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"the African-american Lesbian Experience"

"the African-american Lesbian Experience" image
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wz n f.rii?.Mwi Two African-American lesbians, Ruth Ellis and Vera Martin, presented their stories to an overflow crowd in the Michigan Leagues Kalamazoo Room on Martin Luther King Day . LGMPO brought Martin and Ellis to the U-M campus; temporary LGMPO Co-Coordinator Camille Brewer organized the symposium. Ellis, aged 94. a retired print-shop owner living in Detroit; and Martin, aged 70, an activist living in the San Francisco Bay area, shared their life stories and insights gainedf rom participation in lesbian lile trom the 1 930s to the present. They remembered the pre-Stonewall years when there were no visible social or support services tor lesbians or tor gay men. They remembered, too, that the gay bars and clubs that existed in large cities primarily welcomed gay men and were often unreceptive to lesbian customers. Lesbian social events, perforce, had to be organized in private homes. Ellis offered her own home as a locus tor lesbian social activities. Martin has worked tor many years as a lesbian activist and was a founder of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC), which claims a nationwide membership ol over 1 ,000 women It has been difficult to convince African-American lesbians to join the lesbian liberation movement. Racial discrimination is a deterrent. Lesbians who come out in the African-American community risk losing their children and the support of their families, and face rejection by their religious institutions. OLOC itself has not been actively receptive to lesbians of color, so Martin devotes much of her organizing energy to bringing about the racial integration of OLOC. The group, which is for lesbians aged 60 and over, provides an opportunity for old lesbians to be together and to speak for themselves, as necessary components of community. OLOC deserves our admiration and support, as do Ellis and Martin in particular for their commitment to enriching the lives of so many lesbians, and by extensión, the life of our entire lesbigay community. Please note the Feb. 13 "Evening with Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz' at Hillel (see Calendar). Melanie is a writer, teacher, and activist. She is a tormer editor and publisher of Sinister Wisdom, a lesbianfeminist Journal. Her writings about violence and resistance, Jewish kJentity and antiSemitism, race, class, and culture have been widely published. This will be an outstanding program that will brighten our winter as did the MartinElllis Symposium. Gay Liberation Front's Purpose is to provide information, counseling, and related social services for people concerned about sexual orientation. We maintain a hotline forcrisis intervention, peer counseling and referral. We help provide factual information to offset prejudice and misinformation about Lesbians, Gay men, and Bisexual people. Community Services include: a Hotline for crisis intervention, peer counseling, referral. Education: workshops and conferences on concerns of Lesbians, Gay men, and Bisexual people with an emphasis on how people in the "helping professions" and "teaching professions' can work positively with clients, patients, & students who are Lesbians, Gay men, and Bisexual people. Speakers Bureau: phone for information. Human & Civil Rights: information and referral to help people who are being dlscriminated against because of their actual or presumed sexual orientation or because of their presumed "cross-gender" characteristics; lobbying for human and civil rights. Gay Liberation Front, co 3116 Michigan Union, 530 S. State, Ann Arbor, Ml 48109-1349; 763-4186.


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