On May 18, 2017, Dot Nelson-Turnier passed away. Dot was the founder of NOLOSE. The Nolose board would like to honor Dot’s life and work, which has changed hundreds of lives.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Dot had the idea to get lesbian women who were doing fat justice and liberation work together to build community, support each other, and build a movement centering fat lesbians–and for several years Dot used personal money to fund the national conferences, until it was financially impossible. A lot of community members who knew Dot have been talking recently about Dot’s generosity and kindness. Susan Stinson has written a beautiful tribute to Dot here, and Bertha Pearl told us “Dot was really caring and loving and expansive in taking care of things. It was really sweet…Dot was a generous person. That’s who Dot was….This really lovely generosity that was part of Dot’s soul…shone through everything.”
Bertha also talked about how inspiring it was to participate in Nolose’s transition from an organization primarily funded by one person to an even more broadly community-based organization: “For Dot to be like, I can’t do this anymore, and for the community to keep it going–I think that’s an amazing thing.” Nolose has changed a lot in the 18 years it’s been around as an organization. Most of the changes have come about because of community investment–in Nolose, in building a truly liberatory fat justice movement, and working to love each other fully and accountably in fat and thick queer and trans communities. We see a history of our community members showing up to lead and to do hard work, and also of folks stepping back to support the leadership of different people, or to make space for work on different priorities, over the years. Part of what the board has been thinking about is how there’s something really inspiring and wonderful about the beginnings of the organization as an idea someone had, that they brought to their friends and community, and how that person was a catalyst for something that has meant so much to so many different people. A lot of us have our relationships, our day to day loves and friendships, because of meeting and connecting with people, and with work, through Nolose. A lot of us have lives that were radically changed, changed forever, because of involvement with Nolose and communities that grew up around it, that would not have happened without Dot and Dot’s role in pulling community together. It’s part of why the board has focused on getting seed money to smaller projects in a lot of places, and to communities that are currently and historically underrepresented in fat liberation funding and social capital–that’s in no small part about Dot’s legacy and the legacy of the ways that Nolose communities have taken ideas and connections and run with them, and built spaces and movement work to meet our needs. We think there’s something powerful and beautiful about individual people, flawed, complex, individual people, coming together and making something bigger through collective imagination and labor and interrogation of our ideals and the ways they play out in the world. So Nolose honors our founder, Dot Nelson-Turnier, and we honor all of you who make Nolose and who make fat liberation about collective liberation.
If you’re in Texas, there will be a memorial service for Dot on Saturday, June 3, 2017, at 2 pm at Immanuel United Church Of Christ, 26501 Border St. Spring, TX 77373. It’s at the corner of Border St and Spring Cypress in Old Town Spring. If you’re unable to attend, you can send condolences to Dot’s partner, Dian, and their daughter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.