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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
blt Lesbians, Gays and folk music (138* d) RE: Lesbians, Gays and folk music 08 Sep 01

This has been an interesting thread, not the least of all because queer issues are raised here so little.

As a lesbian in the folk world, I have to say that it has been somewhat frustrating to be regarded as only fitting in to the "Women's Music" scene. I write songs about my own experiences and talk about my life on stage but I have not tried to book myself solely through the Women's Music network. I have met gay men who play folk music, some are performers, some aren't. Some identify more as singer/songwriters.

Anti-queer violence is alive and well, a transgendered woman was killed in the Portland area recently--she was severely beaten by "a blunt instrument" when the man she was with realized she wasn't physically a woman. She was also a woman of color, which raises other issues.

My vision of folk music is that it sings very directly and honestly about the lives of the folk, whoever those folk are. Gay, lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual, transgendered--each of us has a story to tell, some of us tell that story from a different vantage point. Perhaps the stereotype of a folksinger is to blame--who can exist as a stereotype, it's one dimensional and dehumanizing. I think I've written this before, but one experience I had stands out in terms of stupidity: when auditioning live for a cafe (there was a time when audtioning live was how it was done), I told the manager that I was a lesbian feminist. His reaction was to ask me if I was going to sing any "dick-hating" songs. I got to use this during the gig (which, to his credit, he gave me), as I could comment on stage that his name was Richard (which it was)so maybe he had some kind of complex.

The hardest aspect for me of being queer in the cyberland of folk is being invisible. Many of the threads on this forum are dominated by lots of swagger and bluster, a kind of electronic testosterone, which holds no interest for me. I look for lyrics that have a female protangonist, and I guess I look for threads in the same way. I know it's sometimes discouraging to feel that folk music is dominated by a hetero male perspective, which seems to include competitiveness and the overwhelming need to be right. I've had more male performers comment to me that I fingerpick "like a guy"--however, if there ever was an art form made for lesbians, it's fingerpicking.



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