Due to COVID, Actualize was cancelled in 2020. After a year of anticipation, the event kicked off at the tail end of August 2021. And boy, was it worth the wait!
Actualize is an intentional lesbian gathering that (COVID aside) is held every year under the direction of LOE’s Editor-in-Chief, Ashley Obinwanne. This year’s event was situated in a little campground in the quiet mountains outside of LA. It had the works: a mess hall, cabins, and a fire pit. I felt like I was back in summer camp, only better because I was surrounded by lesbians. There were, of course, stringent COVID precautions in place–everyone in attendance had to be vaccinated and to have tested negative within the past 3 days. All in all, I felt pretty darn safe.
Actualize provides the opportunity for participants to host their own workshops, and this years’ were an absolute treat. We worked through relationship trauma and our childhood development in a workshop about attachment styles, which I found insightful and validating. We explored masculinity and femininity in and out of a lesbian context in an engaging and soulful writing workshop. We shook our asses in a lapdance workshop appropriately named ‘Lap it Up, Butches’. I loved each of these workshops, and am so grateful to their facilitators for taking the time to put them together. Each one had a valuable takeaway, although I have to say that I’m most looking forward to practicing my moves on a pillow with Clea Duvall’s face taped on it.
Peppered in between workshops were other fun, campy activities. Between the options of rockwall climbing and archery, I opted for chasing lizards out in the woods. Everyone except the lizards had a great time!
One of the best parts of Actualize 2021 had to have been the campfire. We made smores, sang around a guitar, shared stories and were merry. It was a really beautiful moment. I still smell the smoke on my jacket and smile at the memory…all those beautiful smiling faces illuminated by the fire, the smoke rising into a sky full of stars. Really, really wonderful.
There were tears at the closing ceremony, and I can understand why. I have never felt more at peace with myself than I did at Actualize this year. I wasn’t afraid to be myself, I didn’t feel judged or outcast. I was with my people!
Being a smaller gathering, it felt more intimate. I had time to make friends and I wasn’t scared to sit down for breakfast with someone new. The connections I felt in that space were powerful. There is truly nothing quite like being surrounded by your community in the serenity of nature. I even felt like I was treated better by strangers on the way home because of how much I was glowing with positive energy! I think I might have missed my flight home if it hadn’t been for that.
If I could bottle that feeling up, I’d take a sip every day.
Did I mention we got lost on a hike and survived? Actualize makes nature dykes of us all!
Actualize is an intentionally-small, lesbian focused gathering. Tickets are not available to the general public. If you’re interested in attending the next one, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org