I think sometimes we gay men limit ourselves by imagining we can only connect through traditional venues like gay bars, coffee shops, and hookup apps. I find that sometimes gay men who have richer social lives and friendships are those who find different ways to get involved in community.

Some examples might include attending advocacy/activist meetings, joining a gay interest group like a book club, a writer’s group, a choir, a theater group, or even an LGBTQ-affirming church for gay men of faith.

Meetup.com can be a good resource for locating gay and gay-friendly groups.

Once, for example, after a move that brought me outside my usual network of friends, I used Meetup to look for things I could do to socialize in my new city. I found a group of French speakers who got together two or three times a month for coffee or drinks, to practice their language skills. I noticed that several active members seemed like they were probably gay men.

I attended a few events and started to make friends, outside gay cultural expectations of sex and hooking up.

I made good friends, gay and straight, and was able to integrate nicely into my new community. I think if I’d spent most of my time on gay-specific apps or hanging out at gay spaces like bars, I’d have had a much harder time.

Being rather shy and kind of an introvert, those spaces don’t work well for me in the first place, but the idea that they’re primarily about hooking up might make it worse.

I like to find friends in spaces where common interests make for relatively low-pressure opportunities for conversation and bonding.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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