Yay for Ireland! Here in the US, there’s a tendency to sentimentalize and stereotype Ireland as the old country, the land of leprechauns. Now it’s shown to be a vital, courageous, cutting-edge place, with a more inclusive social awareness than we have here in the U.S.
In the US, we are getting there. I’m not going to complain about the progress we’ve made. As a lesbian, I feel safer and more included every day. I recently received an official document referring to Marisol as my spouse, and I read it over and over, and took a picture of it. All the language in the document was purely formal, even robotic, yet it warmed my heart so much.
Gay rights are good for everyone, but especially for women, since they allow us to exist outside rigidly defined gender roles. We – both gay and straight women - have fought for centuries for the right to say who we are. And for at least the last fifty years, lesbians have been the forefront of the feminist struggle, although not always welcomed in that position.
This spring and summer I’m going to three all-women events. I’ve already been to the first, a lesbian writers’ conference in Georgia and in June, I’ll go to a womyn’s spirituality conference in Pennsylvania In August, I’ll attend (very sadly) the final gathering of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
So I’m getting a good dose of women’s energy – also spelled womyn’s energy or womon energy in our community – and discovering some interesting things. One of the things I’m finding is that, as mainstream society finds more ways to include and accept us, many women are bowing out of the traditional categories. They’re breaking it down, smudging, dissecting, experimenting, testing, redefining, rewording.
After the conference, I found myself sitting in a room with three women who I would’ve called lesbians, but only one of them actually defined herself that way. The others had chosen alternate genders and more inclusive sexual definitions. This doesn’t mean that if a man had walked into the room, he’d have had a chance in Hell with these two. He probably would’ve seen all the piercings, turned pale, and left. But who knows? They weren’t actually ruling it out. They weren’t ruling anything out.
Maybe it’s a social law, that every border must break down, and every wall must fall. Or maybe it’s happening more these days, with Neptune going through the amorphous, ambiguous sign Pisces, and the sun, Mercury and Mars all in the multi-faceted sign Gemini.
And tomorrow there’s a full moon in mutable signs. This is like a crystal breaking down the light and sending it in a thousand directions. There is no certainty with this full moon, but there is lots of movement and much communication. I feel sorry for people who make their living espousing absolute dogmas, especially during the next couple of weeks. Only those with quicksilver minds will be heard.
Feminist lesbians – now considered a venerable elder population by many younger and genderqueer women – do have some insecurities around all these shifting definitions. We’ve worked hard to own the word “lesbian”, and to honor everything womanly. Believe me, this has taken some work in this androcentric world we all still live in. And it’s not like the work is done. Women are still endangered, belittled, and condescended to, even here in the US. And there are many countries in which our situation is much more critical.
Transgender people have done some good work in getting the message out about male privilege, since they’ve experienced treatment as both genders. But there’s also been a pitched battle between some transgender activists and the longstanding traditions of some lesbian communities. There are many women who are not ready for the splintering of our self-definitions, especially imposed from the outside.
There is a lot of grief in womyn’s community around the ending of the Michigan Womyn’s Festival. For forty years, Michfest has been a week-long protected space for thousands of women, but it’s been attacked quite virulently by trans activists who feel that it does not honor their experience. Still, that leaves a lot of women who’ve found a safer home there than anywhere else in the world. I’ll be going to give a workshop on astrology this year, and I know I’ll be encountering a lot of tears, everywhere I go.
But that’s in August. In June, I’ll be going to a goddess festival, and most of the women around me will be lesbians, feminists and/or pagans, with a hunger for a womanly image of the divine. And that’s what I’ll be looking for too. I want to find my inner strength and wisdom right there alongside my femaleness. I want to combine these things, fractured early on by the world in which I live.
The shape-shifting properties of June will continue strong until the summer solstice. At that point, a fiery Jupiter/Uranus trine gathers all the energy up and looks for some exciting ways to express it. Whatever happens around the solstice has great potential for creative change. We may see heroes, villains, clowns and avatars, all a little larger than life.
As June comes to an end, there will be many large gestures – extravaganzas, festivals, performances, celebrations, fireworks - as Venus and Jupiter come together in the exuberant sign Leo. There’s also a lot of emotional energy, with the sun and Mars together in the family-oriented sign Cancer. This lends itself to reunions, block parties, and other ways to give energy to the places and people who have nurtured us.
So June ends on a high note, but the questions remain. There are no pat answers, just fragments of old definitions, and jagged points of difference. These need to be worn down with use, like chips exchanged in a poker game. The play goes on, and it will happen over time. And then the next set of definitions will be broken down in their turn, and then the next.