Zippy and I went to see Ferron last night. I know this has all sorts of transphobic, MWMF, Camp Trans, womyn-born-womyn, ickiness surrounding it. So be it, I am an identity traitor. I've loved Ferron's music, covered her songs, resonated long before I dealt with the trans and heard about the politics. I've only heard her at a large folk fest (and I hung out at the campsite and listened from afar that particular night) so I was looking forward to a small space concert.
First off, the place (a small nature center concert series, maybe 150 people) was crawling with queer women. Old ones. Butches and femmes. Zippy commented that it was refreshing to be in that sort of crowd; she finds herself pretty marginalized and ignored by the young'uns. We just do not seem to stumble upon the middle aged lesbian community locally - perhaps because we do not drink, are not in active recovery, do not gambol on the softball field, and do not play setback.
It was an odd space for me. I had a few looks and I was not sure if they were licentious ones or "what the hell is he doing here" ones or curious trying to figure me out ones. Zippy and I were laughing, I think she relished the idea of confronting the lookers about "checking out my girlfriend", not having gotten into a butch fight in a long time. Just an interesting experience. I am so rarely noticed to the point of being "checked out" for whatever reason.
Ferron was awesome, funny in between songs, in good voice and skill level with her beautiful music and words. Zippy and I mostly held hands and cuddled (cause it was the kind of space where PDA's between women were OK) and sang all the old familiar songs.
And finally, she closed the show with Testimony, which includes the refrain:
But by my life be I spirit
And by my heart be I woman
And by my eyes be I open
And by my hands be I whole
She prefaced it with a little talk, along these lines: Back in the old days, if there were men in the room, the women would not let them sing this song. I've watched from the stage as women would glare or even say something; at times I've worried that there might be a fight. But its a funny thing, the word women - cause you have women in there, but you also have men in there. So if you are a man, and you want to sing this for your mother or daughter or wife or sister or your secret closeted lover, or your own inner wild woman, well go right ahead.
Ferron seems to be at a very good place right now. She talked about "hanging up her spurs" and going to work with adolescents. She is playing to small intimate (albeit still devoted) crowds and thinking back somewhat wistfully on a career that saw her playing large auditoriums. She has a new CD out called Turning into Beautiful and is touring, maybe for the last or next to last time.
I am glad I got to see her.