Part of the CoreKin Team (Antu Sorainen and Alisa Zhabenko) visited the 1st European Lesbian* Conference in Vienna, Austria October 2017. More than 500 lesbians* from all over the world participated in the event, in particular from the Central and Eastern Europe. The conference was refreshingly very off US/UK -centre and diversity was a fact not just lip service. The keynote speakers and participants shared their experiences of lesbian lives in countries like Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, Belgium, and Germany. Also, non-European countries got a voice as there were participants from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Russia, and others.
Dr. Antu Sorainen presented a paper titled “Lesbian Age Gap As a Decisive Difference” (co-authored by Prof. Joanna Mizielinska from the Polish Academy of Sciences) in the panel on “Lesbian aging: how to build alliances between generations” with colleagues from Russia, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. The panel was extremely popular – visited by more than 60 people – and the moderator, the Austrian Diversity Lawyer Michaela Tulipan had to turn a number of people away. The topic of age is thus obviously an increasingly crucial issue among the lesbian community. The four panelists covered different angles of the lesbian age issue (getting older, care services, psychosocial aspects of age, and age as a lesbian attractor), and the outcome combined interestingly these different perspectives: it is obvious that lesbian age is an important future research field.
Doctoral Candidate Alisa Zhabenko presented her paper “Reproductive Choices of Lesbians
in Russia: From Last-Soviet Period To Contemporary Times” in the panel “Lesbians organizing in East Europe and Central Asia: case studies” together with colleagues from Kazakhstan, Hungary, and Finland. The presentation was met very warmly by the audience, and several people shared videos and slides from the talk in social networks.
The conference was followed by informal programmes such as The Lesbian March and The Lesbian Historical Walk in the Vienna city center. The 30 participants of the walk discovered the influence of feminist and/or strong women, particularly lesbians, in the development of the Austrian and Viennese social, political, cultural and urban history, with the help of a wonderful guide Petra Unger who combines her MA Degree in Gender Studies with her profession as a Vienna Tourist Guide.