Where To Meet Women
Think you’ve exhausted all the lesbian nightspots in your town? No you haven’t: Try these ideas instead.
et’s face it, girls: Being a single lesbian can be tough, particularly if you don’t live in a major urban center. As Tracey Stevens, co-author of How to Be a Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide says, “Since GLBT people make up around 10 to 20 percent of the population, it can be slim pickings as far as finding someone to date or even be friends with. If you consider that many of us do not live in areas where being GLBT is fairly accepted, it makes meeting someone really difficult.” But the task of finding new love is not as impossible as it might seem at first, especially if you know where to look.
Find the community
One of the surest ways to meet other lesbians is through organizations and events tailored to
the gay and lesbian community. If you’re newly single, recently moved, or have just come out, however, you might be a loss at how to access these. Luckily, there are some excellent resources to help you find out what’s available in your town. Brad Becker is the Executive Director of the GLBT National Help Center, which houses the largest GLBT resource database in the country. He says, “People will often say, ‘There’s nothing in my area,’ when there are resources just one town away.” With over 15,000 resources listed, the GLBT National Hotline (1-888-843-4564) is a great resource, or, if you’re under 25, try the GLBT National Youth Talk Line (1-800-246-PRIDE). Or access its website at www.glnh.org to learn about the different community centers, social groups, sport organizations, religious groups, gay newspapers, etc., in your area. The hotlines also offer answers to factual questions about GLBT issues as well as peer counseling, in which you can talk to a volunteer about coming-out issues, relationship concerns, safer-sex information and much more.
|Dog parks can be a surprisingly successful meeting spot.|
So with these resources at your disposal, where do you start? Becker recommends checking out your local community center, if you have one. He says that, “Often, community centers are home to many different groups, programs and events that take place at the same location each month. It’s an excellent way of finding out about different options under one roof.” The National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers (www.lgbtcenters.org/) can also help you find out if there’s a community center in your area. Becker also suggests looking for gay and lesbian social organizations with a theme that suits your interest—think book clubs, political organizations, singing groups, hiking clubs, etc. He says, “It’s easier for people to meet and talk with each other. Everyone’s there because of some shared common interest beyond sexual orientation, so you can strike up conversations much more easily.” If you have a local gay paper, it may list these clubs and specific events weekly or monthly, and you can search online at the GLBT National Help Center and elsewhere. Kathy Wunder, LPC, also co-author of How to Be a Happy Lesbian, says, “The online resources are major. Before the Internet it was a hit or miss proposition. Now you can just do a search for ‘lesbian’ and the name of your city, geographic area, etc., and come up with a huge list of groups.”
Find your faith
Though it may sound old-fashioned, another excellent place for you to meet other lesbians is at church. Carrie, 29, says, “My faith is important to me, so when I moved to Washington State, I looked for a gay-friendly church. I met other gays and lesbians there, and it was through one of them that I met my girlfriend. It was a great way to get to know people in the community, and I felt welcomed and accepted.” You can find listings of gay-friendly churches through the GLBT National Help Center or at www.gaychurch.org. The gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church also has 300 affiliated churches worldwide. You can find out if there’s one in your area by going to www.mccchurch.org.
If you’re not quite ready to join a gay and lesbian-specific organization, or can’t find one that appeals to you, there are a number of ways to meet lesbians “out in the wild.” Stevens and Wunder recommend joining a local sports team. It may sound stereotypical, but a lot of lesbians do love sports, and volleyball, soccer, basketball, and softball teams, tennis and golf leagues, and other sports clubs tend to attract athletic women of all shapes and sizes. Stevens offers one caution, though: “Of course not all of them are gay, so have your gaydar on full power before you approach your favorite female jock.”
Hit the dog park
Your most trusted companion can also provide a great entrée into meeting other women, since a lot of lesbians (just like a lot of straight folk) are animal lovers. In fact, Stevens
says, “When we take our dogs to the dog park, it is almost like Gay Day at Disney World.” Check out pet stores, pet adoptions, training clinics, local dog and horse shows, and keep your eye out while you’re walking Rover. With any luck, your pets may be compatible as well.
|Find the right aisle for mingling at your local bookstore.|
If you’re a book lover, you might also try browsing the gay and lesbian selection at your local bookstore chain or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, your local gay bookstore. Some book stores and libraries have book clubs, so check these out, too, particularly if there are topics with lesbian appeal.
Your local college or university can also provide some great resources. In addition to queer campus-wide clubs and groups, many higher education institutions have classes, readings, and lectures that are open to the community. Rita, 36, used these to her advantage when her job moved her to central Pennsylvania. “There’s a major university only about a half-hour away, and I got on an email list of campus events at which the community was welcome. I’d go to queer-interest or feminist ones whenever possible. I’d usually go by myself, and once I got over my shyness, I’d try to strike up conversations with other women who were there on their own.”
Break the ice
Since these types of venues don’t guarantee that the women you meet are lesbians, and you may live in a community where lesbians aren’t always out or visible, it might be difficult to assess whether there’s romantic potential with the women you meet. Our experts have some suggestions. Becker says, “What some people do is bring up the topic generally without being specific to themselves.” Whether it’s gays in the military or gay marriage, gauge the response you get from the person. “If they’re homophobic about the topic, you have your answer. If they’re fine with it, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lesbians themselves, but they have a comfort level, so if you decide to come out to them, they’ve demonstrated that they’ll be supportive.” Wunder also suggests listening to the language women use. “Notice if they are always talking about ‘we’ did this or that, or they give no gender when talking about activities they have done with others, or talk about women and spending time with ‘friends’ a lot and never mention a man,” she says, “These are pretty strong indicators.”
The online option
And, of course, a great way to meet people from your area or nearby is online. Dating sites such as Match.com offer you anonymity while you search, and you have access to a range of women whom you might never meet otherwise.
There are also a number of online chat rooms, email groups, and forums at your disposal. Stevens and Wunder operate their own web site, www.amazingdreamspublishing.com, which provides over 1,000 services for lesbian and bisexual women worldwide—from helping with coming-out issues to regional networking to special interest groups. Says Wunder, “The Internet opportunity is huge. Just go online and see what you can find.”
Tracie Potochnick is a freelance writer based in Rhode Island.