Picture this: You are in your 2nd year of college in city full of beaches, tan beautiful women, and a street full of bars. Young college kids, just like you, out mingling every night and looking for that special someone to help them waste time. For the typical college boy this would be a dream come true. For a 20 something, newly out lesbian, this is a scary and lonely world.
By this point in my life I had already had my heart broken more than once and had my fair share of experimental heterosexual women. There comes a point when you realize that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life being a test subject for a sea of straight women. It becomes a very lonely place when you feel like you’re the one and only lesbian. Then comes the weekend of San Luis Obispo Pride. All of a sudden the streets are filled with rainbows and everywhere you turn there are women among women holding hands and scoping out the crowd for the one and only chance of the year to find someone just like them.
Why is it that the lesbians only come out once a year? Where are all these women all the other 364 days of the year?
These were the questions that lead to the birth of the first lesbian social group I created. It started as a small advertisement on Craigslist. Myspace was still attempting to convince people that it was a cool social media site, and Facebook hadn’t quite become the media king that it is today. My advertisement ended up getting well over 30 replies and at our very first meeting there were over 30 college girls looking for a crowd of lady loving ladies to help them find friendship, love, and family. We met every week for the remainder of my college years and eventually decided to call ourselves “The Closet” (since our community seemed hidden from the rest of the population). To this day there is still a regular group of 30+ women who meet up every Thursday in San Luis Obispo, just to enjoy some coffee and conversation with like-minded women.
After graduation and moving out of SLO, I found myself in Fresno. There I was, a fresh graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in an economic slump. The job I was pretty much guaranteed was now non-existent and I as I searched tirelessly for a job during my stint of unemployment, I found myself feeling that dark lonely depression yet again. My girlfriend at the time (now my fiancé) was a former Fresno native and had told me that unlike SLO there was a much more visual LGBT community here. She told me about Tower District and all the wonderful Clubs and Drag Shows. I was instantly intrigued and was longing for that band of friends who could relate to me in ways my straight friends couldn’t. I didn’t have a job and I wasn’t in school so I had no idea what steps to take to meet new friends. Again, I reached out on Craigslist with a simple, “Where do all the lesbians hangout?”
The responses were not comforting. Among the replies were:
“I’ve lived here for two years and I’m still trying to find them.”
“When you find them, let me know.”
…and many other similar responses. It was apparent that there was no visual lesbian community but what was more apparent, was that there was a large group of women starving for one. I finally posted a response that said:
“Well who is up to meet somewhere and take it over for a day? If we do it often enough WE could make it the lesbian hangout.”
Flash forward to January 23, 2009: The very first Fresbians meet and greet. A group of about 40 women showed up at Revue Café (now Mia Cuppa Café) and we took over the entire front room of the coffee shop. Women ranging from ages 19-35 met each other for the first time and many of them remain close friends today.
We started as a small group of girls who met up occasionally for coffee and then began meeting once a week at different houses to host viewings of “The L Word.”
Soon our group became so big that it was hard to host events at people’s houses. We were getting too large for private venues and so we started SheBar at North Tower Circle. Our first SheBar night had over 250 female attendees. I had never seen so many lesbians out all one time. Today the Fresno Fresbians’ Facebook page has over 1,400 friends. There is definitely a large community of lesbians living in Fresno. The hard part is giving them a reason to come out and play with the rest of us.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that the lesbian community goes through cycles. We love to come out and socialize when were are single and trying to meet new people, but as soon as someone couples up, it seems like they go into nesting. Then we have girls who will come out just long enough to find a few close friends and then their group of friends will begin creating their own private gatherings. Whatever the case is that the lesbians stop coming out, I think their time spent with the Fresbians was definitely well spent.
As the organizer, my goal is to provide a fun, friendly, and welcoming environment for anyone to come out. If you make one new friend from your outing with us, I will call our encounter a success. Anything I can do to help the lesbian community feel a little less alone, is definitely worth it.
For those of you searching for friends or just looking for an opportunity to expand your social circle, make sure to check us out on Facebook and give us suggestions for new meet up ideas. A group can only be as successful as the people who decide to participate and this group was made for people like YOU!
We still meet every Saturday from 11am-12pm at Mia Cuppa Café. Every year we try to give back to our community through the power of volunteering, by ushering the Reel Pride Film Festival. Sometimes the best thing you can do in a community is be seen. When someone can see that they are not alone, it makes the world feel a little brighter.
There are some wonderful people in this eclectic LGBT community that Fresno has. Through the Fresbians and volunteering I have done, I have made some amazing friends and life long connections. I have met drag queens; I have been introduced into the amazingly underappreciated world of drag kings; felt the most sincere friendship from a transgender individual. In this community I have been educated by people who have lived through the roughest times of discrimination, took notes from the leaders who fought for what we have gained, and feel lucky to hold hands with those who continue to strive for what we still need.
For those of you who have ever felt alone, please know that there are amazing resources and numerous networks of people that can help you find a home.
With all my rainbow heart,