Scene: Austin

After living in nearly a
dozen major cities in North America, I arrived in Austin,
Texas, less than a year ago, eager to explore
what I had heard was an eclectic lesbian scene in Lone Star State’s capital.

Austin
has a reputation for being a Texas
oasis of laid-back, gay-friendly progressiveness full of tech-savvy, brainy
citizens. I soon discovered that since LGBT folks tend to feel comfortable all
over the city, there is no visible gayborhood in Austin. For lesbians, this has obvious
advantages, the main one being living in a town where you feel safe just about everywhere.
But the downside is that there is no distinct feeling of a neighborhood-like
community.

Last month I made my way
through Austin and found lesbian communities everywhere from fundraisers to the
South by Southwest festivals and the local softball league.

Scene 1: Equality
Texas Spring
Chix Mix

Travis Heights
March 1, 2008

A roomful of politically aware,
philanthropic lesbians isn’t all that unusual in Austin, but if the gathering includes
booty-shaking music, good food and free-flowing liquor, chances are you are at
an event planned by Equality Texas.

Equality Texas Spring Chix Mix

Every few months, the
statewide LGBT political advocacy organization throws well-attended parties for
women, and the events tend to be hosted at the home of a lesbian who lives in
the "Oh Four" — the 78704 zip code — better known as Travis Heights.
This neighborhood is the closest thing Austin
has to a gay ghetto, and there is a high concentration of lesbian home-owners
in the area.

I arrived in the
tree-lined neighborhood of stylish, well-kept bungalows around 9:30 p.m. Cars lined
the curb for several blocks near the party, which I took to be a good sign. I
followed the crowd. As I neared the party, I overheard one couple having a
heated conversation, and I thanked my lucky stars I was not having an argument
with a girlfriend in the street right before I had to enter a roomful of
lesbians.

Inside, the crowd was just
what I’d expected: 30-something and above, well-coiffed, professional lesbians,
including lots of couples — and no one I knew. I decided to make the rounds.

In the kitchen, a huge
table of yummy-looking Tex-Mex fare was surrounded by a crowd. From the back of
the house I could hear some Missy Elliott beats, and I followed the sound to
the dance floor, where I spotted my friend D.J. POW on the turntable.

D.J. POW

I realized that so far,
she was the only other person of color I had seen at the party. More women of
color showed up later on, but like many events in a city that is highly
segregated in spite of its aura of crunchy inclusiveness, the scene was
predominantly white. C’est la vie.

Outside, in the long line
of women waiting for drinks at a bar on a deck overlooking the huge yard, I
found a visual artist I know, Rejina Thomas. Reji’s work — which is in a
variety of media, from oil on canvas to glass — is on display in the state
capitol building, and her award-winning glass mural can be seen on the city’s
east side.

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