This month’s quote comes from Lamar Van Dyke in the current The New Yorker’s American Chronicles piece, Lesbian Nation, by Ariel Levy. The article is an informative and entertaining portrait of the lesbian separatist movement of the late 1970s which never grew to more than a few thousand (but that seems huge by today’s standards if you think in terms of numbers of folk willing to live so adventurously outside the consumer landscape, never mind if their adventures were a little confused). Levy focuses on the most colorful separatists, the Van Dykes, who do not represent the most influential or ideological subgroup of the movement but who would probably make for the movement’s best movie (script writers looking for material, take note). Levy describes the group as a “roving band of van-driving vegans who shaved their heads, avoided speaking to men unless they were waiters or mechanics, and lived on the highways of North America for several years, stopping only on Women’s Land” (p. 30). Lamar Van Dyke was their “star” and her rueful observation on our mediated existence at the conclusion of the article is our March CommQuote.
“‘Your generation wants to fit in,’ she told me, for the second time. ‘Gays in the military and gay marriage? This is what you guys have come up with?’ There was no contempt in her voice; it was something else–an almost incredulous maternal disappointment. ‘We didn’t sit around looking at our phone or looking at our computer or looking at the television–we didn’t sit around looking at screens,’ she said. ‘We didn’t wait for a screen to give us a signal to do something. We were off doing whatever we wanted.'”–Lamar Van Dyke, as spoken to Ariel Levy, The New Yorker, March 2, p. 37