Welcome to Venus View

The content of this blog is unabashedly lesbian feminist in perspective. If that offends you, leave now.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Re/membering Knoxville Butch-Femme Herstory

Attending Ann Brummitt’s receiving of friends sent me hurtling back in time, remembering my late 20’s here in the Knoxville lesbian community. The good times, friends and loves sprang from having our own space at The Point After. 
“Womonspace” it was called in other, more progressive communities. Here in the state that boasts the corporate offices of the Southern Baptist Convention, the lesbian feminist movement just never seemed to make it. 

While there were memorable, if sporadic, womyn-oriented events such as those handled by various womyn including Randy Hoffman for many years and various other activists who impacted the community on a short-term basis such as University of Tennessee students, mostly graduate students back in the early to mid-eighties. As an undergraduate representative to the UT Commission for Women, I became aware of the disconnect between the community and UT that persists to this day. While the LGBT community is coming alive and more active than ever on campus, it is all, well, in house. 

That brought me to memories of “The Point” as it was frequently called, located just off "The Strip", the heart of UT's night life. Memories of good times and bad, the rich textures of a lesbian community that was  predominantly butch-femme lesbians who didn’t know they had even missed anything called the lesbian feminist movement. I remember the bar's whole layout: the dance floor, the booths and tables, the bar, the pool tables, and “the line.” The line, of course, lead to the ladies room, but which gave one an excellent view of the entire bar. So, if you wanted to check somebody out or keep tabs on your partner, you went to the bathroom a lot just so you could get that view. This was a well known fact.

My experiences there made Joan Nestles’ writings (Restricted Country and many other titles) resonate with me. So what if I was in the mid-80’s in East Tennessee and she spent her time in a lesbian community in the 1950's Northeast? Her descriptions of the wimmin in her life seemed very familiar to me. She helped me feel validated as a femme. She gave me vision to know that I can define myself. No one else can.

But it was the butches who stole my heart. Such wonderful, glorious female masculinity, that strength that emanates from each and every one of you is the stuff that kept me strong when I became weak, the rock solid encouragement, the supportive partner – these traits are exquisitely beautiful to me. 

Of course, anyone who knows me knows that the love of my life has been by my side for the last twenty-one years, and we’re hoping for twenty more. Thank you, Sam, for being my rock.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Local judge "loses it" on bench

Unprofessional demeanor?

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood's recent on-camera behavior in the courtroom leaves one wondering how he ever go there in the first place. Screaming threats of contempt of court to long-time Attorney General Randy Nichols, Blackwood appears to be having problems maintaining judicial decorum.

All the screaming was over the potential retrial of three of the defendants charged in the Christian-Newsom murders originally presided over by Judge Richard Baumgartner.  Baumgartner's departure from the bench occurred when his addiction to pain pills came to light. Adding to the mix, his drug dealer was a previous defendant in his courtroom and another had ties with Baumgartner both for drugs and romantic liaisons. Not exactly a great image for the judges here in Knoxville. Now comes his replacement, Blackwood, who not only screams at our AG, but also defies a Tennessee Supreme Court decision that he should recuse himself if new trials are granted in the case. He also refused to let the prosecutors argue for recusal in court last Friday.

Blackwood also made remarks regarding John Gill, Special Counsel to the AG's  office, referencing an email in which Gill notes Blackwood's hatred for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He further stated that Blackwood was engaged in private communications with the defense attorneys. Am I making this clear? Blackwood has set himself up for recusal for an entirely different reason from the arguments made to the Tennessee State Supreme Court. This kind of communications between a judge and the defense attorneys is prohibited.

Two judges. Two very ugly pictures. One disbarred. One having temper tantrums in the courtroom. Come this way with me, and I'll show you another judge who could stand a good dose of the light of day. His name is Bill Swann. He has held the Fourth Circuit Court bench since 1982. His resume is astounding. This private school Fulbright Scholar taught German at Yale and Brown before coming to the University of Tennessee's College of Law.

So what.

I sat in the courtroom of Judge Swan on six separate occasions. I heard him state that women who ask for Orders of Protection are just doing so "for entertainment." He was inattentive, condescending and arrogant. His lovely background at Ivy League colleges and European intellectual forays have *nothing* to do with how this man treats women. His seat on this bench is a slap in the face to any victim of domestic violence. Period.

So now we have three judges that just don't quite smell right. What's wrong with a justice system that allows for this unbridled unprofessional behavior by men that are making judgments that change people's lives. I think it's time for some good old-fashioned sunshine.