Dear Alice,

Over the past year, I have been going through a slow coming-out process within myself and have realized that I am a lesbian. The problem is I don't know where to meet other lesbians, and I feel very alone. I am not interested in meeting other women in a bar since I didn't like doing that when I was straight. Can you recommend some places where I could go to meet other young lesbians?


Dear Exploring,

Where are the lesbians?? This question has been plaguing recently out women (and even ones who have been out for a while) for decades, if not centuries. In any town, large or small, no matter how LGBTQ-friendly it seems to be, finding lesbian, bi, and queer women may be tricky. Both on and off Columbia's campus, there are spaces (beyond the bars even!) where communities congregate. Are you looking for women-only spaces or do mixed (LGBTQ) spaces also interest you? Most of the resources available are multi-gendered, but there may be some women-only options, as well. All of the resources listed are inclusive of women and many of them have a majority of women as active members.

If you're a student, you're in luck. Student organizations are a great place to meet other lesbian-identified people, as well as others questioning their sexual orientations. Some people find attending meetings for the first time to be somewhat intimidating, but many people who push through this initial discomfort to get involved find community, friends, and even dates through student groups. An email or phone call to current organizational leaders may help answer questions you may have prior to attending. Here are the Columbia student organizations:

Columbia Pride (Queer Alumni)
Cluster-Q (Business School)
Everyone Allied Against Homophobia
Gayava (Queer Jewish Group)
SIPA Spectrum  (School of International and Public Affairs)
Outlaws (Law School)
Proud Colors (LBGTQ Persons of Color)
Q (Barnard's Queer Student Organization)
Queer Caucus (School of Social Work)
Queer Health Task Force (School of Public Health)
Queer TC (Teachers College)

In addition to these student-led groups, some specific Columbia health services and resources available to LGBTQ students include:

Gay Health Advocacy Project (GHAP)
Office of Multicultural Affairs — Includes LGBTQ programing and advising

For community options outside of Columbia's campus in New York, check out some of these community-based organizations and groups:

Audre Lorde Project (ALP)is a Brooklyn, NY located, constituent-led activist organization for LGBTGNC people of color. They have several campaigns and regular membership meetings.
Babeland is a sex toy store focused on education and sexual enjoyment for women. In addition to sex toys, erotica, and books specifically for women, they have educational workshops and also a great bulletin board.
Bluestockings Bookstore is a feminist and activist bookstore with tons of incredible events and speakers, a café, resources galore, and a bulletin board.
Gay Men's Health Crisis (GHMC) is one of the oldest and largest HIV/AIDS activism and support groups. Don't let the name fool you — GHMC has activist and volunteer opportunities, as well as services available for women.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is a national organization working for LGBT civil rights. They often have volunteer and internship positions open which may be a great way to get involved and meet people.
New York City Anti-Violence Project is dedicated to ending violence in all its forms against LGBTQ people. They operate a 24 hour crisis line (212.714.1141) and also have counselors that work with LGBT people who have experienced violence. They have lots of volunteer opportunities available for community members.
The New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center (The Center) is the focus for many community activities in the city, especially Manhattan. The Center is large and has a variety of groups and meetings for pretty much every interest and identity. The Center has group meetings, peer advocacy, peer workshop opportunities, events, and other ways to get involved.

In addition to these resources, many lesbian, bisexual, and queer women also meet online, for both dating and friendship. You may want to give these social networking and dating websites a try to connect with others that may be in a similar situation as you.

Finding community with other lesbian, bi, and queer women may take time, and many people feel a sense of isolation when they begin exploring their identity. Despite their somewhat elusive nature, spaces for women-identified LGBTQ people are abound in New York City!

May your search be a fruitful one!


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