It’s All About Community

| June 18, 2017

Devoted by Alison Solomon

by Alison R. Solomon —

How important is it to you to live in a community that’s fully supportive of LGBTQ families and where there are plenty of lesbians around to socialize with? For me, it’s crucial, and it’s how my wife and I ended up in Gulfport. When Carol and I lived in Mexico, (in a town that was small but lesbian-friendly,) a visitor happened to mention Pro-Suzy. We’d been thinking about returning to the USA so we signed up for the newsletter. We spent quite a few weeks and months drooling over all the activities that were available for the lesbian community in that small corner of Florida and decided to pay a visit. We came down to Gulfport on a Sunday, and having checked the Pro Suzy list, we went to watch the volleyball and chatted with some of the women there. We loved what we saw, but because it was during the recession, folks said, “if you don’t have a job, don’t come to Florida.” So we relocated to California where it was easy for me to find work.

But we never unsubscribed to those darn Pro-Suzy emails. We enjoyed San Diego and made some good friends there. But my high-powered job was grueling and the cost of living was expensive. So, Pinellas county came back on the radar. We visited again. This time we took the plunge and have never regretted it.

I’m part of a national lesbian authors and readers organization and we have an annual conference every year, which is like a Michfest/Sisterfire/lesbian summer camp for geeks who love literature. (Check us out at: www.GCLS.com.) I’m always shocked by the women who tell me that for them, the most important aspect of the event, is simply being with other lesbians. They describe feeling isolated in communities where there’s nary a lesbian to be found, or worse, communities that are so bigoted, they’re forced to be in the closet. And I can’t help thinking to myself, why do you live there?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that not everyone has the luxury to up and move where they want to. Some are caring for sick and elderly parents or providing babysitting for grandkids. Others have jobs they can’t leave without losing a much-needed pension, or other work-related reasons for staying put. But I’ve met plenty of women who mumble reasons for not moving such as, “We like having a big house,” or “I wouldn’t have any idea how to relocate.”

Women, community is important! Being in a supportive environment will help you live longer and be happier. Don’t know how to go about relocating? There’s a whole bunch of lesbians here in Gulfport and environs who are just dying to help you. So what’s your excuse?

Alison R. Solomon is the author of two lesbian suspense novels: Along Came the Rain, and Devoted (which is set partially in Gulfport.)

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