World Wide Web Reviews:

Lesbian Resources on the Web

by Ellen Greenblatt

Lesbian visibility is as much a problem on the World Wide Web as in everyday life. Although performing a search on the term "lesbian" in such search engines as AltaVista <http://www.altavista.com> or Hotbot <http://www.hotbot.com> yields a multitude of sites, many of these are either combined lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender sites or pages consisting mainly of unannotated links to other sites. Another problem common to the lesbian corner of the Web is that many sites are run by volunteers. While many of these start off with bang, over a period of time maintenance drops off, leaving these sites full of obsolete information and outdated links. This review will explore a few of the more notable lesbian websites.

GENERAL SITES:

Lesbian.org
URL: http://www.lesbian.org/
Developed/maintained by: Amy T. Goodloe <amy@lesbian.org>
Last updated: Unknown
Date of Review: 12/23/97

Begun in February 1995 to "promote lesbian visibility on the Internet," Lesbian.org is the oldest and most comprehensive website devoted exclusively to lesbians. Dubbed "lesbian central" by some, this site sports a variety of features including its own search engine, "Annotated & Searchable Links"; a guide to the Internet; a message board; and discussion groups. Lesbian.org also hosts Web pages for a number of organizations and publications such as the June Mazer Lesbian Collection, Spinsters Ink (a lesbian-feminist publisher), and Matrices: A Lesbian-Feminist Newsletter. While the site is overall still well-maintained and well-presented, Webmistress Amy Goodloe appears to be pulling back from some earlier projects such as Sapphic Ink: A Lesbian Literary Journal.

The Isle of Lesbos
URL: http://www.sappho.com
Developed/maintained by: Alexandria North <alix@sappho.com>
Last updated: Unknown
Date of Review: 12/23/97

This stunningly beautiful site contains two Web treasures: "Lesbian Poetry," a site featuring the poetry of and biographical information about twenty-four poets; and "Lesbian Images in Art," which features more than sixty-five works from forty artists browsable by artist and time period. Unfortunately, while the pages feature 1997 copyright dates, most do not appear to have been updated since mid-1996 or earlier, so be wary of using other resources at this site such as "Yoohoo Lesbians," since this Yahoo-like Web directory apparently has not been updated since about the same time.

The Lesbian History Project
URL: http://www-lib.usc.edu/~retter/main.html
Developed/maintained by: Yolanda Retter <retter@calvin.usc.edu>
Last updated: Unknown
Date of Review: 12/23/97

Rated by Lycos as among the top five percent of websites, this content-rich site contains a wealth of information about lesbian "herstory." Along with providing herstorical chronologies, lists, and photographs of notable lesbians, the site also identifies relevant journals, archives, oral history collections, dissertations, theses, bibliographies, syllabi, and interviews. Truly an online archive of information! Yolanda Retter, Curator of the Lesbian Legacy Collection of One, Inc., maintains the site.

SEARCH ENGINES:

Lesbian Links
URL: http://www.lesbian.org/lesbian/index.html
Developed/maintained by: Lesbian.org (Amy Goodloe) and WWWomen
Last updated: 12/22/97
Date of Review: 12/23/97

A combined venture of Lesbian.org (see above) and WWWomen, a leading online directory for women, this is the premier search engine geared exclusively to lesbians. It offers access both through free-text searching and through a subject hierarchy. Most links are annotated.

Rainbow Query
URL: http://www.glweb.com/rainbowquery/index.html
Developed/maintained by: Atlantis InterNetworks <info@atlinet.com>
Last updated: Unknown
Date of Review: 12/23/97

Billing itself as "the largest, most complete GLBT* search on the Internet," this site contains links to more than thirty thousand Queer URLs. It is searchable by free-text or through some two hundred categories, sixteen of which pertain exclusively to lesbians or women. Information taken from the Web pages cited is included after each listed link.

ELECTRONIC DISCUSSION LISTS:

Lesbian Mailing Lists
URL: http://www.lesbian.org/lesbian-lists/
Developed/maintained by: Eva Isaksson <eisaksso@cc.helsinki.fi>
Last updated: 12/9/97
Date of Review: 12/23/97

In a truly international collaboration, this Web page, maintained by lesbian Internet guru Eva Isaksson in Finland, is hosted by Lesbian.org in the U.S. Containing information about and sign-on instructions for approximately one hundred electronic discussion lists devoted to lesbian topics, this site includes a wide range of citations, from "Crockdykes" (short for Betty Crockdykes Cooking Circle), for dykes who like to exchange recipes and cooking tips; to "lesbian-studies," for academic-oriented discussions on lesbian history, literature, culture, etc.; and "Politidykes," for political discussion from a progressive point of view. In an essay exploring "Living with Lesbian Lists" <http://www.lesbian.org/lesbian-lists/lll.html>, Isaksson gives a brief "herstory" of lesbian mailing lists, examines special issues related to such lists, and even gives advice on how to start a list. For information on queer mailing lists, see The Queer Resources Directory's LGBT+ Internet mailing lists <http://www.qrd.org/qrd/electronic/email/> When using this resource, however, take care to note when the information was contributed (the date is listed right after the name of the mailing list), as some of the information is obsolete.

COMING OUT:

Resource Guide to Coming Out
URL: http://www.hrc.org/ncop/guide.html
Developed/maintained by: The Human Rights Campaign <ncop@hrc.org>
Last updated: Unknown
Date of Review: 12/23/97

Because of its relative anonimity, the Web is a perfect place for those questioning their identify to comfortably search for information on coming-out issues. Several coming-out sites exist on the Web, including this site created by the Human Rights Campaign's National Coming Out Project. Features include interviews with celebrities who are out, a bibliography of books on coming out, and directories of queer organizations (including religious groups). Another excellent site is found at Coming Out <http://www.anet-dfw.com/~nemesis/open.html>, which offers a more personal approach, somewhat akin to a dialogue with a good friend. Information directed specifically to lesbians is available in "I might be a lesbian, what do I do?" <http://www.youth.org/docs/ithink/lesbian.html>, a brochure written by lesbian youth for lesbian youth and young women questioning their sexuality.

All of these sites and many more can be found at WSSLinks: Lesbian Links <http://www.cudenver.edu/public/library/libq/lesbian.html>, part of a site developed and maintained by the Womens Studies Section Collection Development Committee of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

[Ellen Greenblatt is the Assistant Director for Technical Services, Auraria Library, University of Colorado at Denver. The co-editor of Gay and Lesbian Library Service, she has written extensively on gay and lesbian librarianship. An Internet fanatic, she has designed several Web pages including Library Q, for lesbian and gay librarians, and has managed several electronic discussion lists, including "QSTUDY-L," for queer studies, and "LEZBRIAN," for lesbian and bisexual women library workers.]


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