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In a room full of queers –

06/08/2010

A friend called me at the office one afternoon last summer wondering if I wanted to try happy hour at a popular gay bar. “When,” I asked, meaning what day. “In about 30 minutes,” he said. I asked him why the hurry. He said, “Oh, I just need to be in a room full of queers.”

Bang! Got it! I knew exactly what he meant.

This particular friend has been out since he was in college, but I sometimes get the same hankering. And I think this may be especially true of those of us who come out late. I don’t generally hang or cruise in bars, but I do have a need to be among people who are like me. It just feels right. And I missed out on that feeling for a long time.

Before I came out, I never felt completely whole. I never felt like I really belonged anywhere ­– in a social setting, in a marriage, as a member of my family of origin. But I have finally realized that I do belong in a crowd of gay people.

If you haven’t, try going to a bar and see if you catch the vibe. You don’t even have to drink. Go there just to be there.  Gay bars can be tricky for the novice – do not go by yourself until you are comfortable doing so (I still don’t), and understand that it may take a few times before the vibe hits. But go.

If bars aren’t your thing, there are other ways to accomplish the same goal. Most cities have a Gay or Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Most cities and larger towns have non-profits that deal with AIDS and related issues. All these organizations need a steady supply of volunteers.

Many cities have an annual LGBT Pride Festival and other Pride events during the year. Lotsa queers there!

Most cities and larger towns have one or more churches with a largely gay congregation, and many bigger cities have gay synagogue or two. Nashville, being the Buckle of the Bible Belt, has four big gay churches and a number of others that welcome gays. (This may be because Nashvillians go to church more than most people, or that we are more out, or that we are just gayer. Who knows?) Anyway, joining a group and/or volunteering can be good for you in all sorts of ways beyond putting you into a majority-gay context.

The point is not so much where; it’s who. Get yourself into a room full of queers now and then. You’ll feel better for it.

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