Alix Dobkin, the overtly lesbian folks singer and queer activist, died at age 80 on May 19 from a brain aneurysm and stroke at her dwelling in Woodstock, N.Y.
Her tunes and activism were being daily life-switching for lesbians.
I believed of Dobkin lately. One particular Sunday early morning, I read NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro interview 22-calendar year-old queer musician Marie Ulven, recognised as the girl in red. Her debut album “If I Could Make It Go Quiet” is just out.
Ulven was open up with Garcia-Navarro (and NPR’s tens of millions of listeners) about her sexuality and mental wellness. In “Period,” “Serotonin” and other music, she sings actually about her romantic break-ups and mental health struggles.
Amazing, I believed, females question just about every other “do you pay attention to the female in purple?” to locate out if they’re queer!
Sexism, homophobia and transphobia nevertheless exist in songs. Some musicians are closeted since they resist labels or really don’t truly feel it is safe to arrive out.
However, Ulven is a single of a selection of out queer lady musicians from Hayley Kiyoko to Kehlani to Melissa Etheridge to Brandy Clark to Tegan and Sara.
I marveled as I listened to Ulven. When I was beginning to appear out in the 1970s, you’d as very likely have read an brazenly queer musician on a radio demonstrate with a massive audience as you’d have observed Richard Nixon cigarette smoking weed at Woodstock.
Back again then, if you have been a lesbian you didn’t come to feel read or seen in tracks. Not even in the magnificent, but hetero, new music of the period from the Beatles to Smokey Robinson to Joni Mitchell.
You had to develop the soundtrack-of-your-existence by queering up, as finest you could, the lyrics of songs you liked to include the females you loved.
Dobkin, acknowledged as the “Head lesbian” by her aficionados, was born in New York Metropolis. As she recalled in “My Crimson Blood,” her 2009 memoir, she grew up in a remaining wing and Jewish spouse and children.
Her parents had been communists and took Dobkin with them as they arranged on behalf of unions. As the Washington Publish reported, Dobkin was named soon after an uncle who was killed by a correct-wing firing squad in the Spanish Civil War.
She was proud of her parents, but “my want was to be like all people else in a Dick and Jane type of way,” Dobkin wrote in “My Purple Blood.”
Dobkin received a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in 1962. There, she researched painting. At college she started undertaking people tracks. Shortly she was undertaking in clubs in Greenwich Village. Dobkin married Sam Hood, a co-owner of the Gaslight, a club in the Village. The pair experienced a daughter, Adrian. The relationship finished in divorce.
Dobkin is survived by her former spouse and buddy Liza Cowan, Adrian Hood, a brother, a sister and a few grandchildren.
It is really hard to overstate how historic Dobkin’s get the job done was.
In 1973, with Kay Gardner, and other females musicians, Dobkin recorded the album “Lavender Jane Enjoys Women of all ages.” This is considered to be the very first album recorded by and manufactured by and for lesbians. Its music have been about lesbians.
Again in the working day, it was great to listen to Dobkin, an out lesbian, protect “I Only Want to Be with You” on Lavender Jane.
“Alix was one particular of the very first to rejoice us in music,” lesbian historian Lilian Faderman instructed the Washington Post.
Even now, when organizations sponsor Pride parades, it can be hard to say the word lesbian. Like when your family members on Xmas Eve doesn’t want you to say the L-word.
Yet, many years in the past, Dobkin informed interviewers her position was “to say ‘lesbian’ as generally as probable.”
“Living with Lesbians” was among the the albums that Dobkin recorded.
Dobkin’s sights on transgender persons have been controversial. She didn’t want transgender individuals to be in ladies-only areas.
Dobkin was a co-director of the team Previous Lesbians Arranging for Modify.
Though recorded decades back, many of Dobkin’s music nevertheless ring accurate now.
In the pandemic, the lyrics “The lady in your existence/Will do what she should do/…The female in your lifestyle/…is you,” resonate with queer and hetero girls.
Thank you for your tunes and your lifetime, Alix, R.I.P.
Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a frequent contributor to the Blade.