‘Head lesbian,’ singer and feminist, Alix Dobkin, dies at 80

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NEW YORK (AP) — The lesbian singer and feminist activist who appeared in an iconic and just lately resurgent 1975 picture carrying a t-shirt that learn “The Future is Feminine,” has died. Alix Dobkin of Woodstock, New York, was 80.

An early chief within the music scene for lesbians and girls, she handed away at her house from a mind aneurysm and stroke, based on Liza Cowen, her good friend and former accomplice.

“Every part that she did was about being a public lesbian on the earth,” mentioned Cowen, who additionally took the hanging picture.

In 1973, Dobkin fashioned the group Lavender Jane with musician Kay Gardner. With an all-women crew of musicians, engineers and even vinyl pressers, they recorded the album “Lavender Jane Loves Girls” — the primary ever to be solely produced by ladies, Cowen mentioned.

Dobkin had been performing within the folks music scene in Philadelphia and New York within the Sixties, the place she mingled with future superstars like Bob Dylan, based on her 2009 memoir “My Crimson Blood.” The title references her mother and father’ and her personal membership within the Communist social gathering.

When she got here out as a lesbian, she solid forward musically as an early chief after which mainstay of Girls’s Music, a style made by, for and about ladies. The style fostered an entire community of publications, recording labels, venues and festivals beginning within the Seventies.

“She grew to become an iconic, type of bigger-than-life determine for girls who recognized as lesbians,” mentioned Eileen M. Hayes, writer of the guide “Songs in Black and Lavender,” a historical past of Black ladies’s involvement within the motion.

Dobkin sang songs like “Lesbian Code,” that playfully lists the various methods ladies excited by ladies determine one another. She additionally had a model of the alphabet music that begins, “A, you’re an Amazon.” Dobkin, who was Jewish, usually performed Yiddish songs throughout her performances and advised tales she had heard rising up in Philadelphia.

She usually carried out for all-women audiences. An undated flyer promoting one among Dobkin’s reveals defined all-women live shows provided ladies the chance “to return collectively to develop our tradition as a part of the method of taking management of our lives.” It requested males who supported the battle towards sexism to not attend.

A good friend and collaborator, Kathy Munzer, produced reveals for lesbians in Chicago for greater than 30 years and known as Dobkin “The Head Lesbian,” saying in a Fb submit that she impressed others to take pleasure in who they have been.

Earlier than the AIDS epidemic, lesbian and homosexual organizations operated individually, Hayes mentioned. A distinguished ladies’s pageant the place Dobkin performed for years, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Competition, excluded transwomen from attending. In 2000, Dobkin wrote in protection of cis-women-only areas whereas additionally searching for out conversations with transwomen and defending the proper of everybody to like and be themselves.

“I particularly fear concerning the narrowing of ladies’s identification and the erasure of ladies’s historical past. For voicing these concerns we have now been attacked as ‘bigoted,’ ‘transphobic’ and worse, however are these not credible considerations?” she wrote in a column within the Windy Metropolis Occasions.

Reflecting on the combat about cis-women-only areas, Hayes mentioned at first of the ladies’s motion, “it was a press release about, who is that this motion supposed to learn probably the most?”

The selection to create a parallel media ecosystem additionally mirrored how troublesome it was for girls to interrupt into the mainstream music business,Hayes mentioned.

“It didn’t help ladies as performers, and singers, and engineers and promoting individuals,” Hayes mentioned. “It’s nonetheless very laborious for girls to interrupt into the business.”

Hayes known as the newfound fame of the slogan “The Future is Feminine” and the reemergence of the picture of Dobkin “fabulous.”

The slogan originated from a lady’s bookstore in New York, Labyris Books, that had screenprinted a small run of the shirts, Cowen mentioned. She photographed Dobkin carrying one for an article she was writing about lesbian style. An Instagram submit in 2015 by @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, an account that chronicles lesbian historical past, featured the picture. That impressed an unaffiliated firm to print the T-shirts once more and ultimately launched the slogan to a brand new technology, based on the New York Occasions.

“What we’ve realized via the ladies’s motion is that, yeah, the long run is feminine, however it’s not a uni-dimensional feminine,” Hayes mentioned. “It’s a feminine identification that’s constructed with varied threads, varied backgrounds, and that’s the corrective our new technology makes to the failings of earlier generations.”

Within the weeks earlier than her dying, Dobkin’s household saved a public diary about her well being that drew lots of of feedback from mates and followers. They wrote of how Dobkin’s music offered them consolation, steering and group.

“And nonetheless you convey us collectively once more, wonderous lady you’re!!!” learn one remark.

Earlier than popping out as a lesbian, Dobkin married Sam Hood, whose father owned a folks music venue in New York the place she had performed. Dobkin is survived by him, their daughter, Adrian, and three grandchildren, amongst different members of the family, former companions and followers.

As a historian and witness to the ladies’s motion, Hayes mentioned she was grateful to have had Dobkin’s musical and political management.

“I feel that the dying of Alix Dobkin simply reminds us of how far we’ve come when it comes to LGBTQ proper to life,” she mentioned. “And proper to life as in the proper to be.”

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