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The following article originally appeared in Women in Action (3:1998). It was written by Andrew Matzner, a writer/researcher from the United States, who has been living in northern Thailand since October of 1997. His areas of interest and expertise are gender, sexuality, and transgenderism.
Anjaree, Thailand's only lesbian organization, has a thick newsletter which comes out every two months. In order to receive it, one writes to Bangkok with remittance and an address to which the newsletter is then forwarded Approximately five hundred members of Anjaree, plus a number of NGOs, receive the newsletter, called Anjareesan, in this manner.
This past July, a shortened version of Anjareesan was produced with the aim of distributing it to the general public, through local book-stores. This means that a person doesn't have to be a member of Anjaree to gain access to information and education about lesbianism. Consequently, a wider range of people will be exposed to Anjaree and its goal of insuring human rights for lesbians.
The publication and distribution of Anjareesan is a major step forward for Thailand's lesbian movement as it endeavors to make itself and its objectives more visible. Now interested women can learn about a community which they otherwise may not have known existed. For while bars, meeting places, and numerous magazines offer gay Thai men opportunities to become part of a community, the options are severely limited for women, particularly those living outside of the capital. In Chiang Mai, for instance, one of the country's largest cities with a population of about 200,000 people, there is only one restaurant which caters especially to women, and it has very limited hours.
Anjaree, the group spearheading the Thai lesbian movement, was founded in 1986 by a small group of women who desired to create a safe space in which lesbians could …