Before Olivia was a cruise and Lilith was a fair, Kate Clinton was doing standup, working as one of the first and very few out lesbian comedians. Now she's on the last leg of her It's Come to This! 25th-anniversary tour, and things have definitely changed since she was the token lesbian who got her chops playing in coffeehouses and Unitarian church basements.
"When I started, there really weren't a lot of women doing it. There were people doing comedy about lesbians, but they weren't lesbians," notes Clinton from the Manhattan home she shares with her partner of nineteen years, political activist and author Urvashi Vaid.
Although Clinton and others in the queer community don't always agree on what the issues should be, she says that diversity nonetheless mobilizes people. "What I've learned is that you have absolutely no control over a movement," she says. "It's like, gays in the military is going to be an issue? Marriage? It wouldn't have been my first choice. But it activates people who would have never gotten involved. Colorado has been so under assault with all the props over the years, it really makes for active people. Focus on the Family: I call it 'Fuck Us on the Family.'"
Clinton also believes Colorado and the West are where the political action is the home of the 2008 Democratic Convention and the "New Democrat." "You're lookin' good," she says. "I think it really speaks to the rising importance of the West and the Southwest. And I think that the Democratic and I'm going to put this in quotes 'leadership' vaguely gets that."
Will she be here for the convention? "I probably will," she muses. "I know that my girlfriend will be quite eager to cause a demonstration; then I have to put her in detox. She used to go to the Republican convention, and I said, 'Honey, I just can't live with you after you return from those things.' You know, the smell of tear gas lurking."