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A History of Gay Support in Concord

Although not a big city, Concord has hosted gay men's support groups since at least the early 1980s. The earliest known reference is an announcement of a young men's group that met on Sunday nights in Concord; this appeared in the November, 1982 newsletter for Seacoast Gay Men, itself only 3 years old at the time. Two months later, SGM reported that it was distributing N.H. Services for Gay Men, a paper written by "the Concord Group." The card at right joins these items and gives us a name; it was printed in the June, 1983 SGM newsletter. Thanks to SGM for access to their archive for this information.

The group itself would eventually adopt the name "Gay Men's Professional Association." This group probably continued to meet until the early 1990s. Expect this to be revised if I learn more.

Around 1993, "Out & Proud," a support group for gay men began meeting on Friday nights above Foodees downtown. The late Jim Bretz served as the moderator for this group during it's six-year run. He also answered the phone at the Gay Info Line and was one of the most actively involved people in the state. Out & Proud celebrated its 5th anniversary at an apartment clubhouse in 1998 with about 20 people in attendance. But by May of 1999, as meeting attendance slowly dissipated to 5-6 men per week, Jim announced that he would step down as moderator.

After Jim's last meeting in late May, the 4 remaining regulars decided that a gay men's support group was still viable in Concord. During July, the group examined what it was that kept newcomers from sticking. The brainstorming led to only one solution: break free from Concord's old Friday night formula, remain vigilant of cliques, be welcoming in whatever we do, and find a brighter, friendlier place to meet. Four newcomers had arrived during July to join us still on the ground floor. These 8 men, CGM's "Founders," held an election, asking Jeremy to lead the group as its new moderator. Jeremy's first meeting as moderator was August 20.

By then, it was clear that the original Out & Proud was closed, so only one question remained. Who are we? Jeremy asked that the attendees submit possible names, with a vote to be held in early September. Many names were submitted, but only one prevailed. The first full meeting of Capital Gay Men was held on September 3, 1999. Jeremy was the moderator and Dave was the treasurer. CGM inherited $52 left over from Out & Proud's treasury. CGM moved into it's new home, the U.U. Church in Concord on November 12, thanks to the efforts of Mike E.

Like all new groups, CGM had growing pains. Jeremy preferred to let the group grow and evolve on its own, rather than be led by individual vision. Thus, meetings often included a "business segment" to gather input on decisions. By June of 2000, some of these segments consumed the entire meeting time. A workgroup formed to move business decisions offline. A new structure was created to serve as the backbone of CGM, which solved many problems.

More to come...


Last 10 Meetings at CGM

Movie night: Unconditional Love.
Tonight we read from Camille Beredjick’s 12/17 blog post that criticized The Advocate’s selection of Pope Francis as their "Person of the Year." We mostly agreed that they did it only to sell magazines; we’d have selected Edie Windsor in a heartbeat, and we'd also recognize silent heroes Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris. After this, Sam got us caught up on another round of Hot Topics, where we learned that the happiest couples are gay couples without kids, and that gays are roughly twice as likely to be smokers and in recovery programs.
Jeremy formally started his term as VP by presenting his resolutions for CGM in 2014. Then we speculated on what it might be like to live in Maine!
Sam presented the results from the sex survey that CGM members completed in 2011, then compared our results to the national survey results.
23 engaged in rounds of trivia questions from the 1990s. Curiously, it was our youngest attendees (in grade school at the time) who had the right answers! Too much time for TV back then?
We were enlightened by Don's excellent transgender presentation tonight. He nicely combined the scientific and clinical with the emotional and intimately personal. We were still going strong at 9:07! The attendees also affirmed that CGM is an organization for gay men, but we acknowledged that we've never required the plumbing match the identity.
36 turned out for our first potluck of the year, held at the church. Many flavors of mac and cheese were offered, as well as an assortment of Valentine's Day desserts! We'll do this again in March unless a member wants to host it at his house...any takers?
SNOW DAY. The meeting was cancelled due to the blizzard. Glenn M's presentation will be rescheduled to a later date.
The guys submitted discussion topic ideas at the start of this week's meeting. Billy tested the viability of some of the topics by launching them as discussions. The one that generated the most interest was travel destinations. Thoughts of Spring must already be in the air!
We briefly discussed the important aspects of the presidential inauguration (e.g. Michelle's dress and bangs). There also was the minor detail that this was the first time a president has ever included GLBT causes in his inaugural, though we quickly returned to the important stuff (Michelle's shoes). After this we engaged in a few rapid rounds of speed-friending!

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