Gay, straight, young or young at heart, it’s important to have people in your life who love and understand you. Finding your personal social network is a great way to boost confidence, offer and receive support, and make lifelong friends.
But the LGBT community is so large and diverse you may feel a bit overwhelmed with how to start, especially if you’re new in town, just coming out or simply looking to make some new gay friends. Five years ago, I was all three—new to Kansas City, finally comfortable in my own skin, but totally unsure how to connect with LGBT people in my new town. I started with Meetups and volunteer opportunities I was familiar with, like the Boys & Girls Club of America, and the local chapter of my alumni association. Successfully putting myself out there gave me the confidence to branch out to LGBT-specific clubs and activities. Pretty soon, I had a diverse, growing network of friends and colleagues I could lean on, many of whom understood the joys and challenges of being LGBT.
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Looking to expand or strengthen your personal LGBT community? Start by doing what you love. When you’re doing something that brings you joy, lasting connections and friendships will follow. Here are a few activities and groups to consider.
Cities large and small boast LGBT sports teams and leagues. They range in skill level from recreational to highly competitive and can be a great way to meet new people, while staying active and chasing your personal best. From ice hockey and rugby to tennis or swimming, there are ample opportunities to connect and compete.
And if you’re up for the challenge, you can chase the ultimate prize, a spot in the Gay Games, an Olympic-style competition with LGBT athletes from around the globe. Paris will host the 10th Gay Games in 2018.
If your idea of fun is something a little less cardio-intensive, LGBT performance groups hit all the right notes. From Vancouver’s butch choir, Leadfoot, to the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps of New York City, coast to coast, you’re sure to find the perfect outlet to express yourself.
One such ensemble performs right in Hallmark’s backyard. Kansas City is home to the Mid America Freedom Band, a concert band that boasts close to 60 LGBT and ally musicians. The group practices weekly and performs to sellout crowds each year, but for many of its members, it’s about much more than music. Percussionist Jody Biesche said, “We’re here, we’re proud…we love music and each other. I can think of no better way to be ambassadors from the gay community to the larger community of our city and the world.”
LGBT-specific business organizations provide a safe space to meet and learn from professionals within the community. Affiliates of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce exist nationwide and offer conferences, networking events, professional development opportunities and mentoring programs. You may also have access to workshops and socials. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, manager or just looking to make contacts within your field, starting with a diverse and varied chamber is a great way to get connected.
To our LGBT friends and all who love and support them, we welcome you to Hallmark’s online resource page. As it has done for more than 100 years, Hallmark is here to help express love, encouragement, joy and acceptance. We hope to provide you with the tools, advice and information you need to nurture and affirm all your unique and treasured relationships.