In 2009, after ending another relationship, I found myself single again. At 39 years old, I found that the club scene was no longer a viable option for meeting lesbians of color. Women my age either left the club early or were already coupled up. So I decided to try online dating.
I joined many lesbian dating sites and noticed that they all seemed the same. Members were either posting lewd profile photos or soliciting other women to join them and their boyfriend or husband for a sexual encounter, and many of the women of color had not been active on the site for months. I thought, "It can't be this difficult to meet lesbians of color!" I knew that if I was becoming frustrated with online dating, there had to be other lesbians of color who felt the exact same way, so I decided to do some research.
There were a great many resource websites for black lesbians or Native American lesbians, but those sites did not provide an opportunity for members to interact with each other. So I began researching social networking sites. Interestingly, the social networking sites were predominantly heterosexual. Some had created a separate section for lesbians, though almost as an afterthought. The problem was that men constantly harassed and verbally abused the lesbian members.
The lesbian-specific social networking sites I found were built using free networks like Ning, which limits the amount of messages you can send per day, so if you joined a lesbian site that uses Ning and sent five messages and then decided to log into another Ning-based site, you would be blocked from sending any more messages that day. That was frustrating. The other issue I encountered with lesbian social networking sites was that the majority of their members were white. If you were able to find a lesbian of color, she probably had not been active on the site for months.
Where were the free social networking sites for lesbians of color?! Where were the free social networking sites for lesbians of color looking to meet other lesbians of color?! I stopped asking myself these questions and decided to act, and in October 2009 I launched OurSistaCircle.com, the first free social networking site for lesbians of color. The mission of OurSistaCircle is to connect, empower, inform and support lesbians of color globally. But what else could such a website do to be more unique?
A social networking site for lesbians of color should allow members to create genuine friendships. It should also allow its members to friend each other based on their bios, not their nakedness, so on OurSistaCircle there is no nudity allowed on profile pages. There is a video chat option for members who want to chat with a sista in Indonesia, France, Trinidad, Spain, Jamaica, Africa, Suriname or here in the United States. There is a relationship advice section, where the administrator and other members can chime in and give advice to a sista in need. A social networking site for lesbians of color should also address the emotional and mental concerns of its members, so OurSistaCircle is now the first free social networking site for lesbians of color that offers confidential mental health counseling/coaching via video chat and Skype. In cooperation with DrBev, a licensed mental health counselor and certified Gestalt psychotherapist, we are determined to offer a safer, healthier online experience for our members.
There are now over 9,300 members of OurSistaCircle, ranging in age from 18 to 66, and located in many countries around the world. It is an option for older lesbians of color who are no longer into the club scene. It is also an option for younger lesbians of color who want to connect with older lesbians of color and learn from their life experiences.
Ironically, since launching OurSistaCircle, I rarely have the time to date. However, knowing that other sistas are meeting, dating and in some instances marrying makes it all worthwhile.