I go to an all-women’s college. This has, over the past four years, elicited sighs, eye rolls, fist pumps and the ever popular, “So, you’re a lesbian now?” from friends, family, and the occasional random shopper in line at Price Chopper. I laugh it off, prattle off some of the pros of going to such an institution, and then let them decide what to do with the information. Going to an all-women’s college has proven to not be at all what I, and most people I talk to, thought it would be: a bunch of lesbian, man-hating feminists burning bras and giving nasty looks at girls who dare to shave their legs.
That being said, this weekend my school is hosting the New England Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Conference (NE LGBT). Insert eye roll, sigh, lesbian comment here. It’s a pretty incredible experience, being in the midst of this. The conference’s mission is to “unite our diverse community through education, activism, and networking.” Awesome. I am totally behind this. I am also totally behind all of the insanely interesting keynote speakers hanging out, giving lectures, and doing shows on our campus.
Last night, I went to see Kate Clinton speak. She’s a political humorist, who calls it like she sees it through a lesbian, feminist lens.
This is Kate. Her show, “All Fracked Up,” was an hour and a half commentary on the ridiculous ongoings in our political system. Seem a little too heavy? Not to worry-Kate peppered it all with a sometimes light-hearted humor, oftentimes cynical honesty that made her equal parts endearing and relatable.
The evening began with a small performance from the Albany Gay Men’s Chorus. Yes, this was exactly how you would picture it- middle aged men wearing black collared shirts and various brightly colored ties (all within the ROY G BIV spectrum), singing “Hello Dolly” and “He’s Got a Way.” Unfortunately, they just were not that good. Sitting next to my guy friend (let’s call him Toby), I joked, you should join. Yeah, he replied, maybe I could help straighten out their baritone section. Chuckling to ourselves, we politely golf-clapped along with the rest of the crowd, really just waiting for Kate Clinton to get onstage.
And then, there she was, dancing her way onstage to the heavy bassline of “I Got a Feelin.'” Toby and I straightened (pun not intended that time) up in our chairs, and got ready for…well, we didn’t know what. Kate is a spitfire. She jumped right into discussing the political climate, working her way through the BP Oil Spill, the Republican Candidates, and what the Obama Administration has done for the Gay community.
Also jumping right in were the three middle-aged women sitting right behind Toby and I- their almost too-loud laughter rang in our ears right alongside Kate’s zinging comments, bouncing back and forth between the two. I felt like I was caught in between some sort of private joke. Clearly, these women understood things I didn’t. I laughed about half the time they laughed, and spent the rest of the time trying to figure out what was so damn funny.
While the whole show is almost a blur, one line stuck out. As Kate rambled on about lobbying for gay rights, she, for just a moment, dropped her cynical veneer, and said, simply and a little wearily:
I get tired of trying to change the hearts and minds of people who don’t have any.
The breath expelled out of me like I had been socked in the stomach. I looked over at Toby, who had a similar expression on his face. Sure I had just spent a good chunk of time trying to understand a large portion of her show. Yes, I thought she was funny or dead-on about half the time. But in that moment, all I could thing was:
Wow, Kate. Nailed it.