Lesbians Who Lunch

Rollers co-organizer Liz Dannenbaum shares the group’s history and why having a gathering place for older lesbians is so crucial—and fun.

Tell us a bit about Rollers—what’s the group all about, how   long has it been around, and how/by whom was it started?  Rollers is an acronym for Retired Older Lesbian Lunch. It was started at least 10 years ago by Susan Agee and a few others. About seven years ago my partner, Donna Winter, took over organizing and promoting the group. Currently there are over 60 women on the group email list. Generally, about 25 women attend the monthly lunch—and every lunch seems to bring one or two new faces. I think it’s always hard to walk into a room hardly knowing a soul or even no one at all, but I think our group helps eliminate this natural anxiety. We are very welcoming and always pleased to have new women join us. Every lunch includes an introduction session where we go around the table and share a very brief bio.

What sorts of folks come to the lunches, and why?  When people retire it allows them the time and opportunity to meet new friends and try new activities.  I suspect lots of women come to expand their circle of friends and just get more connected to the wider lesbian community. Some women are newly out as lesbians and some have just relocated in Dane County. This is also an opportunity to reconnect with friends on a monthly basis that you might not see otherwise.

Have any unexpected (or expected) things come of the group and the friendships/relationships formed there?  I know close friendships have formed or rekindled because of the lunch. Peggy, who commutes between Chicago and Cambridge, is one of Donna’s and my new, close friends, and someone we never would have met if she hadn’t braved coming into the lunch knowing no one. At least one romantic partnership began when two women met at the lunch. A Rollers monthly book group has also arisen because of a shared love of reading among some of the women who attend.

Why is a group like this important to you, to the community?  I think there aren’t many venues for older lesbians to meet and mingle. Lesbians can find each other in other places: church, working for candidates and causes, online with groups like Meet Up. But some older lesbians aren’t comfortable with computers, aren’t at all religious, and don’t have the famous “gaydar” we always hear about. When you come to the Rollers lunch you know that everyone there is a lesbian near your age. That’s special.

What are your hopes for the group’s future?  We hope the group continues so that older lesbians can continue to connect and share and laugh together.

Anything else you want to share?  Donna and I want to be sure to give a shout out to Elie’s in the Lake Edge Shopping Center. The food is great, the prices are extremely reasonable, and we are given a private room. But much more importantly, we want to thank Elie and her terrific staff for being entirely welcoming. Waitress Dawn treats us all like the princesses we are (ha!). How she and the cooks get lunch to so many people so quickly is a mystery.

If you’d like more info about joining the Rollers email list or stopping in for lunch, call Liz and Donna at 608-221-3997.