So even though I have a boyfriend and enjoy his company and the company of my close friends here in New York City, I’m still a pretty shy guy and generally welcome the prospect of meeting new people and making new friends. The only problem is – well – I often bear the fairly bitter conception that most people out there (particularly…gay guys) are fairly narrow-minded, and that NYC-folk in particular are of a special brand of bitchy craziness.

Needless to say, I was excited to learn about a Web site called “Real groups make a difference,” the site boasts. A quick search revealed that this would perhaps be the social networking interface I’ve been looking for – Progressive Gay Men, LGBT Movie Fan Meetup, Lavendar Salon (a gay literature group), and all sorts of other geek-tacular LGBT-oriented groups trailed down my screen.

I scrolled and scrolled through the lists of groups until one caught my eye – a NYC Foodies Group for Women. The pictures of the members looked silly and fun (of the L.A.-ish trendy lesbian variety [picture Jackie Warner but at 24]) – just my kind of scene. They had meetups planned to awesome bars and clubs I’ve been to, wine tastings, dinner and theater outings. Their message board was fun and lively, a little quirky, and heavily LGBTQ-oriented. I didn’t think about clicking “Join” until I read that their mission stated that they were open to “LGBTQ members”, not restricted to women or lesbian women. In true shameless fashion, I clicked and became the first dude to join the group named “Women Heart Food”.

Now I understand that it would probably be a little awkward that a guy was joining a women’s group – I just knew in my heart that if I got to meet them, if they got to meet me and see what I’m really like – they’ll totally welcome me into the group and we would have a lot of fun. After all, I’m a proud lesbian whisperer among gay men.

I did not expect to receive an email from a member questioning my desire to join the club. “What are your expectations for joining a predominantly lesbian group? I don’t know why you would make assumptions that automatically ALL members must be open minded about all LGBTQ issues. What issues are we assumed to be open minded about that you are looking to share?”

Was I being harassed by this woman because she didn’t want any men in this group? Did she gather from my gender and my profile picture that I was perhaps a transman and therefore would be unwelcome in this lesbian circle (an issue I know can be a pretty big deal among some lesbian groups)? I inquired further. “Many of my friends are lesbians,” I replied. “I’m looking to meet more LGBTQ-friendly people, just like your group’s mission states.”

A one line reply: “So, are you saying you are gay, or just a supporter of gays and lesbians?”

There it is. The awkward line I occasionally walk when meeting new people – instead of normally having to figure out if new people are gay-tolerant, I find myself having to prove to this queer-themed group that I’m lesbian-tolerant. Because I’m not flaming enough from my picture to be deemed gay, I must be a threat.

Further, I love how basically this person made me realize that asking to meet “LGBTQ-friendly” people does NOT necessarily imply that these people will be open-minded. A real sign of tolerance there for other people.

Now I entirely understand the argument that certain groups, groups that have historically experienced a great deal of hatred, must be on guard. I entirely understand that. But I thought I had made clear that I was LGBTQ-friendly and looking for more of the same.

So despite the fact that I immaturely vented my feelings on a blog, how did I finally reply to this woman when she asked if I was gay, or “just a supporter”?

“Aha, that's the question you were asking! I'm a gay male, though I salute supporters of gays and lesbians as well. Although I just left the group out of worry that I'm not entirely too welcome.”

Meet that. Thanks.

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