She came out after 2 marriages to men & is now organizing lesbian cruises

Mary Gay Hutcherson leads the annual Pride Day Golf Cart Parade at the Resort on Carefree Boulevard
Mary Gay Hutcherson leads the annual Pride Day Golf Cart Parade at the Resort on Carefree Boulevard Photo: Yolanda Farnum

Mary Gay Hutcherson, 80, came out late in life, after two marriages to men and identifying long before as a feminist, in the 1970s.

“When I married the second time, I did not take his name, took no responsibility for what he ate or whether his clothes were clean. I decided on a totally different path for that marriage. Hutcherson is my maiden name, which I took back after my first divorce. I was so happy to have my name back.”

Hutcherson eventually came out in Richmond, when her activism at the National Organization for Women brought her into contact with lots of women like her.

“The women in NOW were mostly lesbians, I would say three-fourths,” Hutcherson recalls.

When she came out, in her forties, it ended her second marriage. Not long after, she met her wife Yolanda at a “tiny little bar” called Babe’s, where Hutcherson enjoyed line dancing in 90s.

It was also in Richmond where Hutcherson met the developers of the Carefree Resort in Fort Myers, Florida, through her work with Olivia Cruises for lesbians.

“Carefree broke ground in 1996 and opened in 1997. They flew me down to see it, because I talk to so many women (my goal was to meet every lesbian in the world) and do the Olivia things. I really liked the concept, and I’m surrounded now by people I’ve known for years and years. It is a marvelous place.”

There, Hutcherson and her wife participate in community organizing, PR, and fundraising.

“I often get to introduce speakers and activities and I created and maintain a Facebook group for women interested in Carefree Resort,” she says.

She organizes the annual Pride Day Golf Cart Parade at Carefree, where her vanity plates are known far beyond the shores of Ft. Myers.

Mary  Gay Hutcherson
Yolanda Farnum Mary Gay Hutcherson leads the annual Pride Day Golf Cart Parade at the Resort on Carefree Boulevard

“The vanity tag on my golf cart is Mary Gay,” says Hutcherson. “One day, I’m walking home and two women are standing there looking at the license plate. They said, ‘We wondered if there was more than one Mary Gay in the world!’ They had been in my solo group on the Alaska cruise about twenty years ago.”

“Four people on that cruise later became couples that I know of,” says Hutcherson, “and many women became couples after meeting at my potlucks. One of them is now at Carefree. It’s a small lesbian world.”

Pride in Pictures is LGBTQ Nation’s annual series celebrating Pride across the country. We asked our readers to send in their pictures and stories of Pride and we got so many rainbows. Keep an eye out for more heartwarming stories to get you ready for Pride Month 2024.

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