Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lesbian Festival Rocks Gothenburg, Sweden

By DJ Soulflower
A celebration festival for lesbian culture took up space and time in Gothenburg in Sweden during June 2006.

After taking the night train to Gothenburg we searched our way to the Swedish College for Women. It was time for the fourth festival by and for lesbians, the only one in its kind in Sweden. Friday was welcoming night and everyone joined in to meet women from all over the country. After healthy vegetarian dinner and two short films about last years festival, the lesbian choir “Lucky Lips” gave the audience a moving and beautiful moment, singing artful covers.

The idea for the festival should have come when some Swedish women helped Mexican women to prepare a banderol [a festive streamer] for their lesbian festival and wondered when was last time for a festival like that in Sweden. Nobody could remind there had ever been one. Younger asked older, but no, there had not been a single festival like that at all. Realising that it was about time for it, the first one went off in 2003 and this year it was bigger than ever before.

Saturday was full of lesbian debates and we analysed questions like: “Is it a political choice to live like a lesbian?” and “What is a lesbian to you?” After the two gay movies, everyone were invited to a local pub for poems and karaoke evening which was a success with many groovy talents.

Sunday. After a few hours of sleep and collective healthy vegetarian breakfast, it was time for a very interesting and analytic lecture with Gabriella Seger from Stockholm about monogamy: What is a love relationship? What are the consequences of monogamy? Society’s expectations? Who says what and sets the “standards” for relationships? And what if we break the norms?

One of the biggest highlights of the festival was the demonstration through Gothenburg for the visibility of existence. Feministic Radical Cheerleaders took tone during the gathering at the square before take off. A colourful train, many with beautiful creations, dancing through the central parts of the city meanwhile DJ Trouble was pumping out good beats from the wagon in the front. It all ended up with street theatre, Fett Jävla Fantastiques Homosektion, and finally a mass-bath in the fountain of naked Poseidon, which quickly was filled up with dancing, happy, singing lesbians.

In the evening, hundreds of women arrived for the final party at one of the nightclubs in Gothenburg. Two DJs from Stockholm, Malin & Lisa, started out with some pure synth music, a mixup from 80’s until today’s schlager-disco-techno. After an hour it was time for the first band, Even Cowgirls get the Blues, to enter the stage and the public danced along to their Elvis covers.

DJ Soulflower delivered some feministic “pause music” in groovy R N B style until it was time for the next splendid band, Honky Bach and the Graceful. They made a strong musical and personal impression when the singer lifted the roof with her words filled with passion and experience. The crowd was hypnotised by her sensitive voice accompanied by a very professional guitarist.

Later on, the very young and political punk band Dyke Alert rocked the room to pieces. With rebellious punch lines, they swept the audience away.

Malin & Lisa from Klubb Intern continued their electric trip and served Starwars, The Vikings, Pet Shop Boys and other tracks inspired from the 80’s. Last hour, DJ Soulflower maxed on with a fresh mix containing remixes of Joan Jett, AC/DC and her own feministic mash ups with Tanya Stevens, among others. Since there were many breakdancers from the troope of Fittcrew, DJ Soulflower chose to mix in a lot of RNB tracks as well for the crowd to spontaneous break out to. Every inch of the dancehall was taken. Out on the roof terrace, people sang together their own songs and after the last track, with Black Eyed Peas, the crowd wanted more and started to clap for more music. It was a very warm and friendly atmosphere during the whole festival for all of us who were there. See you there next year!

[Editor's Note: We're saving up money for plane tickets to Sweden, starting NOW!]

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dykeopoly: The Game

By Nicki Hastie

I know the sun is shining and I should be out there enjoying the spring weekend, but instead I'm looking back to the depths of winter and my activities in the Christmas break, when a certain activity present kept me busy.

Following the format of the popular board game, Monopoly, you can now Make YourOwn Oply "using your PC and any simple colour printer". Buy the kit (or get someone to buy it for you) and away you go.

I can recommend it. Not only do you benefit from all the educational and creative elements of customising your own board game (alone or with friends); you then get to play it as often as you like (better with friends).

And so, gradually, in a little under 24 hours from design concept to finished output, Dykeopoly was born. The game box proudly pronounces:

Doing it the lesbian way
Live the life, now play the game

The all-important 'Go' square is replaced by The Closet: Start Here.

With my PC and my (more-than-simple, thank you) colour printer I design a pink triangle with a pound sign emblazoned in its centre. £100 and £500 notes co-ordinate beautifully as the entire note prints in delicate shades of pink and mauve. Higher denominations express their superiority and refuse to tone in with this careful styling - £1000 (green), £5000 (orange). But they are Pink Pounds nonetheless.

Rules of Make Your Own Opoly differ slightly from the traditional game. Instead of 'Community Chest' and 'Chance' cards there is 'Good News' and 'Bad News'.

I quickly translate this into:

* Dykey Desires
* Dykey Disasters

(Come on, you know we all have them.)

Dykey Desires #1

Martina wins Wimbledon! Each player collects £200.

Dykey Disasters #3

You go to a party and all your ex-lovers are there. Go to Bad Hangover and miss a turn.

Bad Hangover is my take on the Jail square. However much certain TV shows may be loved (and I make sure these feature later), there are too many portrayals of lesbians in prison. Dykeopoly may specialise in stereotypes but there are still more bad hangovers in my world than dykes in jail.

I replace the 'Free Parking' resting space with Browsing the Bookshelves. Silver Moon may not offer quite the same atmosphere as it used to, but I'm not going to give up browsing.

The Property cards are possibly the most revealing aspect of Dykeopoly, especially how I've chosen to group them.

1. Tent at Greenham Common £400; Lesbian Avengers Chapter £500
2. Butch/Femme £900; Lipstick Lesbians £1000; Drag Kings £1200
3. Local Lesbian & GayLine £1400; Local Women's Centre £1500; Local Gay Bar £1700
4. Dykes on Bikes £1800; Lesbians with Cats £1900; Lesbians with Kids £2000
5. Utilities: Manual Trades for Women £2000; Bus Driving for Women £2000
6. The Candy Bar £2100; Diva Magazine £2300; Silver Moon Bookshop £2500
7. 'The' Lesbian Kiss (from Brookside) £2600; Ellen Comes Out £2700; Prisoner Cell Block H and Bad Girls £2800
8. 1950s Lesbian Pulp Fiction £2900; 1920s Lesbian Literary Salon £3100; 1970s Lesbian Feminism £3200
9. Sappho's Beach, Lesbos £3600; The Castro, San Francisco £4000

You may well ask how it's possible to place a value on 1970s Lesbian Feminism or the Local Women's Centre. Do I place too much emphasis on popular culture? And how could I dare to place San Francisco above Lesbos in that prized 'Mayfair' position?

Well, what icons of lesbian culture would you choose?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Let No One Rend Asunder

By Laurie Cicotello

When my parents married 37 years ago, their wedding vows read, "Let no one rend asunder" their marriage and, yet, many legislators keep trying.

When my transgendered parent transitioned more than 20 years ago, my folks stayed together as a same-sex couple. My parents are in a race against time to stop lawmakers from annulling their marriage.

If people really want to save "traditional marriage," why not outlaw no-fault divorce laws that make it possible for people to walk away from marriages even before the ink is dry on their marriage licenses?

Instead, Americans listen complacently to the thrice-married Rush Limbaugh say we are evil and immoral for fighting for non-traditional marriages and families.

If people are defined solely by their ability to have children, then outlaw marriage between anyone incapable of bearing children, such as senior citizens and infertile couples.

As an adult, let me assure you, I am not worse off for growing up in my non-traditional family. I have high moral values. I am an upstanding citizen, and I am an award-winning journalist.

But I guess I'm going to hell simply for honoring my parents. My bad.

Millions of children are much more damaged in so-called traditional families in which divorce wreaks havoc and where love isn't always apparent.

Help my parents keep the wedding vow they took so many years ago: "Let no one rend asunder" their marriage simply because one partner changed.