'Womyn's Lands' Dwindle as Gays Go Mainstream

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 31, 2009 5:48 PM CST

(Newser) – So-called "womyn's lands" are quietly persisting across North America but face a cultural shift as modern gays embrace mainstream society, the New York Times reports. Founded in the 1970s to give lesbians man-free, safe, non-judgmental communities, the roughly 100 groups have seen membership dwindle and populations age. “In 20 to 25 years, we could be extinct," said one founder.

The communities' rural locations limit membership, as do strict codes forbidding bisexuals and male children. While debate thrives over such rules, many members say they have suffered too much in the straight world to compromise. “It was hard enough fighting for the last 30 years,” a founder said. “Now it’s a family that wants to be here and die here.”

A street sign is seen in a gay-friendly section of Philadelphia known as the "gayborhood."   (AP Photo)
A lesbian couple and their daughters.   (AP Photo)
Older lesbians, veterans of the 1970s gay rights and feminist movements, have relocated to spartan, rural communities of the like-minded.   (AP Photo)
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The younger generation has not had to go through what we went through. We are really going to have to work at how we carry this on. In 20 to 25 years, we could be extinct. - Emily Greene, womyn's land resident

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