As many readers know by now, I am a fanatic for the Indigo Girls. The Indigo Girls, for those who don't know, are the lesbian folk/rock duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. (Emily and Amy are not a couple, by the way, and have never been romantically involved with one another.) The two women contribute equally to the songwriting. Emily, the folk half, usually writes upbeat, relationship-based songs; she is also responsible for "The Girl with the Weight of the World in Her Hands", a beautiful song about Christ which chokes me up every time I hear it (and I'm Jewish).
Amy, the rock and roll side, wrote the classic, eerie "Chickenman". the haunting "Cedar Tree" (a tearjerker, but listen close for a few bars from "Ode to Joy" in the guitar solo), the epic "Touch Me Fall", and a very twisted take on the folk staple "This Train". (The last two tracks can be found on "Swamp Ophelia", which is probably my single favorite rock album of all time.)
But I'm writing this post to call your attention to a recent series of Amy Ray interviews - and with Amy as the interviewer, not the interviewee. Somehow, in between touring both with the Indigo Girls AND solo, Amy has found the time and energy to interview a number of women connected with the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, particularly focusing on the festival's controversial policy that limits attendance to "women-born-women only", i.e. excluding transsexual and transgender women.
The relationship between women - particularly lesbians - and transgender/transsexual people has been complex and sometimes difficult. Straight readers may not always appreciate the history and politics behind the clunky "LGBT" acronym that's fashionable nowadays. Even if you are not lesbian, gay, or differently gendered, the debate between trans people and the MWMF offers some valuable insights into the workings of identity politics - and into the issues faced by lesbian, straight, and trans women today. Amy Ray has made an enormous contribution with these interviews.
I've posted earlier about gender and sexuality in the women's movement. I've also written about the relationship of women and power to liberalism and contemporary politics. I'll post later with more comments on the Amy Ray interviews after I've had a chance to read them as carefully as they deserve.
I will also be linking these interviews on my sidebar. Thank you, Amy Ray, for playing an important role in this ongoing conversation.