The 'Real' Real L Word: Womenfest 2012 in Key West

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From Sept. 4 to 9, 2012, thousands of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are set to visit Key West for their share of paradise at the 26th annual Womenfest.

This end-of-summer celebration for LBT women is known for a diverse schedule of events and activities—so don’t worry if you’re not into bikinis and flip-flops.  Key West is a tropical bliss, but island wear is only encouraged, not required.

Of course, you’ll find plenty of island activities listed on the Womenfest schedule.  Local businesses such as Venus Charters (lesbian-owned and operated), Fury's Water Adventures, and Sunset Watersports are reaching out to Womenfest attendees with women-only excursions such as snorkeling trips and sunset dinner cruises.

If you’re feeling extra-athletic after watching the summer Olympics, then sign up for the Womenfest Golf Scramble or the International Women's Flag Football Exhibition Game.

For those who drink like it’s an athletic competition, there are plenty of options on the Womenfest schedule including Schooner Wharf Bar, Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, The Green Parrot, Hog’s Breath Saloon, and Cowboy Bill’s Honky Tonk.

Cowboy Bill’s features the all-girl cover band Corday and the Cougars on several nights.  The band will also be playing at Smokin’ Tuna and on the Fury Sunset Cruise. Jennifer Corday leads the group, and has been performing at Womenfest for about six years.

“It's just one of the great lesbian events that you have to put on your bucket list,” said Corday.

The band covers Led Zeppelin, Heart, Joan Jett, and Guns N’ Roses.  Corday said that Womenfest audiences often respond to “Redneck Lesbo,” her parody of Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman.”  Also on the playlist, Corday’s own musical compositions:  “Coming Undone” from the lesbian film Elena Undone, and “Weekend Warrior,” the title track from her latest album.

Throughout her years at Womenfest, Corday has evacuated for Hurricane Ike, interviewed and inadvertently outed Kelly McGillis, and broken up and made up with girlfriends.  Yet no amount of “drama” can diminish her love for the event:  “I leave Key West every year with my voice gone, breathless and exhausted, thinking that was one helluva good time!”

Some drama optional gatherings where you can get your dance on or meet new people:  Opening Party at Big Ruby's, She Magazine's Beach Blanket Butch & Babe Bash at Bourbon, and Speed Meeting and the Pink Happy Hour at Pearl's

Pearl’s will also present Beverly McClellan at Pearl’s Cocktail Party and Womankind Fun-Raiser as well as Pearl’s Pool Party and Bikini Contest.  For twenty years, the singer-songwriter established herself as a talent in Florida.  But as many avid television viewers already know, Ms. McClellan became one of the finalists on the first season of NBC’s The Voice.  She did not win the singing competition, but that did not deter her career from thriving.

Currently on tour with Steve Vai, McClellan has scheduled time for Pearl’s.

“I have been fortunate enough to play at Key West GLBT events in the past.  Gotta love the Keys!” McClellan said. “This occasion is bringing together family. It’s all about the love.  I really get to see that from my perspective on stage. It’s part of why I do what I do.”

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