Meet a Grantee Partner
Old Lesbians Organizing For Change
"Every old lesbian has a story. And they don't need to climb Mt. Everest in order to have one!"
Arden Eversmeyer is co-director of OLOC and founder of its Oral Herstory Project-which has interviewed, recorded, and transcribed the life stories of more than 40 lesbians over the age of 70. We spoke with her this fall:
My biggest challenge is finding those who are comfortable in saying, 'this is who I am.' Most old lesbians are closeted, and many don't call themselves lesbians at all. Yet, their voices need to be heard. There's an entire disappearing history which has never been recorded.
Everyone knows about Stonewall, but few know about what happened before it. There was no literature-not a book to be had. There was absolutely nothing in the written word-other than a psychiatric report. With no place to go, there were no connections. It was only when I went to [a woman's] college where I majored in phys ed. that I met people like me.
In 1985, I was retired from my job as a guidance counselor, and my partner of 33 years, died. Little by little I came out to people. And heavens, the world didn't end. My mom wished I would have told her earlier so she could have tried to make my life easier. But I told her that I had a wonderful life, and a wonderful time. You see, when you're living in the moment, you do what you need to do.
Now a days, we're the only country in the world that doesn't revere old people. Instead, we are denigrated and thought of as useless and trivial. The Project is attempting to change that by providing real insight into old women-and showing the incredible accomplishments of their lifetimes.
Of all the things I've done in my life-this Project is the most significant. Some universities are curious about it, and there's talk of creating an anthology. I'm getting ready to go to San Francisco to train new interviewers for the project... They are going to mine the gold up there for me."
Founded in 1989, OLOC is a national organization that educates and empowers old lesbians to confront ageism in their lives and in their communities.