by Danielle McBride | photos courtesy of Memphis Bevy
You may not have heard of the Memphis Bevy yet, but if you’re a wlw, listen up. Begun in May by Shelby Peranich and inspired by the relationships portrayed in ‘The L-Word,’ Memphis Bevy members are already socializing with trivia nights, happy hours and other social gatherings. More importantly, Peranich says, they’re building strong professional connections by networking.
The idea for the group formed from Peranich’s desire to provide a space for queer women to gather, figuratively and literally. She discussed it with friends, one of whom lives in Birmingham, Ala. where the original Bevy was founded by Brit Blalock and Carmen Chambers. The friend encouraged Peranich to join the Birmingham Bevy’s Facebook group. Peranich soon connected directly with Blalock and Chambers who helped get the ball rolling for Peranich to set up a Memphis extension of the group.
“I knew that I wasn’t the only one that wished something like that existed in Memphis,” Peranich said. She aspires for this to be a group where LGBTQ women can make friends in the queer community and bring like-minded people together. The first event—a May
happy hour at Celtic Crossing— brought out an impressive 20 people.
“Whether you drink…have kids…you’re single… married…(or) dating someone. No matter what it is, people want to connect with each other, and the happy hours provide a safe space to be able to do that with each other,” Peranich said.
The Memphis Bevy has enjoyed organic growth, Peranich said, using word of mouth and social media. In the months since that first happy hour, the Memphis Bevy has gained over 150 followers on Facebook and over 200 on Instagram.
Though she is currently the sole leader of the group, Peranich, who identifies as a cis-feminine, white woman, would love to have someone work alongside her so that the group will have diverse leadership. “It is really important for me to find someone else that is also representative of the queer woman community in Memphis. I want the Bevy, especially here in Memphis, to be a space for all queer women to be able to connect.”
The professional networking mission is important to both Peranich and the original Birmingham founders. Though in its infancy, the Memphis group’s social media posts have mostly been about upcoming events, Peranich hopes the Facebook page will eventually be used to share job opportunities.
Peranich reports a warm welcome from business owners who’ve hosted Bevy events. Since ‘The L-Word’ has a popular nostalgia caché among the LGBTQ community, the Memphis Bevy hosted their first ‘L-Word’ trivia night in August at Mid-town Crossing Grill, with L-Word-themed drinks provided by the grill’s enthusiastic owner.
The Memphis Bevy plans to be a part of the 2019 Mid-South Pride Festival by hosting a Pride Pre-Game on September 28. They will have drinks, a light brunch and rainbow ‘swag’. This will be a chance for the queer woman community to celebrate together before walking in the parade.
For more information about The Bevy activities at 2019 Mid-South Pride or other upcoming Bevy events, email thememphisbevy@ gmail.com. You can also join them on Facebook by requesting admission to join the closed group.