LGBTQ community/community in general and fitting in

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Post by The Wisp on Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:01 pm

I wish there was a heterosexual version of the non-activist portions of the kind of communities LGBTQ people have built for themselves


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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:30 pm

The Wisp wrote:I wish there was a heterosexual version of the non-activist portions of the kind of communities LGBTQ people have built for themselves

I think I've seen straight bars in a few places. Razz

But I think I get what you mean, sort of..?
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Post by The Wisp on Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:58 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
The Wisp wrote:I wish there was a heterosexual version of the non-activist portions of the kind of communities LGBTQ people have built for themselves

I think I've seen straight bars in a few places. Razz

But I think I get what you mean, sort of..?

Admittedly this is based on second-hand internet mummerings, but I envy the supportiveness, the openness to being uncertain about who you are and a lack of confidence about yourself, go-to places for dating, the "chosen family" ideal. If you're in the right place (like a large university or a large city) there's a built-in community open to you. Actually, on that last point I envy religious people for the same reason.

Probably a bit idealized in my mind, but still...
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Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:50 am

There is something kind of appealing about the idea that there's a place where pretty much everyone agrees that they want to be hit on / asked out / flirted at, and the climate is encouraging you to go for it instead of trying really hard not to notice and kind of quietly judging you for every action. I do think this is more of an idealized vision than a reality for any group. I probably idealize the aforementioned "straight bars" too much, myself; it seems like it would be so convenient to actually want the ONS/make-out stuff people try for at divey bars.

Also, it's probably best to move this line of discussion into the infrastructure thread, or a new one, if there's more to say about it.
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Post by The Wisp on Tue Dec 02, 2014 3:07 am

nearly_takuan wrote:There is something kind of appealing about the idea that there's a place where pretty much everyone agrees that they want to be hit on / asked out / flirted at, and the climate is encouraging you to go for it instead of trying really hard not to notice and kind of quietly judging you for every action. I do think this is more of an idealized vision than a reality for any group. I probably idealize the aforementioned "straight bars" too much, myself; it seems like it would be so convenient to actually want the ONS/make-out stuff people try for at divey bars.

Also, it's probably best to move this line of discussion into the infrastructure thread, or a new one, if there's more to say about it.

The dating part is important, but also just the community and the real effort to form close platonic bonds. "Chosen family" and all the rest.

ETA: Maybe this should be moved.
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Post by Enail on Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:39 pm

Some strong feelings about this. Community is a very, very different thing from a locale devoted to flirting. And being LGBTQ is not just about flirting and sex, any more than being a straight person is - a straight cis person just doesn't have to think about themselves as being straight in other contexts, because it's treated as normal (and even more so for cis). For many queer people, it's not just pickups, a huge swath of their life and feelings are filed under "special issues" outside of the queer community; for ones who don't pass as straight or cisgender, it could be almost all of their life.

So, yes, there absolutely is an LGBTQ community and it is an entirely different thing from a gay bar (and not all gay bars are 'everyone agrees they want to be hit on' places).

I do think you're idealizing a bit there, Wisp - there are plenty of in-community isms going around, and LGBTQ people are quite capable of being small-minded, judgemental, mean and so forth, even if the specific things that are judged or accepted might be different from in typical mainstream spaces.  But I agree with you that there are some pretty awesome things about the LGBTQ community that are harder to find in many other spaces (I think you're right that many religions offer some of this as well) - the awareness of the importance of community in the first place, the "family of choice" ideal, just being an identity around which you can gather and for which there are lots of groups and activities being organized. And, of course, a big range of things that are generally more accepted and welcomed than in the mainstream, even if it's not all open arms and non-judgement all over the place.

Another one you didn't mention that I think is pretty awesome is the concept that potential attraction doesn't have to preclude friendship. It's assumed that of course you can be friends with someone in the general demographic you're attracted to - for some people, there's really no choice Razz, and I think it's much more common to remain genuine friends with exes, probably in no small part due to the smaller pool and the fact that a larger percentage of your friendship group is likely to be part of your dateable group (assuming that LGBTQ people tend to seek out LGBTQ friends and that friendships in general tend somewhat towards homosocial, though I've got no evidence that the latter is true)
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Post by The Wisp on Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:46 pm

Enail wrote:Some strong feelings about this. Community is a very, very different thing from a locale devoted to flirting. And being LGBTQ is not just about flirting and sex, any more than being a straight person is - a straight cis person just doesn't have to think about themselves as being straight in other contexts, because it's treated as normal (and even more so for cis). For many queer people, it's not just pickups, a huge swath of their life and feelings are filed under "special issues" outside of the queer community; for ones who don't pass as straight or cisgender, it could be almost all of their life.

So, yes, there absolutely is an LGBTQ community and it is an entirely different thing from a gay bar (and not all gay bars are 'everyone agrees they want to be hit on' places).

I do think you're idealizing a bit there, Wisp - there are plenty of in-community isms going around, and LGBTQ people are quite capable of being small-minded, judgemental, mean and so forth, even if the specific things that are judged or accepted might be different from in typical mainstream spaces.  But I agree with you that there are some pretty awesome things about the LGBTQ community that are harder to find in many other spaces (I think you're right that many religions offer some of this as well) - the awareness of the importance of community in the first place, the "family of choice" ideal, just being an identity around which you can gather and for which there are lots of groups and activities being organized. And, of course, a big range of things that are generally more accepted and welcomed than in the mainstream, even if it's not all open arms and non-judgement all over the place.

Another one you didn't mention that I think is pretty awesome is the concept that potential attraction doesn't have to preclude friendship. It's assumed that of course you can be friends with someone in the general demographic you're attracted to - for some people, there's really no choice Razz, and I think it's much more common to remain genuine friends with exes, probably in no small part due to the smaller pool and the fact that a larger percentage of your friendship group is likely to be part of your dateable group (assuming that LGBTQ people tend to seek out LGBTQ friends and that friendships in general tend somewhat towards homosocial, though I've got no evidence that the latter is true)

Thank you for your perspective Smile I hope I didn't inadvertently push any buttons in my hetero maleness Razz

I generally didn't mean to imply that dating was the only reason I was envious of, nor that these communities were set up to facilitate dating. But, in general, it seems that people who have found good communities for themselves do better with dating (unless said community is devoid of one's preferred gender).

Admittedly, I shouldn't have singled out LGBTQ communities for my envy Razz I also feel that way towards religious communities, certain activist communities, and a variety other kinds of communities that are tight-knit yet large enough to be found in most major cities. Alas, I never seem to be the kind of person they'r meant for (wrong political views, wrong religions views, not a member of the right identity group, etc.). The LGBTQ one was on my mind because I happened to have been reading about it right around when I posted that, and also because I've been thinking of the ways I really dislike certain expectations put upon men.

I didn't intend this to turn into a thread, but since it is, I might as well broaden the scope to a certain gripe of mine which is I feel like somebody like me -- non-religious, not interested in radical politics of any side, cis het white male, not super invested in any popular hobbies, too mainstream for the outliers but too much of an outlier for the mainstream -- doesn't have much access to supportive, tight-knits social institutions. I also am not sure how someone like me finds/creates a "chosen family" either. I've always felt like I never fit in anywhere, and I don't know if I just cannot fit in anywhere or if I haven't found it yet or if I am biased to not seeing it. The question is, how do I find such a place? I'm not mostly motivated to find this to improve my dating prospects, more just loneliness...
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Post by Enail on Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:59 pm

Ah, no, Wisp, I was responding to Nearly Takuan's assumption that 'community' meant 'pickup bar.'

I agree with you that it's hard to find/build this sort of community - and I've always been rather glad that being queer means I can belong to an existing community like that - so I totally see where you're coming from. There are a few places I can think of where you're likely to find a focus on community-building that might be suitable, though.

-Depending on your area, you might be able to connect with community through the LGBTQ crowd, with gay-straight alliances or other activities that are actively queer-positive but not intended to be solely for queer people.  A lot of them will lean more activist than you like, but some probably won't. You might also be able to find groups and activities that have a broader target, not only LGBTQ but also the asexual ("officially" included in queer - LGBTTQQIA - but not always terribly well recognized or included in practice), poly and kink communities; anyone who identifies as not altogether within the mainstream in terms of gender or sexuality, which might be a better fit.

-strangely enough, groups that use the word "community" lean towards that mindset. Community gardens and community meals are the main ones I've seen. I think community choirs are also a thing. Again, many lean activisty, but some might be within your range.

-groups aimed at welcoming newcomers or other people who might be lacking connections. At my university, there was a group that held really nice dinners at holidays for people who weren't with family for the occasion, and there's probably some similar events in most cities. Some of them will be church-affiliated; many will be held at churches but not have any religious affiliation, so it might take some trial and error to tell the difference. There are also a variety of meetings and drop-in groups out there for this kind of thing. If you'd like to go to one but are worried you won't feel welcome, consider volunteering - it gives you a reason to be there and a built-in connection with some of the other people there.

One thing to keep in mind is that 'belonging' isn't magic. You don't just show up at a random event and suddenly feel like you've found your community. It takes time - sometimes quite a lot of time - to build up connections and become comfortable with the events and spaces that suit you, no matter how well you match their target audience. And it's worth keeping open to the idea that the people you fit with might not be people who seem like the obvious choices or who are all that much like you at first blush. If you assume you don't belong with, say, parents of young children, or drag queens, or people in a different age group, 'your people' becomes a much smaller target to hit, and the more you stay open to the idea that you might have commonalities in a different plane, the more easily you can become part of a community.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:04 pm

It's probably not as easy as it could be or as we'd like it to be, but some of what you're saying...kind of reminds me of the middle-class white men in college who complained that they weren't poor enough to qualify for certain scholarships and loans. (This sort of thing did actually cause problems for my mom, but there were unusual circumstances beyond just not having done the work of finding the more generally-available scholarships.)

Eh...my point, I suppose, is that there probably is at least some bias preventing you from seeing the places where you can fit in. While there are not really explicit resources or institutions for apolitical people, I think the recent voting stats show that most people don't have much of an interest in politics or feel like there are no good options. Cis-het-white-maleness may not be celebrated so much, especially in these more liberal corners of the internet, but it's hardly what I'd call an unpopular thing to be anywhere.

ETA: Also, sorry for going down that route, Enail; I was mainly responding to the confidence and "go-to place for dating" items, didn't mean to make the conversation be about that.
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Post by Conreezy on Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:14 pm


And it's worth keeping open to the idea that the people you fit with might not be people who seem like the obvious choices or who are all that much like you at first blush.

Very true.  I'm quite involved in the sport of fencing, but I generally think sport fencers are terrible people.  Laughing I much prefer the company of "classical" fencers (the nerds of the fencing world), with whom I never train.


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Post by KMR on Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:14 pm

There is at least one community I'm aware of specifically for non-religious college students called the Secular Student Alliance. If that sounds like something that would interest you, you can check if they have a group at your university.

https://secularstudents.org/
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Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:24 pm

The Wisp wrote:I feel like somebody like me -- non-religious, not interested in radical politics of any side, cis het white male, not super invested in any popular hobbies, too mainstream for the outliers but too much of an outlier for the mainstream -- doesn't have much access to supportive, tight-knits social institutions. I also am not sure how someone like me finds/creates a "chosen family" either. I've always felt like I never fit in anywhere, and I don't know if I just cannot fit in anywhere or if I haven't found it yet or if I am biased to not seeing it. The question is, how do I find such a place? I'm not mostly motivated to find this to improve my dating prospects, more just loneliness...

It may help if you could find some more specific examples of what you mean. You're not invested in popular hobbies, but are you invested in unpopular ones? Because an unpopular hobby will still have other people involved in it, and the smallness of that community will probably make it a more tightly-knitted group, appreciative of its members—just like the minority groups and religious communities—so that might be an option. On the other hand, I think quite a lot of people would put themselves somewhere between "mainstream" and "outlier". I'd also argue that mainstream is kind of a relative thing itself: recreational reading might be less of a "mainstream" hobby than movie-watching, but certain book genres tend to be more mainstream than others depending on your age and sex, and then certain sci-fi/fantasy novels (for example) tend to be more mainstream than others, too.

Do you feel like maybe you just don't have enough of a "passion" for any one thing to go find a group dedicated to it? You could maybe start with something relatively small and not so demanding on your time; at least one of your local book stores probably has a book club, and IME those tend to be relatively low-investment and inclusive.
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Post by The Wisp on Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:39 pm

I'm on my phone so I can't respond to each of you all individually right now.

I talked to my therapist about this today, and she said that maybe I need to let go of the idea of finding a community where I completely fit in and instead try out different things in order to find places where part of me fits in. I knda think she's right on that. For instance, though I'm non-religious, there are aspects of religion that appeal to me, so she said maybe I should go to individual events (e.g. guided meditation) without full out joining the group.


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Post by reboot on Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:36 pm

The Wisp wrote:I'm on my phone so I can't respond yo each of you all individually right now.

I talked to my therapist about this today, and she said that maybe I need to let go of the idea of finding a community where I completely fit in and instead try out different things in order to find places where part of me fits in. I knda think she's right on that. For instance, though I'm non-religious, there are aspects of religion that appeal to me, so she said maybe I should go to individual events (e.g. guided meditation) without full out joining the group.

Not for nothing, very few people find communities that they fit in with 100%. It is more a question of finding enough commonality to overlap on enough points that are important to you. Often it is a question of finding multiple communities.

To use a religious example, Muslims where I live have a built in community thanks to religion, but they are from many many different countries and traditions, so they find a community of faith but not always culture, so they may have separate cultural communities, often including secular and those who are of different religions but from the same culture.
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Post by kath on Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:01 am

I certainly don't feel like I fit in 100% with any of my social groups. I have some sometimes-cast-as-mutually-exclusive interests / beliefs, and socialize with some people who are pretty far along each end of the spectrum of both things. And I certainly don't know how to reconcile all of my beliefs etc all the time, so sometimes I feel like I don't fit in with myself.

(Also, for me, when I was needing that type of community as an adolescent, fandom provided it for me - specifically, a fan-based forum, and fan works communities. Fandom was interesting because you can be exposed to a lot of identity politics issues without having to identify with the particular identity, and you can discuss it in the context of the fan works which makes sense in that community, so you aren't hijacking another group's space. But you will still be called on things.)
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:41 am

Unsurprisingly, nobody's a member of a Clone Army.
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Post by trooper6 on Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:35 am

TheWisp...I don't think you actually want to pay the price for the kind of community you are seeking...and I'm not sure you can. Let me explain...but first some background.

I have been in queer communities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Germany, Boston. I was also a member of the queer community in the US Army for the last two years before the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (South Carolina, Texas, Massachusetts, and South Korea) and for the first two years of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Germany).

And yeah, the community was amazing, though the intensity of that community bonding varied somewhat. Here is an example of one of the most intense moment of queer community I've experienced: Someone stole my bicycle. I was just introduced to a lesbian who I had never met before, but as it turns out, we had both attended the same softball tournament a few years earlier. I mentioned to her (a person I had never met before this moment), that my bicycle had just been stolen, and you know what she did? She gave me a bicycle. She had two bicycles and she gave me one...just like that.

Now, do you want to guess where this happened? It happened when I was in the Army, right after Don't Ask, Don't Tell was implemented.

So, why do I say you don't want to pay the price for this community? Because the price for this community is oppression. The things you value in the queer community are the things the queer community have created in reaction to oppression. This is why this sort of community is often strongest in times and places where oppression and alienation from society is the strongest.

Why was it that that woman gave me a bicycle? Why was it that I would do anything for other queer people who I had absolutely nothing in common with other than the fact we were all queer? Why would I let complete strangers stay on the floor of my barracks room, or off base in my apartment when I had one? Why exactly was my community so strong in the Army? Because it had to be. Because there were undercover cops trying to find out who was queer so they could put us in prison or kick us out of the military with a dishonorable discharge. Because when I was sitting in the break room of my unit reading the Army Times one day and say an article saying that the last person kicked out of the Air Force under the pre-Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was someone I was friends with but had to make sure than no emotions registered on my face so no one would suspect anything about me. Because I had friends put in military prison for being gay. Because I had to sit and smile and nod when my heterosexual military buddies--people who would go into battle with me--would casually talk about how they if they knew any queer people in the military, they would kill them...and they weren't joking. Because I had to learn to conceal my emotions well enough that no would know when I was falling in love or devastated by heartbreak. Because no matter how dangerous or oppressive it was in the military as a queer person, it was better than some of the places my friends came from. Like an ex of mine who joined the military because people in her small town in Iowa burned down her apartment with her and her girlfriend sleeping in it--because they were lesbians. They were able to get out of the apartment alive...but they knew they had to get out of that town and the only way to do so was to join the military. This community happens because for most of my life there were no depictions of people like me...and if there were they villains. Because there are forced de-gaying camps and electroshock therapy. There are people disowned by their families and friends and religious institutions. Because I can be fired or denied housing. Because people kill me and my friends.

This sort of community I'm talking about was less strong in San Francisco in the modern times than in the Army in the 90s...and the more equality LGBTQ people get, the less intense that community will probably become. But that thing you are looking for is a reaction to oppression in order to survive in a hostile environment. The black community also has this--they especially had it in the Jim Crow South. The Latino community has it--they especially had it in 1940s Los Angeles...as did the Japanese Americans interned in concentration camps. The sort of community you are thinking of often shows up in groups that tend to be oppressed. It isn't just "community" (so much fun!), it is a survival mechanism.

You don't have that sort of community because you don't have that sort of oppression.

Do you want the oppression?

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Post by Lemminkainen on Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:22 am

As a queer person, I would like to thank trooper for pointing out the social conditions which make/made the queer community's solidarity possible.

I have another internal-perspective issue to bring up as well.  Even in groups like queer communities, you often need to fit group norms fairly closely to fit in well.  The queer community can, ironically, be fairly vicious in its treatment of people who are non-normatively queer (which sounds like it should be a contradiction in terms, but isn't).  Gay guy who's too conventionally masculine?  Alternatingly fetishized and called self-hating.  Gay guy who's too effeminate?  Often called overly stereotypical  and accused of providing cover and ammo for people who want to abuse the gay community.  Femme lesbian?  People will often call you fake.  Bisexual?  If people acknowledge that you exist, they might accuse you of faking it for attention, being in denial, or being "greedy" and depraved.  Bisexual person with an opposite-gender partner?  "Oh, you were straight all along."  Trans man?  People might call you a butch lesbian who's trying too hard.  Transwoman?  Same kinds of abuse that overly effeminate gay men get, but more so.  Genderqueer?  People will sometimes call you a freak or a special tumblr snowflake.  Not all queer communities are like that, but an unfortunate number of them are.  And even in more accepting queer communities, people will still generally be slower to recognize and quicker to abandon you if you don't read as queer in the right ways.  My partner and I are both bisexual, but because I'm a cisgendered man and she's a cisgendered woman, we usually have to do a lot of explaining before people in queer spaces see us as insiders rather than interlopers.

Of course, all of this is just about kinds of queerness that can get you into trouble in queer communities.  Intersectional issues can be even worse-- nonwhite queer people often get fetishized by people they have sex with just like straight people of color do.  Class and life aspiration differences are also really divisive in the community.

Basically, queer groups are probably somewhat more enlightened about stuff than most social groups are, but they're far from utopian and have their own internal exclusionary politics.  So, you can recognize them as a model for building certain kinds of community, but you need to understand that the real thing has a lot of problematic internal issues which you would want to try to avoid if you designed your own community.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot about asexuals! Definitely fall outside of the charmed circle of sexuality, but not really viewed as natural members of most queer communities. Definitely worth mentioning here.

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Post by trooper6 on Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:45 am

Lemminkainen speaks the truth. This cozy togetherness is not always in effect.

It was very much in effect in the Army--because there were undercover cops trying to put us in jail and our supposed battle buddies liked to talk about how they would murder us. Though even in that environment there was a class split between officer queer people and enlisted queer people.

But you know where the community divisions were really stark? And the community really splintered? The answer should be obvious...in very queer friendly places like San Francisco and Los Angeles where with less intense oppression the togetherness/community was also less intense.

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Post by The Wisp on Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:56 am

trooper6, I do see your point, and I have noticed the correlation between oppression and super-tight communities. It's easy for me to forget about the the all too common extremes of LGBTQ oppression as I have lived my whole life in one of the most LGBTQ-friendly places in the country. I agree that the sort of oppression that fosters these communities is not something I would want at all. I do not experience any oppression near the levels of you examples.

EDIT: And, yeah, the togetherness is probably either fostered by extremes or else is probably more illusory in less extreme circumstances. Communities are communities and often have the same pressures and dramas, regardless of their origin or purpose.

(So, I don't necessarily intellectually endorse everything in these next two paragraphs, but this is the feeling I have that prompted the random thought (which I didn't intend to blow up into it's own thread, by the way)) 

At the same time, erm, I hope I don't offend anyone by this, but I do think I experience oppression or something like it. Much less than LGBTQ people, or black people, but it exists. It's source is not from society but instead from my emotions, temperament, and childhood experiences (i.e. mental health issues). I feel very alone in my problems, certainly in my offline life, and I think that is why I (perhaps wrongly) envy groups of people who have communities built around their identities. A place where people get it. But, maybe even if you could corral enough people like me together, we'd still not be suffering enough to build a tight-knit community around that alone.

I walk by the very friendly-looking LGBTQ resource center on campus once a week, and I think to myself the silly thought: "man, I kinda wish there was a 'socially isolated hetero nerdy guys with serious attachment issues' center".
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Post by trooper6 on Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:25 am

Historically, hetero nerdy guys find their community in nerd community spaces. I didn't come out as queer until right after I joined the Army.

In high school I find my community in the nerd spaces (and a few other spaces--theatre and alternative). For me those particular nerd spaces were the RPG spaces and to a lesser extent working in the library. And I found a similar form of international community through RPGs. One of the first things I did when I got to my first duty station? Found RPGers and got together a game of D&D. I have often found new people in the many new places I've lived by finding people who play RPGs. One of the greatest group of people I've met where I'm currently at who aren't my colleagues? People who play the A Game of Thrones LCG.

So, what is your nerd-dom? If you are a nerd, then you would have a nerd-dom, correct? If you have a nerd-dom, then you can find a nerd community.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:37 am

Lemminkainen wrote:EDIT: Oh, I forgot about asexuals!  Definitely fall outside of the charmed circle of sexuality, but not really viewed as natural members of most queer communities.  Definitely worth mentioning here.

To be fair, other than pressure to "act straight" (which I think more than a few completely heterosexual people struggle with as well), I don't see a lot of overt systemic oppression against the (a)sexual orientation itself. Naturally, it's much more of an issue when it's paired with an "outside" romantic orientation or gender....

I think trooper is right that the sense of community most "naturally" exists in inverse proportion to oppression and adversity.

Asexuals have basically one formal resource to turn to for support, representation, and community structure—AVEN. I've found that AVEN is incredibly welcoming to people of all types; it's occurred to me at times that in other contexts I might not have been so open-minded about, say, interacting with someone who identifies as two people and writes about themselves in the third person, but AVEN brings us together. That actually might not be as true if one or both of us were finding more acceptance from other LGBTQ communities, let alone mainstream ones.

The Wisp wrote:At the same time, erm, I hope I don't offend anyone by this, but I do think I experience oppression or something like it. Much less than LGBTQ people, or black people, but it exists. It's source is not from society but instead from my emotions, temperament, and childhood experiences (i.e. mental health issues). I feel very alone in my problems, certainly in my offline life, and I think that is why I (perhaps wrongly) envy groups of people who have communities built around their identities. A place where people get it. But, maybe even if you could corral enough people like me together, we'd still not be suffering enough to build a tight-knit community around that alone.

I walk by the very friendly-looking LGBTQ resource center on campus once a week, and I think to myself the silly thought: "man, I kinda wish there was a 'socially isolated hetero nerdy guys with serious attachment issues' center".

Honestly... in a way, this site is that center. DNL is to socially isolated nerdy people as AVEN is to asexuals, in my mind.

Meanwhile, by your own admission, this is something you're doing to yourself. If you're oppressed, then you're also the oppressor in this scenario. I'm not saying that makes it easy or anything—just the opposite, actually, because fighting yourself is really hard. But it's also part of the reason you're not likely to find a whole lot of help with your cause, or people who share your common enemy in a concrete sense. (Plenty of other people oppress themselves, but nobody else is oppressed by you, so why would they help you fight you? They're busy fighting themselves.)

All that aside, there is one obstacle LGBTQ communities have experience with that the rest of us could benefit from learning about: the "closet" problem. Coming back to asexuality for a moment... asexuality isn't exactly a common trait. It's not so rare that it's unheard-of for there to be several among a small group, but it's rare enough that you can't really make assumptions, even about people you know really well. Some people are inexplicably threatened by the very idea; others have trouble believing it's a real thing; others mean well but think you need to be "fixed"; others mean well but assume it's a lifestyle choice or a totally un-oppressed and problem-free orientation, and therefore okay to make "jokes" about. All this is to say "coming out" is hard, maybe especially with people you know, and so is getting other similar people to "come out" or open up to you. Sure, I could meet a lot more aces IRL—there's a Meetup group in my city with over ten aces, and a Facebook group I could join where I might meet a few more—but then about 80% of the people already in my life would think they require further explanation, and 80% of those wouldn't understand the explanation, and 80% of those wouldn't be okay with not understanding, and 80% of those would consider that a major problem.... To gain one community, I'd have to risk losing another.

Socially isolated nerdy guys face a slightly different obstacle, which is that there always seems to be a larger ratio of toxic attitudes within their group than most other groups; you'd have to somehow filter out the bad eggs before your Good Men Project becomes...The Good Men Project. You know? But it still basically comes down to figuring out who you can trust, figuring out how you can be selective enough about who gets to be on the "whitelist" while still having enough people to make a list.
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Post by The Wisp on Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:55 am

nearly_takuan wrote:
Lemminkainen wrote:Socially isolated nerdy guys face a slightly different obstacle, which is that there always seems to be a larger ratio of toxic attitudes within their group than most other groups; you'd have to somehow filter out the bad eggs before your Good Men Project becomes...The Good Men Project. You know? But it still basically comes down to figuring out who you can trust, figuring out how you can be selective enough about who gets to be on the "whitelist" while still having enough people to make a list.

Yeah. That's how I ended up here. I discovered PUA and the more moderate end of the MRA movement when I was 18-ish, and I sympathized a lot with them and could relate to them in many ways. But they just spouted off so much bullshit, too, that I couldn't get on board. Found this site a few years later, and it definitely clicked. 

Also, well, socially isolated people seem to either be shy or socially awkward, or both, so it's hard to connect with people in real life (or find them, even Razz). This relates to trooper6's question to me, but I've so far attended a few philosophy club meetings, and went to a one-off video game tournament, and both were very underwhelming, socially speaking. No regulars and low turnout to the former, low turnout and not much chatter in the latter (though it was fun!). I kinda feel like I'm drawn to activities that don't facilitate much socializing. I'm still looking around for stuff, though I probably will not try anything until next semester at this point (a couple weeks of finals studying, then break, leaves little room for college social life!).
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Post by Enail on Sun Dec 07, 2014 12:35 pm

Trooper & Lemminkainen, good points. I've always rather thought, though, that there's an element of the LGBTQ community's continued community skills/focus that is not based solely on current levels of oppression in the region but rather on memory.  I sort of feel like even if some sort of magical perfect equality were achieved, there would be a trace of that solidarity that would linger for quite a long time. Groups (and I think it would continue to be something of a group, if only b/c the dating pool for some ppl in it is small enough that the ones seeking partners would likely gather a bit) retain faint echoes of their origins and grow in directions off of those origins, even when the conditions that caused them don't apply. Do you think it would disappear completely?

ETA: In some places, there is a certain amount of community around mental health issues. However, from what I've seen of them, they tend to be rather activisty, so it might not be of interest to you, Wisp.
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Post by Mel on Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:22 pm

The Wisp wrote:Also, well, socially isolated people seem to either be shy or socially awkward, or both, so it's hard to connect with people in real life (or find them, even Razz). This relates to trooper6's question to me, but I've so far attended a few philosophy club meetings, and went to a one-off video game tournament, and both were very underwhelming, socially speaking. No regulars and low turnout to the former, low turnout and not much chatter in the latter (though it was fun!). I kinda feel like I'm drawn to activities that don't facilitate much socializing. I'm still looking around for stuff, though I probably will not try anything until next semester at this point (a couple weeks of finals studying, then break, leaves little room for college social life!).

This may or may not work depending on the demographics where you are... but sometimes if you want a certain kind of group to exist, you have to create it. (If you build it, they will come? Wink )  I think this is especially true when it comes to activities that tend to appeal to introverted, solitary type folks, because most of them tend not to want to take the initiative to pull a social group together.

e.g., When I was in university, I was feeling pretty socially isolated and lonely. I mentioned to the therapist I was seeing at that time that I'd really like to meet some fellow writers, but the lit scene at the university was focused on different sorts of writing than what I was interested in, and I couldn't find any groups in the city that seemed like a good fit either. She was all, "Why don't you start one, then?" So I did. I decided I was going to make a critique group around the genre I was into, and put up "posters" (just text on printer paper--nothing fancy) around my school and a couple of other colleges and a couple of indie bookstores, and in a week I had several people emailing me who were interested. That was more than ten years ago, and the group is still going--in fact, we have a waiting list for people wanting to join (because we do critiques we have to keep it a certain size to be manageable).

Similarly, several years back I was contacted by a writer in my city who I hadn't talked to before, who was interested in creating a regular social meet-up for authors in a different genre I write in. She reached out to a whole bunch of people who probably hadn't realized there were so many of us in the area (I certainly hadn't), simply by googling the city name and the type or writer and shooting a quick note to those with Twitter accounts, and now those meetings have been going on for years and involve dozens of regulars.

If you want to try this, I think the key elements are:

1) Have a clear goal in mind for the group. Is it going to be more of a "working" group (e.g., my critique group, or a group for some other sort of creative work where people will share what they're doing and give feedback, or create something together, or something like a book club where there will be set themes and each meeting will include a focused discussion analyzing a give book/movie/show/game/philosopher/???) or a social group for people who all happen to have a common interest to just hang out and chat about whatever?  

2) Think carefully about how location will fit into this. Some social groups can work just hanging out in a coffee shop or bar, if the people are invested enough in the chosen topic that they'll feel a connection to each other regardless of location or if it's work that can be done anywhere (my critique group started by meeting in coffee shops and now meets at my house; the writer social group meets at bars or restaurants), but you may get more interest if you include a more active element--like a gaming group that meets for drinks/coffee near an arcade and then goes and plays together; bringing board games to the chosen meet-up place to play while chatting; an art group that goes to check out gallery exhibits together; etc.

3) Be kind to your socially anxious side. There's nothing wrong with reaching out to people or advertising for them to reach out to you online, so your initial interactions have that distance for you to work out what you're going to say and adjust plans if necessary. You don't even have to give people your real name from the start (I used a totally new email address to take requests to join the critique group). I actually found that when I was running the group, I felt a little less anxious about it than if I was going to an existing group, because as the person in charge I had an automatic role that gave me obvious things to say and ways to relate to people when we met up.

Obviously no pressure if you don't think you're up for that right now or it seems unlikely to work out, just thought I'd throw it out there since I've seen it work so well for myself and others in finding a community. (And if you do want to try it and would like some more details about how those groups came together for me, feel free to ask here or by PM!)
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