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Meetings at CGM during 2001

An update on the efforts of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry coalition, from a well-informed member who’s been attending their meetings. Some of the hurdles they face are daunting; within, they must first agree on nomenclature, that is, are they pursuing full marriage or civil unions instead? Then, they have a conservative legislature (and public) to begin educating.
Tonight began with an update on the guy who had mailed the bad news with his Christmas has turned into a very positive experience. Then we segued to the main topic, which was on a strange form of homophobia...why is it common that the people who have the most trouble with our coming out are gay? We explored several avenues with this.
Several members had attended a retreat in Kirkridge, and spoke of that experience.
The Tupperware Party Night. Who knew the advances made to turkey basters would cause such commotion in our room?
Personal support for member. The joy and loneliness of keeping the family together by remaining in the same house as your ex-wife and kids.
Presentation by PFLAG-NH. Three reps from the Concord PFLAG chapter spoke of their experiences at home and since joining PFLAG.
Our planned movie night was aborted because someone didn’t verify the tape actually contained the movie! Emergency backup facilitators Stu and Dave took over and kept the meeting from falling apart. Topics included reflections on the PFLAG presentation from the previous week, and reflections on the Gay Relationships program given at SGM the previous Monday.
How does our group respond if, when meeting in a public place, we encounter offensive comments made by staff? Consensus: handle it immediately, handle it in person. Also, we got an insider’s look at the excellent testimony given to defeat NH House Bill 454, from 2 members who were there and testified! Finally, we reflected on Elton John’s decision to perform a duet with Eminem.
Movie night: Anatomy of a Hate Crime.
Why is it difficult to attract the attention of another man? Or, why are we so shy at it? How do we know that another man is interested in us? How do societal roles for men play a part? Why have the bars become such a difficult place to meet guys? Good questions and good comments this evening, despite a late-winter snowstorm!
Tonight’s discussion was inspired by the Matthew Shepard movie two weeks ago. The question before the group: Did he set himself up for it? What level of risk are we willing to accept when we meet someone? One member gave a chilling personal account of his own brush with violence; another observed how much the atmosphere changed at the bar frequented by Jeffery Dahmer after he was caught.
Tonight started with a survey which asked, among other things, whether you believed that you were “born gay”. This started off the evening’s topic, which soon settled around these questions: How prevalent is “being gay” in our otherwise ordinary lives? Do some men integrate their gayness so well that they forget about it, or is it on their minds first thing each morning? Does this interfere (or enhance) the way we interact in mainstream social situations (that is, with heterosexuals)? Many members varied in their degree of integration, and in their comfort in straight society.
How do you handle a date with a virgin, especially if they are giving signals of sexual interest? Can a man who has not experienced the strictly physical aspects of interacting understand casual sex? Or is he a floodgate of emotion waiting to be unleashed? Many members recounted their “first time” and the corresponding emotional element. A wonderful discussion amid CGM’s smallest crowd in ages (due to a Spring snowstorm).
Our first mini-group meeting, with 7 to 8 members per group. Group 1 discussed coming out, with emphasis on how one confronts the parents. Group 2 discussed Pride, foster and adoptive parenting, coming out, and one member’s new boat. Group 3 discussed passions, gout (yes, gout), and coming out. Group 4 defined “woof,” the structure of CGM, and the differences between CGM and SGM. The mini-group idea was so well received that we’ll be doing this every month.
“Offended by Butch Bunny? Story at 11.” One member told of a female coworker who was offended by his little stuffed bunny with a sign that read “Kiss my ear...NOW!” Is there a overlapping gray area between sexual harassment and homophobia in the workplace?
The Concord Monitor this week devoted half of its front page and its entire back page to full color coverage of a gay prom, held locally and attended by more than 120 students. Although the photos focused on the “drag element” of the event, the article was very positive. As expected, the “I’m canceling my subscription” letters rolled in, and a question was raised by a should we respond to this? The discussion first focused on the types of people who come forward like this: the insecure among us. Then, two main points were raised. First, don’t wait for the negative letter to respond. Instead, respond immediately (in a very positive way) to the event itself, so that the positive and negative letters appear on the same page and people “on the fence” can decide for themselves. Second, never underestimate the power of being out. Putting a face on homosexuality makes the fear melt away.
Reflections on a member who was hospitalized this week after suffering a heart attack. The discussion gave way to a menacing question: What if my partner is in intensive care; can his family keep me from seeing him? The answer was a chilling “yes.” In some areas, the road to equality remains a long one.
Many members were off at GMT for the weekend...many thanks to guest facilitators Sam and Stu for filling in. Tonight was hodge-podge night, with topics ranging from religion to politics.
The heat is back and the mosquitoes are hungry; members were clapping and swatting all night. The main topic tonight was on creativity. One member is nearly finished publishing a novel, which he is doing as a hobby (keeping his day job). I asked whether the stresses of life keep us from exploring our creativity, thus depriving ourselves of a potential form of therapy. Most thought not. Creativity may take many forms, it need not result in something as retailable as a painting, and it may even be found in one’s job. With some time to spare, we also discussed briefly our relationships with our mothers.
Mini-groups returns. Some topics covered by the groups: relationship longevity, relationships with one’s spouses/kids, the “ex-gay” movement, differences between straight/gay groups, gay TV, the effect of the NH Pride cancellation, the need for politics in the gay community, coming out to family, coming out at work.
Thanks to Mike for guest facilitating tonight. The 20/20 special concerning the children of gay parents was shown followed by discussion.
The value and benefit of coming out at work, and strategies to handle the probably unintentionally hurtful things said by coworkers in earshot of those of us who choose to stay in the closet. Good advice and discussion.
Many thanks to guest facilitator Stu. Reflections on Gay Pride was tonight’s topic. Particularly, the focus was on the canceled Pride celebration originally scheduled for 6/16 in Manchester. Is Pride still needed? What is the social climate here, as compared to the surrounding states?
Mini-groups. Topics were varied and included Gay Pride, politics, the Boy Scouts, children, and the future of the gay community. One group hit upon a very important topic, though...who’s hotter, William or Harry?
A couple of new members asked during introductions, “Is there anything gay in New Hampshire?” The hour was thus spent listing all of the things that CGM members have participated in during the past year, including other support/social groups, cruises, film festivals, retreats, and even some non-gay (yet campy) things to do.
Tonight’s topic opened with a quiz...Guess the Topic! I read excerpts from an honest 1970’s Guide To Stop Masturbating. Some of the tips were hilarious (“in extreme cases, tie one of your hands to the bedframe...”). The topic, thus, was why are serious, good-intentioned people still of the opinion that masturbation is a bad thing? Several members shared funny stories of how this topic came up at home.
A new member asked for some coming out advice, and meeting people advice. We obliged with stories and tips!
Tonight was mini-groups. I offered to each group a couple of choices. (1), try to come up with a recommendation for response to the Salvation Army deal with “W” or the proposed constitutional amendment on the definition of marriage. Or (2), talk about whatever you like. Two of the groups struggled with choice (1), but realized that the issues are grave and the solutions, difficult. A theme emerged from the other groups...CGM should do more social things. Drag Bingo? Club night? Gay Bowling? Gay Six Flags Day? All we need is someone to put it together...
Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the AIDS epidemic. Tips on where to get tested for HIV, and discussion on how the specifics of what is “safe sex” changes based on where and when you go. Despite the morbidness of the topic, the mood was lightened with many hilarious retail-based stories shared by several members!
Support for 2 members tonight. One unfolded a triangular tale...if my brother’s roommate makes unwelcome advances on me, and I don’t know the nature of their relationship, how bad can this get? The other told us of the dark side of coming out and how that has made him despise being gay. Great support from everyone tonight.
Movie night: Paragraph 175. We followed up with a brief discussion of the movie. Most members were very glad that we watched this important film.
Robbie Tonneberger, co-chair of Chiltern Mountain Club, visited CGM tonight with a slide show about his organization.
Personal support for new member. How does someone who’s friendless and “not a nice person”, who’s just come away from a 9+ year relationship, start over? Good support from the group tonight.
Tonight began with the unveiling of and discussion over the new process to define CGM membership. Then we broke into 3 mini-groups to socialize/discuss whatever each group desired. Since mini-groups started late, there was no return to the big group to list what each mini-group discussed.
It was story night. One member told a chilling story that ultimately answered a question he’s been asked a lot: Why are you always in a good mood? Others chimed in with stories of family, of visits to memorials, and other bonmot.
CGM’s 2nd Anniversary party. Two years ago, CGM adopted its name. Tonight, we celebrated that milestone. Cake and punch was served while members socialized or watched a handful of short films. Many thanks to members who contributed food and helped with the set up and clean up.
Mini-group discussions about the devastating New York City and Washington DC terrorist attacks, and how the world has changed because of them.
A little politics. Last night, George Bush addressed the nation concerning the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This speech pushed the President into favorable ratings territory never held by any President before (in the history of polls). We wanted to know: how is the President handling the situation, and did the speech change your outlook on the country or on Bush himself? Most agreed that it was too soon to tell.
Many thanks to Eric for facilitating while Jeremy was away. Tonight the group listened while a member told of his recent coming out to his 91 year-old mother!
The night began with some personal support for a member. After this, Jeremy shared some pictures of his first drag experience, and asked this question: Is the drag experience liberating for all? Many members divulged the drag in their past and shared their stories.
Mini-groups. Topics varied from group to group as usual.
Mainstreaming Part I. Tonight we began a series of discussions aimed at the crowd of us who are already out of the closet. It began with the reading of an article written by Meg Mott, called “Take Back the Queers.” In it she decries that gay marriage is stripping us of our loud and screaming gay identity. The discussion that followed brought up some good points that Ms. Mott missed, most notably the fact that you still can be prevented from seeing your partner if he’s in the hospital.
Mainstreaming Part II. Continuation on last week’s theme; this time, of the way we act in straight society. This topic was a little less formal than last week’s, since some guest speakers I had lined up couldn’t make it!
A small group discussion tonight...we chose this over the originally scheduled movie night.
The almost all-business meeting. Tonight we covered a multitude of business related topics, including guidelines for our literature exchange, the Activities and Hospitality committees, the new membership form, upcoming potluck and social schedules, and a short discussion about each of the positions on the Board that are up for election. We had about 15 minutes to have a regular discussion, which started out as a story of a unique guy who has chosen to be monogamously married while declaring himself gay. This generalized into the types of relationships gay men develop with their ex’s.
Mini-groups, following introductions that developed and maintained a fascinating medical-problem-confessional theme.
Another highly successful after-Thanksgiving potluck held at Stu and Dave’s house in Hooksett.
Tonight, half or more of our regular guys opted (with our support and blessing) to support and enjoy the Gay Men’s Chorus, which performed at the same place and time as our group. The chorus group reported a really excellent show while the group group discussed coming out for a member who has some long-term friends who are homophobic.
Annual Business Meeting. Outgoing president George led the meeting, which included officer reports, a change to the bylaws, and election of the 2002 CGM Board. Three current board members were reelected and CGM welcomed two new faces to join the two existing board members. After all this, we did regular introductions, and when that was all done, it was time to go out to dinner!
Movie night: Big Eden on the big screen. Many thanks to Ken for supplying this excellent movie that was a bit hit at the Keene Film Festival in October. Many thanks to Jeff for supplying munchies!
Yankee Swap. Thanks to everyone for contributing a gift. A lot of fun for all.
Open discussion, hosted by Eric.

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