Some very clever young queer women have been using Facebook to solve a very common complaint in the queer community — namely, where to go to meet other queer ladies that doesn’t involve getting hammered and losing your left shoe on a drunken escapade on the way home (not that I would know anything about that.) And more importantly, some of these very clever young queer women are living right here in Ottawa, dyking it up without choking down another bottle of cheap domestic beer.
One such clever lesbian is Carla Henkel, founder of the social group, I Enjoy Wholesome Fun on Thursday Nights. Henkel, who identifies herself as “really, really gay,” started the group when she came back to Ottawa in her early 30s and discovered that she was having a hard time meeting up with people outside the bar.
“I started the group as an attempt to find a more positive way to get together with my friends,” she says. “But I was having trouble getting everyone together and I found myself in the bar more often than I wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good party, but its not always great for chatting with friends, getting to know people, and being a sane, sober, drama-free and positive grown-up.”
And so, I Enjoy Wholesome Fun on Thursday Nights was born.
For any of you who have been away on an expedition in the Arctic for the last three years, Facebook is huge. Launched in 2004 by then Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg, the social networking site has exploded into universal popularity in the last four years, soundly kicking the fudge out of rival MySpace. It has spawned its own lexicon, including the infamous “facestalking” (verb, to one stalk/thoroughly creep out a person using Facebook.) It allows users from all over the world to connect with old friends or make new ones, creating a network of people with common interests — soccer, Xena fan clubs, people who like goats — and of course, the ever savvy young lesbian.
Catering mainly to women from 19-35, the I Enjoy Wholesome Fun group does a variety of quote-unquote “wholesome” activities, including going to the movies, playing sports, eating ice cream and other things generally conducive to hanging out while not trashed. This said, the group has also done some things which are “not wholesome in the traditional sense,” Henkel says, such as Wholesome Porn Night. Regardless of whether your idea of wholesome fun is eating ice cream or watching Debby Does Dallas, I Enjoy Wholesome Fun on Thursday Nights has been successful enough to not only survive but thrive. I Enjoy Wholesome Fun on Thursday Nights is open to everyone (not just lesbians) of any gender, and Henkel would love to see more boys.
And none of this deliciously wholesome (or unwholesome) fun would be possible without good old Facebook.
As a generation of queer youth living in the technology age, we have added benefits that our predecessors didn’t. It’s just a matter of using them.
Whether you use Facebook or prefer to do your stalking the good old-fashioned technique of hiding in the bushes, you may want to stay out of the park on May 31.
Or maybe you don’t, depending on how you feel about the queer pole vault. The group is hosting their first ever Wholesome Fun Olympics that evening to celebrate their one-year anniversary. The quirkiness of this event is not surprising, as the I Enjoy Wholesome Fun motto is “Wholesome is never organized. Just dictated,” with the delightfully quirky Henkel as self-proclaimed Wholesome Fun Dictator. The details haven’t been nailed down, so you’ll have to join the group to get the low down.
In a previous column, I mentioned how disappointed I was that there was little to do in this city for young lesbian who weren’t really into being drunk at 3am on Tuesday. It seems a little ironic that there are events organized which the older lesbian community — that is to say, the generation before the 20- and 30-somethings — have events they themselves go to outside of the bar scene, such as the Lesbian Outdoor Group (LOG), but that there are few groups which cater to the similar needs of the younger crowd. Networking is difficult, especially for youth, who often run on school-work-homework schedules, but Facebook is making it much easier by creating a 24-hour “networking space”. And people are obviously cluing in and using it.
“With Facebook,” says Henkel, “I can plan a fun event and invite everyone in half an hour or less. The phone, word of mouth, and even email is a pain in the butt. Using Facebook allows everyone to get directions, ask questions, post pictures and check out the other hotties attending. It’s all pretty effortless and that makes weekly events possible.”