Main | Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Fading World Of Lesbian Separatists

From the NYT comes an interesting story about the fading patchwork of lesbian separatist communities across the country.

The communities, most in rural areas from Oregon to Florida, have as few as two members; Alapine is one of the largest. Many have steadily lost residents over the decades as members have moved on or died. As the impulse to withdraw from heterosexual society has lost its appeal to younger lesbians, womyn’s lands face some of the same challenges as Catholic convents that struggle to attract women to cloistered lives.

“The younger generation has not had to go through what we went through,” Ms. Greene said. She and other Alapine women described leading double lives when they were younger, playing the role of straight women in jobs and even marriages. “I came out in the middle ’60s, and we didn’t even have the word lesbian then,” Ms. Greene said.

“We are really going to have to work at how we carry this on,” she added. “In 20 to 25 years, we could be extinct.” Behind the gate at Alapine, about five miles from the nearest town in the southern Appalachian mountains near Georgia, the women live in simple houses or double-wide trailers on roads they have named after goddesses, like Diana Drive. They meet for potluck dinners, movie and game nights and “community full moon circles” during which they sing, read poems and share thoughts on topics like “Mercury in retrograde — how is it affecting our communication?”

I've often been struck by how similar the all male campgrounds I've visited are to these lesbian separatist compounds. For a week or a weekend or a summer at a time, gay men live on these campgrounds in a world completely off limits to women. However these campgrounds are merely a temporary diversion, not a way of life.

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