Standing Up To Transphobia: Lea DeLaria Says “No” to MichFest

28 May

DeLariaThe Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival — popularly known as MichFest — is one of the oldest ongoing music events in the country. Founded in 1976 as a women-only camping and entertainment event, it has been in the same location since 1982, drawing thousands of women each year. Sadly, it is also driven by what founder and organizer Lisa Vogel refers to as “The Intention.” This policy declares that only “womyn born womyn” are allowed to attend, actively excluding any women not assigned female gender at birth.

This deplorable transphobia flies in the face of true feminism and dangerously ignores our need to stand in solidarity. By subscribing to a narrow binary of gender identity, Vogel tragically perpetuates the kind of marginalization that she maintains the festival was created to eliminate. Since Nancy Burkholder — a trans woman — was ejected from the festival in 1991 transgender activists have worked hard to raise awareness of “The Intention” and its harmful effects.

This year an actor and comedian has led an exodus from MichFest in protest to the policy. Lea DeLaria, a strong advocate for all of the LGBT community throughout her career, has gained recent attention starring in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black. After signing up to perform at MichFest she learned about The Intention from co-star Laverne Cox — one of the most visible transgender entertainers. Not content to just walk away, DeLaria issued a strong statement rebuking Vogel and MichFest for their shameful practices. She also noted some of the more dramatic protests mounted by activists outside the festival, including physical harassment and bomb threats.

After over 30 years of gay activism and as an out, proud member of the LGBTQ Community, I do not wish to be a party to infighting. We queers need to find a way to stop this fighting and work together towards our common goal. Both sides of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival dispute refuse to listen to each other. Due to their unyielding stance, I am withdrawing from the festival. I truly look forward to the time when all LGBTQ stand as one. Perhaps then we can collectively laugh at how fucked up is it when I’M the voice of reason.

Nicely done, Lea. Other performers have joined the boycott, including out folk duo Indigo Girls, poet Andrea Gibson, and rockers Hunter Valentine.

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6 Responses to “Standing Up To Transphobia: Lea DeLaria Says “No” to MichFest”

  1. Central Oregon Coast NOW May 28, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  2. Central Oregon Coast NOW May 28, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    There was a Resolution at last year’s National NOW Conference for NOW to take a stand against the Michigan Womyns Music Festival. Unfortunately, the person who proposed the Resolution had to leave the conference before discussion of the Resolution, and because most of the delegates knew nothing to little about MichFest the Resolution was tabled to be taken up again in 2014. I researched MichFest after I returned home and came to the same conclusions as Lea Delaria. I’m looking forward to being able to vote to take a stand against MichFest this year.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Thank you for your comment, Nancy. I’m glad that NOW is paying attention to the horrible situation at MichFest!

  3. Dr. Rex May 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    On another note … “It Is What It Is” has been honored. We are paying it forward. Know that your work is honored and valued!!

    http://hrexach.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/the-most-influential-blogger-award-from-just-patty/

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 30, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

      Dr. Rex, thank you! I am always humbled and honored by your voice and spirit. Warmly, Michael.

      • Dr. Rex May 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

        I’m glad. This makes me happy. Well deserved.

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