Making A Stand

7 03 2008

 I got a response from the dj today. Here it is;

Hi Auntie,
   I received your letter a couple of days ago and wanted to take some time to really think over my response.  I take every comment, suggestion, compliment & complaint very seriously. I read them all and I answer them all!  You are directing your concern to the right person.  I started these dances about 6 years ago.  I rent the space & pay some of the staff that work for the events and as you know I am also the dj.  A lot of people don’t know how things work. Some think the bar owners throw them and hire me, but I hire them.
  First off, let me start by saying, I am not anti-male or opposed to partying with men.  I have a lot of male friends myself.  When I first started these dances in (insert New England state here) , we had a number of complaints from the women in attendace when a man stepped into the dance room.  They wanted their own space.  I was somewhat amused by it.  I couldn’t believe that it was that big of a deal.  I had to dissappoint some of the men that I was friends with in (insert small town here)  and tell them they couldn’t come in.  A lot of guys like my music too and were dissappointed.  So we had to set a policy that men were not allowed into the back room.  They could hang out in the lounge, but the back room would remain a rented space for women only.  With this policy in effect, the T-dances have tripled in their numbers!
  Over the years I have gotten e-mails or been approached by women on both sides of they issue.  There are some women who want to bring their ‘boys’ and there are women who praise me for not allowing them in.  Both sides have very valid points.  You have made a great point! If I were to only take your feelings into consideration, it would make perfect sense for me to allow men in.  However, for every one of you who want it, there are those that don’t.  For every one of you who says I won’t come back if I can’t bring my guy friend there are those that won’t come back, because I’ve allowed it. 
  What about all of those who don’t say anything?  You are asking me to take a huge risk.  I have worked very hard to build these dances to what they have become.  Besides the time spent djing, I spend hours at the computer sending out e-mails, myspace bulletins, printing flyers to promote the dances and time and money researching and downloading music. These dances have become something amazing!  I am so proud and grateful to be a part of something so successful!  To be a part of something that women enjoy the way they do.  I can’t even describe to you what it feels like to look out over a packed house and see all those smiles and hands up in the air and the feel the energy!  You are asking me to risk losing this.  What if I start letting women sponsored males in and the crowd starts to dwindle?  That packed house starts to slide, the energy changes and now even you don’t want to come because they aren’t what they used to be.
  Please understand that this Women’s T-dance is not gay men vs. gay women.  It is a women’s t-dance.  A space set aside for 4 hours twice a month for women, that’s all.  Just as there are gay women’s chorus’, gay men’s chorus’ and there are mixed chorus’ (just for example) and if you’re a singer you can chose which one to be a part of.  It is your choice to go to a club that has a mixed crowd.  If you chose not to come to these dances in the future because of this policy, I am very sorry to lose you, truly!  
  Last September I decided, because there were 2 dances scheduled, to do a ‘bring your boyfriend’ night.  I got mixed reviews, but felt it went well enough to do again when it happens that I have 2 scheduled in a month.  I know its a ways away, but that dance will be August 2nd in (insert small town here).  I hope you and you guy friend can make it.
Thank-you
DJ jodi

 I’ve got to tell you I was disappointed. To me, it feels like this is more about her profits than the good of the community. I dig that this is billed as a woman’s event. I don’t like that boys can’t go with their girl peeps.

 Some of my friends don’t agree with me. “This is a WOMAN’S dance!” they tell me. No kidding. So tell me friends, how many gay men do you think are really going to crash this party? Only the ones with lesbian peeps. The boys don’t typically start showing up at clubs until 11pm anyway. As for the straight ones with their wives or girlfriends who are looking for a third to join them in bed, you can spot them from a mile away. Kick ’em out if they start harassing the women.

 I replied to her email. There was more I wanted to say but I felt like it wouldn’t do much good. I went with short and to the point;

Jodi,
 Thank you for your response. I understand your position on this matter as well as the fact that this is part of your business, and therefore your livelihood. However, I feel I need to stand by my position.
 
 I have been discriminated against because of my sexuality. I was actually fired from a job because I am a lesbian. It does not feel good at all to be discriminated against nor does it feel good to be constantly waiting for the next form of discrimination to show up. Having said that, I can’t, in good conscience, take part in any form of discrimination.
 
 I feel that for change to happen, the “me” and “I’s” in our language needs to be replaced with “we”,”us”, and “all” .   You said; “
However, for every one of you who want it, there are those that don’t.  For every one of you who says I won’t come back if I can’t bring my guy friend there are those that won’t come back, because I’ve allowed it….” WE are all in this together. For every one of US who stands up for equal rights for ALL, the closer WE get to a safer, more peaceful world for ALL.
 
 Thank you again for your response.
 
Auntie

 I just can’t do it. Once again, I’m taking my ball and going home.

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6 responses

8 03 2008
Kizz

You know, I don’t feel like the blame is on her. She didn’t at first exclude men and even now she’s looking for compromise with the bring your boyfriend nights. By taking into account her attendance numbers she essentially took a vote, very All-American-Democracy of her and the community voted to exclude men from the event. On the one hand there’s clearly a need being filled, that women really want a place that’s just theirs to dance and hang out. On the other hand that requires a weird exclusivity. I wish there were a place for you leave your side of the story and your really eloquent argument where the whole community could read it since you seem to be in the minority and it would be good to educate people. Can you do that on her MySpace page?

8 03 2008
mrschili

You rock.

It’s a hard thing, because Jodi has a LOT of valid points. She’s the boss of this; she gets to decide how her parties get run. She’s got a client base (for the most part) which seems to want the exclusivity of the single-gender environment.

Your point, I think, is the stronger one ethically. If change is going to happen, it has to start with US. We have to walk the walk and talk the talk. WE have to be the change we wish to see in the world.

I am so proud of you for standing up for what you believe. Find an inclusive tea-dance, then bring me with you.

8 03 2008
Laurie B

Sometimes it just takes one person taking a stand on something to start a revolution. Good for you.

Kizz and mrschili have both presented eloquent comments and I feel that they are both right on. For Jodi, it is a business decision, for you it’s the ethical one.

If you want to open this to more discussion, there is a newspaper here in my part of the world, The Rainbow Times. Feel free to send some letters to them, you’d probably get some responses and input. There is a link at the Pride and Joy site.

There are regular tea dances here in Happy Valley but it’s been 20 years since I’ve been to one so I can’t tell you anything about how they are run. We don’t go out often and tend to do our dancing at home in the kitchen. We like it that way!

8 03 2008
whodoesshethinksheisanyway

I totally get her point too. I just don’t want to be a part of any kind of narrow mindedness. I have many straight peeps who stand up for gay rights. I am so grateful for that. I would be doing you all a dis-service if I participated in any form of discrimination.
Thanks to you all for standing up for what you believe, whether it is for gay rights or not. It means more to me than you probably know and I promise I will do my best to do right by you.

8 03 2008
Kizz

Sometimes what we CAN do feels like so little but the important part is doing something, anything, and that’s the hard part and the part that’s worth doing no matter what. You’re doing something and that is awesome.

9 03 2008
Pearl

I just read this blog for the first time. I find this conversation quite bizarre. Peeps – now that gave me a good chuckle.

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