Saturday, September 02, 2006
Old Lesbian Organizing for Change Gathering: Leave No Old Lesbian Behind Conference was held August 17 to 20, 2006
at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, North Carolina.
I had an exhilarating and inspiring time meeting 125 other Lesbians over the age of sixty and a few women under that age who accompanied a 60 year old or came for special sessions like the intergenerational session or the banquet/dance we had on Friday evening preceding the opening session of the conference the next morning. The keynote speakers Mandy Carter and Suzanne Pharr started off the first morning with a bang presenting a conversation about race and class. Alix Dobkin singing performances were brilliant, reminiscent of her work in the 70's but even better. Alix is a provisional member of OLOC's Steering Committee. There were sessions on creative writing run by Ida Redd from the Mother Tongue Theatre Group. I participated in that group and we did a live perfromance after writing our thoughts in sessions. Cathy Cade ran a creative session showing her special format on how to do your own memoirs. Mina, my spouse, and I attended the memoir session. There was a session on Disability which focused on dealing with organizations, a major panel on Ageism and Lesbophobia: Look Us in the Eye of which I gave the introduction. You can find my written version of the introduction to that session inserted below this article.
There were great videos shown at the event including Donna Cassyd and Leslie Sloan's video titled High Heels on Wheels which is about roller derby women who were Lesbians in the 50's and sixties and a few who still skated in the nineteen eighties. I bought the video from South Carolina which was created to fight the insidious consitutional amendment petition which plans to do away with the right to ever marry for same sex couples in South Carolina. I showed that video to my class at Cal. State U. Dominguez Hills and it was well received. Cathy Cade's fun and well done video on The Dyke March in SF was also shown. There was also a session on Legal Issues presented by Joyce Pearson, our OLOC paralegal friend who works for the National Center For Lesbian Rights organization and an attorney also came to speak on this panel.
We had a hospitality suite where some women played cards and ate free food and many of us hung around the hotel lobby in between sessions just kibbitzing and having a good old time relaxing. Old Lesbians also enjoyed the hotel pool and spa area in the evenings. There was a silent auction which raised about $1200.00 for the organization. Arden Eversmeyer gave a session on doing oral herstories ( how to interview) which is an important part of the OLOC mission keeping a record of who we were and where we are going now. Arden and Charlotte are a couple from Houston who add style and a touch of Southern class to the Gathering. They have given lots of energy and attention to OLOC over the years. Shaba Barnes gave a moving memorial service for the Lesbians of OLOC who have gone before us. We each dropped a petal from a rose into a vase with water as the names of departed were read. It was a moving service with a slide show presentation of the departed which was created by Mary and Margaret, a couple who also have given much of themselves to making OLOC have a strong and dynamic presence.
Because The Gathering was held in the South the majority of the attendees came from the surrounding areas in North Carolina and other states. I understand there were something like 32 states represented and one person came from Norway. The Southern women seemed especially appreciative of OLOC's efforts. I heard that on the evaluation sheets many said they had never experienced anything like this before and that they really loved being at the event. I ditto their enthusiasm for the event. I always enjoy OLOC happenings and hope I can continue to come to OLOC Gatherings and related meetings in the future.
Long Beach, California