Toni Armstrong Jr

Toni has been deeply involved in lesbian-feminist women's music culture for almost 30 years, and of major importance to historians, she was instrumental in helping to document the early years of women's music.

In her interview you'll hear about all the early women's music publications. The first was "Musica," and though short-lived (1974-1977, and only 6 issues) I give it credit for starting to chart the movement. "Paid My Dues" (1974-1980) was a major jump in covering these areas, and Toni got heavily involved in that publication from 1977 until its end. And then she helped found "HOT WIRE: The Journal of Women's Music and Culture" (1984-1994) and its 30 glorious issues were I believe a landmark in how it should be done. Toni also established and published the "Women's Music Plus Directory of Resources in Women's Music and Culture" from 1977-1995. Her talents also as a photographer have also enabled her to grace thise publications over the years with the images that have captured the movement.

She has produced a variety of lesbian-feminist concerts and events with Chicago's Mountain Moving Coffeehouse over the years, and is a musician, playing bass in bands including Surrender Dorothy, the Dental Damsels and the reconstituted Lavender Jane, with Alix Dobkin and Kay Gardner.

There more, in 2004 she coordinated a large-scale tribute to lesbian-feminist women's music at the prestigious Chicago Historical Society. She's been a major force in developing the Gay Straight Alliance network in Chicago area schools over the last ten years. And (I'm leaving things out) in 1997 she was justly inducted into the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame. All this has been on top of her "day job," as an educator working in the field of special education for almost 30 years. Her latest venture was the founding of the first openly lesbian chapter of the Red Hat Society, called (showing her usual flare) "The Amazon Lesbian Red Hat Sisterhood."

Photo courtesy of Toni

Top photo: Toni Jr. has been a festiegoer, craftswomyn, staff photographer, and/or box office crew member since she started attending the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in 1977. Paula Walowitz, Diana Laffey, and Toni Jr. (left to right) were some of the dozens women who performed at the Chicago Historical Society's "Women, Womyn, Grrls, and Kings" 2004 event. Paula Walowitz (bottom photo) wrote the delightful Surrender Dorothy hit song "Surprise (I'm a Lesbian)."

Surrender Dorothy, 19-year reunion

Surprise, it's Paula Walowitz