Can't see the forest for the trees--: insider/outsider perspectives on the Wellington lesbian community(s) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in Social Anthropology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Lesbian communities are a complex network of women from diverse backgrounds, with multifarious belief systems and experiences of identifying as a lesbian. This paper examines the characteristics of the Wellington lesbian community(s) through the methodology of a focus group and on-line blog, and consequently puts forward an analysis of lesbian legitimacy, community in-group membership and the informal hierarchy of this community(s). The invitation to participate in this research was met with silence from the core, visible, lesbian subgroup of the wider lesbian community; instead, the lesbian participants are self-identified as outsiders to this core subgroup. The need to find a working definition of the Wellington lesbian community(s) has not come from within the core, visible, subgroup that meets at bars, plays in sports teams, attends lesbian events; it has come from outside this subgroup of the community(s). This thesis identifies the insider/outsider binary that exists both within the Wellington lesbian community(s) and in the maintenance of a community of self-identified lesbians from those outside its amorphous boundaries.