Conversation With Lisbet Tellefesen, Sister Comrade Co-Producer

“The images of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker as lesbian icons tend to be static. I wanted to show images of them as real people.”

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Lisbet and Skyediver. Oakland, CA

 

USATwo days after my return from Paris, Lisbet Tellefesen–a Sister Comrade co-producer and a long-time friend–dropped by my office for post event chitchat. Lisbet came with exciting news including follow up projects, forthcoming uploads on the Sister Comrade web site, and an amazing collection of archival photographs of Pat Parker and Audre Lorde.

I am here to tell you, by the end of our conversation I was a big jumble of emotions. The behind the scene organizing, the reunion of lesbian warrior women, the rare archival images of Pat and Audre, and reading the feedback from young Black lesbians profoundly impacted by the event left me feeling quite full and very excited.

I got goose bumps looking at the Sister Comrade event photographs including an image of Melanie DeMore, Jewelle Gomez, Vicki Randle, Linda Tillery, and Mary Watkins. They were all original members (w/exception of DeMore) of “The Varied Voices of Black Women” showcase that toured the country in 1978. Their reunion marked the 30th anniversary of the debut of “Movement In Black”.

Over 18 years ago when Pat Parker crossed-over to the place of the ancestors, Lisbet was given the keys to Pat’s house and access to all her personal effects including over 20 years of correspondence. Though she discovered a rich treasure trove of correspondence she agreed to use her access to the material for archival and research purposes only. It wasn’t until last year when she was asked to consider co-producing a tribute to Audre Lorde did she began reflecting on the letters as a potential focus for the Sister Comrade tribute.

The images of Audre Lorde as lesbian icon tend to be static. Lisbet told me that she wanted to show images of Audre and Pat that brought them to life. During her visit to my office, she showed me jpegs of some of the images shown at the tribute event. The photos depicts Audre and Pat in all manner of daily life including one cool picture of Audre Lorde washing her car in a swimsuit top and shorts, post mastectomy, with a license plate that read “Poet 1”.

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