IntroductionBorder Women is a social networking site for lesbian and bisexual women, aged 16 years or over, with connections to the border between England and Wales. The networking site is confidential but we need to publicise its existence, and so this page - but not the site itself - is public.
BackgroundOur membership is primarily located in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Powys; but there are also members in Cheshire, Gloucestershire and Staffordshire, and there are even members as far afield as Kent and Scotland. Members are of all ages and have a very wide range of interests. For example, in a typical month there will be:
Membership numbers are cyclical in nature, peaking in December (as new members join throughout the year). Thus the site only contains "active" members. In 2013 membership varied from 90 in January to 110 in December.
Border Women is an informal group with no leaders or management committee. The group is based around the networking site and it comprises of whatever the members do. Women list events which are open to others to attend, and they go along to whatever suits them. If they can find no events of interest to them they are encouraged to set up events themselves and invite others via the networking site. In this sense there is no "committee" responsible for choosing and hosting events.
Border Women was started in the mid 1980s by one woman, Verity, posting contact details in Leominster inviting others to join her in starting up a group in the area. She gained further publicity through an article in The Hereford Times; Verity contacted a reporter there and asked if she wanted to write about lesbians in the Borders. She did and Verity bravely put her own address on the article. As a result several women contacted her and the first meeting (involving nearly 20 women) was held in Leominster Community Centre where the name Border Women was chosen. A follow up letter, circulated to those present at the meeting, described it as follows:
The meeting of Sunday May 8th was extraordinary in many ways - to be in Leominster with nearly 20 other lesbians felt revolutionary and miraculous! Although women might have felt anxious, scared to come, tense ... I feel that we co-operated in a good way. It was intense and tiring - but just think, we'd never met before. For some of us, including me, the meeting was breaking the isolation of many years. I feel that it is worth the work and effort and personally I shall carry on: even if we only reach one new woman a month it's worth it for her and for us!
A monthly newsletter was initiated shortly after this inaugural meeting. Two years later the group was still going strong and was described in The Pink Paper (16th June, 1990) as follows:
Border Women, the lively lesbians from the Welsh Marches, are celebrating their second birthday. In May 1988 Verity, a Leominster Lesbian, advertised a meeting for local lesbians and was delighted when twenty turned up. Now, two years on, the group has spread from Telford to Brecon and Worcester to Aberystwyth with 100 women receiving their newsletter. They meet regularly in Shrewsbury and there is a social and disco every month in Ludlow, as well as one-off video showings, workshops, parties and picnics.
In 2007 the newsletter was discontinued in favour of the current social networking site and as a result membership has grown rapidly and steadily, with about 20 new members joining each year.
ConfidentialityThe Terms of Service for Border Women requires members to respect the confidentiality of the site and its’ members. Some members are public about their sexuality and others are not. It is important that members respect each others' needs and wishes. Details of members and events are provided to members to facilitate the attendance and organisation of Border Women events, chats, groups and forums. These details must not be passed to non-members except to enable them to attend an event as their invited guest.