Cruising into history

A reader’s perspective on relevance. 


The cruise was amazing! I enjoyed the scenery, being disconnected (mostly) from my phone and computer and having new and fun things to do. I felt completely spoiled with having my room cleaned every day, a wide variety of food available pretty much 24 hours a day, and room service whenever we wanted all included. What made it better was being surrounded by a zillion lesbian as well as some huge names in our community. I mean Lee ‘freaking’ Lynch as Andi Marquette always says! And I got to hear her on a panel while staring out at this gorgeous scenery sliding by outside the windows.

But this cruise made me really think about where I am in life. I’m no longer that 20 something willing to sacrifice my body in a rugby match knowing I’ll recover in no time. Now, sore muscles annoy me for twice as long as they used to. Other things though, I have no idea what my 20 something nephews and nieces are talking about and dread having to connect to yet another social media app in order to follow the fun they are posting in their lives. Is that me and my disinterest or is the gap between generations getting larger?

One presentation on this cruise was by an intern working for one of the sponsors. She read the essay that earned her an intern position and covered the topic of how to connect with this younger generation especially in regards to supporting LGBTQ businesses. It was entertaining and I definitely related to the differences but it also made me a little sad. I mean the number of independent bookstores is dwindling and the number of women bookstores even more so. I mean I remember finding my first feminist/women’s bookstore and knowing I had found a slice of heaven. Heck I remember working in a LGBT bookstore and absolutely loving it! Talk about feeding a book addiction. But where have they gone and why? I mean why can’t we have Karin Kallmaker’s bookstore fromTouchwood by [Kallmaker, Karin] Touchwood in every city? Many might be saying- it’s because of Barnes and Nobles or even more so, Amazon. But it all kind of links into this essay that this young intern wrote. My generation and older NEEDED these locations. They were vital to our existence and for many acted as a support system and a means of finding a normal in their lives. Now, it seems like the acceptance of LGBT with this up and coming generation is so awesome that the idea of supporting a business because there is the commonality of sexuality isn’t necessary. It’s not something that needs to exist because it just does not matter in the overall living of life. How many of us ever even considered being in a society were such a mindset was on the upswing? Awesome huh?

But another presentation on this amazing cruise was by Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer. Product DetailsYes! That amazing woman and her wife were onboard and spoke about her challenge of the US Army in regards to being able to serve as a homosexual. It was one of her comments that really struck me. She said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that her story and the fight that she fought, and even she herself were history and they were irrelevant. Irrelevant? Really? No way would I have ever put that word as any type of descriptor is this courageous woman’s fight. Her point seemed to be along the lines of- well look where we are now. Look at this up and coming society and the level of acceptance of the LGBTQ community. That fight was fought and won and we have moved on from that. Lesbians and Gays can marry now! But is it possible that any type of history could be irrelevant?

All those history classes in school and they are irrelevant. But irrelevant to who? I don’t think Colonel Cammermeyer could ever be irrelevant to me because her success impacted my life so much. She made it possible for my wife to serve as a lesbian in the Navy. Yes, it’s history but it is important to who we are as a society. The same way we should all know that Susan B. Anthony is more than a decoration on a dollar coin. That we as women have the right to vote because of women like her. Now we get a say in this political chaos. Sort of.

I think Karin Kallmaker made an excellent point in answering a question about politics and how she addressed that in her work. It was along the lines of just the act of having women loving each other in a positive, healthy way like the characters in her story, that was making a political statement because for so many that thought/idea is the foundation of what they are fighting for politically to keep from happening! So read everyone! Keep fighting that political fight by supporting our lesbian authors! Because in my opinion it is still relevant if a business is LGBTQ.Razor's Edge (American Yakuza Book 3) by [Isabella]

The Swashbuckler by [Lynch, Lee]And listening to authors/publishers like Isabella (also one of the sponsors for this amazing Literary Adventure at Sea) from Sapphire Publishing explain how they are continuing to seek out ways to connect with the next generation of readers makes me feel a little more comfortable in this strange new world we are all venturing into. In the meantime I will cherish the pages that contain the stories of our history like those of Frankie in Lee Lynch’s The Swashbuckler because this type of history is relevant to me and so much better than Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. Though knowing how far we have come will always be important. Will always be relevant if we continue to love and support each other.   The Well of Loneliness by [Hall, Radclyffe]


  1. Nicely said. Our history will never be irrelevant. It will always be important to remember those who struggled and sacrificed to give us the freedoms LGBQT people have today. I know a lot of folks don’t want to mainstream, that they are proud and defiant about who they are, and that is exactly as it should be. But even they are becoming more and more accepted by non LGBTQs and acceptance is what we and our predecessors have worked so hard to achieve. Acceptance is what will keep us alive and out of jails and institutions. Acceptance is what will keep our literature culturally relevant in chain stores – and while the LGBTQ section might never be very big (we’re only 10-15% of the population and of that not all of us read) the fact that section is there at all, open and out for all to see, is huge. And yes, lesbian cruises and lesbian bookstores, while a rich part of our history, may not be necessary for future LGBTQs. It’s the legacy all the unsung Colonel Cammermeyers and Lee Lynchs of the world have left us. And that’s a good thing.

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    • It scares me a little but is exciting in so many other ways! Thanks for reading Baxter. I missed hearing any readings from you by the way and hope to maybe here some when you are in Palm Springs.

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  2. you’re right. History will never be irrelevant. That said, Linda Kay Silva (Alex Westmoor) made a very important point in her master class at the GCLS Con in Chicago last week. The younger generations don’t need our literature to see themselves like we all did, 20 and 30 and 40 years ago. Everywhere they look, TV, the movies, online, in video games…you name it, they can see other LGBT persons out and proud and walking the walk they worked so long to be able to do. Our history isn’t irrelevant but our newer books are finding smaller and smaller audiences as the people before Gen X and the Millenials age and those folks and younger exist almost entirely in a connected world.

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    • And that is super scary to me! Everything seems to need an instantaneous gratification or it is pushed aside quickly. They read but it is tweets and social media and those are so quick. A lot can be said in a few words, but I so love being able to immerse myself in a book for hours. What if that goes away??? A book-a-holic without her drug!! LOL! Thanks for reading Anne.

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  3. I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to meet on the cruise. I love your insights. I share many of your thoughts about it too.

    On our first women’s cruise 15 yeas ago there were 100s of women crying and lined up to depart the ship on the final morning. And it wasn’t hard to recognize how much we lacked a safe, “just us” world 24/7 that these events created for a Slice of time.

    Flash forward 15 years later and we’ve been on six cruises, and they are always a nice respite. The sea of heads on the deck has gotten a little more gray, and crying has been replaced with exchanging mobile numbers on cell phones. My kids have a friend for which they corrected me quickly because I said “he”, and she is now “she”. They think nothing of two young men going off to the prom together and their high never balked when they did attend.

    But for all this acceptance there is something lost in the fact that we don’t attend women’s music concert s anymore at the the local Universalists Chruch, for a sliding scale. We don’t drive hours into major metro cities to get to the bookstore that sells Six of One and Meg Christian on cassette.

    I think I learned to stand up and fight through those days, to demand my space and safety. I worry my nieces and nephews have learned to fight only through Facebook posts, instagram photos; Snapchat is their new dialogue. And so often there are not “lesbian singers or actors” there are actors who happen to be lesbian. And I cheer at this but then I return to this sort of sinking feeling that the mainstreaming means we are sort of somewhat lost again.

    I often try to explain this all to my wife who came out at 29, just in time to marry me and bring our lovely twins into the world with me. But she never lived through the teens and early adult discovery and coming out. She doesn’t really know what it was like to discover Cris Williamson or Olivia records or “feel” Billie Jean King’s story hit the news. Though she did backpack our kids with me to many a march, it was different timing for her.

    Our now 20 year old kids tell me I am just old and a little bit of a relic. That I ramble too much about my old bookstores and concerts, and working for AIDS funding. And, the nostalgia is interesting but it is a new world, they are probably right.

    A few years ago when federal marriage passed my daughter, still in high school, was leaving for school. I sat texting my wife who was on a college visit with her twin brother. We sat in different states crying and texting each other. My daughter asked if everything was ok on her way out the door. I answered yes and she left. Somewhere on the bus ride to school she learned the news and the pieces clicked. She text me, “I saw the news, mom. I get it. Congratulations”.

    And at least for these moments, despite all the mainstreaming, I think our kids get a view into the struggle and history that I never want lost.

    Thanks for the ramble space.

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    • I am so glad that your daughter was able to recognize the significance of the marriage laws. That was super sweet. But I am totally in ah of this up and coming generation. I hope they continue to choose the fights that will win the war for all of us to be equals. They are amazing in their acceptance and I am looking forward to the day where they are able to move that into larger ideas such as government. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back for another Olivia adventure because even with all the changes, there was something pretty special about being surrounded by “us”, Hopefully we’ll meet up at that time!

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  4. Well, I greatly respect her, but beg to differ with Grethe.

    [An aside: I traveled to Ann Arbor with friends several years ago to hear her speak at U of M – and to be one of (about 75?) to have dinner with her at a local restaurant. Fabulous trip, great speaker. 🙂 ]

    She and her experience will never be irrelevant. Just a so many other historical events are not irrelevant. Ignorance of our history and the ignoring of its lessons is one of the reasons we are in the mess we are in now. I hate to be a downer/voice of doom or whatever, but I have lived long enough to know the pendulum swings, folks. Let up on our fight and vigilance and we will be moved backwards in the blink of an eye.

    Remember the Women’s movement? Second wave? Dead? Irrelevant? How many of those issues are still around? Abortion illegal? Women earning some fraction of what men earn in equivalent jobs? Rape going unpunished?
    … and so on and so on …

    And, does anyone care that we have been at war for about 75 years with about two 5 minutes breaks in all that time? And we seem about to start a new front on the Pacific Rim … ? Is anyone talking about this? All I hear is “trumptrumptrump” and I say forget him, take away his attention and he is dead … but the Republican War on America, War on Women, War on People of Color, War on the Poor, War on “anyone not gun-toting white male” … how long has that been going on? About 40 years? Are they winning? Or are we losing?

    We start thinking the war is over and we won, we are really going to be in trouble.

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    • Yes, lets celebrate what we have, and remember where we came from … but those who think it all can’t be taken away in the blink of an eye, or a moment of inattention, are fooling themselves.

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      • I get so frustrated with what our society tries to argue over. Wouldn’t it be fun to have sex be a 50/50 shot on which gender actually became pregnant? I think men would have a truly different respect for the right to choose. Why does something so simple as my body-my decision have to even be discussed anymore? Ugh!! Thanks for reading Widdershins!

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    • One of the highlights of my cruise was randomly seeing Colonel Cammermeyer and Diane while we were looking for water. To be able to thank her for what she made possible for Kim and ultimately for me was such a rush! She will always have a place in my history! Thanks for reading!!

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    • The polite thing is to say thank you, but I’m still trying to pull my jaw off the floor! You have added so much to my understanding and respect for the lesbian fiction genre I am truly at a loss for words on how to emphasize that enough. It was wonderful hearing you on both panels speaking about where we have all come from and where we are going. That meant a lot to me!

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