Author Jayne Freeman

Every third Thursday of the month there is a gathering of forces in Jersey City. It could be at LITM, Porto Lounge,  or even the Biergarten...but what you will notice is that there are a lot of women congregated in one spot.

Welcome to “Girl Meet"—the first official "Meetup" group for lesbians in Jersey City. The group is only a few months old, but the organizers believe they've tapped into a need that's existed for a long time.

“When I first came here, I thought ‘Am I the only lesbian in Jersey City’?” laughs Dawn Ryan, one of the group’s organizers. “I could see there were lots of gay men, and even some bars that catered to them, but I couldn’t find my own niche. I would even hang out at Pint just to be socializing within gay circles. This led me to wonder, ‘Where are all the lesbians?’”

By a chance meeting, Ryan eventually found her future Girl Meet partner, Lucy Rovetto, and together they came to the same conclusion: We need a way to connect—an event designed specifically for lesbians. And so Girl Meet was born—out of a desire to pull the community together with an emphasis on friendship and socializing.

“Girl Meet is basically an event for women to go to, without the pressure or subtext of it being a dating scene,” explains Rovetto. For their first event last March, the organizers anticipated that maybe a handful of women would show up. “We promoted on certain social media outlets, but we really had low expectations,” Ryan recalls. “That event brought in about fifty women, and we were blown away.”

What’s unique about this group is the emphasis on “strangers building a community,” says Rovetto. Unlike other outlets where dating is the driving force, Girl Meet events are social hubs where you might as easily find that tennis partner you were seeking or a couple of new friends to hang out with. The organizers observe that occasionally straight women want in on the party just as a means to connect with other women locally. “We don’t turn anyone away,” they both say. “There are a number of gay men who attend our events too. We’re all in it together,” says Rovetto adding, “We are a small tribe. We should know each other, and we should support one another.”

With Jersey City ranked the "8th Most LGBT-Friendly City in America" (according to the financial website Nerdwallet.com); with Mayor Fulop's having declared, “We are excited to have such a diverse community in Jersey City that is recognized nationally”; and with Jersey City boasting its own 15 annual LGBT Pride Festival, it's clear that Jersey City's LGBT community is as at home here.  Yet within such a politically and culturally supportive community, the local lesbian contingency had to do a little searching to pull everyone together in a friendly and festive environment. Each Girl Meet event has grown in popularity and numbers (thanks largely to word of mouth.) “I think next we’re going to have to go large,” Ryan says with a pleased grin. “Surf City!”

The organizers take a moment to absorb the fruit of their efforts, as the back patio of Porto Lounge is filled with Girl Meet attendees on a warm Thursday night in June.  “We were already here; we just didn’t know each other yet," observes Rovetto, scanning the crowd. "And now we do.”

The next Girl Meet will be held on Thursday, July 30 at 7 pm at Surf City, 1 Maron Blvd. Admission is free. For more information, visit the GirlMeet Meetup page or their Facebook page.

© Harmony Media, NJ. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission.

Photo courtesy Lucy Rovetto. Catherine Hecht and Liz Morrill contributed to this article.

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