Story of Lepa Mladjenovic from Belgrade meeting Cris Williamson and Kate Clinton in Provincetown during the Women’s Week, October 2012
In those years to say to a lesbian that she can be happy was revolutionary, Cris Williamson
One day in August, in New York, while scrolling the internet, I saw that there is something named Women’s Week in Provincetown, by chance at the same time when I will be there. I read it and I couldn’t believe it! The first thing I see is the name of Cris Williamson and my heart beats faster, I am excited, I write to my best friend Tijana back home who loves Cris also, I say, Tijanaaaaaaaa Cris Williamson is coming here, I will be able to see her Live!! I cant believe it! Kate Clinton too. When you live in a small country you don’t think you are ever going to see the singers you love in live.
The light will heal you
As a complete foreigner to Provincetown I learned that Women’s Week is in fact a Lesbian Week and that this is the 22nd time it is taking place! During these days I walked up and down in one of the lesbian most exciting streets in the world, smiling like a little girl who has entered the magic world of chocolates and candies all around ! Surrounded with so many lesbians that my body can hardly hold the facts. Events with lesbians are overflowing one another non-stop. And more so, Kate Clinton invited lesbians to a baseball match! What a feast! Under full sunshine the amazons run, the amazons screamed. Among lesbians every phrase has yet another meaning, Vicky Shaw, a Texas femme on the megaphone, Open Up, Don’t Close, …Don’t touch Mimi! I’m enjoying life dream. Thank you Kate Clinton, How many generations of lesbians have grown with your daily words of sweet wisdom that inspire feminist visions. The moment when a feeling enters the body is political. This touch is political, said Adrienne Rich.
Concerts of Cris Williamson
I went early to what was my first concert of Cris and a warm woman with white hair was already there in line. I told her how excited I am to listen Cris Williamson for the first time, so she said, Look I move one step back and you are entering The First! We were smiling.
I entered in the performance room and told every lesbian around me I was thrilled, it was in fact obvious. It is a small place that holds maximum 100 lesbians, and there were around 45 of us already, very intimate. The coordinator of the place came and freed a place in the very first row and lesbians around me said Go on, that’s for you ! They were all supportive, one gave me a paper napkin, You’re gonna cry — she was right. Women around me were chanting together the rhymes, touching each other, breathing, applauding, the soft melodies sang by lesbians and Cris entering in my soul.
Like honey in the sun.
Second time I came later and some lesbians were already in the line. Two lesbian lovers in the line told me how in the store where one of them works they overheard some women talking how they watched a lesbian from Belgrade being so excited to be the first time on the concert of Cris. I told them Yes that’s me! It is me! We laughed loud, went upstairs … I enter in the performance room to find out that these two had already bought me the ticket. How incredible that was! I stood there in the half dark hall before the concert and tears came to my face. Solidarity is a choice of witnessing the other in her pearl of weakness or joy. I hugged the couple and sat in the dark in the back and cried of soft love most of the concert.
Cris started her love Birdsong, and I found I’m talking to myself. You are not taking photos, you are not writing notes this time, you are feeling! I closed my eyes and felt lesbians all singing the soft rhyme and bird woman’s voice leading the path. No more no less then a song bird / Help me make something beautiful tonight … as if I entered the lesbian nest. Tender lesbians caring for each other and me in one song after the other. Like a ship in the harbor, I’m holding you awhile
The second day I cried. So much that a lesbian near me, the computer expert said, I wasn’t going to cry but when I saw you I said all right I can cry too. We walked to a café afterwards to talk of our lesbian lives and had a great time together.
When you open up your life to the living
All things come spilling in on you
Third time I went in advance and bought the ticket for me with the money I put aside for the previous concert. I sat again in the darker part of the concert hall. A large couple was in front of me, touching smoothly all the time. When you come from a homophobic place just sitting among free loving women makes you enter yourself where you haven’t before. Cris was singing lullaby and songbird song and I cried again. She said: The best gift you can give to me are your tears.
After the concert I went to the Women’s craft shop where Cris was chatting with lesbians, and gave her the essay on lesbians in the wartime. I told her that women around me were dear and caring. She said O how wonderful, she got up and we embraced tenderly. Tomorrow is the last day of my concerts, be my guest.
I came with a smile and smiled all throughout the concert, catching Cris’ smiles. Turning around to face other lesbians’ smiling faces. The Birdsong was opening the night again like every night and by this day I already knew many songs as if they were mine. And the bird came by / did you hear her sing… My body was in the wave with the rhyme, with the poet. Cris smiled, many women smiled, I smiled. “If the sun smiled, she would resemble you”.
The Women’s Week ended, I was on many other events. Provincetown was full of lesbians on every corner. How incredible that is. If every lesbian on the world could live this week once in life only, we would have powerful self-accepting lesbians everywhere. It was the next Tuesday with the sunshine I’m walking down the empty main street of Provincetown and my two buddies who bought me the ticket that day are walking toward me hand in hand full of love and relaxed. We embrace, remember the story of the ticket and they said You know what, that day after we came back from the Cris concert, we got a phone call and Olivia Tours told us that we two are chosen for the cheep tickets for the 40 Anniversary with Olivia, with Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, Kate Clinton &co!! What to say, we were jumping there on the street laughing and made a deal they will send me regular reports from this Olivia Cruise. The lesbians in Belgrade will have a private Live Stream from this exceptional event!
Wake me from this dream
That I have dreamed so many times
one of the days of Women’s Week, my friend Shebar and I went to a brunch with Cris Williamson and Kate Clinton. I am on such kind of event for the first time, to see and hear Kate Clinton say she is a feminist lesbian comedian! How wonderful. Thank you sister. Kate was charming and decided to tell her improvised stories through the chanting… while the lesbian crowd was singing a refrain… and we were all laughing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAXRB0Q1IcM
Both Cris and Kate were dressed in white shirts and looked to me as good old buddies and obviously enjoying each other. Sisterhood friendship I felt in front of us warming our smiles. At one point Cris started to retell one scene that changed her life. It was a scene with Joan Baez on a TV show at the end of the Sixties, when Joan was being obviously laughed at and humiliated for her anti-war politics. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvjOnKbP6Ak
“…She just so bravely sat there, in it, and I was weeping because it was so cruel, it was really cruel when the audience turns on you, you have two choices like you have in life, you can stay or you can go, and she taught me how to stay in the middle of the fusil … stay hold your sacred holly ground, and know that you are a human being and this is a difference of opinion, its not what’s right or wrong, you are doing the best you can.
And few years back I was to see my friend Bonnie Raid and Indigo Girls were doing honor touch the earth event raising money for Native issues and Joan was there … it happened to be in the old armory, quite amazing strange venues, and downstairs they have one sink, one funky bathroom and one sink, I was washing my hands in the same sink with Joan Baez, and there was a mirror there and I looked up sort of shyly, and she had her head down looking at her hands washing washing washing. And I looked at her I saw myself and I saw her head and I though O Goddess this is one of those telescoping moments, and I put my head back down and my hands are in the water and both our hands are there, and we are looking at our hands, I said “Joan I just got to say, when I was in a high school, just down the road, I was listening to your music and you saved my life…” I’ve got this said to me too, some people have bothered to tell you that, not just changed my life, but saved it, she put my foot on the path. And I said, “Joan I just wanted to tell you I would not be here right in this moment now if you had not done what you’ve done – paved the way”.
So every now and then when you have a chance thank the person that planted some seed in you.”
Lean on me, I am your sister
Believe on me, I am your friend
I will fold you in my arms like a white winged dove.
Citation from a song SISTER from Cris Williamson, and all above citations. With sister love and luna gratitude. Lepa.