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I’d like to ask, how is the bear community or the gay community in general in regards to how welcoming they are and friendly? My area currently isn’t very welcoming and I’ve noticed a lot of cliques when it comes to groups and whatnot. I’ve been planning on moving eventually but I’d like to go to an area with a good, friendly, gay community.Papa Tony:
I’ve been president of many, many clubs and affinity-groups over the decades. I have a few tips for getting past the usual indifference, gaining a foothold and fitting in.
ANY affinity-group has the potential to become a clique. I hate to see that. I have found that the new guy, the shy guy, the uncertain guy has the potential to be the one who adds value, and can even take over as leader/volunteer/star of that group some day. However, if he is never given a fair chance, then that possibility goes away, and everyone loses.
It would be GREAT if every group had somebody like me - a natural-born Julie the Cruise Director type. I see a new face, and I go toward them to thank them for showing up. I even give them tips on fitting-in as soon as possible, and then I introduce them around.
Fat lot of good that does YOU, living far away. Time for Plan B.
So, here are a few ways of cracking the shell of comfortable camaraderie that can be hard for a new guy to pierce.
- Find out who is/are the ringleaders/leaders. Who comes up with the plans that everybody else helps co-create?
- Once you find out, ask them questions... What events are coming up? How do I find out more? How can I help out? These questions show a strong interest, and they set you apart in a really good way. Here is why…
The person in charge gets jaded after a while. This is inescapable. Everybody who shows up WANTS something. Pretty soon, the endless "I need, I need" just becomes background noise. That's part of the reason why it's hard to be taken seriously as a new face in the crowd. HOWEVER, when somebody says "How can I help?!?" then heads whip around in pleasure and surprise.
Doors swing open that are closed to most new people. You move closer to being on the inside. Folks start seeing you as a fully-formed person, rather than just as one more face that fades in, and then fades out, like so many that can drop away when nobody welcomes them.
Then, you are a lot more likely to get what you are looking for.
If all else fails, go with Plan C: Keep showing UP. Never miss an event. Sooner or later, folks will start to take you seriously. Wear 'em down. It's hard to find social gatherings in Real Life that get you the hell away from your computer screen. They are worth fighting for.