Since 1976 in a secluded wooded setting in Northern Michigan women from all over the world gathered to share space and music at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. This haven for lesbian and feminist folk began for the purpose of creating women or womyn-only space where lesbian feminist issues could be discussed in a safe and free community. It was with shock that an email from founder Lisa Vogel arrived with sad news.
I am writing to tell you that the 40th Festival will be the last Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. The spirit of this community will live on forever, the friends and family we have found on the Land are eternal. Everything we have created together will feed the inspiration for what comes next. It’s possible that I will come back with something else, or that other sisters will take the inspiration of the Michigan community and create the next expression of our Amazon culture. What is true for me is that now is the time to bring this 40-year cycle to a close, stepping out on joy at our most incredible anniversary celebration.
This is a great loss to not only the festival attendees, but to those who know about the festival and never had a chance to go. The experience the women who were fortunate enough to attend would come home with them, and they would create their own microcosm of womenspace. The local community of Hart where the festival took place will miss the business the festival brought to the region.
The festival over the years has dealt with increasing pressure from the trans community to allow trans women to come to the festival. MWMF organizers did not welcome trans women because they wanted to preserve the space for women who were born female. The rationale for maintaining the fest as women born female makes sense to women born female, because it was a place where women could unplug and freely express being a woman without outer constructs limiting them. It’s extremely powerful when you experience it for the first time.
When the news spread, the trans community exploded with celebration that they had brought down MWMF. The language used on the internet is the most anti-woman rhetoric seen in a long time, and it’s shockingly abusive and vindictive to see how much they hate women born female. In short, the trans community very clearly demonstrated why they’re unwelcome at MWMF.
It’s a shame to never have the chance to go, especially when one lives so close by. The stories from women who did go were wonderful, and often brought up thoughts of, “perhaps someday.” Someday will never happen for many women; but hopefully the energy and spirit of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival will manifest in some other way in the future.