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By working through a community service center, we

were soon able to hear and see the needs Gay people have

as a

whole

community. It came as a shock to some naive

people that there were Gay people who were not all young,

all anxious for a radical, fluid life-style. We were able,

through much hard work to transform this recognition into

a powerful force, one with a strong sense of Gay sisterhood

and brotherhood.

We started a counselling service staffed by Gay

volunteers. The needs saw

<!S

greatest were aloneness and

communications. By aloneness I do not

m~'an

stcreotypic

Boys in the Band

loneliness- but the aloneness, the

alienation that is omnipresent in urban American society.

Such simple group activities as pot luck dinners were our

first major successes. The dynamic of shared meals

continues to carry enormous weight in our interactions.

Other successful activities were as revolutionary as a

softball team and picnics at local beaches.

Aloneness also brings fear and Gay House's function as a

drop-in center soon proved itself a way to overcome that

fear of aloneness. We became a gathering place where fear

could be overcome by sharing with others. We had put

together a large room of Salvation Army furniture and an

open door without knowing what types of people would be

attracted to try to meet what needs. Within a few weeks, it

became obvious that there would be no "type" of Gay

House person. Without FREE's political and confronta–

tional orientation and with a conscious effort on the part of

both men and women to work together on this particular

project, Gay House attracted some middle-aged, middle class

and working class, as well as the more expected college aged

group. The conversations did become typed enough though

-over and over again the basic exchange was about the fear

of "discovery" by family, friends, employers. It soon

became obvious that the people coming to Gay House were

coming to express these fears and to find strength to

overcome them with positive action.

We also found that there is no special type of aloneness

for Gay people. We have some areas where needs were

intensified, but basically we were called on to do the same

things that every other community service agency in the

Twin Cities found itself doing: taking older women and

men through the maze of welfare, providing emergency

loans for housing and food, smoothing over rifts between

parole officers and parolees, visiting single people in the

hospital, arranging birthday parties for people new in town.

Any Gay group lax in meeting these real needs of the

community should try to increase their effort. It is

precisely because of such areas as these that younger

militant groups seem to find themselves unable to relate to

older people. Our more fluid lifestyles and our youth tend

to help us to superficially overcome basic aloneness and

make us forget the legitimate needs of others.

T

he probll'ms in communication became obvious to

us through those people who sought actual

"counselling" through individuals and groups.

Again the problems were not unique to our Gay

community, but they were intensified. All too often our

only ways to communicate affection, fear, love, loneliness

and anger arc based on American sex roles. One key to

liberating ourselves from sex roles is to find more honest

and direct ways of communicating. It is because of this

observation that group sessions aimed at communication

skills and led by trained group leaders have become our

major form of counseling.

The basic problems seem to come down to the fact that

men and women simply do not know how to relate socially

and sexually to people of lhe same sex and therefore felt

them~elves

alienated even from their own Gay community.

The invalid sex role models of American society became

totally inapplicable to a Gay situation. The problems

seemed most acute in males, but perhaps I say that because

I am male. We simply do not know how to hold other

men's hands comfortably. If men and women are to

overcome sexist stereotypes, they must be given models of

alternatives and avenues where they can develop their own

alternatives with strong support from others.

Once we began the

c?un~sellin_g

work and the drop-in

center, we soon came to fmd a growing sense of humility in

our inability to meet the needs of a community as large as

ours is in the Twin Cities. It has become increasingly

obvious to us that if we were able to meet these needs we

could not just engage in the construction of our own

motive