Writing Through the Pandemic: June 16, Number 1

Think back over the course of your whole life. Tell me about a time you spoke out against injustice. A time you took action or helped change an unfair policy. A time you stood up on your own behalf or on behalf of someone else, regardless of the personal price you had to pay. A time you were an ally to someone, or someone was a true ally to you. Think back. It may have been a big moment or a small one. A quiet one or a very public one. Tell me the story of a time you stood up to the status quo, confronted a bully or an abuser, broke a barrier, a glass ceiling, a closed club, or were part of changing history. Write about a time of courage from your personal history.

You can share your response to this prompt below.

1 thought on “Writing Through the Pandemic: June 16, Number 1”

  1. It was at the only women’s music festival I ever went to. I can’t say what the year was, but it must have happened between the time I was 23 and 25 years old. Because I came out when I was 23 and I moved to Alaska when I was 25—to work for Alaska Public Radio. So it had to have happened in those two years when I was busy coming out and reading lesbian erotic poetry at the women’s coffeehouse in downtown santa cruz. Strutting my triple DDDs with a v-neck skin tight royal blue danskin top and a purple hat with a peacock feather. I was feeling my oats, that was for sure. I don’t know who my lover was at the time. I had a lot and none of them lasted more than three months. I was way too frisky and far too broken. But somehow and I don’t remember who I did this with, probably the lover of the moment, I ended up at the women’s music festival somewhere on some piece of land in northern california, probably in the heat of midsummer. I really don’t remember. I’d never done the michigan music festival scene. I wasn’t interested. I was never a separatist and really didn’t like the hard edges and ridgidity of that scene. I had a father I loved and a brother and my best friend, who was straight and was the one who’d told me I was a lesbian in the first place had a four year old son that I adored. So a flat out rejection of the male of the species wasn’t something I had any interest in.

    So…I was at the festival. Lots of bare-breasted women, mostly white as I recall, especially back then. The music was good on the big stage and there weren’t many kids there. I think the rule was that boys were only allowed up to the age of seven and after that, no penises on the property. How incredibly dated that all feels right now—the duality of gender to begin with. But that’s how it was. Meg Williams was singing or maybe Chris Williamson or Holly Near or Ferron, the Canadian singer I was completely crushed out on. The music was good and I was probably sitting on a blanket, probably with my shirt off, too, though I don’t remember.

    There was a lot of alcohol on the land, probably lots of other drugs, too, though I wasn’t really noticing. There was a clean and sober contingent and drug free zones, but the incident I remember involved a very drunk lesbian with the short dyke haircut of the day. I want to imagine her with one of those large red plastic cups full of cheap beer—let’s say Coors—but I know I’m making this up. What I remember is that there was a little boy—he had to have been under seven, maybe he was a four year old, like my grandson nash, today, maybe he was five, six perhaps, but little. I want to settle on the age four. And he had something…I think a ball, maybe a frisbee, but probably a ball and it got away from him and it either hit this woman or maybe just rolled into her space. I’ll go for rolled into her space. And she came after him and got in his face and just started screaming, “You’re just a little rapist. You men are all the same. You’re just a little rapist.” The boy crumpled and I looked around and his mother was nowhere to be found. Or maybe she was there and frozen in place. And I jumped up out of my seat without a moment’s hesitation and snatched up that child and took him in my arms and confronted that woman, that raging drunk, out of control woman and I remember thinking, If you’re what a lesbian is like, then I don’t want to be one. I don’t remember what happened next. Only that I found the mother and told her what had happened. And then I got several other women to go with me up on the main stage to make a statement. I don’t remember what we said, what I said, because I’m sure I was the writer who wrote up a statement about the unfairness of targeting children with abuse and how that moment for that little boy might have been enough to turn him into a hater. It’s all very vague now. It was forty years ago, but what I remember is my outrage, my willingness to step into the fray, to take a stand that was, I am sure not popular in that crowd—not that her actions would have been either—but people were there for the music and the freedom, not to hear my speech about the rights of boys. I made sure I found my way up onto the stage, I made sure I had a voice, I used the power of the pen and I took a stand. And I never went to another women’s music festival again.

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