ST. LOUIS – Chances are you’ve seen the flyers around The Grove or Central West End announcing the new St. Louis Gay Men's Social Group (SLGMSG). The brainchild of Tim Wheatley, SLGMSG was formed out of the desire to provide a quality, worthwhile social outlet for gay men in St. Louis.
Wheatley spent the summer enlisting the help of several talented people interested in getting the project off of the ground. Out of this cadre, a Steering Committee consisting of Wheatley, Jack Long, Gage Wight, Scott Lankford, and David Mitchell was formed to make major decisions and weigh in on any issues deemed to require a vote. Committee members are very careful to avoid making decisions on their own, opting instead to make decisions together as a group.
"I was talking about this endeavor with Chris (Tyger) Roth, a member of our planning committee, and he said that of the groups that he had seen in other cities that were successful—they identified the group and its function in their name," explained Wheatley. "In other words, they avoided obscure, non-descriptive names. So that's why we chose to name the group, "St Louis Gay Men's Social Group". It's nothing flashy, but it tells people what we are. If someone sees one of our flyers or some of our promotional literature, they will instantly know what we are all about simply by the name."
For some gay men, finding healthy ways of socializing with other gay men can be elusive. There are a variety of ways it can be done, whether going to bars, becoming involved with a volunteer organization, political activism, or just trying to build a network of friends through other friends.
Still many gay men feel isolated, especially if they are in the beginning stages of coming out. What's more, the desire to develop relationships within the LGBT community can seem overwhelming when you feel like you don't know anyone. To that end, SLGMSG offers a way to become acquainted with a supportive group of people and is a great way to start making those connections within the LGBT community.
"It is a place where gay men are able to gather and act as a support group for each other for any variety of reasons,” said Lankford. “Sometimes people
"One of the major strengths of SLGMSG is the pooling together of the skills and abilities of several talented people,” added Mitchell. “SLGMSG is not a one man show, but instead it's a group of people working together who are passionate enough to volunteer their time and energy to make it really great. And the response that we have already received has been incredible—not only from guys who are excited to have the opportunity to be a part of something like this, but also from people willing to make donations of time and resources to make it happen."
SLGMSG is not a "support group" in the sense of providing professional counseling services, but rather is a "supportive" social group. Organizers offer gay men the support of a group of people who understand the unique challenges that gay men are confronted with in their lives. The group's primary purpose is to help gay men socialize with other gay men and develop a supportive network of healthy relationships.
The St. Louis Gay Men’s Social Group will hold its first meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18th. The topic of discussion will be Coming Out or Staying In: And Their Unique Challenges. Group meetings start at 6:45 on Thursday evenings and kick off with a bit of mingling and a light dinner. The group spends roughly an hour with a guest speaker or participates in a group discussion on preselected topics led by a facilitator. The gathering wraps up around 9 p.m. with brief announcements and discussion of upcoming events.
SLGMSG is for gay men ages 22 and up.Where: The Bevo- Aboussie Center on the campus of the Bevo Area Community Improvement Corporation (4705 Ridgewood, St. Louis, MO 63116). For more information call 314-529-1771.