Astronomer, 1975

Choragos, Thursday, October 9, 1975

Valley Colleges forming lesbian support groups

by Marcia Blomberg

Several groups encompassing the interests and needs of lesbian women exist in the Valley, and a few more are forming at some of the colleges. The existing groups generally provide lesbian counselling [sic], lesbian discussion and support groups, and occasionally workshops on special interest topics.

At Mount Holyoke, a gay caucus is forming now. The caucus will decide on possible directions and programs after everyone concerned has had a chance to meet and discuss what they want from the group. Anyone who is interested, has ideas, or has questions should call extension 3583.

The University of Massachusetts has the largest number of organizations with programs to serve lesbians. These groups include the Everywoman's Center, the Southwest Women's Center, the Gay Women's Caucus, which is a part of the People's Gay Alliance.

The Everywoman's Center, which is three years old, has had counselling [sic] since its inception. Carol Drexler, a member of the staff, defined the service as "feminist counselling [sic]", but added that all the counsellors [sic] are able to aid lesbians. Drexler also organizes support groups for women who are interested. She mentioned that there is a meeting on Tuesday, October 14, to organize a support group for women over 25. The meeting will be held at the Center, in Goodell Hall on the UMass campus. By January, the Center hopes to have a support group for younger women, The number of the Center is 545-0883.

Staff members of the Everywoman's Center mentioned other places lesbian women can find a supportive atmosphere. These include Farley Lodge on the UMass campus, which sponsors various special activities, including women's dances. There is a Liberation Corridor in one of the dorms on Orchard Hill, where people with varying political outlooks and lifestyles have gotten together to live. Emphasizing the supportive atmosphere on the corridor, the staff member suggested that interested people can get in touch with the counsellor [sic] or Carr at 546-6612. She also mentioned the women's night, every Wednesday night, at Zelda's a bar in Northampton.

The Southwest Women's Center also has counsellors [sic] who deal with a variety of issues, including lesbianism. Occasionally the Center sponsors women's dances. Southwest, like the Everywoman's Center, has a Speaker's Bureau of people available to speak on subjects pertaining to women. The number at Southwest is 545-0626.

The Gay Women's Caucus at UMass, which is part of the bisexual People's Gay Alliance, is involved with the Speaker's Bureau and other activities of the Everywoman's Center. The Caucus also sponsors a bisexual women's rap group. A staff member pointed out the group's importance to someone in a transitional stage, "moving away from men towards women." She said that it provides many women with their first opportunity to talk about gay feelings. In the discussion group, "they are not pressured to talk about being gay, or to make statements against men."

The Caucus is sponsoring a day, October 26th, for lesbians in the area. There will be music, poetry, and tentatively scheduled workshops on "Coming Out," "Health Care," being Lesbian in the Academic Community, and others more politically oriented. The number of the Gay Women's Caucus is 545-0154.

The Valley Women's Union, on Main Street in Northampton, has designated its entire upstairs area as "Lesbian Gardens." This space is controlled by Lesbians, but other women are welcome there too. The Union sponsors a Lesbian Discussion Group regularly, every other Friday night. Open to all interested lesbians in the Valley, the groups [sic] talks about subjects which interest its members. The next meeting will be October 17 at 8 p.m. There is a special meeting this Friday, October 10 at 8 p.m. in the Union, to discuss the future of Lesbian Gardens, how to reach other lesbians in the Valley, and how to serve the needs of the Lesbian community. The phone number at the Union is 586-2011; the staff is usually there Tuesdays and Fridays.

At Hampshire College, a Lesbian Support Group is now in the process of forming. The Women's Center has a few people who do lesbian counselling [sic]. For more information, call 542-5954.

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