Women grieve the loss of Michfest online, look forward to new gatherings

Image: Facebook/Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
Image: Facebook/Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

It’s been one year since the final Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Forty years strong, Michfest was a pillar of lesbian culture, a bastion of women-only space, but more than that — it was the place women returned to year after year, greeted with, “Welcome home.”

This year, without land on which to gather, women congregated on social media. On Wednesday night, women posted messages, images, and videos in solidarity with the Michfest Virtual Opening on Facebook, hashtagged #MichfestVO.

This display of nostalgia and sisterhood is bittersweet, as women refuse to let the Michfest community dissipate, but it is also a stark reminder of what was lost. Despite the connections we make online, they are incomparable to what is achieved through gathering with sisters, in the flesh.

Some women’s gatherings persist in the U.S., though they are are smaller in scale: Twin Oaks Women’s Gathering will take place in August in Louisa, Virginia; the historic Women In the Woods will also be held in August, in Oregon; and Ohio Lesbian Festival happens in Pataskala, Ohio in September.

Unique in its explicitly political and feminist themes, emphasizing strategic movement-building, WoLF Fest will be held in September in Crescent City, California. It will be WoLF Fest’s first annual festival, created in response to the closing of Michfest.

For many young women, attending Michfest was like stepping into a time machine and being transported back to a period in the feminist movement they were born too late to experience firsthand — when women boldly called themselves lesbian, not “queer,” and understood that women’s spaces were political necessities. Unfortunately, despite an enduring community (and rumblings about re-buying the land), it seems that Michfest is confined to history for the time being.

Despite my sense of sadness and loss, I am heartened by the possibilities of WoLF Fest, which tells me that, while physical spaces may disappear or be taken from us, women will continue to resurrect them, as part of our ongoing struggle towards liberation through sisterhood.

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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  • Polly MacDavid

    I am sadder than ever. I never got to go to Michfest & now I will never get to go.

  • Hannah Monslamma

    Much love. Thank you sister.

  • Thank you for this article, Susan. This gathering is happening in a few weeks near Portland: http://www.oregaia.com/ – would you care to mention it in your story?

    Best,
    ~C

  • Mar Iguana

    WoLF stands for Women’s Liberation Front.

    I so regret I never made it to MichFest. WoLF Fest is only a few hours drive from where I live, so there’s no way I’m missing it. I’ll be pitching my tent in Crescent City in September.

  • coquelicot

    Trans people were allowed at the festival; they just weren’t allowed in women only areas and women only discussions if they had a dick. Get a clue, and blame the assholes who felt the need to interrupt women talking about their periods to tell them the discussion was transphobic.

    • Fiona1933

      Honestly? Seriously, that happened? This stuff, I read it all the time, its amazing to me. You actually experienced this?

  • k.f. morton

    Of course, in a world where male violence is the norm, females simply drawing boundaries is reframed as the REAL violence. Fuck that.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Fetuses get ‘signals’ as to whether or not they are delicate and nurturing or aggressive and rational before they are born? I don’t think so…

  • Meghan Murphy

    “Stereotype much? Who says males are automatically aggressive and females “delicate and nurturing”?”

    Gender. Gender says that. That is what gender is: sexist stereotyping. Perhaps you should understand what gender is before making supposedly ‘scientific’ claims about it.

  • Morag999

    Aww, little wee fetuses developing an “identity in the brain.” Miniature gender identity in the little brain of an 8-week fetus. Too cute! Science fiction, but cute.

    You know who else develops a sudden identity event in the brain? Not-so-cute, bored, middle-aged men who’ve done it all and now want to try something completely different by becoming sexxy ladies. That’s who.

  • SusanM123

    Had to spoil it for them, didn’t you? Females have a right to gather in female only company sometimes if they wish.