Orange Is the New Black's Lea DeLaria Withdraws From Michfest

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2014 8:39 PM ET

Actor, singer and comedian Lea DeLaria will not be performing at the upcoming Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, she tells The Advocate

After becoming the subject of online criticism for her decision to perform at the Michfest, which refuses entry to trangender women, citing a policy organizers call "womyn born womyn," DeLaria and her representative reached out to The Advocate to clarify the Orange Is the New Black star's decision. The out actor, who plays Carrie "Big Boo" Black on the groundbreaking Netflix series that also features trans actress Laverne Cox, made her announcement with characteristic wit. 

"After over 30 years of gay activism and as an out, proud member of the LGBTQ Community, I do not wish to be a party to infighting," DeLaria said in a statement emailed to The Advocate. "We queers need to find a way to stop this fighting and work together towards our common goal. 

"Both sides of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival dispute refuse to listen to each other. Due to their unyielding stance, I am withdrawing from the festival.

"I truly look forward to the time when all LGBTQ stand as one. Perhaps then we can collectively laugh at how fucked up is it when I'M the voice of reason."

DeLaria's announcement brings her in line with several other prominent out performers who have recently backed away from the Michfest, citing the festival's trans-exclusionary policy, which some have critiqued as transphobic.

In recent years, protests against that policy have ramped up, and following public pressure, out poet Andrea Gibson and Michfest mainstays the Indigo Girls announced that they would not return to Michfest until festival organizers opened attendance to all women, including trans women. In March, Toronto-based rock group Hunter Valentine cancelled its scheduled Michfest performance, citing the all-female group's belief "that the term women includes transgender women."

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