Beyond the Bar and Club: Namasgay and Online Connections

By | 2018-06-06T16:01:55+00:00 June 6th, 2018|Guides, Worship|

Some would say the digital age has brought about new ways for LGBT people to “connect” — often literally. Yet, at the same time, there is something to be said for the lack of common public spaces for meeting without ulterior motives.
In Seattle, an all-new LGBT community is springing up, and its name is Namasgay. Executive assistant Yessica Miranda said of the group, “Last fall, ‘Namasgay’ was created to bring together spiritually-minded LGBTQs, and we now have thousands of members and major upcoming events.”
Its first major summit was held April 20 to 22 of this year. Its group of speakers included author Rick Clemons, Rev. Alfreda Lenoix and actress Jazzmun Crayton.
Kelly Leszczynski is another who has been tired of the bar and club scene, even here in Michigan. When I spoke with her, it was her first time hearing about Namasgay, and, upon doing further research, she said she is excited about the possibility of participating in it.
“Many LGBT people renounce religion because they feel shunned by it,” she said. “We all deserve to find spirituality and Namasgay looks like a good place to start.”
Leszcyzynski met her own partner outside of the normal places, too.
“It was back in the early 2000s when we met. I had started an online group for lesbians in Michigan to meet one another and get a chance to interact socially. I wasn’t a fan of the bar scene and needed an outlet to meet other women like myself,” Leszcyzynski said. “She and I met through a friend I wouldn’t have made were it not for the online group. We wouldn’t start dating until years later, but we may never have met if it wasn’t for a little AOL online community.”
Now, she and her partner are now happily engaged. Leszcyzynski was also the founder of the Suburban Lesbians of Michigan online community, which is now the largest lesbian online community in the state. When BTL spoke with her, she said a major objective for the group was to help foster relationships, yes, but also to create both a network of like-minded individuals and a space of belonging for those who do feel left out or alone.
“The group has a positive vibe, it is casual,” she said. “And there is a ‘come as you are’ philosophy that I am extremely proud of.”
Online dating culture for LGBT people today, she said, is similar to other online dating cultures in North America, just with more drama and smaller populations. As places like Namasgay continue to grow, that potential for drama may indeed decrease.
Leszcyzynski has very clear goals for the future of online dating and LGBT social life, especially here in Michigan. When asked about how she would advise BTL’s readers on how to get involved in the online community, she said this:
“I hope that people take more time to learn other people,” she said. “Stop swiping to the left so quickly. See people for their hearts and their minds and take the time to nurture a friendship before a relationship.”
Because after all, social groups like Leszcyzynski’s and even Namasgay are all about inclusivity.
“In the future,” she said, “I hope the wave of the dating future brings us closer instead of making it easier for us to find ourselves ‘un-liked.’”
More information on the group can be found at namasgay.com.

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