Baltimore has a lot of things going for it—the great arts scene, the laid-back vibe, the cool people. And now, thanks to a one-year-old Facebook group, an increasingly active queer women’s community. The 2,000-odd member group, aptly named Young Queer Women of Baltimore, was started by 30-year-old nurse practitioner Laura Mitchell, who calls it her “full-time gay job.” We caught up with Mitchell at Red Emma’s one Sunday to talk about what’s next, the best Baltimore hangout spots and her favorite stereotype.
How did Young Queer Women of Baltimore come together?
I had been here for a little over a year and I had a couple of gay friends and we would just lament how there wasn’t a queer women’s scene. I was sitting on my couch and thinking about moving to D.C., actually, because I was frustrated with the lack of community. And because I’m stubborn, I decided I didn’t want to be someone who just complained. So I sort of impulsively started a Facebook page. Our network is so ‘three degrees of separation’ that it grew from 0 to 1,200, probably within two weeks.
What three words describe the Baltimore queer community?
Now? Authentic, brave, fun-loving.
What are your favorite hangout spots in Baltimore?
Little Havana is one of my favorite spots. Obviously, Red Emma’s. Anywhere in Hampden, really. We’ve done some things with Flavor. I also really like Blue Pit.
That’s funny, I’m going there after this.
Yeah, there’s all these sort of places that queer women just gravitate to without anyone telling them to be there.
What role has Baltimore played in your own journey?
Baltimore to me is like, you can always come back. It’s sort of your hometown city even when you’re not from here. There’s some tagline, it’s basically, “Baltimore is the best place in the world to change the world,” and I agree with that.
Why do you think it’s so important for queer women to have spaces like this?
Whenever people have a safe home that gives them the support and place to come to for connection, they can be more resilient people and go out in the world and do great things. Community helps give you personal power.
Now that you’re one year in for YQWB, what’s in store for the next?
To be honest, it was going to be more of the same. With the recent election, I’ve really been compelled to think about how to build leadership capacity. We would love to have a networking event regularly and we’re thinking about starting a mentorship program. I also want to be a strong partner with any social justice organization that is relevant for the intersectional identities of queer women.
What is your favorite stereotype of queer women?
[Laughs] I would say softball, but I think Subarus are even more cross-sectional of queer women. Although, and I’m reluctant to admit it, I do not yet have one.