup: A Novel of Suspense and Romance later this year.
Nancy and Becky have been together 27 years and co-authored the award-winning Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond. They’ve traveled widely, having left their native Minnesota for Carefree, a community of 500 women in North Fort Myers, Florida.
Ruth Debra is a member of the OLOC Steering Committee. She is a lifelong activist and former nurse and nursing home administrator. Ruth currently facilitates Death Cafés.
A Conversation with Amy Cunningham
Thursday, August 26, 2021
Would you like to know more??
Amy Cunningham, Research Coordinator from the University of Washington, presented information about dementia and caregiving in the LGBTQ community. She introduced Aging with Pride: IDEA (Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action), the first federally funded program designed to help those experiencing memory loss and their caregivers in the LGBTQ community.
Amy Cunningham has been a Research Coordinator at the University of Washington in both the School of Nursing and School of Social Work for 25 years. She has coordinated over 20 studies in the School of Nursing’s Northwest Research Group on Aging.Those studies have explored behavioral interventions designed to assist old adults with a multitude of issues such as insomnia, osteoarthritis pain, menopause, caregiving, memory loss, and dementia. Her current position is with the School of Social Work’s Aging with Pride IDEA Project, which seeks to help adults with memory loss and their care partners in the LGBTQ community.
OLOC Memorial Tribute for Alix Dobkin
A celebration of XXAlix on the occasion of her 81st birthday, August 16, 2021.
Lesbian friends of Alix paid tribute to her life and memory. They shared words and stories as well as played her most beloved songs featuring Lesbian life and culture. Speakers included: Adrian Hood, Bonnie Wagner, Lavender, Liza Cowan, Kathy Munzer, Mev Miller, Nedra Johnson, Susan Wisehart, and Retts Scauzillo.
- See photos from the Memorial Tribute to Alix
- View the summary of comments loaded to the chat during the Zoom.
- Download Honoring Alix, the Zoom Report
- Check out Remembering Alix Dobkin, a text, photo, and video tribute.
Let’s Talk about S-E-X!
July 8, 2021
Sarah Pearlman, 1935, spoke on sex and the Old Lesbian, addressing such topics as the effect of menopause on desire and orgasm, how aging affects sexuality, sex and the long-term Lesbian couple, the sexual/relationship issues and challenges facing the Old single Lesbian, and the importance of masturbation. Included will be discussion on planning sex dates and concepts such as simmering, willingness, and sexual novelty. Sarah has also provided a longer version of her presentation. Download here…
About Sarah … In her past work life, Sarah Pearlman was a sex educator and therapist. Trained by Masters and Johnson and inspired by Betty Dodson, she has presented at numerous conferences on Lesbian sexuality. Now active in Boston’s LGBT elder organizations, Sarah was the coordinator of two Boston-based conferences: Sex and Gender in the City, and To Bed or Not to Bed: Sex and the Older Lesbian. Her interest in Old Lesbians and sex is not entirely intellectual.
Behind the Scenes in Women’s Music and Culture, The Early Years, Part 1: Production
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Do you remember your first women’s music concert? These presenters are remarkable Lesbians who were involved in various festivals and events… as we all built and sustained a network dedicated to woman-loving music and culture.
Panel Discussion facilitated by Margie Adam, 1947, and Melanie DeMore, 1954.
Facing Death and Dying with Dignity
Monday, May 3, 2021
Death and dying – two words we don’t talk about and prefer not to think about. But they are a part of all of our lives and since none of us is immortal, let’s talk. We hope this OLOC Zoom demystifies the topic. Join your OLOC sisters to share thoughts, ideas, options and fears about the end of life. Facilitated by Sue Reamer, 1942, and Ruth Debra, 1944.
Download Death and Dying Resources
Still Here: Lesbian Writers Continuing on from the 70s
OLOC Zoom Presentation Recorded April 26, 2021
Enjoy the inspiration of several gifted Lesbian writers reading their own words. Curated and introduced by Elana Dykewomon, 1949, and Jewelle Gomez, 1948. Readers Include: Cheryl Clark, 1947; Dorothy Allison, 1949; Kitty Tsui, 1952; Irena Klepfisz, 1941; Terry Baum, 1946; Jewelle Gomez, and Elana Dykewomon.
Download the book list and author bios
Download the Still Here Report
Keeping the “L” Relevant: Archiving Our Lesbian Herstories
Sunday, March 21, 2021
In this panel presentation, Lesbians with experience talked about how they archive and share relevant herstories of Lesbian lives. Presenters included: Sharon Raphael, 1941; Deb Edel, 1944; Krü Maekdo; Bonnie Morris, 1961; and Alí Marrero Calderón, 1948; with Facilitator, Mev Miller, 1955.
Download the Resources List for Keeping the “L” Relevant
NOTE: Due to privacy issues, ONLY the panelists are included and NOT the Q&A.
Women of the Harlem Renaissance
A Multimedia Presentation
Thursday, February 18, 2021
After World War I, Black people flocked to New York City from the American South and the Caribbean Islands. Many settled in Harlem, and from 1918 to the mid-1930s, they created a cultural, artistic, and intellectual revolution that influenced other artists around the world. At the time, it was called The New Negro Movement, and many brilliant women were a part of it. Who were they, and what did they do? In this presentation we’ll talk about the experiences and unique talents of a number of these women — many of them Lesbian or bisexual, all of them groundbreaking. Join us for a glimpse into this historic, dynamic era and into the lives of the amazing Black women who shaped it. Presented by Jorjet Harper.
Book Club Possibilities
Friday, February 5, 2021
These are recommended titles from the chat participants for the whole group and Breakout Group One. Many thanks to Christine Pattee, 1941, for compiling this list.
- Olivia on the Record, by Ginny Z. Berson, recently released by Aunt Lute Press, auntlute.com/olivia-on-the-record
- Cantoras, by Carolina De Robertis (novel set in Uruguay and totally about Lesbians). Great.
- Val McDermid is a Scottish Lesbian author with Lesbian characters. I love her Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series! Dark and gritty murder mysteries, though, so beware, LOL!
- A Light on Altered Land, by Becky Bohan. OLOC member. Novel about Lesbians.
- All of Marti Bellinger’s about Ruth.
- Anything by Elana Dykewoman
- Beyond the Pale, by Elana Dykewoman
- Wildfire: She/volution, by Sonia Johnson
- Never Anyone But You, by Rupert Thomson
- Poppy Jenkins, by Clare Ashton
- Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donahue
- Anything by Sarah Waters
- Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank, by Andrea Weiss
- Juliana, by Vanda. Set in New York in the 1940s and 1950s.
- Film: Vita and Virginia on YouTube.
- Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl
- Patience and Sarah, by Isabel Miller
- Paris Was a Woman, by Shari Bentock
- Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties, by Noel Riley Fitch
- The Sixty-fourth Day, by Rowena Winik
- Anything by Jane Rule or Jeanette Winterson
- Lillian in Love, by Sue Katz
- A Raison in my Cleavage, by Sue Katz
- Alix Dobkin, My Red Blood, story of her red diaper baby life before she came out [mentioned by two participants]
- Djuna Barnes’s collection of her newspaper articles
- This Bridge Called My Back
- Tribe of Dina
- Fiction: Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
- “Literary Ladies Guide,” an email list with stories about famous women authors
- The Lions of Fifth Avenue, by Fiona Davis (Lesbian content. Heterodoxy)
- ebookwoman.com – Highly recommend.
“Where Do We March from Here?”
Thursday, January 21, 2021
By Marie Emee, 1962
The OLOC Zoom meeting [Where Do We March from Here? on January 21] started with Mandy Carter’s informative walk through history, as seen through the eyes of an African American Lesbian educator and survivor who forged a strong backbone as she navigated the child welfare system as an orphan. The 1964 Freedom Summer, the Poor People’s Campaign that went on despite the slaying of MLK in 1968, the building of Resurrection City on the National Mall in DC … all of these events came alive as seen through Carter’s eyes.
Black men won the vote in 1870, and here is a Black woman standing proud in her herstory, reminding us that she could not vote until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That’s real. History comes alive when you have a strong elder who takes the time to tell her story. Sister Carter, thank you for a walk in your shoes.
Mandy asked us: What is the seed we will plant in the future? What drives us? What is the thing deep within us that we will shelter, tend, and grow from seedling roots into leaves, flowers, and fruits? Where do we go from here? Our answers: social justice, ending racism and sexism, destroying the illusion of white supremacy, protecting our land, water, air, and animals…
Some of us tend to the preservation and protection of our Lesbian culture and our hard-won sex-based rights.
From this point in the Zoom meeting, questions came: “Is this an emergency?”, one sister asked. Another question: can Lesbians tell our stories without anger, to elicit empathy, while we are pinioned with threats and hateful slurs for protecting our culture and our spaces? Can we move forward with mutual respect, love, and compassion for others? And can that happen with folks who do not seem to respect our culture and our safe spaces? Where is the compassion for Lesbians? Where is the understanding? And what can we do to foster these?
Is there a way to show the world that the Lesbian community, especially the feminists among us, cannot be reduced to a slur? How do we define ourselves as Lesbians, and how can that definition protect our Lesbian culture and prevent the appropriation of the Lesbian moniker by people who do not fit that definition? How do we protect and nurture young Lesbians, especially young butch Lesbians?
How do we create a brand for ourselves, and is that needed? How can we foster understanding for the righteous rage of those who lament the attack on our community by people who have no understanding of us, and show no compassion for us? If we were understood, would there be compassion and respect, and if so, how do we build bridges to that understanding?
The Lesbian image has been hypersexualized and misappropriated in what our sister Sheila Jeffreys, 1948 [pictured], calls the “malestream media.” How do we counter this? Can we hate the acts of the perpetrators and still respect their humanity, even as they deny our very existence?
How do we foster unrelenting compassion for ourselves that is steel-strong, so that when we reach out in compassion to others, we do not lose compassion and respect for our Lesbian culture and for ourselves? How do we resist erasure into the gullet of Queerness? How do we preserve and protect the L? We are a culture, not just a sexual orientation. How do we project that culture out of the archives and into the world? The answers to these questions are, I suspect, as diverse as the sacred seeds we carry within us.