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Meetings at CGM during 2002

A social evening that included the filling out of a survey, much discussion over a lot of great ideas submitted for our logo, and the usual catching up and gossiping!
A bit of a smorgasbord this evening. Discussion about the dark opening of season 2 of Queer as Folk; the new gay cable channel coming in March of 2003, and some personal support for a member. To end the evening, another member spoke of his plans for the purchase and renovation of a barn!
Mini-groups returned this evening after a hiatus.
A member began the evening by alerting us to a potential hate crime committed last year in Newburyport. He pondered that gaybashing could anywhere if it can occur in a gay-friendly town. Then, another member told us of his struggles and delights with taking care of his father, who suffered a stroke last year. The topic of aging, particularly the answer to “Who will take care of us?” was depressing. However, many members commented that this is a necessary topic and hope that we’ll cover it more in depth in the future.
The power of positive attitude and how quickly others notice it. You start by admitting that you are your own worst enemy, and you teach yourself not to listen to the little voice that says, “I’m a loser.” One member quipped that most of man’s problems in this regard stem from his inability to sit still in a room.
“My Transgendered Life” with guest speaker Ellen. Part personal story, part question-and-answer, Ellen captivated, entertained, and educated us on the incredible journey that is to be a post-op transgendered, working-in-Corrections, with kids, woman.
A new twist on mini-groups. Tonight, we split into groups not randomly, as before, but based on one’s interest. Two of the groups were social, and two were brainstorming sessions; one for future CGM activities, and the other for a CGM newsletter.
Last week’s activities mini-group was reportedly very productive, so the ideas brought up then were revisited by the entire group tonight. They included ten-pin bowling, rollerskating, outreach efforts, theater, Boston Pride, and other activities designed to bring other groups together. The most stirring of the ideas was a softball game between CGM and a local lesbian group to be held later this summer. Many guys raised their hands when asked if they were interested! After this, we discussed Rosie O’Donnell’s imminent coming-out and why she’s waiting to do it when everyone already knows.
A hopeless smorgasbord of topics. How to tell the realtor about the kind of neighborhood the gay man would be interested in. Follow-up on Ellen’s transgendered meeting three weeks ago. One member was pursued at a non-gay event; how does one respond, and more importantly, how does one do this safely? Discussion of the 2000 census, and how those who wrote-in “gay” were being counted. And finally, discussion about insurance for gay men.
Two members have lost family members this year, and wanted to let everyone know that getting your name on the deed of your parent’s house or other property might save you a lot of grief when your parents pass on. This launched us into a longer discussion about nursing home care, wills, power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and so on. At the end, the group asked that CGM pursue a guest speaker to further enlighten us on the topic.
Mini-groups. The two productive groups from last month returned (newsletter and activities brainstorming). Three new social groups were added to the mix.
Tonight’s discussion began with a summary of an NPR review of a book written by an African American. The book notes that his community is its own worst enemy by years of behaving like victims. He noted that progress cannot be made so long as the brightest and most gifted among his people are shunned as “conformists.” This led to a discussion of self-imposed victimization among the gay community. The conclusion: Live your life, but not as a victim. The follow up question that hung over the meeting’s end: How can one live like this, when subjected to the hate speech all around you?
Bill started the meeting by announcing the name of CGM’s first-ever newsletter: Capital Pride. Then we held a vote on the new logo for CGM, but we could not finalize this because two additional suggestions were made. This was followed with some personal support for a member.
Tonight we finalized the logo by holding another vote. Then, we talked about the plusses and minuses of long distance relationships.
Mini-groups. Tonight members split based on interest in automobiles, sex, and a mini-support group on coming out.
Tonight a member asked what he might do to begin to mend his relationship with his father. The main advice was to write a letter, in the hopes that it would possibly open a door. Even if it doesn’t, at least you won’t regret the rest of your life for not having tried.
The pedophile priest scandal. While everyone agreed that the most important thing is to stop the abuse of children, many members contemplated the side issues: What is behind the church cover-up? Why won’t the church come into the current century with regard to women and celibacy? Is the press joining the church in its bias against homosexuals? Some members revealed what it is like to be a child of abuse; others debated what violates a child more: physical rape or fondling. A thoughtful and lively discussion.
Movie night: Jeffery.
Guest speakers Paul and Norm from the Merrimack Valley Assistance Program discussed their organization, services offered, and plans for the future.
With such a small turnout, we ditched the planned mini-groups and had a smorgasbord of mini-topics instead. A new member had some questions about the New Hampshire gay community. A couple of potential future social events were discussed. We even had time to discuss cars and insurance.
George presented his own internal struggle with the gay marriage vs. civil union debate. We stayed on this topic for the rest of the evening.
Tonight we returned to the topic of victimization. We focused on the “gay man as victim,” particularly with respect to our workplace environments. We noted that each man must confront or avoid the victim trap on his own. We also discussed the role of “straight acting” and how it isn’t as advantageous as one might think.
Tonight we performed our periodic pulse-check of the organization, with a focus on the Friday night meetings. Members suggested that the more serious topics should turn, toward meeting’s end, towards a positive note, with resolution. After this serious business, we turned to a very positive discussion on lap dancing in Montreal!
Randomly selected mini-groups night.
Coping mechanisms. Some members do temporary things like take “sanity” days at work. Others do more permanent things like move to Florida. Many agreed that a little risk-taking to overcome stress (such as that involved with coming out) usually yields positive long-term results.
Tonight’s discussion began by exploring the concept of role models in the gay community. As this topic petered out, another topic arose around one member’s self-imposed celibacy over the fear of HIV infection. Then, in one of those made-for-Hollywood twists, a new member “came out” as an HIV-positive AIDS survivor (and to many, a role model). Look for him and his partner to appear on the calendar as guest speakers in the near future.
A social evening with a delayed start, long introduction, and early finish. No pre-planned entertainment, just lots of time/space for socializing.
Personal support for member. Then, a live, interactive book review.
A long introduction, then a brainstorming session on a potential CGM social event. Spawned from the Dinner Dances hosted by other groups in the state, we considered having an interactive dinner like “Joey and Maria’s Wedding,” except with a gay slant. We decided that we want to do it, so we formed a committee to get the ball rolling.
Movie night: On the Bus.
The introductions yielded many potential topics, but the group settled on the topic of out-ness at work, in support of a new member. The group remains quite variable in this, with many factors including level of risk, necessity/enjoyment of job, and others.
Mini-groups, based on themes. The committee for the Adam and Steve Union Ceremony also met tonight to further plan for that event.
Tonight, a member presented a finding from the Human Rights Campaign website that ranked major companies with respect to their scores from their “equality index” evaluation. A discussion was held about the evaluation itself, and how companies are scored. Later, some members provided interesting revelations about the companies that they have routinely patronized (and boycotted), and why.
Gay culture differences between New Hampshire and other states, spurred by the introduction of a couple who had just returned from a week spent in the Southwest. This couple is convinced that Albuquerque is the lesbian capital of the US.
CGM’s Third Anniversary Party. At the start of the evening, emcee Sam passed out surveys for all members to take; these covered three primary areas: demographics, group feedback, and sex. Then he led the group in a trivia game based on the national averages for the survey just taken, plus other gay-related trivia. Results of the survey, with comparisons to the national averages, were provided in the October newsletter.
Guests Mary Notaris, attorney from Salem, and Debbie Nitschke, AMEX financial advisor, gave presentations on the types of services they offer to the gay community, with some emphasis on the importance of wills and power of attorney. Both answered questions from members.
“Living with HIV” by our guests, Jim and Daren, who are serodischordant couple.
Despite being given no key to get into the church, guest facilitator Robert from Dover was undaunted and led the group discussion this evening.
Movie night: Speedway Junky.
Tonight we hosted a debate on the types of organizations we want to support with the proceeds of the Adam & Steve Gay Union Ceremony. It was a curiously spirited debate over two favorites, the Merrimack Valley Assistance Program and Concord Outright. The group was split over the choice. In the end, it was decided to give the ticket proceeds to MVAP, leaving open the possibility of supporting Concord Outright through the proceeds of a raffle or silent auction.
Tonight we answered a member’s question that sought advice concerning his attraction to a straight man, and whether the attraction would be obvious to the man, whether he should divulge it, and whether there was any significant risk. The consensus was, “it depends.” One member offered that it would be very useful, if done right, since it would offer the man the opportunity to view the world through our eyes, rather than the more typical other way around.
Dr. Marcel L. from Ashland led the group in a very good game. “The Relationship Game” is an interactive, teamwork-based game that covers love myths, baggage that you take into a relationship, fantasy of your perfect mate, and much more. Afterward, we said goodbye to a very good friend of CGM who’s been around since before we were CGM, who’s moving soon to join his partner Stu (who also was one of the founders of CGM) to Albuquerque. Dave and Stu, you are dearly missed.
Tonight a member reported that he’s never been apart from his partner for more than a few days in the past 17 years, and was having trouble getting used to a 5-week separation. The topic of separation anxiety segued to a comparison of long-term singledom versus recent breakups, and how people “get used to it” in the former case, and “get over it” in the latter. In this discussion, the negatives of singledom was the focus, leading to the hope that the positives would be addressed in a future meeting.
Tonight we discussed being a good corporate citizen, and more specifically, CGM’s role in the greater gay community. This arose from a more specific discussion about our decision to remain open and hold meetings on the same night (and in the same building) as the NH Gay Men’s Chorus. Several members agreed that aside from specific cases where there is both a time and location clash, CGM needs to be aware of and build upon its capacity to make friends of neighboring groups that it will need in order to pull off an event like Adam & Steve’s Gay Union Ceremony.
Tonight’s topic didn’t seem promising at first...a member mentioned that he had seen a documentary on gay sheep that focused on the differences in the brain structure with that of “normal” sheep. However, this quickly became a debate on the simultaneously good and bad news of a genetic predisposition towards homosexuality: yes, it destroys the “gay is a choice” argument, but it also paves the way towards a society that can choose to abort their unborn homosexual fetuses.
Tonight a new member asked why it is that CGM draws 30 or so people each week, yet he’s unable to find any other gay people in any other social setting. Most members advised that you have to work a bit more here in rural and vast New Hampshire. Several gave specific advice on how to network and develop friendships.
After-Thanksgiving potluck at Steve and Dave’s house in Manchester.
Annual Business Meeting. This year, we started with introductions, which was a good idea since two members reported having suffered break-ups in the past few weeks and were able to get some personal support from the group. We then proceeded to the annual meeting proper. President Mike led the meeting, which included officer reports and election of the 2003 Board of Directors. Three new guys and one from the 2001 board will join three continuing members. After all this, we discussed the future briefly.
Thanks to Sam for his emergency facilitation this evening. The lighter-fare topics included an update on the Adam & Steve event, plus a follow-up to the November 22 meeting topic, focusing on how to get involved with and organize more social activities.
Potluck and Yankee Gift Swap.
Guest facilitator Pat presented a survey of Christmas-related items and then led the group in a discussion of how to get over holiday stresses.

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