For the majority of us queer women out there, watching The L Word was a vital rite of passage that catered for the evolution from queer female cadets on a path of self-discovery, to out and proud queer
The Dinah has been going strong since its inception in 1991 by founder Mariah Hanson, a visionary who saw the need for greater representation and recognition for queer women. Now known as the world’s largest lesbian festival, The Dinah serves as a refuge, a haven and a celebration for women from all over the world. We caught up with the female entrepreneur to discuss all things The Dinah and visibility for queer women.
What inspired you to start The Dinah
I’m from an activist family so it was natural for me to want to step up the way lesbians and queer women celebrated our lives in the environments we find ourselves in when we are doing that. So often we were relegated to the dive bar, the rundown hotel, etc and I wanted to bring a message of collective self-esteem — “you are worth the best the city has to offer” was the silent message.
How has The Dinah evolved since its inception
Civil rights are
What are your thoughts on the current state of venues representing queer women in the United States
As we gain more and more visibility, these spaces become harder to retain because the need to connect in queer-only spaces does not feel as relevant. But I think that is a huge mistake. We have our own culture and identity, even within the broad range of our diversity. I think our own spaces are an important part of the process of coming out and creating
As a queer woman from
Oh yes, we had a huge leap in attendance that year and it has consistently maintained an increase. The segment on The Dinah gave us exposure across the entire planet. Needless to say, I love Showtime. ;). I also love them and Ilene Chaiken for sharing our stories so boldly. What seems so natural now was groundbreaking then, thanks to the courage and the conviction that our stories must be told.
There is still a great lacking of visibility for queer women and their narratives in the media. What do you think can be done to change this?
I think we have so much more visibility than we ever have and it increases daily. Go to a site like onemorelesbian.com and view the thousands of films and series with lesbian content. It’s
The Dinah has hosted a range of incredible artists and performances. What influences your decisions when sourcing talent?
That has varied over the years but at this point in my career, I look for artists with backstories that are inspiring and speak to female visibility in the face of a male-dominated field. I love booking artists that push the envelope, that say no to the patriarchy and yes to a new paradigm — that of women as leaders, as social initiators, as groundbreakers.
What have been some of your most memorable moments at The Dinah to date?
So many, but in the end my answer is always the same. I love hearing the stories that speak to how The Dinah gave someone hope, or changed their life in unexpected ways. I love the stories of perceived despair that led to a decision to take a chance on The Dinah and how they found hope and community and a sense of belonging.
Do you have any advice to give to other female entrepreneurs who are interested in following a similar career path?
Work hard, remain persistent and don’t take no for an answer. Always be fair and honest and embrace personal integrity. Think big. You are representing a diverse community and as producers in this community part of our job is building proverbial bridges to
The Dinah is held April 3rd till April 8th in Palm Springs, California. Get your tickets here.
Interview by Sahar Nicolette.