Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Open Letter to the Estranged Branches of My Radical Queer Family

by Zeph Fish

I just emerged from three weeks working in the woods to help put on the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. I've been friends at different times with both festival workers and folks who've organized with Camp Trans, and I want to share a little something about why I chose to return this year and what happened.

I attended and worked a bunch at the festival from 1988 through the mid-90s. The first time I came, I had been "out" as a dyke for just a little over a year. The only queers I had met were the very earnest academic lesbians at the McGill University Women's Center in Montreal, mullet-haired bar dykes and bisexual punk girls. MichFest more or less blew my mind--I met my first leatherdykes, my first grandmother-herbalist lesbians, my first fully-bearded femme coffee-slingers, my first so-butch-she-passes-as-male carpenters, my first travelling-anarchist-dildo-makers. It radically complicated traditional notions of "female" and opened up new spaces and possibilities for who I could be in the world--which is why when I was working in 1994 and I heard about the very first Camp Trans, I visited as an ally. Trans women have always been part of lesbian community, though at different times they’ve been “outed” and excluded. It seemed like a no-brainer to me that trans women belong in this place, where we are radically questioning and re-visioning what it means to be female.