by Heather Cassell

No longer restricted to back alley dives, queer women are on the move hanging out in chic upscale, but casual bars and restaurants and displaying their Sapphic love all over the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We deserve the best. It’s that simple. There’s no reason, in my view, to settle for less than excellence in what we expect of ourselves or for ourselves,” says Betty Sullivan, owner of Betty’s List.

For more than 15 years, Betty has brought lesbians together by hosting business mixers at dance parties and upscale venues – gay- and straight-owned – in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Betty looks for interesting, easily accessible and welcoming spaces to host the plethora of events that keep her out on the town nearly every night of the week.

Attendees at a recent Wine Time event held at 2223 Restaurant.
(Photo: Courtesy of Betty’s List)
Attendees at a recent Wine Time event held at 2223 Restaurant.
(Photo: Courtesy of Betty’s List)

“Lesbians want to have a good time in a beautiful place where they feel very safe and very welcome,” says Betty, adding the final ingredient for a good event is friends and the potential to meet new acquaintances.

Betty gets an “inner smile” watching queer women come together for a good time, because, “You know you’re making a difference and that life-changing connections are being made. It’s what we do and that’s why we do it.”

Pauline Miriam, promoter Hot Flash Dances, the city’s latest women’s dance party, couldn’t agree more with Betty.

“We deserve beautiful venues! No more back alley bars!” says Pauline, who enjoys bringing queer women together. The producer of lesbian events for nearly 40 years has brought nearly 10,000 women together at Hot Flash parties throughout the United States.

San Francisco’s version has been a hit since it launched in November. More than 400 lesbians flock to venues like Harlot, Ruby Skye, Slide and a new after-party at Hotel Adagio.

Like Pauline, who has expanded her parties, Betty has responded to increasing requests from women to bring Betty’s List’s popular events to areas outside San Francisco.

In 2011, Betty launched Smart Women in the North Bay at the Pelican Art Gallery and Custom Framing Studio in Petaluma and at Spectrum LGBT Center’s business mixer in San Rafael, as well as the peninsula at Angelica’s Bistro in Redwood City.

Lake Chalet at Oakland’s Lake Merritt (Photo: Courtesy of the Lake Chalet)
Lake Chalet at Oakland’s Lake Merritt (Photo: Courtesy of the Lake Chalet)

Last month, Wine Time took its wine glass on the road to the Lake Chalet in Oakland. Betty praised restaurateurs Michelle Lazar and her life partner Chef Melinda Randolph who “created a unique space in the heart of the Castro” which has kept women returning to the wine tasting event.

“We are very excited to work with Betty on this event,” says Lara Graham Truppelli, owner of the Lake Chalet, located in the newly renovated boathouse on Lake Merritt, and the Beach Chalet and Park Chalet in San Francisco.

Lara, a straight ally who’s run the popular restaurants in resurrected historical landmarks for more than 15 years, says, “We’re excited to be more formally reaching out to the LGBT community. We are looking forward to a very successful evening with many to come.”
Sabrina Riddle and her business and life partner, celebrity chef Elizabeth Falkner, co-own Citizen Cake in Pacific Heights and Orson in South of Market. The restaurateur couple has hosted a number of lesbian focused events from the Original Ladies Night with Betty, which ended in late 2009, to the more recent BoomSF, which ended in late 2010, at Orson, the clubby and lounge-cool restaurant housed in a former warehouse.

While they’re happy to “provide a cool space for lesbians to be that has great food and great drinks,” says Sabrina, they refused to be locked into the queer ghetto.

“We’re out and open wherever we are. We’re not hiding,” says Sabrina. “I love when you can create a space where lots of people can feel welcome and have a good time.”

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