Picture this. You might just be a lesbian or you’ve decided you definitely could be one. Or perhaps, you just can’t decide.

Lord knows you’ve had these feelings before. And where do you go to confirm it (or just have a little chat about it)? Oxford Street? Well, Oxford Street is gay boy (and pokie) central so perhaps you should start somewhere else.

Where to from here?

It might sound silly, but for many, this is a real life experience, Sothernan confides. For some women, the confusing thing is: when you want to come out, where exactly do you go to come out? Some people think that Oxford Street will give them the answers and for some, that’s okay, but for many, a different avenue is needed.

You might also be familiar with this scenario, suggests Sothernan. Two dykes have been happily enmeshed in a relationship for a number of years. The domesticity is so cosy that they’ve become lazy at returning their friends’ phone calls. Then they break up and find their friends aren’t returning their phone calls at all.

If your only chance of meeting other dykes is in a smoke-filled bar or some specialist group such as the Dyke Tiddlywinks Appreciation Society, quips Sothernan, you’ll hardly get the chance to share your view of the world or grow as a person and as a lesbian.

You might not get much of a laugh either.

To cater for women who want to just get out there and meet other dykes, Lesbian Open House was set up in Sydney 18 months ago. Open House has been operating in Melbourne for the last 25 years.

Lesbian Open House is a free discussion group run by volunteers. There’s a different topic every Tuesday night, and it’s proved a sleeper hit with the gals around town.

Though the focus is on lesbian issues, it welcomes anyone who identifies as bisexual, asexual, transgender or just-doesn’t-know.

Issues discussed range from the serious to the trashy, such as Is there a lesbian scene in Sydney and do you feel comfortable in it? Breaking up – is there an easy way to do it? The Once Were Wives Club – why are so many women coming out over 40? Lesbian access to IVF. If you had to choose between sex with Brad Pitt or Pauline Hanson, which would it be?

An important aspect of Open House is that there are no visiting experts, Sothernan observes. This is an occasion where everyone that comes along is an expert. Women are encouraged to talk on the topic from their own point of view or just sit back and listen.

You can contribute as little or as much as you like. And it is nice to know that there often is a tongue-in-cheek aspect to these forums. The group hops lightly between much-needed socialising, information and humour.

There are usually between eight to 15 people at each meeting and they come from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, says Sothernan. Some are completing their HSC and others are retired. There are students, artists, housewives, teachers, administrative workers, butch dykes, lipstick lezzos and everything in between.

Newtown always was a great place to come out, be out and hang out as a lesbian. So check out Lesbian Open House. It’s a great way to pass your Tuesday night -“ and you may just learn something (or meet someone) while you’re there.

 

Lesbian Open House meets upstairs at the Green Iguana Caf?6 King Street, Newtown, every Tuesday at 7pm. For more information call 9571 8353 or email jeannie@pocketmail.com.au. Their website is at http://members. ozemail.com.au/~mcnosh.

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