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Local Lesbians on the Loose Online

Tracy Clark-Flory

Notorious for the gay population in the Castro, San Francisco has long been prominent for its gay culture and activism, but for a long while, queer women have felt left out of the equation. Enter

Hillgirlz was created by Alison Terry-Evans nearly three years ago, in response to the lack of resources for queer women in the San Francisco Bay Area and includes a calendar of local events, a listing of women-owned businesses, e-cards with photos of queer pulp novels, travel and food reviews, a dirty advice column and ruminations from a sassy fortuneteller.

“It was well-known for a long time that in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is famous for being a Mecca of queer women, that there was absolutely nowhere on the Web, or even in print, where women could go and find a complete listing of events that were of particular interest to themselves,” said Terry-Evans.

Since its inception, the site has grown in popularity and now receives about a million hits per month and has a subscriber list of about 6,000, according to Terry-Evans.

Hillgirlz features a calendar with a listing of performances, club events and queer groups ranging from opera to bingo, knitting to roleplaying—showing the diverse nature of the queer community. Terry-Evans says the site shows lesbians that they are part of a “big, fun, creative and politically active community.”

“Many women can feel isolated as lesbians,” she said. “Whatever the reason for feeling isolated or just out of touch, it is important that women know that there really is a great deal going on for every woman regardless of her interests, age, economic position or needs.”

Site visitors can also browse the over 500 businesses listed on the site for everything from a female motorcycle mechanic to woman-owned law firm.

Kytha Gernatt, 40, who occasionally uses Hillgirlz for its event listings, listed her services as an artist and dog walker because she felt that it was a useful resource.

“With my particular business, I work with dogs, but I also work very closely with their humans,” she said with a laugh. “It helps to know that people are like-minded.”

Jennifer Payne, 27, decided to list her services as a private yoga instructor on Hillgirlz because of its focus on women, but hasn’t yet received any responses. She says she uses the Web site personally every once in a while to stay in touch with local events.

The site endeavors to offer its visitors more than just entertainment. Terry-Evans said they also offer support groups and classes for “lesbians with cancer and those considering motherhood or gender change.”

While the gay community in San Francisco may be more visible, Terry-Evans noted that Hillgirlz reveals an underground yet thriving community.

“The bars on Castro may be overflowing with men, but I think that the Hillgirlz calendar demonstrates that there are in fact more social, creative, supportive and spiritual possibilities available for lesbians,” said Terry-Evans. “We have actually had e-mails from gay men who have stumbled on the Web site bemoaning the fact that lesbians are creating [a greater] community than what gay men are.”