Feminist Activist Alix Dobkin, Who Made Music Celebrating Being Lesbian, Dies at 80

"The Future Is Female," read Alix Dobkin's shirt in a famous 1975 photo

Alix Dobkin
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Alix Dobkin, a feminist singer who celebrated lesbian life through her music, has died at the age 80, her family announced.

Dobkin died at her home on Wednesday after experiencing a brain aneurysm and stroke, according to her Caring Bridge page.

"Alix came home last Saturday night, and was resting comfortably with great care from a hospice team, as well as from family and friends," the family wrote. "She faded out with the grace and strength she showed all through her amazing life."

According to her family, Dobkin died "died peacefully" with loved ones by her side in the "early morning hours."

During the 1960s, Dobkin had performed in the folk music scene on the East Coast, and eventually former the group Lavender Jane in 1973, the Associated Press reported. Lavender Jane was supported by a group of all-women musicians and engineers, and their full-length album, "Lavender Jane Loves Women," was the first to be fully produced by women, Dobkin's friend and former partner, Liza Cowan, said.

Cowan took a now famous photo of Dobkin in 1975 wearing a shirt with the phrase, "The Future Is Female," written on its front. The expression has reemerged in recent years, especially during Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016 and demonstrations for women's rights.

"Alix was one of the first to celebrate us in music," lesbian history scholar Lillian Faderman told the Washington Post. "It was no longer the love that dared not share its name. She shouted it for us."

"She created this music that was a real celebration of how any woman could become a lesbian, and how it was a wonderful thing to be," Faderman continued.

Dobkin published a memoir in 2009 called My Red Blood, a title that alluded to her parents being members of the Communist Party.

During her career, Dobkin socialized with other musicians such as Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan, the Post reported.

Before coming out as lesbian, Dobkin had a daughter with the manager of the Gaslight Cafe, a popular New York coffeehouse, and took a break to raise her. That's when she heard Cowan, then a radio host, interview a feminist author who discussed the feminism movement.

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The conversation eventually led Dobkin to explore the subject further, and eventually come out about her sexuality and devote her energy to becoming a musician.

"At one point," Cowan told the Post, "she just had this kind of insight, this visual image that she was singing and looking out into the audience and it was all women's faces. And she realized that was what she needed to do: Sing for women. It opened up a whole realm of possibility."

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