What if you threw a party and nobody came?
As some of you know, Fellow Traveler and I have been trying to provide fellowship opportunities for lesbians in our area -- last fall we held a Thanksgiving open house for people who didn't have a family dinner to go to and we've scheduled several potlucks and meetups. We've used the Internet and our network of friends and acquaintances to let people know we're here. And some of our friends have also stepped up to host events in their own communities and at their own homes. Most of these happenings revolve around eating (as if you wouldn't guess this from this blog), talking and engaging in non-sensational amusements like playing cards or watching sporting events on TV.
What we've found, though, is that many women who are interested in what we're doing nonetheless won't come to our get-togethers. Because they're afraid. One of our friends who lives in a metro area downstate related that the same thing happens when she tries to get people together in her own city -- that women on one side of the city are reluctant to travel to the other because they're scared.
While caution while meeting people online is always prudent, I think this goes far beyond anxiety that we're a couple of Internet-based wackos. I think many women, especially in our rural part of the state, are afraid of identifying with other gay women in any other way; that they are burdened, in their psyches, by an unseen gallery of disapproving others who intimidate them to the point of self-segregation from the rest of our community.
This makes me sad. I wish there were a way to reassure these women that it's okay to come to our homes; that there's good food and good conversation, hopefully some good-natured silliness, and support.