Shazam! As of the this morning a seismic rift in the Butch-iverse has emerged. The ground-breaking Butch Voices organization which launched the amazing BV conference 2009 in Oakland, CA with additional spin-off conferences in Los Angeles and New York in 2010 has found it self at odds within its founding members. According to the Press Release sent out this morning:
After years of internal strife, four officers of Butch Voices report they have left the West Coast based organization. The four, along with numerous others, announce they will continue their butch advocacy and solidarity work under the name Butch Nation.
Funny that an organization whose mission "to enhance and sustain the well-being of all women, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are masculine of center", internal feud went something like this:
The former officers claim they were ousted or forced to resign because the Board of ButchVoices would not address their concerns over issues such as feminism, ageism, misogyny, and internal secrecy.
Oouch! People can'ts we all gets along? the PR continues:
The long-term members include ButchVoices Board member Jeanne Cordova; Program Chair Sasha T. Goldberg; Vendor Chair Yvonne Moore; and Program Committee member Stacy Reed. The four women are long time LBGTQ activists whose experience spans three generations, multiple religions, races, and ethnicities.
Goldberg and Moore were asked to resign last month upon their refusal to sign a newly issued 12 page contract which specifies confidentiality as all “trade secrets, know-how, concepts, processes, ideas, development activities and designs, [and] all information not generally known outside of ButchVoices.” Although the organization lacks legal standing and is not a non-profit, their contract focuses on strict branding requirements, and demands that volunteers relinquish intellectual property rights.
Goldberg and Moore argued that the workings of a volunteer-based organization should be transparent to its constituents, and, given all of the internal struggles over feminism, ageism, and misogyny within the organization, were both unwilling to commit to silence.
Butch Voices is one of a new crop of butch groups organized in recent years. Its self-appointed leadership consists of: Joe LeBlanc, Q Ragsdale, Krys Freeman, and Mary Stockton. Cordova, a fifth member, was asked to join after her keynote in 2009. After last October’s regional ButchVoices L.A. conference, which had unprecedented success, Cordova was suddenly asked to leave the organization.
During its inaugural 2009 Conference in Oakland ButchVoices claimed it wanted to include all butch voices. However, a group of Steering Committee feminists left during the ’09 planning. Internal tension mounted again in 2010 when Cordova insisted upon inserting the words “feminist” and “lesbian” into the official Call-for-Submissions to the upcoming regional conferences.
Although invited to serve on the Board as ButchVoice’s “sage elder”, Cordova’s value rapidly decreased when she disagreed with the Board."
(The classic 2nd Wave v 3rd Wave binary)
Cordova, Goldberg, Moore, and Reed, though now unaffiliated with ButchVoices, remain committed to building Butch community. During the Saturday lunchtime slot at ButchVoices, Goldberg will offer her workshop “Bulldagger: For Women-Identified, Female Pronoun using Butches”; during the Sunday lunchtime slot, Cordova will offer her caucus, “Exploring Our Masculinities While Keeping Our Feminisms.” Both workshops will be hosted in a room donated by members of the Oakland Bulldaggers, and will be listed under the name Goldberg. Sessions will be open to conference attendees and non-registrants alike.
The four organizers are joined by members of the Oakland Bulldaggers, The Lesbian Exploratorium/LEX (organizers of the Los Angeles ButchVoices regional conference), veteran LGBTQ activist Ivy Bottini, and others. They plan to continue their activism through Butch Nation. Butch Nation hopes other butch groups around the country will want to affiliate with them to continue work in Butch advocacy, education, and solidarity.
Zoinks! Are we all gonna have to take sides now!?