Home #Hwoodtimes From Underground to Ubiquitous:  The Lesbian Nation Rages on From the Lesbian...

From Underground to Ubiquitous:  The Lesbian Nation Rages on From the Lesbian Bars of the 80s to the 2024 Pride Event, Seventh Go Girl! Saugatuck 

Jenny Urban And Marie Waltz At GoGirl!

By: Sara Collas, AKA Peru

Photos: THT

[email protected]

Saugatuck, Michigan (The Hollywood Times) 6/9/24 –

The Lesbian Bar of the 80s

Jay Wills and Maddie the bartender at GoGirl!

The first time I went to a lesbian bar, a woman with a black leather jacket, and spiked blonde hair asked if I wanted a drink. Tequila for me, I said. While waiting for our drinks she put a tiny spoon of cocaine under her nose. She was dashing and daring. This was the eighties when cocaine was everywhere: Wall Street, Hollywood, people’s nightstands, and certainly the gay discos for people who wanted to fly high.

The music blared “It’s Raining Men” by the Weather Girls, a classic anthem within the gay discos. Some people were inhaling poppers, a common artifact found at gay discos which provided the person with a fleeting euphoric high. The disco speakers were 10 feet high in each corner. Women were smoking cigarettes—it was a time when it was still considered cool and not a social taboo. I looked around. Everywhere I was surrounded by lesbians. Their behavior and actions were immediately recognizable.

Tamale Rocks in one of their spectacular performances using fire to empower the crowd with fearlessness!

We recognized each other through a shared aesthetic, symbols, behavior, actions, and secret codes such as black leather jackets, short haircuts, pinky rings, and a swagger style. Referenced in movies and television as “gaydar” we knew we were members of the same tribe. The lesbian bars and discos became a safe refuge and haven to express one’s identity and celebrate a sense of community. The shared objective of feeling less stigmatization, alienation, exclusion, and rejection from mainstream society brought lesbians together at the bars and discos.  The D.J. announcing last call at 4:00a.m while playing Donna Summer’s hit song, “Last Dance” and Chaka Khan’s, “Ain’t Nobody.”

Who will be the next star to emerge from GoGirl Sagautuck?

First Lesbian Crush to LGBTQ Scholarly Research

I figured out at an early age that I was a lesbian when I developed a huge crush on my beautiful third grade teacher. While my young peers were busy playing kickball, my goal was to sit on my teacher’s lap. Fifty years later, lesbians continue to break my heart. They have also been the focus of my research for the last 24 years.

7th Annual Go Girl! Event Founded by Mimi Gonzalez: May 31 – June 2, 2024, Saugatuck, Michigan

Mimi Gonzalez with an attendee at the Gospel Brunch who received a standing ovation for their incredible performance.

Some transformations of lesbian spaces that I’ve observed and written about include lesbian settings becoming more inclusive of everyone including trans, non-binary folks, and people of color. This was the case for the 7th annual Go Girl! event founded by Mimi Gonzalez, a Latina bisexual lesbian comedian who has been hustling jokes, a urinal pee device, t-shirts which cost $25.00, and writing workshops for over three decades.  Her trademarks include a booming voice which can be heard from miles away, and a rich repartee that rivals some of the great women comedians such as Joan Rivers, Karen Williams, and Wanda Sykes.

Tamale Rocks eating fire with Mimi Gonzalez.

The event’s website described Go Girl! Saugatuck as, “An inclusive-of-all on the female spectrum women’s weekend just two miles from Lake Michigan that’s been kicking it since 2016.” The various activities offered during the fabulous 4-day event which achieved both practicality and fun included: Workshops on ballroom dancing, real estate, drag kings had a bake off as their performance, a dating workshop, a single mingle, a masculine of center workshop with the handsome El Baker, a yoga workshop, and a lesbian fiction writing workshop led by Elizabeth Andre. DJ’s Lori Branch and DJ Gloria had the crowd dancing. There was also burlesque in which the performers were fierce.  A burlesque dancer, Oshun Hathor thrilled the crowd towering above most of us demonstrating Amazonian strength and beauty. The lesbian centered party not only had twenty somethings grooving to the beats, but also older and younger hipsters, hula hoopers, visually impaired party revelers, butch bottoms and high femmes, stoners and loners, non-binary and transgender folks, non-huggers, and those looking for love or a fling for the night. The theme of GoGirl! was getting lucky for its seventh year. The host Mimi Gonzalez and Jaye Will’s sexy dance moves on stage reminded me of the song, “Everybody Wants You.”

Two attendees who were on the cover for Lesbian Connection’s theme this month, Lesbian Visibility.

After attending the 7th Annual Go Girl! Saugatuck, an incredibly diverse event with so much talent I wondered who will be the next star to emerge? Will Mimi Gonzalez finally reach the elusive fame she deserves as a comedian, party promoter, writer, and mentor?  What about Tamales Rocks, a fire eater that put on several brilliant gender performances in which the famous theorist, Judith Butler could have written another book based on these mesmerizing spectacles?  For one of Tamale’s gender performances a gorgeous leather clad person who could be featured on Richard Simmons next show, demonstrated grace and athleticism while picking up traditionally masculine items that Tamale threw on the floor. The finale had both performance artists using pyrotechnics in which flames flew up in the air. Their symbolic use of fire reminded me of the lesbian avengers from the nineties who protested LGBTQ violence by consuming fire.

Chicago attendees at the 7th GoGirl Saguatauk pictured with the author, Sara Collas at the Dunes Resort.

There were poets C.C. Carter and Lucy Shumpert at the Gospel Brunch featuring DJ Cooper Talbot. Lucy read a poem about lesbian sex and eating biscuits afterwards in bed. C.C. Carter both read and sang poetry that included themes such as butch beauty, loving one’s body, and other important affirmations.  A crew of gorgeous attendees accompanied her for one of the numbers.  Or will the next celebrity be Yoli Mayor who sang in English and Spanish that inspired a standing ovation from the crowd?


A couple at the GoGirl Saugatuck

Lesbian visibility and gathering places such as Go Girl! Saugatuck remains central to our sense of community and need for belonging. Lesbians are a group that have gone from underground to ubiquitous in fifty years. How that happened is a story about a radical group of outsiders who built the lesbian nation, amongst challenges of sexism, homophobia, lesbophobia, and misogyny. Groups that have been excluded from the dominant culture will always find ways to gather, create, and build the spaces needed to affirm, inspire, thrive and call home. GoGirl! Saugatuck gave us all that and more! Hope to see you next year at the 8thAnnual Go Girl! Saugatuck from May 30, 2025 – June 1st, 2025, at the Dunes Resort in Douglas, Michigan.

The theme of Saturday night was the prom. No need to worry if you missed it in high school. Here was your chance for the prom at GoGirl.