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The 2010 Cleveland Gathering of OLOC

Old Lesbians Organizing in Cleveland

By By Jennice Thomas, b.1940

Alix Dobkin, Suzanne Bellamy, Mina Meyer and Sally Tatnall

Alix Dobkin, Suzanne Bellamy, Mina Meyer and Sally Tatnall

© Ellen Gierson
If you've been wondering where all the Radical Lesbian Feminists of the 70's have gone, they went to the OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) Gathering in Cleveland July 14-18 where Sharpening the Radical Edge was more than a slogan. This was my first but definitely not my last OLOC Gathering. We had five days of adventure. There were over 140 of us from 24 states and Washington DC and from as far away as Australia and Hawaii.

On Wednesday evening we were lavishly welcomed by Cleveland Lesbians who entertained us with songs and humor in a Cabaret performance emceed by Karen Williams, who helped us laugh at ourselves, while we munched on delicacies from a complimentary buffet.

Our keynote speakers highlighted a wide variety of issues: Margaret Cruikshank reminded us that aging is not a disease but ageism can be deadly. Marilyn (Jezz) Jesmain told us about the roles of women in Native American tribes. In many tribes, Lesbians and homosexuals were not only accepted but were respected and afforded a high status. Shelia Ortiz Taylor explained how she uses her fiction as vengeance to expose sexist, ageist, and homophobic attitudes in the legal system, academia, and retirement communities. The Three Wizards of OZ (Australians: Suzanne Bellamy, Lavender, and Jean Taylor) stepped up to make us laugh and to make us think as they reminded us of the international scope of our movement.

I have't even mentioned the talent we discovered when participants at the Gathering entertained us with songs, poetry, and even belly dancing. We also saw two great films: , and "Hannah Free". The dinner and dance on Saturday night announced the winners of the Del Martin Lesbian Pride Award, Carmah Lawler and Cathy Glass activists from Colorado and featured songs and stories by Alix Dobkin, a delicious meal and music to make you dance. I couldn't have asked for more-except let's do it again!

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