Friends of Dorothy – Santa Fe, NM: Six years ago Ian Johnson hosted a dinner party at his Santa Fe home for a few friends. The group drank and ate as they enjoyed each others company. Afterwards they all decided they wanted to have gatherings, like the one Ian was hosting, more often. That’s when Ian had an idea that would change the gay community in Santa Fe.
“I figured, why don’t we meet somewhere downtown once a month.” With that, “Friends of Dorothy” was born.
Friends of Dorothy is a monthly social/networking meeting, mainly for gay/LGBTQ+ men and women but anyone is welcome. The social event takes place at an establishment downtown, usually one Friday each month, often the last week of the month.
Ian contacts different bars and hotels where the monthly meeting could take place. Friends of Dorothy has taken place at venues like, The Four Seasons, Inn and Spa at Loretto, La Fonda and many more. Since its humble beginning the group has grown to be bigger than anything Ian could imagine.
“It’s a great way to meet people” said Ian. “200 people will show up sometimes. The space is the only issue. We don’t like to be in some back room. We like to be in the main areas!”
With that many people, Friends of Dorothy has become a win-win for everyone involved. For those that attend, it’s one of the best and most fun gay events in town. The ability to meet new people, network and visit luxurious venues. For bars and hotels it’s an opportunity to get a large amount of business for one night.
“The locals love it. The hotel guests and patrons at the bar all love it. I’ve never had any hotel or bar say no.” Ian said.
Santa Fe is the perfect place for such events. LGBTQ+ individuals are equal members of the community and don’t have to hide their orientation. We’ve had an open and proud gay Mayor. Gay events, like Friends of Dorothy, don’t have to be confined to the backroom of establishments but rather host their event where anyone else in the community would. However, our national society was not always like this. In fact, the term “Friends of Dorothy” was born out of social oppression.
In post WWII America being a homosexual was frowned upon and in some places illegal. Speaking of such a lifestyle could get you in serious trouble. To combat such oppression, gay men developed the term, “Friends of Dorothy.” If someone used the term in a greeting, conversation, or it was written in the direction of an event, you knew it was safe.
Our society in Santa Fe is far from the oppressive norm of the past. Friends of Dorothy has become an introduction to the gay community for people looking to relocate.
“People (visiting Santa Fe) who go to Friends of Dorothy will want to move here because it’s such a great scene. They are like, ‘Oh my God, this is fabulous. We should move here.’ People coming into town wish they had this where they lived.”
Friends of Dorothy has come a long way since it’s conception at Ian Johnson’s dinner party. The monthly event will continue to offer people one of the best social events, in one of the best gay communities in the U.S.
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