Following my recent rant on MichFest and its continued transphobia, I was directed by a reader to check out the Ohio Lesbian/Womyn’s Festival. I had never heard of the festival but was intrigued. Just like MichFest there is music and performers and workshops and camping and…well, womyn. But…and this is a big but…this womyn’s festival, dear readers, is inclusive, meaning if you identify as a woman, then you’re welcome to attend.
I was thrilled to learn about this festival’s existence (particularly after seeing the above flier cause this belly dancer knows a tribal costume when she sees one!) and vowed to throw my full support behind it. My partner and I started making plans to take a trip to OH and I was even considering camping for the first time since Girl Scouts (seriously y’all, I’m a big ‘ole priss…my definition of camping includes a cabin with electricity). We started recruiting friends to form a Chicago delegation to attend the festival and then…here’s where you can insert some sad trombone sounds…my job destroyed all my plans. I didn’t think it would be terribly difficult to get that Saturday off but I was sorely mistaken. Apparently a month in advance wasn’t early enough to inquire and the schedule was already booked up, making it impossible for me to take off. I threw a minor tantrum involving lots of cursing and bile-spewing at my stupid Saturday shift which regularly gets in the way of me having any type of social life.
So no Ohio Womyn’s Festival for me, but you should go! Really! Please go! For me! And if you do go, let me know what you think! I think it sounds amazing and I want it to do well, I want it to grow. Because this is the kind of womyn’s festival we need, one that’s not stuck in second-wave politics and embraces all womyn.
Information on tickets, location, directions, hours, etc., etc. can be found here.
It’s that time of year again, when lesbians descend in droves onto The Land in the woods of eastern Michigan to…to what? Participate in drum circles? Celebrate the Earth Mother and talk about wombs? Listen to crappy folk music?
As you probably guessed, MichFest is not my cup of tea. It’s waaaay too hippietastic and Second-Wave for my liking. Yep, I’m a lady and I’m queer. I don’t need to go play in the dirt and bang on drums with a bunch of other lesbos to feel affirmed in my dykeness. And seriously ladies, there’s only so much damned folk music I can take, so I sure as hell don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with that as my sole soundtrack. Add to this the fact that it costs hundred of dollars to go sleep in the dirt and pee in port-a-potties for a week. Simply put, MichFest is not worth it.
But you know the most important reason it’s not worth it? Because it’s still a transphobic, exclusionary event. Yes, there are now trans women who attend the event and there are more and more allies there each year, especially thanks to the group Trans Women Belong Here (TWBH). But at its core, MichFest doesn’t want trans women there which is why the founders have refused to officially drop the “womyn-born-womyn” entrance policy. And this is not something I will support. I will not attend a festival created by transphobic radical feminists who refuse to see their hatred for what it is.
I know lots of women attend MichFest as trans allies, working with TWBH for the week, showing visible solidarity with our trans sisters and helping to provide safe spaces on The Land. I can see the need for that but I still can’t bring myself to give money to a transphobic organization. In my mind attending (especially if you are not actively volunteering with TWBH or some other trans ally group) is akin to supporting. You are paying these women to continue their exclusionary policy. Think on that.
I think it’s high time for a new summertime queer, woman-identified festival, one without incessant folk music and transphobia. And please, no drum circles either, I beg you. Who’s with me?