West Coast Gathering & Conference of Lesbians 50+
In September 200 older lesbians will be converging on Vancouver to frolic high atop the Coast Plaza Hotel in the West End. They’ve taken over the 35th floor for four days to hold singles events, workshops on finances, sex & menopause, community, oral herstory, yoga and spirituality. They’ll be abreast in a dragon boat, cruising the harbour and dancing the night away. Brainchild of Vancouver’s lesbian event organizing grand dame, Pat Hogan, this year the conference is organized by Pat and co-organizer Clare Robson.
Is it just for over 50’s? Yes and no. “Women in their 30’s and 40’s came last year because they’re lesbians. A lot of the content is about growing older but a lot of is about hanging out with lesbians.” says Pat. Younger women are welcome. There’s a wide range of women who attend, mostly from the US and Canada but some from other parts of the world. The conference is inspired by the American conference ‘Golden Threads’. While the last year had mostly Canadian presenters, this years conference features American presenters and content where relevant, so that American guests can have access to financial and legal information that applies to them as well. Last year’s event had about 185 participants, and Pat and Clare are expecting a full 200 this year, after last year’s blazing success. “For some women, they’d never been to an event where there’s been lesbians before and it’s like a second coming out for them. But for others it was about building community,” notes Pat.
The conference will coincide with the Vancouver tour date of over-50 lesbian musician Cris Williamson, happening on Sunday September 10th, also organized by Pat’s company Sounds and Furies. Musicians who will be performing at the conference include “first lady of folk” Penny Lang on Saturday night and funny feminist folkie Kate Reid on Friday night.
In addition to the featured workshops, this year’s conference includes meeting space and encouragement for registrants to create their own workshops or discussions.
In fine lesbian tradition, the conference is sliding scale and some subsidies are available. Pat and Clare are holding an open-mic fundraiser for the scholarship fund on June 11th. Information for all of these events is available on the Sounds and Furies website at www.soundsandfuries.com. Women who don’t use the internet can get a brochure by contacting Pat at 604-253-7189.