Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Survived My First LGBTQ... Support Group Meeting

I have been so desperate to talk face-to-face to someone who knows what I'm going through. I was the third person to arrive at the designated support group location and could tell that I was totally giving off standoffish vibes. I could feel myself telling everyone that I was uncomfortable there but I did not know how to stop it. I busied myself with stuff on my phone. When the group facilitator, Cori (my Campus Health counselor), arrived the ice was immediately broken. She made everyone feel welcome and it became obvious that I was the only first-timer in the group. And surprisingly to me, there was only one other male and about a dozen females in attendance.

We introduced ourselves by name, portion of the alphabet soup with which we identify, gender pronouns we prefer for ourselves, and "a brag and a drag." By the time I had selected my letter from the soup and noted that it was my first time ever attending a group of this kind I was already a little teary-eyed. What is wrong with me??????

I don't know if I was intimidated or scared or what but I did not know how to act while surrounded by a mob of lesbians. Everyone seemed very friendly and many appearances were comically stereotypical. Three out of the group had gone together to get their hair chopped off short and dyed funky colors during the previous week.

In general the conversation was less sexual than one might expect from such a gathering, yet much more sexual than I am accustomed to discussing in polite company. Perhaps the most awkward part about it was the impromptu discussion of Katy Perry during the Superbowl and wishing her "boobs" had been more visible or that there had been another wardrobe malfunction. I just did not anticipate hearing a lot about boobs at my first gay meeting, but that's probably because I didn't expect to be surrounded by gay women at my first gay meeting.

Cori asked for topics that people wanted to discuss. The girl next to me suggested "bi-curiosity." The only other guy in the room suggested "doubting your conclusion that you are gay." Then the facilitator made it obvious that she wanted me to participate since I was being quiet and it was my first time so I suggested "religious/cultural conflict." We ended up discussing things in that order.

One of the girls preceded every one of her comments with "I was really high at the time so I'm not sure this is really how it happened . . ." The other guy seemed like he was generally more shy than me but more comfortable in the current setting than I was. Another girl had introduced herself as heterosexual and described herself during conversation as asexual.

The bi-curiosity topic was suggested not because the girl next to me was experiencing it, but rather, because she had been on a date with a girl who presented herself as a legit, bonafide lesbian, only to later reveal that she was still trying to figure out for herself if she was into girls or not. This was a difficult situation for the girl next to me because she really liked this girl because she was the first "straight-looking (like a blonde sorority girl)" girl that she had ever been on a date with. Hm. Not something I had ever considered. Several others chimed in about how difficult it could be to help another girl experiment when all you really want is a real long-term relationship, not one that could very likely go nowhere because the other person is so far behind in her coming out. Also things I had never considered.

I assume that questioning one's sexuality even once you have a pretty good idea that your orientation is of the non-majority type is pretty common. This stands in stark contrast to my process of deny, deny, deny, deny until you can't deny any longer, then adopt "bi" because it gives both you and your parents hope, then get married only to finally face the truth. But I digress . . . The girls kept trying to suggest things like maybe go on some dates with some guys if you feel comfortable with it. It was all very nice and supportive, but let's be honest, guys are visual creatures. Haha. I'm only slightly kidding. But all I could really do is look back at my own experience and chime in about some things that were pretty hard to deny in retrospect. I proposed thinking about being in a room of his peers and considering if he would be more excited to see the guys or the girls get naked. I suggested that if he had caught himself looking at/thinking about other guys for long periods of time all while rationalizing to himself that he just admired them and wanted to be like them that might be something to pay attention to. I also commented that if he had ever watched straight porn and only paid attention to the guy, not caring at all what the girl was up to that might be an indicator of note. One of the girls countered that lots of straight women like lesbian porn. That might be true, but I am pretty sure that the parallel is much less common for guys.

For the most part I really regret suggesting my topic for discussion - should have known!!!!! It was interesting to find out that the girl next to me had been raised in the Mormon church but her parents divorced several years ago and they have not participated since. Another girl noted that her "Jack Mormon" mom never took her to church but she frequently went with her grandparents while growing up. Most of the other comments were so derogatory or unintelligible that they are not worth mentioning here. High girl chimed in a lot during this portion. The saddest part of it all was that most of them not only could not understand that this was a very real issue for me, but also that they didn't have the sensitivity to at least feign compassion for me. We had been invited at the beginning to speak up if others' comments were offensive, but I was so intrigued? by what was happening before my eyes that I did not think about saying anything until it had all quieted down again.

As a group they were very immature (maybe rightfully so - they were probably all undergrads at an institution that is not nearly as selective as it used to be in its admissions). It left me highly dissatisfied and unlikely to go back except for the desire I feel to try to be there for the one other guy who was there. There was a significant amount of talk about asexuality, which got me thinking . . . I feel really asexual right now. Not in the oh-my-gosh-I've-actually-been-asexual-and-not-gay-this-whole-time kind of way, but in a different way. My soul just feels too tired to love or be loved, my mind is spinning too much to know up from down, and heart is too torn to know what it should do any more. I actually feel more alone than I did before the meeting :(


  1. The feeling you are describing sounds like emotional exhaustion. You are taking brave steps with emotional risk and it is not surprising that it would be draining. That is human! But it is truly worth it, and I applaud your courage. I hope you find time to recharge. The resting pause between endeavors can be as essential as the endeavors themselves.

  2. I applaud your bravery in facing this head on. It is absolutely the right thing to do, even if difficult. I am sorry that the support group was not exactly what you needed or were looking for. I wish I was closer to give you a hug and offer a sympathetic ear. It does sound to me like you have a good counselor in Cori and hope you will continue to see her. It seems to me that your uncertainty indicates that you have not yet found the right solution for you, and you need more time to sort through things. You are not on some deadline, so let things unfold naturally. I believe that once you are headed in the direction that feels like the right one, you will feel more peace and certainty about it.

  3. It's always difficult to listen to people make light of something that is so deeply important to you. The decision and process of fitting your attraction to the same sex and your desire to be a member of the church is a tough one. Good for you for not loosing it at the support group or just walking out!

  4. Thanks for sharing this. My first face-to-face meeting with exclusively with guys. The thing I noticed (being a visual creature) was how much of a cross section of everyday life they were: some very good looking, most average, some looking like life had really beat them up. The most jarring and also wonderful thing is how comfortable they were with touch and hugging. I realized I had been starved for male touch. I found this part of the meeting both affirming and disturbing. I realized how I had tried for years to not feel my yearnings and how much I longed to simply be in the embrace of another man.

  5. I agree with Jay. Coming out in the way you did, is exhausting. Especially after hiding who you are for so long. You are brave, I don't think I could ever do a LGBT group. But try things out. If they work for you, stick with them. If they don't work, don't be afraid to move on and try something else.