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New documentary explores little-known KC neighborhood originally developed exclusively for lesbians

By DONNA PITMAN

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KMBC) — A Kansas City neighborhood filled with 100-year-old homes and towering trees is full of history extending far beyond the houses themselves.

Nearly 30 years ago, between Longfellow and Midtown, Kansas City was home to a community developed exclusively for lesbians. It’s a history not known to even longtime city residents.

Filmmaker Sandy Woodson is on a mission to change that.

“This group of women, against all odds, in a place that was not safe for anybody when they came in,” Woodson said. “They were more like, we want to live here, and we’re going to make this work!”

The filmmaker sees beauty in the community nearly three decades after the neighborhood known as “Womontown” was in its heyday.

“W-O-M-O-N-T-O-W-N. They wanted to keep the word ‘man’ out of it,” Woodson said.

Womontown was a neighborhood formed by two women who wanted to own a home and feel safe and seen in a time much less accepting for lesbians. In her film by the same name, Woodson reminds viewers how different things were thirty years ago.

“You couldn’t tell people you were gay without fear of losing your jobs,” Woodson said.

Word got out, and within a few years, there were 80 homes owned by and lived in by women who came from all over the country to live in a place they could feel accepted and safe.

Sue Moreno and her partner Beverly were among the first women to buy a home in Womontown.

“If we needed a wrench, we’d call (and ask,) ‘Do you got this wrench for fixing this? Could you help me paint the kitchen?’ People would show up and help each other rehab their houses,” Moreno said.

Their joy, achievements, heartaches and journeys are documented and shared in the film. Woodson is determined to make sure what was once a neighborhood that, by design, was kept hidden will forever hold its spot in history.

It’s a history Moreno says is worth telling.

“It makes me real proud,” Moreno said.

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