In my Queer Men Thrive group this Sunday, we discussed the importance of making real-life connections with other queer men. Having queer support outside your family, work, and even romantic relationship is vital for our health, but it is not easy to find true queer friends.
Many of the members told stories of meeting their friends off of the dating apps or online. They initially connected because of physical attraction but were not a good fit romantically. Some became great friends or friends with benefits. There can be advantages of having friends with benefits, and those who succeed in that can separate friendship from love. While others feel they get too attached emotionally and tend to want more.
There is a lack of authentic connections in our community where many of our friends are just around to party. When it comes down to it, we may joke about the challenges of being queer while taking a shot, but we don't have many opportunities to be genuinely vulnerable.
Why are queer connections meaningful? The group's consensus was that it's essential to have friends who understand your life as a queer person. Having that shared experience is so important. We want to feel seen, understood, and validated. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having straight friends, but they cannot understand the queer experience.
The members had varying degrees of friendship groups, with some having very few queer friends to others having multiple groups (gaming, social, work). The overall feeling was that finding queer friends with whom we could be authentic and discuss our emotions and challenges was rare. It is not easy to make friends because we meet mostly through dating/hook-up apps. We all agreed that finding platonic gay friends is vastly essential for our social identity and our mental health.
My group has provided a unique opportunity for the members to build networks with like-minded people and connect in a space where they are allowed and encouraged to be nothing but vulnerable. It is a great thing to experience and be a part of.
Have a good week, friends