Friday, March 29, 2013

Buon Pasqua

I see Anna coming through the front gate, holding a paper plate covered with aluminium and a bottle of home made wine held tightly in her other hand. Dear Anna, and Vincenzo too, our neighbors here at 4 Fitzgibbon, hard working people who made a new life here in Melbourne but who carry marks of heart longing. For Anna, her parents so long dead back in the homeland of Calabria, still call to her, and her four brothers whom she would welcome every morning to her kitchen table if she could, with her  wood fired oven baked bread and all the love in her heart. Giovana, she says to me as we talk on the verandah--she is frightened of Cello--here, yes, have dish washer, have laundry machine, but my familia, always close, most important thing, I miss them all, Giovana, she says. Here, bottle of wine for you and Dianne, Vincenzo made it, his birthday yesterday. Quanti anni fa, I ask. Setenta seis, she says. Me--she points to her self, setenta tre, and we laugh, all of us in our seventies. I am already thinking of the tie we will get for Vincenzo to rest upon his sun burned chest. I have come to know not only their dear voices but their bodies, Ann's determination captured in the strength of walking she does every day, in her hands that I see resting on the fence, or flowing with meaning as she tells all she wants from life is for every one to be happy, no trouble, no trouble, Giovanna. I feel their histories, I hear their histories. "How is Dianne?" Anna will always end the conversation  with. "She ok?" I laugh and say always, "she is working, lavorando, always working." We both laugh in relief that those we love are alive in the world with something moving in their hands, some work that says, sun still shines on me, rain still falls, I am alive, growing with the things of life. Vincenzo crushing the grapes in his garage, Anna molding the pasta dough in her cooking shed, Dianne cutting the lemon tree prunings into smaller bits for our green bin, and I working with the words that cling to me, the need to mark the grace of these offerings to life. In our longings for the far away, we move closer together.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Just a Bit of La Professoressa's Social Agitation Records in the Victorian Women's Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives

Di Otto, age 38, 1990

An excerpt from the 16 page holding list of the donated papers of Dianne Otto to the Victorian Women's Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives. The full listing can be found on the University of Melbourne, Archives, website.

Born and raised in Adelaide, Di Otto was an Arts student at University of
Adelaide (1971-1973). In 1974 she became the Research Coordinator at
the Women's Liberation Halfway House, Melbourne, and edited Herstory
of the Halfway House 1974-1976 (WLHWH Collective, 1978). A member
of many feminist activist groups, including the Melbourne Scarlet Woman
editorial group, Otto worked as an Outreach Youth Worker (1976–1986)
and was instrumental in establishing What Are Ya?, a support group for
young women. After working as State-wide Coordinator of the Youth
Accommodation Coalition of Victoria (1984-1989), Otto became a law
student and research assistant in The University of Melbourne’s Law
Faculty (1990-1992). In 1993 Otto was the Regional Coordinator for
Amnesty International and lectured in the Law Faculty, University of
Melbourne, from 1994. Otto was appointed an Associate Professor in
2002. She has written extensively on human rights law, economic, social
and cultural rights, and feminist legal theory.
12 October 2000
DESCRIPTION Conference papers: programs, registration forms, questionnaires,
newsletters, posters, notes, maps; manifestos, leaflets, monograms,
pamphDi Otto Papers
1 Biography at the front of the box
1 8/1/1 Conferences I- Feminist Theory Conf.- Mt Beauty -Vic -
January: papers, program, registration form, Feminist Theory
Conference, Mt Beauty, Victoria
 8/1/2 Conferences II : Women and Sexist Education – Bloom
House, Adelaide SA –Easter program, notes, questionnaire,
articles, contact list
 8/1/3 Conferences III: Radicalesbians Conference Sorrento
[This folder was missing on 5/1/2011 when collection was
being reconciled.]

Di Otto and comrades, 1980s

8/1/4 Conferences IV: Gay Camp Adelaide SA: registration form,
newsletter, notes, conference paper,
 8/1/5 Conferences V: Feminism and Socialism, Conference,
Melbourne, Victoria.
 8/1/6 Conferences VI: Women As Victims of Crime Conf. April,
ACT -notes, contact list, monograph, correspondence.
conference papers, statistics, newsletters
 8/1/7 Conferences VII: National Homosexual Conference –
Melbourne. University - order form, conference papers, map,
[This folder was missing at Jan. 2011 reconciliation]
 8/1/8 Conferences VIII: Women and Madness – Melbourne -
program, registration form
 8/1/9 Conference IX: Anarchism and Feminism – Canberra – Oct :
manifesto, leaflets, articles, conference papers, discussion
Di's world of activism, 1970s

1975Conferences VII: National Homosexual Conference –
Melbourne. University - order form, conference papers, map,
[This folder was missing at Jan. 2011 reconciliation]
 8/1/8 Conferences VIII: Women and Madness – Melbourne -
program, registration form
 8/1/9 Conference IX: Anarchism and Feminism – Canberra – Oct :
manifesto, leaflets, articles, conference papers, discussion
 8/1/10 Conferences X: Policy and Strategy, Conference,
Melbourne. Feb
 8/1/11 Conferences XI Marxist-Feminist Conf. Sydney - June:
program, newspaper clippings, leaflets, WLM newsletter,
conference papers,
 8/1/12 Conferences XII: 6th Nat’l Conf for Lesbians and
Homosexual Men- Sydney -Aug: pamphlets, contacts,
clippings, articles, notes, program.
 8/1/13 Conferences XIII: Womyn Patriarchy and the Future –
Carlton Vic- April: registration , discussion paper.
 8/01/14 Conferences XIV: Women and Unemployment Melbourne –
Sept : program, conference papers, synopses
 08/1/15 Conferences XV: Nat’l Women’s Advisory Council
Recommendations of Pre-Conference Meetings, Melbourne.

Di working with the Women's Tribunal in Cambodia, 2013

8/1/16 Conferences XVI: Women’s Conf - Melbourne –Sept:
registration form, Women’s Conference,8/1/17 Newspaper clippings: Melbourne – refuges, domestic
violence, status of Women, WEL, Lesbian, general
 8/1/18 Posters, Melbourne, Victoria (relocated to posters drawer) 1983
 8/1/19 Women Under Attack - publication with various articles
Australian Union of Students Women’s Department
 8/1/20 Adelaide Liberation Published by Women’s Liberation No.3
April 1971 and No.7 Oct. 1973
1971- 1973
 8/1/21 Adelaide Liberation No 10 Mar (2 copies), Jun, No 13
Jul/Aug, No 14 Sep (2 copies), No 15 Oct (2 copies), No 16
 8/1/22 Adelaide Liberation, Adelaide, No 17 Jan (2 copies), No 18
Mar, No 19 May, No20 Jul (2 copies), No 21 Sep, No 22
 8/1/23 Adelaide Liberation, No 23 Jan, No 24 (2 copies), No 25
Apr-May, No 26 Jun, No 27 Jul, No 29 Oct
 8/1/24 Adelaide Liberation, – 3 undated editions 1975
 8/1/25 Adelaide Liberation, – No 35 Jun, No 36, No 37 1976
 8/1/26 Adelaide Liberation, – No 38, 39 Jul, 40 Oct, 41 Dec 1977
 8/1/27 Adelaide Liberation, – No 42 Jan, No 43 May, No 44
“Adelaide Women’s Liberation Newspaper”
 8/1/28 Adelaide Liberation, -No 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 1979
 8/1/29 Adelaide Liberation, – No 50 Jan/Feb, Mar, No 53 May, No
54 Jun, No 55 Jul, No 56 Aug, No 58 Oct, No 60 Dec
2 8/2/1 Adelaide Liberation, – No 61 Feb, No 62 Mar, No 63
Apr/May, No 64 Jun, No 65 Jul, No 66 Aug, No 67 Sep, No
70 Dec
1981 Mar (2 copies), No 11 Apr, No 12 May; Women’s Liberation
News minutes of meetings Apr-Aug
 8/2/12 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Feb, Jun, Jul,
Aug, Nov (2 copies)
 8/2/13 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Jan, Mar, Apr,
May, Jun, Jul, Sep, Oct, Nov
Di and comrades, 1970s

 8/2/14 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Jan?, Feb?
Mar/Apr? May/Jun (2 copies), emergency Jul, Aug (2
copies), Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
 8/2/15 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Jan, Feb, Mar,
Apr (2 copies), May (2 copies), Jun (2 copies), Jul,
emergency Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
 8/2/16 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Feb (2 copies),
Mar (2 copies), Apr, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov (2 copies), Dec
(2 copies)
 8/2/17 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Feb, Apr, May,
Jun, Jul (2 copies), Aug, Sep, Nov
3 8/3/1 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Jan, Feb, Mar,
Apr, May, Jun, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
 8/3/2 Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Jan-Dec 1983
 8/3/3 ‘Trans-National Brief: Women and Work’ No 3, Nov, 1980;
‘Empire Times’, Adelaide, No 5 1973
Di in the 1980s

Note: These photos are from Di Otto's personal archives, an historical richness of lesbian and feminist activism and community.The more recent image is from La Professoressa's work in Cambodia, 2013

Lesbian Herstory at the Jika Jika Community Center, March 24, 2013

"The VWLLFA Collective cordially invite you to the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Victorian Women's Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives Inc on Sunday 24 March 2013, 2pm-4pm at the Jika Jika Community Centre: 1b Plant Street, Northcote. 

Yes, 30 years ago, on 1 March 1983, the WL Archives held its first official meeting with three members in attendance and minutes written."

At the start of the meeting, Ardy acknowledged the Wurundjeri community of First Australians, the traditional owners of the land, and Jean Taylor laid the First Australians' flag in the center of the room. 

Vig, Marg, Barb, founding members of the Women's Liberation Archives

Jean Taylor, founding member of the WLA, who has kept working with the collection for all its 30 years

Guest Speaker: Joan Nestle, co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York

Outside, worrying about talk, honored to be included

In preparing for the event, I went to look at the online site of the holdings of the VWLLF archives on the University of Melbourne site. What I found there, the lives I met there, including a younger but no less dedicated La Professoressa, moved me beyond words, and the knowledge that I was to meet some of the women in person on the afternoon, filled me with gratitude for the journeys life had offered to me, the moments of reconciliation, herstories with herstories.

Grassroots Archives: Sites of Gratitude, Intrusions and UnCertainties
By Joan Nestle, 2013
From the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives catalogue on the University of Melbourne Archives website:
Name of Collection: Eileen Capocchi
Activity: Feminism
Years covered by the collection: 1958-1985, 6 archives boxes
Eileen Capocchi was born on 12 March, 1925 in Jaffa, Palestine, and moved to Australia with her family when she was two. State school educated, Capocchi and her brother became state wards and were placed in an orphanage after their parents separated and their mother went overseas. At fourteen, she ran away to work in a Lonsdale Street clothing factory and joined the Eureka Youth League. Married twice with three children, Capocchi worked at a variety of jobs, including drink waitressing, welfare work, receptionist and office work and home based dress making. In 1957, while still a member of the Communist Party of Australia, she joined the Union of Australian Women at Chelsea and undertook volunteer work in the UAW office. After teaching herself to type and acquiring administrative skills, she became UAW Secretary, 1964-1968. She established the Women’s Liberation Aspendale Group in 1972 and by 1973, she was a member of the Melbourne Women’s Liberation Newsletter editorial group. Disillusioned with the male dominated politics of the CPA and the communist men’s lack of support for the Women’s Liberation Movement, Capocchi eventually let her membership lapse. In 1977, she became the paid coordinator of the Western Region Women’s Learning Center where she designed three courses: Theory of Driving, Maths for fun and Water Safety and Confidence for Mature Women. For several years she taught women how to swim at the Northcote Pool.

A grassroots archives sings the poetry of dreams and deeds, of innovations and losses, the epic telling of endangered lives. To all the women who have made these poems of endeavor public,  I thank you deeply, history will never be the same because of your undertakings.
( I recognize who is in the room—your history, your work, your archives)
(I apologize for my American voice.)

It is a great honor to have been asked to speak with you this afternoon.  As some of you might know, my life with lesbian grassroots archives started in 1974 when the Lesbian Herstory Archives  began its life in a small room in my New York City apartment, 13A, but really for me it all started earlier, in a place of policed touch, this sense that enormous moments of  courage and complexity embodied by  "deviant women"  refusing their ordained places , shattering the assumed national stories of gender and desire, resisting the  orthodoxies of legal, medical, religious institutions that only saw pathology where we saw possibilities, in other words, America of the 1940s and 50s, were so in danger of falling out of any historical context (sadly in the beginning, including lesbian feminism) that something had to be done, some act of paying attention, some alternative concept of history had to be created—here I am speaking of my  1950s experience  in the working class butch-fem bars of New York’s Greenwich Village, it was the tenacity, the touch, the defiance,  of these "social outcasts" that I was so desperate to hold on to. My dedication to this task was as concrete as a passing woman’s touch, as huge as redefining what is human—it was their bodies, their refusal to accept national restrictions  that pushed me 15 years later to work with others from different feminist histories to create a new thing—a lesbian archives where the criminalized became a people.

For  almost 40 years,  grassroots archives have been part of the air I breathed and it continued to be when I first came to Melbourne and in 2000 sat with a group of women in Jean Taylor’s home  which was also the home of the Victorian Women’s Liberation Archives who were trying to work out what to call their collection and where to house it.

 I entered your lesbian feminist, and for some, Marxist history on the arm of a woman who had been in the struggle for many years, again on the wings of desire. Love brought me to your archives, to the stories of your wit and courage, your comradeship and style, your bodies and your songs , your manifestos and your safe houses, your youth camps and your conferences where radical collective agendas took shape, your relentless dedication to living your visions. (Here I added that it was a wonderful sense of fun, of self parody, that made the women's movement stories I heard here so unique.)

     Di and I were from such different worlds: me, Bronx Jew , she, Adelaide Lutheran; me, a bookkeepers daughter, she timber mill owner’s daughter; me,a 50s fem, she a 70s lesbian feminist socialist—and more than a decade of age difference—but what made all possible was the shared language and passions of lesbian feminism, years she and I had spent organizing around a social vision, on different continents, with different voices in our ears, but the movement gave us a common language, though I have to say, Di’s commitment to her politics went beyond anything I had previously known. Right before we we made love for the first time, in my NYC apartment in 1999, she looked at her watch and said, "Joan I have  two hours before I have to get back to the UN for a meeting on world hunger." (Here I added, if ever there was a reason for performance anxiety that was it.) From Di Otto's collection, (here I hold up her sixteen page printout from the archives website which I will add at the end of this journal entry, if I can) In the first part of 1973 alone Di helped organize and attended the Feminist Theory Conference, held at Mt. Beauty, a little ironic laugh, Women and Sexist Education, Radical Lesbians Conference, Gay Camp Adelaide, Feminism and Socialism, Women as Victims of Crime, Women and Madness, pages more. (Here I make a pleas for contributions from the women present.)
To show the shared language of vision and activism that bridged time and distance, I read from  the introduction to 1974-1976: Herstory of the Halfway House, by the Women’s Liberation Halfway House Collective, Melbourne, Australia, which Di helped write:
"Recorded history to date has been the story of great men and great events. With the exception of some social history, it has accurately reflected the patriarchal and class nature of our society by failing to give any consideration to that part of society which is called private or personal. It has ignored power structures by focusing on the powerful.”
And then from the first Lesbian Herstory Archives Newsletter in 1974: 
The Lesbian Herstory Archives  exists to gather and preserve records of lesbian lives and activities so that future generations of lesbians will have ready access to materials relevant to their lives. The process of gathering this material will also serve to uncover and collect our herstory denied to us previously by patriarchal historians in the interests of the culture that they serve.

   Perhaps the starting point of all our work with grassroots archives is this sense of having witnessed and participated in  profound communal and private moments of courage and vision, so many of you here know exactly what I mean—the endless meetings, the late night calls, the demos, the dances, the pub crawls, the shared houses, the safe houses  you created for women and children, the  newsletters and vigils, the  cultural creations, the first time loves, the commitment to collectivism, to questioning all the big things that made life so difficult for so many—those notes you took, those agendas you submitted,  the photographs where your faces catch your heart these days and mine too—the hope, the determination, the longings, the DNA of social change—today we recognize the efforts of all who refused the erosion of memory, natural or ordained by the State.

  The life moments held in our grassroots archives are incursions into the settled narrative so loved by States and nationalisms of all sorts; they are the interruptions to business as usual, just as the lesbian goodbyes turned heads at the staid Melbourne railroad station of the 70s—here others will find your moments of refusal, your plans of action, your joy in changing gender and sexual scripts—your pioneering thinking on issues of equity, relationships, and community—here they will find you and you and you—not dormant or quiet, not silent—but your voices always renewed as every questing imagination  touches the markings of your convictions, your loves, your sacrifices, your dreams, your laughter.
   Grassroots archives are not homes for final certainties, but for the generation of endless questions, evaluations, rethinking, connections found or refused because histories are always moving, not even words stand still—meaning is a temporary thing but this is not the same thing as meaninglessness-- it just means an ever enlarging  map of visions of human dignity—what a lesbian calls herself 50 years from now or the nouns used to indicate genders will not remain the same—but the glory is the conversation that archives such as yours, ours, allows—the passion of conviction, suited to its times and place, will announce itself in the light of other times, other convictions—failures will become clearer, our solutions to questions of inclusion and rigidities will stand revealed in all their frailties, and this is true  for each time of passionate endeavors—new knowledges  made possible by the revealed inadequacies  of absolutely held certainties—this is the dynamic thinking made possible by our archives.   This to me is one definition of hope.

            Through out my intimate life with the archives, for the twenty years or so that it filled my apartment with its file cabinets and bookshelves, its endless stream of visitors, I was always looking for icons of resistance. I found them in the out-of-print books, the oral history tapes, old copies of homophile publications like Vice Versa and The ladder, snapshots of conversation between visitors. Stories came to me—the story of the young butch woman in the 1950s who always sewed a piece of lace on her socks before she went to the bars so the police would not arrest her for transvestism, the story of the older fem who carried a dildo in a satin purse so when she left the bar with her chosen woman of the night, she knew all would be well, the story of the young Jewish Polish woman who had read the Well of Loneliness in Polish before she was taken into the concentration camp. “That book helped me to survive: I wanted to live long enough to kiss a woman,” she told me one night while we sat at the archives table, my dining room table, having a cup of tea. These stories filled my heart; they healed and educated me and changed for me forever that which I would call history. They have become the tropes of my writing, the proclamations of the lesbian spirit that I repeat over and over. They are my jewels of discovery, the riches that lay beneath that marginalized land.
From "A Fragile Union," 1992 

 From Something Good: A Feminist Sing-a-Long Songbook, compiled by Andy Malone and Di Otto (February 1981) in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
Shameless Hussies--Helen Potter 
Tune: Dixie 
Lyrics: Helen Potter
We're the Shameless Hussies and we don't give a damn
We're loud and raucous and we're shouting for our rights
And our sex and for fun and we'll win

They call us names to be nasty and rude
Like lesbian, man-hater, bitch and prostitute
What a laugh, cos half of it is true

The fragile docile image of our sex must die
From centuries of silence we are screaming into action

We're Shameless Hussies and we curse and we swear
We will be free, beware to those who disagree
Come sing, come and fight, we will win.

To end the afternoon, all of those gathered joined in sharing memories of their actions, in singing their songs of resistance and eating home cooked lamingtons and chocolate birthday cake.I sat thinking of that other gathering at 4 Fitzgibbon just a few weeks ago where lesbians in their 20s filled the vista--what a length of lesbian, queer, women's history I have lived with, through. In my body lives the 1950s butch-fem communities of the American 1950s and now it is joined with out rancour or shame to the lesbian feminist resistance movement and onward into the gender refusal visions of the new generations. I kept looking at the First Australians flag that lay at the center of the room, here in our own form of a corroboree, a communal gathering held usually in the sands of the dry river beds or under a cooling gum tree. Something in me broke free, some thing loosened, and I was stepping into the rivers of reconciliation.

From the LHA visitors’ book, 1983:
I am here among women
Who breathe softly in my ear
Who speak gently
In a voice that will not be stilled.
I am here in a cradle
Or a womb
Or a lap,
On a knee that is shapely
Under my thigh
Leaving the impression
That I will never be alone.
I am here to remember faces
I have never seen before
And I do.
Love, Jewell Gomez

All above photos by La Professoressa, March 24, 2013 

From the Aboriginal and Tribal Nation News

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Again the Victory of the Human Heart--Pinchus Goldhar and Family

From a small pamphlet in Esther's book collection:
Yossel Bergner
59 Illustrations
All the Folk Tales
Itzchok Leibush Peretz
Introductions by S. Niger and J.I. Segal
Published by Hertz and Edelstein, Montreal
And then I turned the yellowing page and found in Yiddish and English

Dedicated to the memory of
my Teachers and Friends 
from the Jewish Folk Schools in Warsaw,
who were killed in the Ghettos,
Concentration Camps and in the

I remember with deepest reverance
my teacher, the writer P. Goldhar
who died in Melbourne, 1947.

My warmest gratitude to my friends, the poet
Yossel Birazstein and George Skurnik
for their untiring help.

Now I prepare my last package of Pinchus' archives to send home to his grandson, Philip.

I want to tell you of my continuing journey with the work of Pinchus Goldhar and the wonders life has brought me, to all of us who fear that the human heart is a small place. When I first wrote of how Victor, my neighbor from across the street, had brought me the papers of Pinchus, I also worried out loud about what the reaction of the family would be to discovering that I was using archival skills developed as I worked on the Lesbian Herstory Archives for so many years. ( See journal entry of December, 13, 2012.) This was my own legacy of shame from having come out in the American late 1950s. But Philip Rosenbaum, the grandson of Pinchus, son of Esther and nephew of Josh, proved me so wrong. I did not want to leave one moment of doubt. Now in in my heart's mind, I can see Philip walking his dog Jazz down my old favorite streets, a young man who like me shares a knowledge and love for both Melbourne and New York. We keep sending each other moments from Pinchus' life--the last, I suspect, came to me from Philip in New York, faxed pages of Pinchus' Australian passport that allowed him to return to Poland for a short while in 1932. Countries for which this passport is valid: British Empire, Egypt, France, Italy, Germany, Poland and Palestine

The history of movement so marked by collapse of loved cultures in Pinchus' times for Yiddish speakers and so many others--the stamps of passage and of loss, the permits of acceptance or the exile of refusals. Today in this country, Australia, I mean, camps inter those who come without these marked pages, who come with other certificates of suffering, marked on their skin by their search for safety, for future.

Now my desk is emptied of the papers, the Yiddish books, the manuscripts, the newspaper articles mourning the loss of the father of Yiddish literature in Australia, all have been returned home to the children of his children. My last moments with the artifacts of Pinchus' life were Yossel Bergner's 59 illustrations for the Yiddish folk tales of I.L. Peretz. Late into the night, I sat turning the folio pages, reading the excerpts from the tales that Bergner had chosen to illustrate, seeing, almost touching the souls of his shetl people, who could take flight at a moment's breath, escorted by gentle Yiddish angels to a place where flames shone as ever lasting stars and the work of survival dropped like last year' leaves.
#6  "If not for the human tumult in the streets, someone would occasionally have heard how Bontche's spine cracked under the weight of his burden." Words by Peretz, image by Yossel Bergner

It is hard to say good-by, to all I have met here--Noel Counihan, "artist and revolutionary," who locked himself in a cage on Sydney Road to protest the treatment of workers in the 1930s, who illustrated Pinchus' works; Judah Waten, novelist of the left, son of Odessa, family friend and co-adventurer, bohemians all: Yossel Bergner, who sends tea pots flying, who paints with the tears of a lost people, to a time and a place somewhere between Lodtz and Melbourne where a man who worked as a dyer drew in the red dark waters of his trade, the calligraphy of Yiddish letters.

by Yossel Bergner

"Bontche The Silent says to God who wants to give him all the rewards of heaven: 'Well, if so--smiles Bontche--every morning I want a hot roll with fresh butter."
Philip Rosenbaum
11:40 AM (19 minutes ago)
to me
Dear Joan - I would be most honored. What a beautiful idea. I can't wait to see the piece on your journal. God sent you into our lives and I hope you might feel the same. You have given me an even more profound appreciation of my grandfather's legacy. I may never quite fully understand it in a complete way but I know how deep it is. I just realized I have not sent you this film I made with the help of a local Melbourne man a few years ago. It was the best we could do in a week's time but I think it conveys my sense of desire to know more. Yes, please use the passport pages and if there's any other document you would like me to scan, I would be honored.. . Here's the little movie I made  a while back. Have you been to Goldhar Place (the little lan just off Lygon Street?).
All the best,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Our Shared Day, March 2nd, 2013, Communal and Personal

La Professoressa who always helps dreams become real--and whom I do not thank enough--
Myself, welcoming our generations

Sunday, March 10, 2013

In Our Own Hands, an Afternoon of Intergenerational Pillowtalk at 4 Fitzgibbon, March 2, 2013

So much life, I must run with my words to catch up with you, a stumbling run and perhaps in strange orders, but you will find the sense of things, I think. On March 2nd, a group of young people, I cannot use any simple gender words, their realities and desires do not fall that way, and a group of more definite older lesbians, met for a late afternoon gathering at 4 Fitzgibbon, my echo of the wonders of LHA at 13A, to eat, talk, read, speak, sing and dance. This coming together of almost 60 queer bodied and imagening shes, hes, theys, was made possible by the work of Terry, Caspar, Vanessa, Jess, Jemma, all in their early 20s, and myself, meeting just to talk about our histories of desire. I had first met some of them at a demonstration for refugee rights--you can find that story in the history of this journal--and out of these talks came our big idea for a community event, "Taking Things into Our Own Hands: An Afternoon of Intergenerational Pillow Talk."

Before the gathering, going over plans with Vanessa and Terry

Gray heads and heads of all colors, forced by the sun to sit at each other's feet, meeting each other for the first time, eating the salads and cakes, brought so lovingly across town from Footscray or Northcote, an old fashioned potluck where Di and I filled the laundry sink with juices and selzter, and I made a pasta salad big enough for a small town and that was what it all felt like, as my new friends brought their friends flooding through the open gates of 4 Fitzgibbon.

Let's have name tags, Caspar had suggested so we can all know how someone would like to be seen or what pronoun to use and I added, "let's put our ages on them too" so decades could speak to decades, activisms could look each other in the eye. And hope, another time of possibilities, appeared on those funny little white tags when Ria's child, Medea, wrote on her lable,  "Medea, NJ nickname, age 10, Tom Boy."

Oh, the pictures I have, taken by the ten year old son of Ria, Theo, who used my camera to capture the faces, the gazes of the gathered, much better then I could ever do.

The ramp became a stage and poets and children and activists from the 70s told their stories and sung their song parodies into the now golden late afternoon sun.
Sue and Di, comrades from the social struggles of the 70s, lead the crowd in singing "Cunninlingus Chew Chew," (written by the same Sue Jackson and Jenny Pausacker) from "Something Good: A Feminist Sing-a Long Songbook," complied by Di and Andy Malone, 1981, after first humming the tune so all could join in:
 We're off to meet the latest party at the station
The Daylight is in, we're gonna meet it again.
Say can you afford to board the Overland to Melbourne?
It's your turn this time, I just haven't a dime.

Well, its those lesbian farewells that get the public upset.
Interstate romances they will never forget. 
Whiskey in the diner, masturbation's finer,
Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide here I come.

It looked like a trend, but its become a way of living. 
What happened to Perth? Oh, they've booked the next berth.
At least you can't say I'm gonna stay with you forever.
But are those lesbian concessions ever coming through!

(Written in 1975, when a number of women were involved in interstate relationships, and enormous public farewells at railway stations were a regular event.)

How we all laughed in this time of 2013, in that backyard, many of the younger ones asking for copies and how touched I was once again by both the specificity of our lesbian lives, shaped by geographies and economics, and so much more, finding ways to announce our desire.

Faces touched by the ending of a day and appreciations for other days now alive once again in the light of new histories.

For four hours, bodies spilled through our home, a decision made by all to try out this thing, of 72 and 61 talking to 23 and 25, of how we dreamed ourselves.

Dear Caspar, asking me what she should wear, and I chose her blue ruffled tux, she who believed along with Gemma and Terry and Jess that no worries, all of this was possible.

Dear Maddy who came over to help us get the house ready and keep an eye on Cello who wore his own tag, "Cello, boy, 11 years."

Denise, creating images and recordings---

Caspar, Gemma and Terry--who pulled it all together.  May life hold you dear.