Are you a lesbian over 40? Do you still like to hang out with friends and have a good time, but find that most of the bars and parties cater to a younger crowd where you just don’t relate?
Carmen McKay was such a woman. As someone who organized parties and big lesbian events when she was in her 20s, she decided that she could take her experience, knowledge and skills and create gatherings for lesbians over 40 who wanted to have fun, meet other lesbians and make new friends.
Carmen created She She: Classy Fun Events for Lesbians over 40 in 2007. Now women from Northern and Southern California, Arizona, Colorado, Canada and other West Coast states join her for festive events created just for them. Carmen tells us a bit about She She and what it has to offer lesbians over 40.
Lesbian Life: Tell me a bit about She She. What’s the philosophy or idea behind it?
Bottom line: Life is short and people don’t have enough love or enough fun. Love and fun are best found with people you can relate to. Lesbians over 40 tend to not go to bars, etc., so it’s hard to find other lesbians over 40 to relate to. They are like unicorns!
Women over 40 have more power, wisdom and security (than in our younger, drama soaked lives) yet, no community to share all that in. Life over 40 should be more fun than when we were kids. Laughing out loud and playing full out should be daily experience, not something reserved for New Years Eve or a yearly vacation. She She offers events that actually transform women’s lifestyles and open them up to community and networking. And, the design in the background is for women to fall in love with themselves. We know that if you can’t get what you don’t have to give. So, self-love is the first step to being un-single. Even powerful, successful women lose their sense of personal beauty and mojo when they have been single for a long time.
Why did you start this group?
Because I found myself over 40 and single and quickly realized there was no fun, conscious events to meet women over 40. I was also stunned to realize that there was no over 40 Lesbian community, and community is such a positive, powerful phenomenon. I had produced large events in the 80s and 90s when I was in my 20s and 30s (I was Assistant Producer for the March on Washington in 1987 and founded the largest outdoor women’s festival in California, – before Dinah
became the largest, called “Women’s Weekend on the Russian River – 6000 women came twice a year to Guerneville, CA, was Cruise Director for a lesbian cruise line, managed stages at the West Coast Women’s Music and Comedy Festivals) and was just had a big wake up call that none of that huge community of events existed for lesbians over 40. So, I dusted off my lesbian producer hat and got back in the game.
You say that even shy people and people who are not good in groups will enjoy your events. How?
We know that much of the population in general is composed of introverts (think Shirley vs. Laverne), and, even extroverted women can feel uncomfortable and shy in a single’s environment. So, our events are designed with fun, easy, interactive activities. No one ever feels awkward or alone, or finds themselves in a situation where they are forced to make small talk or do something silly. Also, some of our activities are designed to bring out authentic information, so women get to know one another really well, on a meaningful level. People really bond when they have the safety and permission to get real. Plus, our team-oriented “Lesbian Survivor Island” games bring out the creativity, playfulness and physical self-expression that ordinary events or dating situations do not bring forth. Our signature Pajama Party Dance and Talent Show allow women to express themselves as unique individuals. Plato said, “You learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation”.
Why is this group for lesbians over 40? What is different about being an over 40 lesbian versus under 40?
Well, for one thing, who wants to party with their daughters? In other words, most bars, Dinah Shore
, Gay Pride Weekends
, etc. are for women in their 20s and 30s. Women over 40 have different values, interests and goals in life than women under 40. And, generally, women over 40 are looking for mature partners for long-term relationships
You don’t see herds of lesbian cougars.
You have events both for single lesbians and for those in couples. How are they different?
It’s very different energy. Couples generally have a desire to create the ‘ol Fred & Ethyl/ Lucy & Ricky friendships with other couples. Singles are looking for other single friends and/or lovers to do things with (like Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Monica
). Single women really feel more comfortable with other single women at events. They avoid the “third wheel” syndrome plus they have so much more in common with other single women, and, it’s not awkward in trying to determine if the person you are interacting with is available or not.
So, are these dating events or what?
Well, although many women do find love partners at our events, I would not call them dating events. They are more really fun getaways that allow women to create a whole tribe of best friends in 2-3 days. The best way to find a lover is to be friends first. Single lesbians over 40 are often isolated in that they are busy with their careers, have lost a lover to illness, have just come out, or all their friends are straight or coupled. Suddenly gaining a small community of loyal, fun-loving friends allows them to get out and enjoy life more. Also, all of their new friends often have single friends that they meet, so their pool of opportunity is expanded even after the She She event. Often, after spending time together after the event the friendships evolve into partnerships.
Why do people attend your events?
We have women fill out an online survey before and after our events. From our surveys women say they attend because they want to make friends, have some fun, and possibly meet a lover.
Tell me about some of your most successful events from the past.
Well, our first event in Baja in 2007 is always near and dear to my heart because it was so successful and was the model for our future events. We had 60 women attend and five couples got together and many, many friendships
happened. Today, those five couples are still together and most women from the group of 60 still get together in smaller groups for holiday parties, going to the Dinah together, etc. That event proved to me that "If you build it they WILL come." It was so fascinating to see that all we had to do was create a structured environment and the women brought all the fun, communication and relationship. They were starved for it!
Where can we find out more?