These entertainers and lesbian leaders will Rock Your World! Kick off the cruise the first night in port with a Classic Evening of Lily Tomlin! Enjoy musical performances by the legendary Cris Williamson, NY rockers Antigone Rising, and indie trio BETTY; comedians Karen Williams and Suzanne Westenhoefer; dance parties with DJ Rockaway and DJ Christie James.
Join us for a spirited and timely open discussion of issues, current events, and visions for future LGBTQ+ progress with these distinguished leaders in our community with: Imani Rupert-Gordon (Executive Director, NCLR), Kelley Robinson (President, HRC), Sarah Kate Ellis (President & CEO, GLAAD), and Stacey Stevenson (President & CEO, Family Equality)
Iconic American comedian Lily Tomlin has excelled in various media, spanning television, theater, movies, animation, video, and social media. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Tomlin's early life was marked by an appreciation for comedy legends like Lucille Ball and Imogene Coca. She transitioned from studying medicine to pursuing a career in performance, making her initial mark in New York's comedy scene. Tomlin's television debut in 1966 led to her iconic roles in Laugh-In, where she portrayed characters like Ernestine and Edith Ann. She went on to win several Emmy Awards for her comedy specials and ventured into animated series like The Magic School Bus. Her decades long career has earned her numerous accolades, including eight Emmys, a Tony Award, a Grammy, two Peabody Awards, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and a Kennedy Center Honor. In recent years, she received the Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. Tomlin's stage career includes Broadway successes like Appearing Nitely and The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, both written and directed by Jane Wagner. Her film career boasts standout performances in movies such as Nashville, 9 to 5, and All of Me. Tomlin has continued to thrive in the entertainment industry with roles in TV series like The West Wing and the Netflix break-out hit Grace and Frankie, earning her critical acclaim and award nominations. Beyond her entertainment career, Tomlin is known for her philanthropic efforts, supporting various causes including animal welfare, civil rights, healthcare, and LGBTQ+ rights. She has received numerous awards for her activism and continues to make a positive impact on society. In 2013, she married her long-time partner, Jane Wagner, in a private ceremony. Lily remains active on social media, engaging with her fans and sharing her artistic journey at www.lilytomlin.com.
Decades before indie labels were the norm, and years before women had any real access to the industry, Cris Williamson and the Olivia Collective were busy changing the face of popular music. In 1975, the twenty-something former schoolteacher recorded The Changer and the Changed for her brainchild, Olivia Records, the first woman-owned, woman-focused record company. Her music and voice quickly became an essential part of the soundtrack of a movement and was the cornerstone of what would become known as “women’s music”—music created, performed, and marketed specifically for and by women. Today, The Changer and the Changed remains one of the best-selling independent releases of all time.
For Cris, the music has always been the vehicle for something larger. Her work appears on a regular basis in books and thesis papers, on radio, and in film. Her albums are part of the curriculum for women's studies courses, and thousands of people who may not even know her name join their voices in “Song of the Soul” around campfires and places of worship. She is embraced by women. She is sampled in hip-hop. Her music is used by midwives welcoming life into the world, while hospice choirs sing her songs in tender sacred escort. “She is often considered a treasure, passed hand-to-hand, person-to-person,” says the Boston Phoenix, “Williamson is a heroic character whose tireless activism continues.”
Today, with 34 full albums to her credit, Cris continues to tour the acoustic circuit, promoting her latest album, Harbor Street, and adding new material at each juncture. Her performance career has included three sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall and headlining many of the great folk festivals, including Newport, Kerrville, Moab, and Vancouver. Cris and Judy Dlugacz were recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed upon them by the Americana Music Association at their annual awards ceremony in the illustrious Ryman Theatre. The award was presented by NPR music critic Ann Powers.
2025 will mark the 50th Anniversary of The Changer and the Changed and Cris is already busy preparing for a full schedule of touring and teaching, Cris will be presenting a bountiful handful of Changer and the Changed All-Star Anniversary Shows in select major cities—on land and at sea! In addition, Cris will be going into the studio in 2024 to record album #33! Stay tuned.
Karen Williams is a force, a buzzsaw joke machine. She is proactively provocative, and fearless in confronting cliches, and investigating stereotypes through hyperbole. Her comedy stands out as a distinct, cantankerous voice in the lesbian community and a unique perspective on the world at large. “Human Beings: What A Concept,” Karen Williams’ debut comedy album, is a glimpse into the inner politics of a marginalized group that, by necessity, became curators and creators of their own culture. Karen addresses conformity in kindness, love, and relationships. She shares misgivings about aging, codependency, motherhood, and sexuality, especially regarding intersections with race and libertine living. Karen tells it like it is, as she sees it, cutting through the pleasantries with nuance, texture, ambiance, ambivalence, and gusto. She has lingo for those in the know and expertly crafted elaborations for those who aren’t. Throughout, Karen displays an unmatched genius for sarcasm, irony, and rhetoric. If something doesn’t make sense, she’ll knock some sense into it, but gracefully. Her technique is impressive. Rather than beat her opponent over the head, she’ll take the egregiously erroneous or misinformed stance as her own, stretch the faulty logic until it’s paper thin, and wrap the whole farce up into a bow. Karen Williams is special. For more about Karen's humor and healing work, visit www.hahainstitute.com
No one ever accused Suzanne of being subtle, not the shuttle driver who took her to the airport, the woman she was in line with at the grocery store yesterday and certainly not her audiences. Subtle, she is not.
After 25 years of groundbreaking, stereotype-shattering and brutally honest comedy, she’s not about to start pulling punches now.
The kid from Amish Country who began her comedy career on a dare is celebrating a quarter century of out, open, no-holds-barred comedy.
Suzanne tells the truth. The truth is life is funny, especially when it’s fermented in Suzanne’s mind. That’s why she could never be in the closet, making her a trailblazer when she started doing stand-up in the 1990s. She was the first openly lesbian comedian with an HBO Special and the first openly lesbian comedian on “Late Night with David Letterman.”
Heck, she was on Sally Jesse Raphael in 1991 on a show called “Breaking the Lesbian Stereotype…Lesbians Who Don’t Look Like Lesbians.” From “OMG, a lesbian has long hair and wears make up” to “I went to Helen and Jane’s wedding last weekend,” that’s how far we’ve come in the 25 years Suzanne has been telling her truth to audiences all over the world. Some of that is certainly thanks to her candor, courage and charisma.
Suzanne never does the same show twice. She can’t. She doesn’t write anything down. She charges boldly onto the stage and what happens is always a mystery and a delight. Enjoy a wild night of comedy in a city near you.
In more than 20 years as one of America's hardest-working bands, Antigone Rising has established a far-reaching reputation for sticking to their instincts. While the all-female New York natives’ live performances have earned the long-term devotion of fans, Antigone Rising's passionate social conscience continues to manifest itself in the group's tireless activism.
In 2014, the band launched the ambitious nonprofit organization Girls Rising, whose live presentations reflect the same passionate belief that drives the trio's music. Throughout the year, Girls Rising partners with local school districts and youth centers to create programming that's designed to inspire and empower young girls and LGBTQ youth through live performances, presentations, and workshops. The band also presents the annual Girls Rising Music Festival and Game Changer Awards, now in its sixth year. The festival showcases female artists the band has mentored, as well as giving these artists opportunities to perform alongside nationally recognized Grammy-winning artists. Girls Rising also awards scholarships to deserving girls established through private donations as well as celebrity grants to local youth created by Melissa Etheridge, Joan Jett, Carnie Wilson, and, most recently, Paula Cole.
The creation of Girls Rising was originally set in motion after Antigone Rising was invited by the US State Department to travel as cultural ambassadors throughout the Middle East. After touring the Middle East, the band traveled to Asia, Europe, Mexico, and throughout the United States bringing the Girls Rising program to schools, refugee camps, and community centers, spreading a message of inclusion.
The band’s activism is reflected in much of Antigone Rising’s latest work, as the trio continues releasing singles to download and stream throughout the year. On the heels of the trio’s final pre-pandemic tour, Antigone Rising made one final stop at Bird & Egg Studio in Oakland, CA. During a day-long session with producer, Julie Wolf, at the helm, the band recorded a handful of songs live. Initially intended to be a stand-alone EP, it was later decided to include the tracks alongside their studio version counterparts to round out what would eventually become True Joy.
During a year of pandemic seclusion, a handful of new songs were written and recorded through the magic of home studios and drop boxes, followed by a successful Kickstarter campaign that enabled the band to complete their True Joy vision.
True Joy album highlights include the song “Avalanche”, a powerful anthem of female empowerment, “Right There with You”, a southern rock blues ballad, and “Badlands”, a song co-written with Grammy award winning songwriter, Lori McKenna in which the band's harmonies nod in the direction of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
BETTY is Alyson Palmer, Amy Ziff, Elizabeth Ziff – best friends and bandmates for 32 years. Feminist activists who play original pop music, we are pro-choice, pro-queer, pro-straight, pro-women, pro-lesbian, pro-sex, pro-immigrant, pro-trans, pro-fun, pro-reading, pro-facts, pro-food, pro-dessert, pro-love and anti-violence.
We tour internationally and have music in films and tv, including the global smash theme song to The L Word. We have ten albums out, available everywhere.
We have a non-profit called The BETTY Effect that enables us to help promote self-advocacy through music and performance for women and girls, LGBTQ+ and others worldwide.
Born and raised in Queens, DJ Rockaway has been bringing her passion and love for music to US and international dance floors for nearly two decades. Although she is true New Yorker (just listen to her talk!), she is a regular on both the East and West coasts. You’ll find her spinning at nightclubs, weddings and other private events, and galas for national nonprofits, such as NCLR, HRC, and Equality California, to name a few—and she is also a regular DJ on Olivia cruise and resort vacations.
The executive producer of the San Francisco Women’s Stage and the founder of PLAY San Francisco and PLAY San Jose, monthly events for women who love to dance, DJ Rockaway has created a unique mix of music styles—dance, hip-hop, R&B, house, club, retro—that allows her to play for all who love to dance and feel the music. In her spare time, you can find her behind a camera lens, playing with her drone, or filming and editing music videos. For DJ Rockaway, music is more than a blend of sounds, music is an experience… she wants you to feel it, live it, escape into it.
DJ Christie James
DJ Christie James
A Bay Area native, Christie's career began with the US military where she served in Italy as a member of the U.S. Navy. She was formerly stationed in Washington D.C. as a member of the Presidential Honor Guard under President Clinton. While serving as a Navy journalist, she became enamored with the world of radio.
Christie came to the Bay Area in 2003 where she started as a radio intern and gained extensive knowledge and experience through a variety of positions at various stations in the Bay Area. She has been on the air with KYLD, KISQ, V101.1, PRIDE Radio and most recently she has become the host of the top-rated "Morning Drive with Christie Live' show on 80s+ @103.7.
Christie is also heavily involved in the Bay Area LGBTQ+ community having produced stages for S.F. Pride, Oakland Pride, and Co-Chaired Pridefest Oakland. You can also catch Christie in the mix at the Oakland Coliseum serving as the official Treehouse DJ for the Oakland Athletics.
Imani Rupert-Gordon is the Executive Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). NCLR is a national legal organization committed to achieving and advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.
Before joining NCLR, Imani served as the Executive Director for Affinity Community Services. Affinity is a LGBTQ social justice organization honoring the experiences of Black LGBTQ women. She also served as the Director of the Broadway Youth Center, part of Howard Brown Health in Chicago, serving LGBTQ youth experiencing housing instability.
Imani is a nationally recognized leader and well known for her visionary leadership. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including being named to The Root 100 list, recognizing her as one of the most influential Black leaders in the country, as well as receiving the Judith Butler Award by The Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice (formally the School of Social Service Administration) for her strong commitment to social change, leadership, and innovative approaches to the field of social work.
Imani received a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Kelley Robinson is the ninth president of the Human Rights Campaign — the first Black, Queer woman to lead the organization. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality and liberation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Robinson — widely respected for her work over the last 15 years creating and leading winning campaigns and programs — steps into her new role at HRC after serving as Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. From community organizer to progressive leader, Robinson has been at the forefront in the fight for bodily autonomy and racial and gender equity, with a focus on lifting up marginalized communities and building political power. Robinson will lead HRC — and its more than 3 million member advocates — as the organization fulfills its mission to realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
Sarah Kate Ellis
Sarah Kate Ellis
Sarah Kate Ellis is the President and CEO of LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD. During her eight years of leading GLAAD, she has run winning campaigns for marriage equality, representation of LGBTQ people in media, education on transgender people, and more. She has moderated and participated in official panels about global LGBTQ issues at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. She works directly with CEOs, elected officials, and the most recognizable journalists and celebrities to advance LGBTQ acceptance.
Sarah Kate is a regular expert on CNN, MSNBC, and across print and online media. She. Prior to GLAAD, Sarah Kate was a media executive.
She and her wife Kristen co-authored a new children’s book entitled ‘All Moms’ and they reside in New York with their children.
Stacey Stevenson (she/they) joined Family Equality as the first Black Chief Executive Officer in 2021. A trailblazing leader, Stacey was selected as one of Out Magazine’s Out100 list — a compilation of the year’s most impactful and influential LGBTQ+ people — in the fall of 2022.
Prior to joining Family Equality, Stacey worked in the corporate sector, where they have a long history of senior roles in the defense, technology, and finance industries. They decided to turn their business acumen, lived experience, and passion to work for LGBTQ+ families and those who wish to form them.
Stacey has already ushered Family Equality through a tremendous chapter of growth. From expanding the organization’s work to protect LGBTQ+ youth and families in schools to deepening the focus on lowering barriers to parenthood in our community, they have prioritized not only advancing lived and legal equality for LGBTQ+ families, but also advancing racial and social justice for BIPOC communities, those living in rural areas, and those living at or below the poverty line. And they are just getting started.
A powerful speaker and motivator, Stacey regularly shares their experiences growing up LGBTQ+ in the rural South, being pulled out of the closet, and navigating life as a Black queer parent.
Stacey’s advocacy has helped propel Family Equality further into the national spotlight with multiple appearances on The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart, a bipartisan panel discussion hosted at the U.S. Capitol, collaborations with movement partners, countless speaking engagements and media appearances including an op-ed in USA TODAY. In the op-ed, Stacey shared their family’s story of moving from their home state of Texas in search of a more welcoming community. Stacey, wife Cheralyn, and 9-year-old twin boys Duke and London are enjoying the life they are building in Washington D.C.