Why do you do what you do? Why do I do what I do?

I produce a women’s music festival. The festival is for women born women. It is called Michigan Framily Reunion. It is a festival that is modeled after the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival that was in existence for 40 years. We produced Michigan Framily Reunion, MFR, for the first time in 2015, the first year in 40 years that MWMF was not open. We hoped to bring together women that were mourning and sad in August when they usually were on the land celebrating and being womyn together. We built and held MFR in my back yard. 500 women showed up. They were incredibly thankful to have the space to gather together.

Prior to building and creating MFR, I organized (never alone but this is my story so I will speak in first person but I never did organized, produced, or built this by myself) a lesbian community in the greater Lansing area, L2L, Lansing Lesbians. L2L was built with the vision of building community within community. Lansing has a strong and powerful lesbian community so L2L was building something from the ground up. L2L enhanced and brought together more lesbians through social media and community organizing. L2L was always inclusive for lesbians, bisexuals, and gays. L2L promoted lgbt+ community events while producing events specifically for lesbians and bisexual women. The focus of L2L has always been for lesbians but it was not restricted to solely lesbians. We also promoted queer events, local events that might be of interest. L2L worked to build and strengthen the community by building connections.

When we created MFR, the question was asked whether it was for “all” women including trans women. The issue of inclusion of transwomen was a huge divide for MWMF. While there were always transwomen present at the MWMF, the intention of the festival was for women. MFR took the same position. Michigan Framily Reunion is for women born women. The intention of MFR is to create a safe place for women to live comfortably in their experience was women born women. MFR has never had any panty police in effect. We trust that women will act with integrity and respect the intention of the festival.

To some people having a space for women born women that have lived their lives as women. The experience of being a woman and living in a woman’s body and being raised in a culture that does not value women is unique to women. The experience of being treated differently (girls don’t fart, girls aren’t tough, get some BALLS, seriously, have you ever thought about how truly fragile testicles are??? now ovaries are TOUGH! but that’s a whole different discussion) soleley based on the genital you were born with is unique to that women’s lived experience. Women can do everything that men can do, yes. But we are expected to prove ourselves over and over and over. We have to prove we are strong enough. We have to prove we are competent enough and even then, we are paid less. We are expected to be calm and controlled all the time, otherwise, we are hysterical or on our period or out of control. We are held to a different standard, all the time.

Which is why, I want to create a space in the woods for one weekend a year that is for women born women. There are many people that are treated less than and I am not trying to diminish those experiences. I am speaking to MY experience. I am speaking to what I want to create for women born women. For one weekend a year, I want to be able to spend time with my sisters, naked and safe. Dressed however I want and still safe. I want to hear women’s laughter and women’s voices. I want to be able to revel and embrace women however they present. I want to honor the fem women that get gussied up for the parades and the theme days in their sexy or dressy clothes with delicious shoes and make up. I want to embrace and honor the butch women that hold space and get misgendered all the time in area 51. I want to honor them for being themselves in a world that assumes they are men or transitioning. I want to honor women that present androgynously and love wearing functional clothes with pockets and functional shoes. I want to honor the women, all the women born women that want to gather to just be women without having to justify, defend, or guard themselves.

We put up so many walls of defense and protection in area 51 (area 51 is a term that was coined at MWMF that describes the rest of the world that women live in for 51 weeks a year, one week in the woods was sacred and holy, now I am trying to hold space for a long weekend). We have to hold ourselves to a different standard. It’s different in a women’s space. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. We understand each other on a level that we can’t get to in a space that is not just women.

Thank you, Miriam Ben-Shalom for capturing it so well

It might not be the festival for you. You might value other things such as inclusivity for transwomen. That’s okay. In fact, that is wonderful. I am not taking anything from you and I am not trying to change your beliefs and your values. Please stand true to what is important to you. MFR is not something that you will value. That’s okay. The universe is abundant and there is space for all festivals. In fact, I will suggest a couple that I love and value: Ohio Lesbian Festival is a wonderful festival that does include women born women and transwomen and anyone that self-identifies as lesbian or woman. I love that. Or National Women’s Music Festival is another festival that includes all that identify as women regardless of what body they were born into. It’s a great festival in a hotel so it serves a completely different population. I am so very thankful for the options to choose which festival suits me best. I am thankful that all women get to choose what suits them best and what festival makes their heart sing. I know that we can all live in this world together and that there is room in the world for all festivals.

My festival is for women born women. MFR is for those that love, embrace, and want to spend time in the woods with women that were born women and have lived that experience. I want to honor our experience.

Just like I can honor my sons in their endeavors, I can honor my daughters. Just like I can embrace my fem side and wear all pink and high heels, I can honor my “butch” side and wear functional shoes, carry a pocket knife, and not carry a purse. I hope that everyone can find a space that best suits their wants, needs, and the things that they find important and valuable. I hope that we can realize and understand that the universe is big. L2L can hold space for events that are inclusive for all spectrums and presentations of the LGBT+ rainbow and it can hold space that is exclusive for WBW events. We can all find and hold space for the people and values we hold dear.

If you are hoping to find a space and festival that honors you in all of your magic and diversity, there is a space for you. It might be at Michigan Framily Reunion. It might not be at MFR. That is perfectly okay. I love you. I love me. I love me in all of my conflicting presentations as a woman born woman. I love you for you whatever that looks like for you.

#loveyouloveme #love #mfrmagic19 #sistertimeinthepines #wbwfestival #wbw #findingmybestlife #findingthejuicy #wbwjuice #PJcureseverything #PTispussytherapy #letpussymanifest #doyou http://www.michiganframilyreunion.com

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