Sistah Summerfest 2003
                June 6-8, 2003
          An Event for Womyn of all Ages,
                               Lifestyles and Persuasions



Articles  FemmeNoir Events Contact Coffee Klatch Commentary Village

It Takes A Village
Tongues Mag
Film Resources
Lesbian Lovers
Marcelle Daniels
Dancing Shadows
Blue Cypher
World View: India
World View: Brazil
Straight Women
Word View: Africa
Church Reconciliation
Native Americans
Making Visible . . .
G&L Hall of Fame
Passing The Torch
Fire & Ink
Fear of . . .
My Tripp To Nia
Familiar Strangers
SistahFest 2001
The "Miss" Education
Our Story
In The Company...

April Articles....

Angela Odom and
Shonia Brown -- Nghosi Arts e-Newsletter 2003

Angela Odom realized at a very young age that trying to search for women of color was difficult in a community that was filled with cliques. If you didn't know somebody that was a part of a clique, then it was difficult to know which women were straight and which were lesbian. "It's easy to detect a white lesbian, but black women are more difficult," she explains. It wasn't until Angela was in a long-term relationship during her 30s that she was introduced into the life of out black lesbians. Through her relationship with her lover, she was encouraged to create an on line forum for other women young and old who were experiencing the same problem that she did when coming out or searching for a connection to the black lesbian community. "I want a young college student living at home to be able to get on the computer at any time of the day or night, and be one click away from the information that she needs about her community. And if she's not out to her family, the only thing anyone will hear is the tapping of the keys on the computer. I want to be the place that an older woman who finally comes out, can come to in order to locate women like herself and learn more about that community and find strength and pride in that community."  [Read More]

Book Review of Getting Unstuck
by Davida Jackson -- Nghosi Arts e-Newsletter 2003

If I had to sum this book up in one word, it would be "illuminating". I choose the word "illuminating" because the book definitely opened my eyes, and allowed me to see clearly the need for a book of this magnitude to be circulated.

I encourage every victim of abuse, every perpetrator of abuse, and every person that has freed themselves from the pain of abuse, to embrace this book. I found myself on an emotional roller coaster as I turned the pages of this novel. Conscious keeps your attention with her down to earth and savvy style of writing. She describes so intensely the confusion, happiness, pain, hurt and love that she has experienced through out her life, that you feel as if you are right there through all of the trials and triumphs. Her unshakeable faith and courage to withstand through some of the most difficult times imaginable, fills you with the empowerment to conquer your own struggles.  [Read More]


Linda Villarosa -- From Idol Life to Ideal Life
(Women In The Life)

“Yes, I feel a responsibility – to live my life out. It’s what is best for me. If someone doesn’t know, I usually come out. I don’t want my kids to feel any shame, so I live completely out. I am the worst liar. I can’t tell anything that’s not true. It’s too stressful. It’s simpler and healthier for all involved. My life message is that living your life as you are without hiding and without apology is best. You don’t have anything to apologize for and have nothing to be ashamed of.” -- Linda Villarosa

I ran into Linda Villarosa in LA at a Black Media Task Force conference on HIV/AIDS. Sponsored by the Black AIDS Institute, the conference was created to educate the African American press on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our community. After the sobering conference, she and I sat down for a candid chat.

She came out to the entire country eleven years ago – in Essence Magazine. Linda Villarosa, a staff writer for Essence, wrote an in-depth story on coming out to her surprisingly supportive mother. A large photo of Linda and her mother accentuated the article. It was May of 1991. It was a groundbreaking story, and it was a first for an editor at a major black publication. The story catapulted Linda Villarosa to national stardom. It also put the gay rights issue front and center in the mainstream African American community.
[Read More]

“Nigger Rich”
by Vicky Nabors (4/1/2003)
Chicago Blacklines

Cracker, Jew, white trash, spic, whop, dyke, carpet muncher, sissy, fag, hoe, punk, nigger!

Powerful words, huh? Often people intentionally use slurs as weapons of attack to insult one’s character or ethnicity. But what happens when people use phrases that contain one or more of these words out of innocent ignorance? For example, a white co-worker, Al, was sharing a story with me about employee motivation. He was quite animated as he acted out his story of how our boss used to walk in throwing $100 bills to employees.

Al said, “I remember back in the good old days when our boss was different, he’d pull out his thick wallet, and ... excuse the pun ... he was ‘nigger rich,’ and toss $100 ...”
  [Read More]

Purrfectly Speaking
by Anita Charlot (4/1/2003)
Chicago Blacklines

I was asked to address the topic of “Outgrowing your Partner” in this particular issue. I will honor this request in three parts over the next three months. Part I will address the “more ambitious” partner and their challenges; Part II will address the “more content” partner and their challenges; and part three will list ways for both partners to embrace the change as a means of growth for the entire relationship … or not, to include my definition of the following, a) the leader, b) the submissive, and c) the equal.

As an individual who is constantly evolving, I have found myself as well as others worrying and considering things that I know should not come into play while considering your personal growth. Things like … if I complete my degree, will my partner understand what that entails? Will I get quizzed when I need to go to the library or to study group? Will they understand the totality of what it means to be a student? Will I constantly have to reassure them that I am not going to leave them or meet someone in school that I can talk “intelligently” with? Will they be supportive in other areas of my life, i.e. cleaning house while I study; picking up or babysitting the kids; cooking/cleaning/ordering in? If I learn this, acquire that … will it cost me my relationship, etc.
[Read More]

Monthly Feature: Black in Chicago Before we were straight or gay, we were Black
by D. Kevin McNeir (4/1/2003)

SHARP Celebrates Community Service

Pictures with this article courtesy of the SHARP event. Awards were given to Frank Oldham Jr. (top left), and Phyllis L. Rodgers (below left).

Back in the not-so-good-old-days, public health advocates in the African-American community had to meet at their homes in obscurity for fear of repercussion from their employers. But meet they did and very quietly they began to build coalitions and develop strategies to address what was then a most mysterious disease. Today we know that “disease” by the acronym HIV/AIDS and many of those early warriors are now advocates on the front line. And some of those same warriors are now affiliated with The Southside HIV/AIDS Resource Providers [SHARP]. They recently held their first annual fundraiser at the Crystal Light Palace in Burbank where they reminded the standing-room-only crowd that they are engaged in “a fight to the end [and] it’s not over until it’s over.”  
[Read More]

Raina Has Two Moms on The Division

Taraji P. Henson is Raina Sally Struthers is Eve
Debbie Allen is Wanda
Taraji P. Henson is Raina Sally Struthers is Eve Debbie Allen is Wanda

The January 19th episode of Lifetime's cop drama The Division revealed that Inspector Raina Washington was raised by a lesbian couple.

Now in its third season, The Division revolves around a handful of female police officers--played by Bonnie Bedelia, Nancy McKeon, Lisa Vidal, and Tracey Needham--and one male one (played by Jon Hamm) in the San Francisco Police Department. Over the past two years, The Division has emerged as Lifetime's highest-rated series, and features storylines that intertwine the characters' personal and professional lives.

Taraji Henson joined the cast of The Division last season as Officer Raina Washington after the departure of actress Lela Rochon (Henson's character was promoted to "Inspector" this season). Previously, Henson had roles in films like Baby Boy (2001) and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) and some appearances on TV series like Felicity and Strong Medicine [Read More]

Lesbian and Bisexual Women of Color on TV
Sarah Warn, December 2002 (
Lisa Vidal as Sandy Lopez on "ER" Sonja Sohn as Det. Greggs on "The Wire"
Although there have been several one-episode characters, before the 2001-2002 television season the number of recurring, primary or secondary (a "secondary character" is defined as a character who appears in at least 3 episodes of a series, but is not a primary cast member on the show) lesbian/bisexual women of color on television has been, well, paltry. In fact, there's only been three in the decade prior to this: Ruthie on The Real World: Hawaii (1999) and Rosetta Reid (Jennifer Lewis) and Danny Gates (Cree Summer) on the short-lived 1995 drama Courthouse

Then came the 2001-2002 season, which saw a "huge" increase in the number of lesbian and bisexual women of color on TV in one three. Three out of fourteen total primary and secondary lesbian characters on television in the 2001-2002 season.  [Read More]

Review of "The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality in Black Communities"
Sarah Warn, November 2002 (

Singer Bessie Smith

Drag King Gladys Bentley

Writer/Professor bell hooks

Does homosexuality remain the greatest taboo in black culture? Is homosexuality a European cultural imposition on Africans? Are you black first or queer? These are the questions the anthology "The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality in Black Communities," edited by Delroy Constantine-Simms, seeks to answer through essays from academics, journalists, other writers.

There are twenty-eight essays in the book, with thirteen of them focusing on issues related primarily to African-American men or male homosexuality, and only four focused on lesbianism and bisexuality in the black community (a shortcoming which Constantine-Simms plans to rectify in the second volume, which is set to be published in the summer of 2003).  [Read More]


On FemmeNoir

The NBLC 2003 Our Story
FemmeNoir -- A.D. Odom

In February, we celebrated both Dr. Martin Luther King’s actual birth date and a national holiday in his honor.  Since I was 9-years old (going on 40), I have lived my life trying to realize the dream of not being acknowledged by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character.  Excellence, in my book and as the kids would say; RULES!  I have long contemplated and have never forgotten Dr. King’s final speech on April 3, 1968.

This year, another historic event will take place here in Los Angeles:  The National Black Lesbian Conference.  We as Black Lesbians need to come together this year to form coalitions, share ideas, converse, form alliances, network, and show our support for one another.  Not all of us are political, not all of us are into roles, not all of us are Republican or Democrat, not all of us are activists, not all of us are out, some of us are older, some of us are younger  – let that not be the division wedged between us.  We need to come together as sisters, sorors if you will, to share experiences because some of us have experiences to share that may prove helpful to someone else.  In this way, whatever problems or successes you encounter upon leaving the conference, you can share with a fellow soror – whatever you’re dealing with, wherever you are.  Let’s join forces and work together in unity. 

Reasons by Blue Telusma

Raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Blue Telusma has been writing since the tender age of eight. At twelve years old she was admitted into Boston Latin Academy, one of the top rated exam schools on the east coast. Her junior year at the Academy she wrote a paper on Alice Walker (author of 'The Color Purple') and shortly thereafter was presented the opportunity to meet the highly acclaimed novelist.  

Blue Telusma's soon to be released and self published novel, "Reasons" is available for preview on her site at  She states "At first there seemed to be the misunderstanding that the site would just be about me. I quickly cleared that up! lol. I've visited a lot of black lesbian sites over the years and the thing I love the most about them is the fact that we as women of color who love other women are finally setting up our own little spots on the net where we can share ideas, and information with each other. For many people who live in small communities where things pertaining to being "in the life" aren't readily available to them, the internet is sometimes their only resource. And because of that I think this is a great medium for us to use not only to connect with each other but to empower our sisters out there who have no where else to turn. And that's really what I had in mind from the start. So basically I guess the "point" of Blue isn't only to get my name out there but it's also a great way to share whatever I know with everyone else."

She has allowed us to publish a little bit of it here on FemmeNoir.  It is certainly a page turner and I could not stop reading until I got to the end.  Enjoy!

By Jasmyne Cannick

Barely Breaking Even Productions (BBE Productions), a division of Bamboo Media, has embarked upon a three-prong project to include a documentary film, a photography book and a photo-text exhibit. The project is a collaboration between journalist and publicist Jasmyne Cannick and long time activist and writer Charlotte M. Young  “My personal goal is to incite the black family to start talking more openly about sexual orientation and I believe that once we see the diversity of gay people and hear their stories, this in itself will help to combat homophobia in the black community and more specifically in the black church,” comments Young. 

My Trip To Nia With Christine
Article and Photos By Gayle Fuhr

There was a beautiful alter set up and so on the first night when we were asked to say our name and where we were from, I did and I mentioned that I had brought a very big Nia supporter with me, Christine. I asked if I could place her urn on the alter for the weekend and leave her there until we were ready to have a ceremony for her on Sunday. I was asked to bring Christine’s ashes with me the next morning for the opening ceremony and was asked to talk about her. My first reaction was that there are so many women here who knew her so much longer than I and maybe they should speak. I was told that I was entrusted with her and so it would be more appropriate for me to do so.


Fear of a Black Lesbian Planet
By Samiya Bashir

"It's the big pink elephant in the middle of the room. Everyone knows it's there — and we quietly tiptoe around it, afraid that even acknowledging its existence would throw off the delicate balance that exists in our pretending it isn't standing there, grazing on our avoidance. If we do choose to look at the elephant's skin, we see that she carries the tattoos of racial division — exclusion, nasty feelings, words, and actions, the unspoken rules of separation.

Black lesbians trying to find out who we are both as women of color and as lesbians find the invisible wall we bump up against while trying to find access into the lesbian community even harder to bear. White women may feel equally bruised by a situation where they don't feel they are being exclusionary at all. Some black women, reeling from accusations of being overly sensitive, question whether or not we are just imagining foul play.

Black gay Fire & Ink

Washington Blade

A distinguished group of gay and lesbian writers of African descent gather, and in the very act of doing so find themselves making a political statement

FOR ABOUT FOUR years now Lisa C. Moore, the founder of RedBone Press, the only black lesbian publishing house in the U.S., and a handful of friends in her literary circle have been talking about sponsoring a national conference for gay writers of African descent.

The conversations traditionally unfolded after they left OutWrite, a now-defunct national lesbian and gay writers' conference held in Boston. While OutWrite gatherings would attract as many as 900 gay writers, Moore and a close colleague, poet and writer G. Winston James, said it was a mostly white crowd and issues of concern to many black writers there were often overlooked.

The Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame


The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame is both a historic event and an exhibit. through the Hall of Fame, residents of Chicago and the world are made aware of the contributions of Chicago's lesbian and gay community and the community's efforts to eradicate homophobic bias and discrimination.

With the support of the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, the Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues established the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in June 1991. The inaugural induction ceremony took place during Gay and Lesbian Pride Week at City Hall, hosted by Mayor Richard M. Daley. This was the first event of its kind in the country.

Passing The Torch
What is Activism?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'Activism' as "a doctrine or policy of advocating energetic action", and an 'Activist' as "an advocate of activism". The Random House Dictionary furthers the definition of 'Activism', defining it as an "involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.".

Much can be learned at the feet of an activist; those who have walked the walk and talked the talk.  The following are men and women, straight and gay who have been in the trenches of activism, have suffered the wounds and who have enjoyed the libations of success.  They are presented here for you to hear their words and be inspired.  You may consider yourself one person, but one person can inspire many people, or many nations.   

Falling for Straight Women
by Sonya Shields

Sonya Shields is an African American lesbian, who came out ten years ago while living in Washington, DC. Within a few years of her coming out, she took a position with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. For over six years, she held a senior position within the organization, joined several national boards, and participated in other community activities. But despite her professional career as an activist working to achieve social justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, she settled for affairs and relationships with too many straight women. This is her story.


World View:  Native Americans
Sex and Spirit: Native American Lesbian Identity
Native American and First Nations lesbians have to deal with unique issues as a result of their history, cultural status, and perceptions as Natives. They come out of a history of genocide; their people have been persecuted, killed, kidnapped, and assimilated for hundreds of years and still face lingering aspects of genocide. They face homophobia and sexism from their own people; racism from lesbians; and racism, homophobia, and sexism from the dominant society, not to mention the classism many Native Americans have to deal with.

World View:  Brazil
Brazil's Hate Crime Murders Number 132 in 2001

This year, with music blaring from more than 20 sound trucks, hundreds of thousands of people danced and marched through Sao Paulo Sunday, June 2, in what was billed Latin America's biggest gay pride parade. Organizers attributed the huge turnout to the presence of heterosexuals who sympathize with the gay rights movement.

BUT, Brazil is still the World Champion in the murder of homosexuals.  Every 3 days a gay man, transvestite or lesbian is brutally murdered in Brazil. [Read More]

World View: Africa
Forging a representative gay liberation movement in South Africa

The history of gay liberation in South Africa reflects the history of the country: South African gays were divided along race, class and gender lines despite their common experience of sexual oppression.1 For decades, the public face of the South African gay liberation movement was white, middle-class and male and as a whole it failed to link itself to the broader liberation struggle. From today's vantage point the gay movement was at best equivocal in opposing apartheid, and at worst complicity in supporting it. 

Article also features African lesbian activists, artists and storytellers. 
[Read More]

World View: Reclaiming Gay India
with Ruth Vanita (Gay Today)

I called Ruth Vanita on a lazy winter afternoon about a month ago. I had just finished reading Same-Sex Love in India, a book that she co-authored with Saleem Kidwai. Our conversation was less of an interview and more of a cozy, timeless cosmic chat of the kind that's called 'adda' in Bengali, which covers everything from cabbages to kings and spans centuries.

Since she used to teach at an elite women's college attached to Delhi University, a college that was a sister college to my own alma mater St. Stephen's, we discovered many common acquaintances and friends. I felt transported back in time to the courtyard of the Delhi University coffeehouse where, in the comforting shade of an ancient banyan tree, I would engage in passionate political, literary, and philosophical discussions with teachers and fellow students.

  [Read More]

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