Keeping the fires of fledgling feminism stoked is the responsibility of the Alapine lesbian community in the region of the Appalachians in northeastern Alabama. “Community” has become a loose term in this day and age, reflecting more a mentality during parades, parties, and politics than an actual, well, community. Not so with Alapine, as reported by the New York Times. A gated corner of the Bible Belt where aging lesbians can securely live among their peers, these older women have provided a way of life devoid of men, judgment, and the gender patriarchy. Unfortunately, they risk becoming extinct. It’s difficult to pass the torch when Alapine is relatively removed from civilization, and comprising a slice of the gay population content with living in trailers and hosting potluck dinners and “community full moon circles” for social stimulation.
These women have marched through the brambles in order to blaze the trail for the current LGBT movement. Their stories are diverse but similar, many have suffered everything from discrimination to enduring the expected “traditional” heteronormal pairings before coming out. Alapine isn’t the only intentional community of its kind, although it’s a separatist lesbian haven mainly for the senior set. Intentional communities may be few and far between, and difficult to nurture due to requiring comprehensive and collective maintenance, but there are a few, not all are as structured as Alapine. Twin Oaks in Virginia (inspired by the late Morningstar commune in California) allows for people to visit and see if living in a cashless utopia is right for them, and they welcome those who subscribe to queer and feminist culture. Camp Sister Spirit in Mississippi generally allows men on site, and strives to provide a community that is inclusive, understanding, and tolerant to the extreme. Of course, the difficulties of being adamently separate are often reflective of the inability to be viewed by all as equal, as can be evidenced through the history of the earliest separatist groups like The Furies. It’s still fascinating to see this spirit live on, and in some remote way, thrive.