Scene: Austin

 
 

Later that night I ran
into Angelique Naylor, one of the event’s organizers, and I asked if she felt satisfied
with the turnout. "Yeah, look at this," she said, pointing at the
crowd of over 200 women. "And we raised $3,000." We made a toast to
the success of the fête.

I made my way to the food,
and Angelique went off to find her new girlfriend. I found a cozy corner in the
kitchen to chow down and watch the crowd. Like many Austin lesbian parties, people tended to stay
close to their girlfriends and friends. I’ve heard women complain about the
supposed cliquishness of the Austin
lesbian "non-scene" and the coupling, then nesting syndrome among
women in the city. But I always remind folks that I’ve heard the same thing
said about almost every other city in the country.

I went back to the dance
floor just in time to dance to Salt N Pepa’s "Push It." I even grabbed
a cute butch who was dancing by herself, and we danced until I realized she
kept looking over my shoulder at another woman dancing behind us. I realized
that the woman must be her girlfriend, so I slowly but surely switched places
with her. I was not in the mood for drama.

I checked my cell phone.
It was nearing 11 p.m., and the crowd began to thin. It was time to start
texting my gay boyfriends to meet up on the Sixth Street strip to go clubbing at the
two most popular gay bars downtown, Rain and Oilcan Harry’s. Austin does not have a lesbian bar, but Rain
and Rainbow Cattle Company seem to draw the most lesbians.

After the nearly
impossible task of finding a parking space near the clubs, I stopped at Rain
first and to my relief saw a few of the women from the Equality Texas party.
Thank the goddess that 11 p.m. was not lesbian bedtime for all nesters.

Scene 2: SXSW Interactive
Austin Convention Center
March 6–9, 2008

During the first week of
March, the entire internet landed in Austin.
For real. And there were plenty of lesbians in attendance, from internet celebrity
and lifehacker.com founding editor Gina Trapani to veteran technology
journalist Lynne D. Johnson.

And like everyone else at
the conference, we were avid users of the SXSWi killer app, Twitter, posting "What
are you doing?" updates to vent and keep in contact with each other.

The spillover from the
enormous crowd of SXSWi attendees nearly deadlocked downtown Austin. Each place I went, from the coffee shops
around the convention center, to the corporate-sponsored cocktail parties, to
the after-hour parties and, of course, the hotel lobbies, there were
technodykes of all shapes, sizes and colors.

On the first day of SXSWi
several events caught my eye, including "Adult Conversations: Sex, Intimacy
& Online Relationships" with the ever so hot, straight-but-not-narrow
sex columnist Twanna Hines, aka FunkyBrownChick.com, moderating. Twanna is one
of those women who oozes sexuality, and lo and behold, when I went to her
presentation, it was obvious that several other queer women thought so as well.

During the presentation,
I got a text from Lynne d. Johnson that she had just arrived. She would be
moderating a panel on Sunday called "Where are the Black Tech Bloggers?"
Lynne is an old hand at SXSWi and moderated panels in ’05 and ’06 called "Blogging
While Black" and "Blogging While Black Revisited." This year her
panel would be an "extension of those two and an opportunity to bring more
diverse voices to SXSW."

SXSWi conference

She borrowed the title
from a racist video released last year by comedian Loren Feldman that caused an
uproar in the blogosphere. Feldman had donned blackface in the video to answer
the question with a litany of offensive stereotypes.

At the last minute, two
of Lynne’s panelists dropped out, so she asked me and Tiffany Brown, an
African-American web developer from Atlanta,
to sit in as replacements. On Sunday afternoon, Lynne looked as fly as ever, wearing
an updated 1980s outfit of a skinny white blazer, pink shirt, skinny white
jeans and killer kicks. She started off by showing Feldman’s video.

The audience was audibly
annoyed by his stellar display of ignorance. About halfway through an
interesting discussion about race and online media, Lynne detected Loren in the
audience. She invited him to speak. Things got heated. Fast.

The panelists and
audience quickly called him on his ignorance, but he only replied with phrases
that started with "You people," "I’m a comedian" or "It’s
not my responsibility." Lucky for us, Lynne cut his moment in the sun
short and got the panel back on track.

A little later I chatted
with her about how she felt about being an out black lesbian who is not only
known in tech circles but also as a veteran hip-hop journalist. Before Lynne’s current
position as a senior editor and community director of FastCompany.com, she
managed Vibe.com and Spin.com and has written several articles on hip-hop
culture.

She said that she has
never experienced any negative reactions from any in the tech or hip-hip world
as an out lesbian. This didn’t surprise me, since Lynne has a strong presence
that emanates confidence and authority mixed with a "don’t even think
about messing with me" air. Even Feldman had to give her props for having
the graciousness to engage him in conversation during her panel.

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