Around the gender critical/radical feminist blogosphere, I’m seeing essays about women’s experiences at Mich Fest, a festival that, thanks to men, is no more. Is the demise of Mich Fest solely the result of transactivism? No, and Lisa Vogel admitted this. That said, it had to have been a major contributing factor. I was fifteen when I started getting death threats for my political views (from grown men, of course.) I was a nobody teenager with a catchy screen name. My existence online was of no practical consequence. I can only imagine the harassment and emotional terrorism that Vogel and other well-known Mich Fest regulars were subject to in real life.
And it’s not just Mich Fest that we lost. We lost every other lesbian/women’s music festival. We lost our cafes and our refuges. We lost our lesbian bars…actually, I think the loss of the lesbian bar is the saddest thing of all.
See, it’s all about integration. Progressivism/liberalism has become all about integration and inclusion. Queer activism especially is notorious for being so “inclusive” that it actively excludes anyone with any kind of boundaries or controversial thoughts. It’s a feeling I have had since my middle school years when it came to special education. Being mainstreamed has done a lot of good for the disabled, but it also cost us our right to freedom of association and, all too often, of a quality education. Someone somewhere decided that deaf people don’t have the right to communicate in their native sign language or be with other deaf people. Someone somewhere thought it was a good idea for people with severe mental retardation to be in a regular classroom with a teacher’s aide. Where he is the only child with MR there. Where he sticks out like a sore thumb. Where he cannot get his needs fully met, and the few needs that are met are met at the expense of the other children. Inclusion like that has no practical benefit to anyone, but it makes us look good. Nobody asked me if I wanted to share a classroom with “normal students” or if I wanted to attend a regular school. Nobody asked me if I wanted to “fit in” or if I wanted my world to fit me, like it does for able people. Nobody asked me shit. If they had, I would have said no. I have the same right to be “with my own kind” as anyone else. People have failed to understand the difference between an environment that is *adapted to* you and an environment that’s *designed for* you.
Alas, the same has happen to lesbian and gay spaces. I came of age in an era where lesbian and gay bars were on their way out and it was all about inclusion and being on par with straight people. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be on par with straight people. I wanted a slice of the universe that was just for me and my own. Nobody asked me if I wanted to go to a regular bar like a straight person or if I preferred a lesbian bar. Because no one cares.
Yes, gay bars arose in large part because of the need for safety and community in eras past where being gay was illegal, stigmatized, and carried not just social risks, but physical risks to your safety. I understand that in that sense, they are not as essential. Yet gay bars are more than a place to not get beat up. It’s a place where you *know* you are around your own kind. In a regular bar, you are vastly outnumbered and you risk some serious negative social repercussions. But gay bars are safe. Gay bars were where we meet others like us, where we showed affection, where we supported each other and socialized in ways that only we can. I don’t want to lose gay bars. History was made there. Gay and lesbian culture was born and raised there. And those who forget history (as is happening right now with women’s and gay rights) are doomed to repeat it. Gays and lesbians, especially lesbians, need their own bars. Every time we lose a bar, a hotel, a park, an icon of the gay community, or a women’s space, I feel not just a sense of loss, but I feel violated. Not only are we deprived of resources and political capital, but even space and time are restricted to us. Our space and time for ourselves (Michfest anyone?) was continually invaded and finally conquered. No physical battle was fought. No buildings or forts were taken. It wasn’t a traditional act of war, but war was waged and we lost. There is no greater violation to me than to invade someone’s time and space. It’s like harassment, stalking, rape…the invasion of time and space are key components.
In the end, it was to be expected. LGBs aren’t allowed to be distinct. Especially lesbians. Women cannot be away from men. Any vulnerable minority, really, has their time and space continually invaded by those with privilege. Privileged space, however, is always protected, and it is vast. Funny how men can meet without women. Funny how Christians, Muslims, pagans, etc. can join groups where they can associate only with each other. People of different ethnic groups (usually) are allowed to congregate with each other. You don’t need to be an oppressed minority to value connection with like-minded people. It is not homophobic to want gay and lesbian spaces. It never was (although they were needed, in large part, because of homophobia). The desire for the old school lesbian bar is based on the legitimate, normal, human want to connect with like-minded people. The gay bar is not obsolete and never will be, but that’s what I keep hearing. It’s homophobic, obsolete, not cool to want to be separate. It’s all about integration, walking into straight space and strutting my stuff. Again, no one asked me, or a lot of other people, if I wanted this. It was forced on me.
I went to my first gay bar a couple of months ago, actually, and it was practically dead. No one wants to go to the gay bars anymore because it’s not cool. It’s too much of a ghetto and we want to be with straight people. And guess what? The people that were there weren’t even necessarily gay or lesbian. There were both men and women there and men and women were partnered with each other, which kinda leads me to believe that they were…um…straight. How sad is it that gays have left gay bars and they are now mostly occupied by straights or straight-leaning bisexuals?
Goodbye gay bars. Goodbye Michfest. I never knew ye, but oh how I want thee. And I will never forgive the left for allowing, for facilitating this rape of the lesbian soul. And I have zero patients with straight “queers” destroying spaces that are not theirs and that they have never understood in the name of “solidarity.”
Every day, there another encroachment of women’s and lesbians’ boundaries, and I feel violated all over again the way I did when I found out about Michfest.
But I’m so relieved to hear that Mount Athos is exclusively male and Orthodox Christian. And that Camp Trans is out of bounds for cissies. I’m always happy, as a lowly female, to bed over backwards for someone else at my own expense and with zero return.
Except I’m not.