The novel Riverfinger Women, written by Elana Dykewomon at the age of 24, was a book I was avidly reading at the young age of 21 in college in upstate New York. I was coming out as a lesbian and a feminist in the early 80s. I remember her main character, Inez Riverfingers, and I remember underlining and highlighting the heck out of that book. It was very meaningful to me at that time in my life. Hearing vividly about the lived experiences of young lesbians helped me to come out. Back then, I was fervently reading many lesbian novels published by women's presses, which were so numerous then. Those books made all the difference for me. They helped to direct my future path in life.
Now decades later, ironically I live across the street from Elana Dykewomon's home, whose characteristically purple painted house with a decorative rainbow address on the front is well-known in this Oakland, California neighborhood. Sadly for our community she just passed at age 72. We mourn the loss of a novelist, an activist, and a very important voice in our lesbian community. Thank you Elana. I never would have thought life would bring me to this point forty years later, living right across the street from you. It's ironic and suggests we need to cherish every moment of our brief time here. La vita e bella! Thanks Elana for informing my journey as a young lesbian, as you now embark on a new journey of your own.
Giovanna Capone is a poet, fiction writer, playwright, editor, and filmmaker. She was raised in an Italian American neighborhood near the Bronx, whose strong immigrant influence still resonates in her life. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among her work is the poetry collection, In My Neighborhood: Poetry & Prose from an Italian-American and Dispatches from Lesbian America: 42 Short Stories & Memoir by Lesbian Writers.