This weekend, organizers of the second national conference of BUTCH Voices, a grassroots organizations dedicated to all self-indentified “Masculine of Center” people, had over 450 attendees at the Oakland City Center Marriott.
That’s an increase from the 350 attendees in 2009, said BUTCH Voices board treasurer Mary Stockton. Stockton and the board also organize yearly regional conferences in Los Angeles, Austin, New York City and Portland. “It’s a way to let folks know we’re here as a national organization,” Stockton said.
In its second year, Oakland continues to be a prime location to host the national BUTCH Voices conference. At Thursday night’s opening celebration, Oakland City Councilmember at Large Rebecca Kaplan addressed the conference goers. “As the only butch in the local government,” she said, “I gotta say it is so awesome to be in a room of badass butches and allies.”
Kaplan, who referred to herself as the council’s “Dyke at Large” on Thursday, said Oakland has the highest number of lesbians per capita in the country. “Having this conference here is so important both for the community who lives here,” Kaplan said, “but also to have people coming from out of town to be part of this in our city.”
The weekend conference included musical performances, films, a poolside dance party and sessions on topics from “Homophobia: Bullying and Suicide Prevention” to “Butch and Pregnant: What do I wear and what should you call me?”
Keynote speakers were Lambda Literary Award-winning authors Sharon Bridgforth and Alice Y. Hom. “I’m hoping to really hear how people are moving in the world as male of center or butch identified,” Bridgforth said Thursday evening, “or whatever the language we individually choose to call ourselves.”
Listen to the audio to hear more about BUTCH Voices.