Kat Skiles is starting to get the sense that she’s stumbled into something. Her new website lezgettogether.com — she built if over the hurricane weekend — is doing healthy early traffic.
A free Facebook-esque site for D.C.-area lesbians, it’s earned about 160 members in its first month and is adding more daily.
“Everybody who’s seen it has been like, ‘Oh my gosh, yeah, we’ve needed this,'” Skiles says.
She got the idea after struggling to make friends upon moving to Washington herself in 2008. She says her first few years here were spent “looking desperately” for a diverse gathering space. She kept coming up dry.
“Facebook is awesome, bars and nightlife are great, but I think there really is a need for a specific, separate space where lesbians of all different ages and demographics can mingle,” she says.
And why is this so hard with D.C.’s strong LGBT population? Why doesn’t it seem to be a problem for gay men?
“I don’t know,” Skiles says. “It’s a good question and I’m sure there all kinds of great conversations to be had about that.”
The upstart costs have been minimal but she hopes to soon have it up and running on its own through ad sales. She didn’t conceive of it as a business venture but she would like it to be self sustaining. The first gathering is planned for Oct. 21. Members will meet at 6:30 at Solly’s Tavern for the inaugural “lesbian attack,” a monthly event where they’ll gather at a straight bar for the evening.
Skiles, a 26-year-old Salt Lake City native, is an online communications director for the U.S. House. She loves working on the Hill and has long been fascinated by politics. She’s also the communications director for the LGBT Congressional Staff Association.
Skiles studied religion and politics at Northern California’s Dominican University but came to D.C. for an internship in 2006 and “fell in love with it.”
Skiles is in a relationship and lives in Columbia Heights. She enjoys pick-up basketball, working out, Scrabble and American history. (Blade photos by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I don’t know that I ever really “came out.” Being gay was just this thing I started doing one day.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Chi Cha Lounge on U Street. It is second to none.
Describe your dream wedding.
The Jefferson Memorial. It is going to happen.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Veterans issues are near and dear to my heart. Three generations of my family have fought in wars with the United States Army, most recently my brother in Iraq.
What historical outcome would you change?
The legal institution of slavery in the earliest years of American history.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The night Nancy Pelosi took the Speakership. I’m a big fan of firsts for women in general and I really admire Pelosi, but I also campaigned myself ragged that election cycle. I felt so a part of the victory. It was all very moving.
On what do you insist?
Standing up for what’s right, even if it is awkward.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I’ve been working really hard to get the word out aboutLezGetTogether.com and so I’ve posted the link all over Facebook and Twitter a million times. You probably should too. Go on… go on…
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Girl Who Preferred Her Hoodie to An Umbrella”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would join the Tea Party in declaring science a hoax. Actually, no. I would just declare science a hoax.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
My views about the non-physical world are rooted in staying focused on the here and now. I read this beautiful book a few years ago called “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” that sums it up pretty well. My favorite section says, “Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness — if you had little time left to live — you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you, you do have a terminal illness. It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason or you will never be at all.”
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
As we continue advancing equality, it’s important to recognize the value of lending a hand to others along the way. Our LGBT family is a canvas of diversity and that means we have to fight in every instance of discrimination — men for women, whites for minorities, rich for poor and so on. We pick up ourselves when we pick up others.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. If that option were to become unavailable I’d go for a jar of Nutella and a spoon.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
I studied religion in college and grew up in a family of Irish Catholics so I have a particular irritation with those who mischaracterize the message of Christ and push forward with such ferocity that which is clearly hateful and discriminatory. I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on those folks though, because when Jesus sees that the gays aren’t pulling their weight in contributing to overpopulation and dogs start marrying bunnies, Armageddon is likely to ensue — or something like that.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Kissing Jessica Stein”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
That it’s impolite to speak about religion or politics. Great. Let’s just talk about the weather or what time the mail comes. Why would I want to hear about the values and ideas that most significantly shape who you are? This social custom seems a bit ridiculous.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I’d like to run for D.C. City Council.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
All that studying would actually pay off.
I fell in love with this town a long time ago. I’ll grow old here.