I suck at being gay
March 18, 2012 5:26 AM   Subscribe

I suck at being gay.

New to the city and newly gay. I came from a small town and have very little experience to LGBT culture. I want all the hints, tips, tricks, and whatever else you think I should know. I've recently found Savage Love, which has been really fun to listen to. Interesting blogs, news sources, or even people on twitter to follow would be appreciated.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A lot of LGB nightlife can be very shallow, whatever city you're in. My top tip (to anyone who's about to go on the scene for the first time in their life) would be to always stay true to who you are, not who you think you should be in terms of lifestyle or image. Sucking at being gay isn't necessarily a bad thing if you are otherwise happy with who you are. There's more to life than image and social hierarchies.

And be nice to people on the gay scene. Don't let yourself become unemotional and cynical in the future. Not that I'm suggesting you necessarily will. Good luck and enjoy!
posted by paperpete at 5:45 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Get involved in something not-on-the-Internet that is not necessarily LGBT-specific. Take a class, learn a skill, start going to pub quizzes, that sort of thing. The integration with your new local community will make you feel more relaxed and comfortable there as well as give you a wider/more diverse range of local friends, and that might help you feel more confident when you feel ready to tap into the local LGBT scene more.
posted by mdonley at 6:02 AM on March 18, 2012

Can you tell a mod which city do we can give you more specific recommendations?

Time Out usually has city-specific LGBTQ event listings. A friend in your situation used Craigslist to start our queer women's book club four years ago and it continues to be the center of my social life.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:27 AM on March 18, 2012

Sweetie, unless you are utterly failing to internally acknowledge your preference for same-sex relationships, you are not failing to be gay.

You're looking to join the culture, from which you've been unexposed to until recently. That's great. But darlin', change your mindset. You do not suck at being gay. Stop telling yourself that because you'll end up projecting it. You're not the first gay person who has moved to the "big city" and learned as they went along. An attitude of genuine curiosity and an eye toward caution will bring you great dividends; an attitude of "look at all the grownups, aw shucks!" and no sense of boundaries and safety will get you victimized. Commit to the former.
posted by juniperesque at 7:36 AM on March 18, 2012 [10 favorites]

You don't suck at being gay, you're just undereducated in gay culture. Fortunately, that's easily fixed. We were all new once.

Depending on your particular interests, there are all sorts of resources that might be useful. Maybe read The Advocate to get an idea of (largely cis-gendered gay male) current culture or Curve Mag for the female-oriented view, as well as organizations in your city that may advertise or be mentioned.

Depending on where you are, there may be an LGBTQ newspaper, although a lot of them have shut down due to the economy. There may be a center with various activities and groups that you can look into, and if not, there will be a PFLAG and probably a student group that you could attend to meet friendly people who are also still getting familiar.

I don't know where you are, but here in the Atlanta area we have a lot of LGBTQ softball teams, bowling leagues, parenting groups, singing groups, swim teams, outdoor adventure groups, etc. A lot of these you can discover through local media, bulletin boards in bars, MMC churches, LGBTQ centers, etc., but definitely attend your city's pride event (probably in June, but not necessarily) and check out all the booths and talk to people. Once you've made a few friends, it becomes a lot easier to make more through networking.
posted by notashroom at 7:42 AM on March 18, 2012

I'm sure this obvious, but I'll just emphasize that there is a lot more out there than just clubs and stuff. It's nice to make friends who are up for things like eating out, going to shows, doing road trips, and all that sort of thing. And worry about being good at being you, not about being good at being gay or whatever.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2012

Are you a man or a woman? There is a difference between L culture and G culture.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:56 AM on March 18, 2012

...and have very little experience to LGBT culture

The key point to remember is that there is no single "LGBT culture." There is a huge variety of LBGT cultures, plural, as Wordwoman and others have pointed out, and a huge variety of LBGT people who have all sorts of different interests, hobbies, values, etc. You'll find the folks who are right for you. Just keep an open mind, stay honest with yourself, and explore. It might help if you contacted the mods via the link at the bottom of this page and let them know what city you're in so folks nearby can point you to cool specifics.

A lot of LGB nightlife can be very shallow, whatever city you're in.

Amen to that. Going out to bars can be a lot of fun, but if part of what's bugging you is the ridiculously snooty attitude sometimes found in queer bars, don't worry about it too much. Those people are a silly cliché at this point.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

As far as I can tell there's as many ways to be gay as there are gay people. The "lifestyles" of some of my gay friends include juggling, a lot of gardening, obscure and geeky hobbies, DIY, the making of jam, and going to church. They are mainly remarkable for their unremarkableness. Most of the folks I know are not into partying it up and I don't believe any of the folks I know met their partners on the GAY SCENE.

So, not to put down "gay culture", but after you have read whichever blogs and literature people suggest, if you decide that's not your bag (it might be! but it might not!), nobody will revoke your gay card if you take your hanky out of your back pocket and go grow geraniums or something.

Oh, and much like straight people, some gay people are assholes, and if you meet those people it's quite fine to not like them and to go your own way. Don't go compromising who you are (or your personal health and safety) in your mission to broaden your horizons.
posted by emilyw at 10:32 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Moving to a new town does not mean you suck at being gay!

Stop by an event at the local LGBT Center geared toward people in your age group. There are also "coming out" social support groups that may be your speed.

Volunteer for a local LGBT organization, or any national organizations in your new city. See if there are any LGBT film fests in your city--volunteers get new friends and free tickets! If you're in DC, get in touch with Burgundy Crescent. If you're in NYC, volunteer at the Center or the Pride Agenda. If you're in LA, check out GLAAD, they have fun fancy celebrity parties you can volunteer at. If you're in Chicago, check out the Center on Halstead. I really like volunteer options because you have a built-in excuse to talk to people and meet new folks.

If you're in another city, just look for the local center and coffee shops in the gayborhood. Local coffee shops with the rainbow sticker are a great start. Talk to folks, check out all the flyers and lit. Check out local performances, ie: gay musicians. There are also gay sports leagues in big cities, and gay-friendly churches, if either of those are your things.

Most importantly: don't just go to bars, and don't just spend your time on hookup sites/apps. Totally a bad introduction to the local community.

If you can tell one of the mods how you identify (ie: gay man, lesbian, bisexual man, queer woman, etc.) and what city you are in, we all can be even more helpful.

In the meantime, enjoy yourself! You made it to the big city! Have fun!
posted by manicure12 at 11:38 AM on March 18, 2012

I asked a similar question a few years ago. Found here.

In the years since I've found that I'm into bears, seen a few musicals, met Armistead Maupin, Eric McCormack, and Jeff Lewis (Flipping Out), and been to the San Francisco Gay Pride March. I still don't know how to arrange flowers or sing show tunes by heart but I can 'camp out' with the best of them. Mostly, I still identify as a nerdy, quiet, geeky type but now have an expanding circle of both gay and straight friends who I can be myself with. I love being gay but more importantly, I love being myself.

YMMV, good luck on your journey of discovery.
posted by Advocate, I at 5:12 PM on March 18, 2012

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