Saturday 7th May
I had the pleasure to be invited to guest-facilitate the The Christian Support Group For Gay/Bi Men Ages 20-39. The blurb on it in Gay Charlotte reads as follows: Facilitated by Jim Green, M.Div, Psychotherapist. A Ministry of Wedgewood Baptist Church. This group offers an opportunity to discuss scripture, prayer, emotional well-being and relationships with other gay men, plus social events. Free of charge.
This is a multi faith group for Gay Christian men. It is run by my friend Jim Green who is a respected counselor in Charlotte. We organized this by email while I was travelling Europe. On the way to the group he clarified with me what my spiritual beliefs are. I suspect he was pleased I had some and that I wasn’t a satanist.
America is a fascinating place when it comes to religion. I discussed with the group the difference in religion here and in Australia. In Australia churches are largely dying. My friend is an Anglican priest and if he had a congregation of 100 people he would be very pleased. I am sure most people in Australia would admit to having some faith. Very few actively practice however and the congregations are rapidly diminishing and tend to be aged to dying. America, at least the experience I have had, appears to be an expanding church community. The congregation appears to cover all ages from birth to death, a thriving family (of all descriptions) community. Extracurricular activities appear to be the norm, including this amazing group I attended on Saturday night.
The group consists of roughly 20 plus people, all of whom are in different stages of their journey in coming out and negotiating the trickiness that is living life as a gay man. The topic I was asked to cover was “what does every gay or bisexual man need to know?” It’s a very vague topic and, in usual Nigel style, I rambled about myself mostly then touched base with the topic in the last five minutes. I had done the AIDS walk that morning and had talked with the people walking as to what they would offer as advice as to what every gay/ bisexual man should know.
This ranged from being given the phone number of one man to give to the group; to being told there is a such a thing as internet inches; to being told it is a straight, straight world; to being told to always use condoms.
My advice was more simple. Be true to yourself and love yourself. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. Jim and I then led the group in a discussion of monogamy in gay relationships; coming out stories; God’s and His influence on us; the imbalance of equality..
The group was dynamic and interesting. Each person had their own story; each person their own level of confidence in their identity at the moment. I was overwhelmed by the positives of the group. Their support and respect for each other.
All the while I kept thinking, “I wish this had existed for me when I was their age.” Truly I think my whole process of self-worth and self-esteem would have been so much the better for that support. I was pleased to have been asked to present at such a great group of people and would love the opportunity to return.
So I was thinking that and “I really have to move to Charlotte to run the 40 to death group.”
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