Connecting with the LGBT Community
What sort of things do you like to do now to have fun? Or maybe you can think of something that you enjoyed doing in the past—like being in band or sports in high school—that you would like to do again? Stepping into a new community or group can be scary at first, but with a little information (and maybe with a friend at your side) you can jump in like the rest of us! The benefits of being part of a community far outweigh the initial fear of walking into that first meeting, gathering, or event. It can lead to a life-long attachment to people that share your views, experience a lot of the same pressures, and under it all, like to do some of the everyday activities that you do as well.
Below is a list of ways that you can connect with the LGBT community in your area, by joining in, or by creating a group for you and others to build:
- Start a GSA chapter at your high school. Join an LGBT support group at your local school, church, or community center. Don’t have one? Create one! Click here to download the step-by-step guidelines provided by the GSA Network. The GSA Network is full of information on starting, maintaining, and operating a successful GSA at your school. Check out the map of nationwide networks.
- Join the LGBT group on your college campus. For example, Northwestern University, where we are based, has several to choose from, see here. You can find one at your own school with just a simple google search.
- Intern or volunteer with nonprofit organizations working for LGBT causes such as marriage equality or HIV prevention. These organizations are always looking for volunteers. Do good work, meet like-minded activists, feel good about yourself while also helping your community. For example, Chicago’s Center on Halsted LGBT Community Center has a lot of volunteer and community activities to help you get involved.
- Volunteer at a pride parade or similar LGBT community event. This is your chance to wear drag, ride a float, and just have fun!
- Join online communities of like-minded people by blogging and using social media. Post pro-LGBT links on Facebook or retweet your favorite LGBT Twitter accounts. Popular LGBT twitter users change frequently, but you can stay on top of it by checking wefollow.
- Stay up-to-date on LGBT news, media and even celebrities by reading LGBT blogs, newspapers and magazines. Examples: GLSEN, Autostraddle, GayWrites , Advocate, UnicornBooty, Towelroad, Human Rights Campaign
- Buy products that support LGBT causes and shop at organizations that support LGBT people.
- Search the Internet for LGBT resources, clubs, and events in your city. What happens when you enter “gay” and your hometown?
- If you’re going on vacation, look for LGBT-specific travel guides and websites. These will list LGBT-specific clubs, bars, bookstores, events, and historic places. Examples: American Airlines Gay And Lesbian Travel & Vacation Packages and Orbitz Gay & Lesbian Travel
- Join a sports league or club; finish a marathon with other frontrunners. Examples: Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association, Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago
- Join a band or a choir and let your inner diva shine. Examples: Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus
- Attend a gay-friendly and welcoming church such as St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chicago
- Join a book club – you’re probably not the only Joan Didion fan out there. Chicago Gay Men’s Book Club