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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
July 30, 2004

Less gay than last time

Democratic convention has more GLBT delegates, but issues kept quieter

Boston--While the Democratic National Convention had a record number of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender delegates this week, discussion of their issues was kept quieter than in previous conventions.

According to National Stonewall Democrats spokesperson John Marble, there were 255 openly GLBT delegates from 46 states and territories; seven of them transgender. Twelve were from Ohio. The number represents six percent of the roughly 4,250 total delegates.

In addition to nominating the presidential candidate, the delegates approved the party�s national platform July 27.

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland is a co-chair of the Platform Committee.

The 41-page document has one paragraph on GLBT inclusion:

�We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush�s divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a �Federal Marriage Amendment.� Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart.�

Marble and Ohio delegate Sue Doerfer of Cleveland Heights said that not all GLBT delegates are happy with the platform because it doesn�t mention transgender inclusion and contains fewer GLBT issues than the 2000 one. That document called for an end to the military ban on gay servicemembers, passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, inclusive hate crime laws and national civil unions.

�They wanted a leaner platform,� said Marble, �but we have been promised that more issues, including transgender inclusion, will be in the 2008 platform.�

By press time, halfway through the July 26-29 event, four of six openly gay scheduled speakers had spoken.

These were Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who is the convention�s co-chair, Democratic National Committee treasurer Andy Tobias and former San Francisco supervisor and assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development Roberta Achtenberg. Appointed by President Clinton, Achtenberg was the first openly gay official confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Jim Stork, a gay candidate for Florida�s 22nd congressional seat, also spoke.

Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts was to address the convention as a founder of the National Stonewall Democrats on Thursday.

Human Rights Campaign president Cheryl Jacques was set to address the convention on Wednesday. Her predecessor Elizabeth Birch spoke at the 2000 convention.

Jacques was expected to advocate for marriage equality, employment non-discrimination, and the right to serve openly in the armed services.

Achtenberg said, �I am a lesbian� and called for gay and lesbian families to be included in the American dream and for rejection of the federal marriage ban amendment.

Tobias talked about his partner Charles while addressing inequality in taxation.

Baldwin spoke primarily about the problems of many Americans accessing health insurance. She mentioneddomestic partner benefits, but that was not the focus of her speech.

In 2000, the Stonewall Democrats chided openly gay Arizona Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe for speaking only about trade at the GOP convention.

Marble said, �It�s a healthy sign when Tammy Baldwin can talk about health care, not just gay issues.�

Non-GLBT speakers whose speeches included messages of GLBT equality included former head of civil rights enforcement in the Clinton administration Bill Lan Lee, AIDS advocate Denise Stokes, Sen. Edward Kennedy, U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama of Illinois and Rev. James Forbes.

But Marble acknowledged that the specific gay interest content of the speeches is less than in 2000. Speech content is determined by the presidential campaign. The national treasurer of the Kerry campaign is Bob Farmer, an openly gay man.

Doerfer said Achtenberg, who was on the platform committee, �took flak� from gays who were unhappy with the platform, especially its lack of transgender issues.

Doerfer also said that the lack of gay and lesbian mention made its way into the women�s caucus, as well.

�There were 1,000 women in there and no one even mentioned the word �lesbian�,� said Doerfer. �I don�t understand it. We are among our own here.�

�I wanted more from the platform,� said Doerfer. �I don�t like being told we have to wait four more years.�

But Doerfer also said she is also coming away from the convention with a sense of hope, and says it is progress that gays and lesbians talk to the convention about other issues.

�I have hope that I didn�t have a year ago that we are progressing as a movement,� Doerfer said.

 


Signatures filed to put Article 12 repeal on the ballot

Cincinnati--The campaign to overturn Article 12 of the city charter climbed a step toward being certified for the November 2 ballot July 27 as supporters turned in petitions at City Hall.

Citizens to Restore Fairness filed petitions with over 14,000 signatures with Cincinnati Clerk of Council Melissa Autry, after a brief media conference with dozens of supporters. A total of 6,771 valid signatures are required to put the initiative on the ballot.

Most of the signatures were collected last fall and winter, but CRF waited until now to turn them in so the issue would be on November�s presidential ballot, rather than a special election earlier in the year.

�We can bring Cincinnati together as we repeal this outdated law,� said Jill Benavides, a small business owner, city resident, and CRF volunteer chair.

On City Hall�s steps, CRF chair Gary Wright, who was called a �tireless worker� at the gathering, said Cincinnatians �no matter what their belief, know that [Article 12] is wrong.�

He praised CRF�s volunteers, saying to best learn about Article 12�s evil, �talk to those young people, talk to your children.�

Unique in America, Article 12 was passed overwhelmingly by voters in 1993 after a campaign led by a group called Equal Rights Not Special Rights, which is still in existence. The measure forbids the city from passing any ordinance protecting people from discrimination by sexual orientation.

ERNSR is the forerunner to the Citizens for Community Values of suburban Sharonville. Both are headed by anti-gay activist Phil Burress, who also heads the current campaign to amend Ohio�s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnership protection.

Included among the repeal�s many supporters of special note are Mayor Charlie Luken, Procter & Gamble vice president Charlotte Otto, Catholic archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and Frisch�s Restaurants CEO Craig Maier.

Repeal opponents, many of whom helped pass Article 12 a decade ago, argue that the charter amendment is being intentionally distorted.

Burress said that the law doesn�t condone discrimination, it merely prohibits conferring minority status on people based on their sexual orientation.

�They tell people what it says, we tell people to read it for themselves,� he told the Cincinnati Post. �It says no preferential treatment. Preferential treatment is special rights. No one should be entitled to special rights based on their bed partners.�

Both sides claim community opinion supports their view.

The city�s Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that Cincinnati has lost over $64 million in spending by guests since Article 12�s passage in 1993.

A range of businesses have also criticized Article 12 as an obstacle to attracting qualified employees to the area. A group of young professionals recently said repeal is the quickest way to help dismiss the town�s reputation as an overly intolerant city.

Opponents claim their own polling showed that only 32 percent of the public would support repeal. Burress also points out that his group was able to collect about 20,000 signatures to place the measure on the ballot in 1993.

�I would figured they would have tried to have 30- to 40,000 signatures, to send a signal,� Burress told the Post.

Some repeal supporters privately worry that the hot-button issue of gay marriage might sway voters away from overturning Article 12. The issue was discussed at a July 24 retreat called by the Greater Cincinnati GLBT Coalition and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center

Asked if there is any chance Burress� group might confuse or mislead voters, Stonewall Cincinnati�s Terry Payne replied, �If we stay focused on our message, if we are honest with people, I think they will get it.�

CRF campaign manager Justin D. Turner also thinks believes the marriage issue won�t be a critical factor.

�We believe voters are smart enough to distinguish this issue from the marriage controversy,� he said. �Regardless of where one stands on marriage, we all agree that everyone should be treated fairly.�

CRF�s campaign was begun after an unsuccessful legal effort to have Article 12 struck down. In 1994, U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel ruled the measure unconstitutional, but a year later the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his decision. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, leaving the appellate court�s ruling intact.

Filing the signatures starts the final phase of the ballot qualifying process, but CRF�s 18 months of canvassing voters will continue. Volunteers will continue both door-to-door and telephone canvassing to explain the need for repeal and identify supportive voters. To date they have identified over 15,000, Turner saud.

CRF held a party July 20 to celebrate its supporters� hard work with live jazz music at the Blue Wisp club by the Brian Cashwell Trio and food from the newly reopened Carol�s on Main, Absolutely Fabulous for Food, and Hamburger Mary�s.


Dancin ends a 20-year run in style

Cleveland--After twenty years, the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland�s most festive fundraiser, Dancin� in the Streets, went out with a bang on July 25, albeit a bang muffled by the sound of falling rain.

Dancin� was started in 1985 as a street festival on West 9th St. in the city�s Warehouse District. In recent years the event had transformed into a large dance party surrounded by a weekend of supporting events featuring DJs from across the country.

According to AIDS Taskforce development director Judy Price, 2,100 people attended the five events over the course of the weekend, featuring DJs Gregg Witbeck, Bob Ganem, Kimberly S, Phil B and Joe Gautheaux.

She said that the numbers were down from the previous year. The continuous rain on the day of the main Dancin� event at the Scene Pavilion overlooking the Cuyahoga River was partly to blame, she said.

�However,� she added, �all that attended on Sunday had a wonderful time, and we had a great turnout at all the weekend events.�

At Dancin�, a brief program was held, emceed by David Vidra, owner of Body Work Productions. He presented the Organ Grinder�s Ball fashion show, a pansexual panoply of fetish clothing.

The AIDS Taskforce then presented their Silver Spotlight Awards to the Human Rights Campaign�s Northern Ohio Steering Committee, the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center and Bounce Nightclub, which hosted two of the weekend�s events.

A Silver Spotlight Award is also being given to the Gay People�s Chronicle.

�Since the first event in 1985, Dancin� in the Streets has evolved into one of the traditional �must-dos� in the annual summer LGBT calendar,� said AIDS Taskforce executive director Earl Pike, �an occasion for food, fun, and music, all to support critical services to people with HIV and AIDS.�

He went on to explain some of the reasons for ending the event.

�Like other similar events, Dancin� has grown more and more expensive, and more time-consuming, to produce,� he noted. �With the astonishing growth of the LGBT Pride Parade and Festival in Cleveland, as well as events like the [Cleveland Lesbian-Gay] Center�s Garden Party, Dancin� is no longer the �one big thing� happening each summer.�

�Events have their life-cycles. We�re thrilled, at the same time, to see what Pride has become, to see the growth in LGBT community events,� he continued. �So given that 2004 was the Dancin� 20th anniversary, it seemed like a good time to retire the event, and allow it to evolve into a newer, more modern phase.�

�We don�t know what that looks like yet,� he noted. �We�ll be talking and planning over the next several months. But this much we know: Dancin� has always served as the most visible reminder of the connection between the AIDS Taskforce and the LGBT community, and that connection will continue, but visible in a different form.�

�When the lights came up this past Sunday, it was the end of a 20-year party,� Pike concluded. �And for all the fun, and all the support, we couldn�t be more grateful.�

 


Eight Ohio choruses join in Montréal world festival

Montr�al--Nearly 6,000 members of 164 LGBT choruses from the United States, Canada and Europe converged on the city from July 17 to 24 for the seventh quadrennial Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses International Festival.

Five choruses from Ohio, as well as three smaller ensembles formed from those groups, performed during the festival, last held in San Jose, California in 2000.

Comprising the Ohio contingent were the Cincinnati Men�s Chorus; Muse, Cincinnati�s women�s chorus; Windsong, Cleveland�s feminist chorus; the Columbus Gay Men�s Chorus along with their Illuminati and Vox Alterna ensembles; and the North Coast Men�s Chorus, as well as their Coastliners group.

�I was very proud of the Ohio groups,� said Patrick Coyle, artistic director of the Cincinnati Men�s Chorus. �They were some of the best that I heard all week. That�s not just because I�m biased, they were all terrific.�

�Our chorus and Muse did back-to-back sets,� he noted. The two choruses joined forces to perform �The Battle of Jericho.�

The North Coast Men�s Chorus� performance of �It�s Raining Men� featured Jerry Zak as Mother Nature, as well as Lora Workman�s choreography �that could only have been done by somebody channeling Esther Williams,� according to a member of Phoenix, Arizona�s Grand Canyon Men�s Chorale.

�All the choruses are really fun to watch,� said Columbus Gay Men�s Chorus marketing director David P. Georgi. �CGMC just kind of ended up being the belle of the ball because we do things a lot of other choruses don�t.�

Cleveland had been one of three finalists to be the host city for this festival, along with Minneapolis and Montr�al. GALA Choruses announced in October 2001 that Montr�al had the winning bid.

�All other things being equal, perhaps the internationalism aspect of going to Montr�al made the difference,� said then-interim executive director Jill Strachan.

Cincinnati hosted one of two regional festivals GALA had in 2002; the other was in Seattle. The location of the next international one has not yet been set.

 


In its 30th year, music festival is a crowd pleaser

Columbus--If the main stage attendance and the lines for the restrooms were any indication of the success of the 30th National Women�s Music Festival at Ohio State University from July 22 to 25, then the organizers have no worries for continuing.

Main stage performances displayed some of the finest in women�s talent from around the country. Women from Ohio and surrounding states came for the opportunity to learn to drum, sing in spiritual circles, heal emotionally and exercise their bodies, buy T-shirts and women�s culture art, schmooze with each other and soak up the music.

Comedians Suzanne Westenhoefer and Vicki Shaw had the crowd falling into the aisles with laughter. Singer Lisa Koch took the emcee job on Saturday night dressed as a nun with a large cross around her neck and a ruler in her right hand.

�What�s black and white, and black and white and black and white?� she asked the crowd. Someone shouted out, �You, falling off the stage!� She countered with, �How do you get a nun pregnant? Dress her up as an altar boy.�

Sile P. Singleton, HIS Kings producer and director for the festival, emceed Thursday night and then became a sexy and suave �ladies man� on Saturday night at the kings show. The show featured drag kings from Canada and the U.S.

A theme that continued to come up throughout the weekend was making fun of the religious right. One Kings performance went a step farther. As a Bruce Springsteen song played, two young gay men were beat up by bashers carrying signs, but then the victims got up and confronted their attackers with a reasonable discussion. The skit ended with the gay men and the bashers lovingly dancing off the stage.

Singer and composer Margie Adam launched her career 30 years ago at this festival�s inaugural year. Now an elegant gray-haired lady, she touched the audience with her poise and sweetness of voice and spirit.

Almost every performer told the audience to vote to put the current administration out of office. Long-time women�s music creator Ubaka Hill used her drums and percussion instruments along with her poetry to tell women to �stop empowering people who say we are worthless!�

�Intense women unite!� she cried out in rhythmic chants. She invited women from the audience, who �felt drumming in their hands or a song that needed to be sung� to come on stage and join her.

Modern folk singer Tret Fure, with her acoustic guitar, shared songs of real people with her husky powerful voice. In contrast to this mellow sound were Ember Swift and Lyndell Montgomery, with a musical virtuosity that cannot be described in words.

Alix Olson�s act is a description of where the women�s movement is being taken by its younger members. Her energetic and physical slam poetry was called �too angry to be poetry� by one detractor, so she wrote a poem to put him in his place.

If one needed to mellow out after all this, what better way than to listen to one of the mothers of women�s music, Cris Williamson, who sang the community gathered there to bed on Saturday night.

The festival is in debt that began five years ago, when marketing materials were sent out late. With costs for production of the festival at fixed rates, this set off a domino effect that led to the debt. This was compounded by the 2001 annual direct appeal for donations which was sent out September 11, resulting in the lowest contributions the festival has seen.

Rae Baskin, president and temporary producer for the National Women�s Music Festival, said that attendance for festivals overall has been waning.

After cutting costs by two-thirds, the festival struggled to push forward. Concerned primarily with the debt and determined to pay it off, the board of Women in Arts, the festival sponsors, made major changes. These included an all-volunteer staff, closing offices and moving the event to OSU.

Previously, the festival had been in Bloomington, Indiana. Last year�s was at Kent State University. The board sees the move to Columbus as the key to increasing the attendance, helping to eliminate the debt.

�What we hope for is a fresh new audience for growth and participation,� said Baskin. �Remaining relevant to both generations is the struggle for festivals. But for now our focus has been to reach this anniversary and get the debt paid down.�

Suggestions for the festival�s future will be heard at an open meeting on October 2 in Indianapolis.

For those who missed the National Women�s Music Festival or who want more, two more women�s music events will take place in Ohio this season.

The first is the Women�s International Music Festival from August 6 to 8 at Pine Valley State Park in Akron, featuring Lucie Blue Tremblay, Commonbond, Alexis Antes and others. For more information, see www.wimfest.com.

The second is the Ohio Lesbian Festival in Kirkersville on September 18. Admission is $35 in advance for the one-day event featuring mostly Ohio performers. See www.ohiolba.org/index2.htm for more information.

 

 


Go to Discussion Forum Top of Page

Counter-protests mark visit by Operation Save America

Columbus--Operation Save America, a right-wing evangelical group, descended upon Columbus for seven days last week to spread their anti-abortion, anti-gay messages.

The group protested at Columbus City Hall, the United Way offices, abortion clinics, gay establishments and evangelical churches the group disagrees with.

Founded by Flip Benham as Operation Rescue, the group became well known in the 1980s and 1990s for attempting to blockade abortion clinics.

Stonewall Columbus, the Answer is No and other organizations put together several counter-protests. The Answer is No was formed to oppose Operation Save America�s Columbus visit this year, according to their web site www.theanswerisno.org.

On July 23, the day Save America was leaving Columbus, Stonewall organized a �Festival Against Bigotry� on the steps of City Hall. The event was a dance and celebration of the group�s departure.

Michael Dutcher, Stonewall�s director of operations and public relations, said that the event was to show that, �We don�t tolerate hate or hate groups in Columbus. We are here to calmly take back the city and celebrate diversity.�

Stonewall had about 150 people to Save America�s 100 at City Hall, said Stonewall Columbus programming director Kellye Pinkleton. Both sides had smaller numbers at other locations.

Bill Lesselrode, who brought a gigantic yellow sign that read, �To Your Hate We Say No,� said he come because, �I�ve seen what these people are capable of in Germany and I will not let them do it here.�

Bill Minckler, who recently married his partner of 18 years in Massachusetts, said that he had shown up �basically to demonstrate that Columbus is not about hate.�

�They have come into our city where we work, where we care for each other, where we volunteer to make it better,� Minckler added. �They want to do harm to our community and the answer is most definitely �No!��

Marley Greiner, with the Answer Is No, said that this event and the weeklong counter protests �gives us an opportunity to be patriotic without being a Republican or a Bush-ista. This is what America is truly about, not what OSA stands for and is preaching.�

Pinkleton said that she was �very happy with the community response.�

She noted that Stonewall�s biggest concern was the safety of the community.

�We asked GLBT folk and our allies to come out and respond as a peaceful presence but not get baited by their hate and violence,� she said.

Two 17-year-old students from Gahanna-Lincoln High School came up at FAB to show their solidarity with the GLBT community. Alex Ameter and Mike Winters, both straight allies, said that they had come �to promote the equality of all people.�

Winters said he had also come to support his gay father and sister.

�The most important, worthy cause right now was gay rights in America,� said Ameter.

 

 

 

 


 

House passes bill to tie courts hands on DOMA

Washington, D.C.--The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill July 22 that strips federal courts of their power to review the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The measure, approved by a committee the week before, denies court access to anyone challenging the federal law, which allows states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages made in other states.

The House voted 233-194, mostly along party lines, to send the bill to the Senate.

Republicans pushed the measure sponsored by Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana in the wake of the Senate�s defeat in early July of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The amendment would have ended any possibility of challenging the anti-gay DOMA law. The court stripping legislation would make challenges more difficult and less likely to succeed.

It is rare for Congress to use its power under Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution to strip federal courts� ability to hear cases, but Republicans argued that such extraordinary measures are justified to preserve the �sanctity of marriage� between one man and one woman.

Northwest University law professor Martin H. Redish, who testified at the request of Republicans before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, called court stripping �the equivalent of nuclear war,� telling legislators they have the power, but �it�s highly unwise to exercise it.�

The subcommittee is chaired by Cincinnati Republican Steve Chabot. He was joined in voting for the measure by all Ohio Republicans, David Boehner, Paul Gillmor, David Hobson, Steve LaTourette, Bob Ney, Mike Oxley, Rob Portman, Deborah Pryce, Ralph Regula, Pat Tiberi, and Mike Turner.

Ohio Democrats Sherrod Brown, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Marcy Kaptur, Tim Ryan, and Ted Strickland voted against the bill. Dennis Kucinich was not present for the vote.

The vote occurred after 110 minutes of debate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. There were no floor amendments.

The debate resembled the earlier Senate debate on the constitution. Republicans argued that they don�t trust judges to preserve traditional marriage, so they believe extraordinary measures to keep same-sex marriage away from further constitutional scrutiny are justified. Democrats argued that nothing should be passed to block a group�s access to courts. Few argued in favor of same-sex marriage.

�It singles out one group of people, lesbians and gay Americans, for different and inferior treatment,� said Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas. �This unequal treatment of one group is the very essence of classifications that runs afoul of the principle of Equal Protection.�

Barney Frank, the openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts said, �I guess I am regretful, maybe I can apologize, that the sight of two lesbians falling in love and wanting to formalize that has so traumatized the majority that they are prepared to make the biggest hole in the United States Constitution that we have seen since we became one nation.�

�This debate must be removed from the courts who are filled with unelected lifetime judges,� said New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce. �and the debate should be moved from those courts back into the court of the people, back into the courthouse square instead of in the courthouse.�

Pearce said, �Many black leaders are in favor of this,� asserting that �there is no civil rights abridgement here.�

�Law only fundamentally defines what nature has already defined,� Pearce continued, �that a man and woman come together. They create life.�

Michigan Democrat John Conyers, who is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee said, �The only reason we are debating today is that the president is in danger of losing his job and wants to detract attention from his failure in Iraq and to bolster support among right-wing conservatives.�

From Ohio�s delegation, only Chabot spoke on the bill on the House floor, urging its passage.

�The fact of the matter remains that marriage between a man and a woman has been and continues to be the cornerstone of our society,� said Chabot, arguing that should only be changed by legislators.

�This is an issue which has been thrust upon us by rogue mayors and rogue courts,� said Chabot. �[Taking matters of marriage out of their hands] is not something we choose, but something we have to do.�

Michigan Democrat John Dingell, called the �Dean of the House� because he has served since 1955, called the bill �an outrage.�

�Can you imagine anything more shameful than telling an American citizen you cannot go into court to have your concerns addressed, to have cares and controversies, many of which will arise under the Constitution, heard by the courts of your nation?� Dingell said.

New York Democrat Anthony Weiner said that in order to support the bill, one would have to believe that the 1996 DOMA law is unconstitutional and was going to be struck down by the Supreme Court, and have contempt for individual rights and freedoms.

Frank took the floor in response to comments by Illinois Republican Henry Hyde. Frank said that if federal courts could not hear cases challenging DOMA, the state courts would, by default, be the final authority on granting full faith and credit to marriages from other states.

�Frankly, the liklihood that this U.S. Supreme Court will find that full faith and credit compels the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriages is quite slight. It is liklier that there are four, five, or six state courts that will find that,� adding that although he opposes the bill on principle, it might bring about more same-sex marriages.

California Democrat Loretta Sanchez called the bill the �Offense to the Constitution Act� arguing that it violates the principles of separation of powers.

Wisconsin Democrat and openly lesbian Tammy Baldwin said, �With this bill, we face no less than the specter of a sign posted on the federal courthouse door which reads, �You may not defend your constitutional rights in this court, you may not seek equal protection here, you may not petition your government for redress here.��

�Today,� continued Baldwin, �the �you� is gay and lesbian American citizens. But who will be next?�


The warm summer
evenings of August

Woods to fill with song for the
29th Michigan Womyn�s Music Festival

Hart, Michigan--August is just around the corner, and that means in the northern woods of the Manistee National Forest a world centered on women�s voices, music and lives will be born when the Michigan Womyn�s Music Festival takes flight August 10 through 15.

In its 29 years, the festival has blossomed to become the largest annual women-only gathering in the world, drawing more than 5,000 annually onto the wooded festival grounds most commonly known as �the Land.�

As always, the 2004 festival will include a large variety of intensive and shorter workshops, community vegetarian meals, childcare, camping space, differently-abled resources, dances, performances on a day stage, a night stage, an acoustic stage and more.

For many, the festival has become an annual reunion of sorts where old and new friends convene to celebrate the lives of women. A world of its own, the Land possesses mystical elements for many, grounding them each year in a sense of community that is seldom found in the outside world. At the center of this universe are women�s voices, song, music, and art. This year�s opening celebration on Wednesday night will feature Magdalen Hsu-Li and poet Alix Olsen, with special guest Pamela Means.

Sandy Ramsey, one of hundreds of volunteer workers who bring the festival to life each year, said all of the entertainers featured this year are �fabulous.�

�It�s what women have come to expect from Michigan, a well-rounded, diverse group of women who represent our culture.�

As the week continues, the three stages will serve up performances by Round Robin, Anne Heaton, Natalia Zukerman, C.C. Carter, Ember Swift, Kinnie Star, Ellis, Bitch, and the Dolly Ranchers, just to name a few.

This year�s festival will also welcome more than one new addition. On Friday the acoustic stage will feature what promises to be an intense medley by performers who have become regular voices on the Michigan stage. Pulled together by the festival, the Troubadours will blend the melodies of Jamie Anderson, Tret Fure, Deidre McCalla and Lucie Blue Tremblay into one act.

�These are some of the gals that have carried forth our culture musically for years in the old tradition of troubadours,� said Ramsey. �This year we�ve brought them together.�

Another promising and ground-breaking performance will also appear on Friday, as the night stage will bring to life Diane DiMassa�s comic Hothead Paisan in the form of a musical. The cast includes Ani Difranco, Animal Prufrock, the Wholly Ensemble, Susan Powter, Edie Klecka, Ferron, Lynee Breedlove, Toshi Reagon, Suhir Blackeagle, Alyson Palmer, the Whorchester, Julie Wolf, Kate Wolf and Debi Winston.

�We�ve never produced anything like this at the festival before,� said Ramsey of the one act musical. �For fans of the cartoon strip it will be a blast from the past with a great cast.�

If you still have your breath, Saturday�s schedule will serve up more tunes and plenty of laughs with appearances by Kate Clinton, Laura Love, Ellis, Bitch, the Dolly Ranchers, Erika Luckett, JUCA, Jambalaya and Jami Sieber. Other acts on the not-to-miss list include a Michigan Festival version of a Circus on the Sunday afternoon day stage featuring LAVA, a New York acrobat troupe, and the goddesses of giant puppets Wise Fool New Mexico.

This year�s festival, noted Ramsey, will also include plenty of performance art, music from emerging talents and a healthy dose of world music from artists such as Rosa Los Santos, Min Xiao-Fen and others.

Of course staple festival areas such as the crafts tent and a large variety of workshops will be ongoing throughout the week. Festival-goers can also catch a new line of films. According to Ramsey, the festival will highlight films such as Rise Above, Mango Kiss, and Double Dare, which explores the lives of female stunt doubles who worked on projects such as Xena, Warrior Princess and Wonder Woman.

�I've been spending my summer vacation time there for the past 17 years and next week my partner Sue will make the trek to what I affectionately call our annual women's summer camp,� said Cleveland Pride coordinator Brynna Fish. �I work on the night stage as the assistant stage manager. Sue works in festival operations helping to facilitate the big picture of the festival.�

�Being part of the worker community has been a transformative blessing and we look forward to our annual summer return �home�.�

The Michigan Womyn�s Music Festival includes childcare services, health care, an airport shuttle, RV and tent camping and a host of other amenities. Tickets are available at the gate , ranging in price on a sliding scale from $380 for six days to $60 for a one-day pass. For more detailed information and the full schedule of events, visit www.michfest.com.

Sarah Mieras is a reporter for Between the Lines, Michigan�s largest LGBT newspaper.

 

 

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