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Spotlight on Sisterhood: Lesbian Visibility Week Comes to Provincetown

All photos courtesy of Babes & Bois

by Steve Desroches

Community. Celebration. Communication. Connection. These are vital elements that together make a major contribution to maintaining the aspects that make Provincetown a special place to live and, in particular, to be an important safe space for the LGBTQ community, both here and from afar. And as a community, Provincetown respects the diversity of people here and we do the work to make everyone feel welcomed and safe, and indeed celebrated. With our country currently in a spasm of anti-LGBTQ sentiment, xenophobia, and an assault on the rights of women and reproductive health, Provincetown doubles down on its community values and recommits itself to caring for each braid of fabric that creates the tapestry of the town. That’s why over this past winter a group of women in town organized to participate in the revival of Lesbian Visibility Week, a new event to Provincetown being celebrated the last week of April.

The origins of the event date back to the 1990s when Lesbian Visibility days and weeks were organized in the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere around the world to increase awareness of lesbian culture, issues, and their role in the larger LGBTQ community. The week-long event was revived in 2020 in the UK by Diva magazine, a publication aimed at lesbians and bisexual women. And in 2021 the Curve Foundation was formed, an organization that evolved out of the lesbian-focused Curve magazine, which “champions lesbian, queer women, transgender and nonbinary people’s stories and culture through intergenerational programming and community building.” The Curve Foundation launched Lesbian Visibility Week in the United States last year, largely on social media, but the 2024 incarnation will have in-person events, not only in Provincetown, but also New York, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and the U.K.

All photos courtesy of Babes & Bois

“It came together pretty quickly,” says Carmen da Silva, co-founder of the production company Babes & Bois and associate director of the Provincetown Business Guild. “We’re coming together to pay attention to lesbian events that already exist, women-owned businesses, and extending the tourist season into the spring.” 

Specifically, the Provincetown Lesbian Visibility Week grew out of a phone call from resident Tracy Stieber to well-known activist and organizer and owner of Womencrafts, Michelle Axelson, saying this event sounded perfect as a local event. The two reached out and soon an all-volunteer planning committee was formed with Stieber, Axelson, da Silva and her partner and co-founder of Babes & Bois Sam Sewell, Lynette Molnar of ProvincetownForWomen, and writer Melissa Giberson. Over several meetings and after consulting with other business owners, local leaders, performers, and residents, they decided that Lesbian Visibility Week should be a loose calendar showcasing talents that are working here already without the visage of corporate or business sponsorship clouding what would best succeed if gently guided and allowed to flourish organically and given the spotlight so they can be seen as much as gay men, who often get more attention and are presented as the face of Provincetown’s LGBTQ culture.

All photos courtesy of Babes & Bois

“The truth is lesbians are doing great things in Provincetown all the time,” says Axelson. “We’re choosing to highlight what women are doing all the time, and for a long time throughout Provincetown’s history.”

Throughout the week participants can enjoy musical performances by Darlene Van Alstyne, Brittany Rolfs, Hilarie Tamar as well as the Star-Crossed: Astrology Dating Game hosted by KT and Kristen Becker. There will also be various parties, club events, readings, trivia nights, and a drag king brunch on Sunday at the Governor Bradford. But if there is one central theme throughout the week, it’s sharing stories and listening to the stories of others. Axelson says the week kicks off with an “old school lesbian, feminist” community potluck at the Summer of Sass house, the home of the organization founded by Becker that helps young LGBTQ adults from oppressive parts of the United States come to Provincetown to live and work. Later in the week The Wilde at the Gifford House will host a “Ptown Herstory Panel,” which will focus on the lesbian history of Provincetown. The event will be recorded and archived for the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and The Generations Project, an organization that collects oral histories to preserve the stories of LGBTQ elders.

Intergenerational communication and intersectionality are an integral component of Lesbian Visibility Week, as no community is a monolith and a great diversity of identities and experiences lives within. As times change and each generation has their own experiences and develops language and viewpoints that reflect that, there can be friction, misunderstandings, and disagreement. Lesbian Visibility Week seeks to build community across the diverse slate of LGBTQ women in Provincetown and with those who visit. At Womencrafts, Axelson gets to hear a near daily oral history lesson in the stories of the women who go into her shop. And over time she realized sometimes these stories were being told out loud for the first time and that as some visitors grew older and passed away, those stories were being lost to history. So as part of Lesbian Visibility Week Axelson began recording conversations using the StoryCorps app, the free platform designed by the nonprofit organization with the “aim to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.” All recordings are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Axelson has already recorded eight conversations and will be doing more not just throughout the week, but as time allows at Womencrafts throughout the year.

“Vulnerability breeds compassion,” says Axelson. “When we share stories we begin to understand each other better.”

Lesbian Visibility Week runs from Monday, April 22 through Sunday, April 28. For more information visit To listen to Michelle Axelson’s Lesbian Visibility Week StoryCorps recordings visit and search by her name.

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Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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