Jody, I am having a problem and don’t know what to do about it. I can’t talk to friends because I don’t have any. That’s my problem – no friends. I moved to this area after high school (about a year ago), thinking that if I just lived somewhere that there were other gays, I would fit in and have friends.
I have always been effeminate and, most of my life, been made fun of. Growing up I didn’t have friends because I was different than everyone else. I’ve known that I was gay ever since I can remember; I don’t even know how I knew, I just did. I always knew I was attracted to men because I had crushes on male teachers and fellow students. I never talked about being gay, but everyone around me seemed to know. Even my parents guessed and kept telling me everything would be OK someday. I have never met any other gays because I lived in a small town that didn’t have any gay people. I’ve, of course, seen them on TV, read about them and done lots of research on the computer. I got through school thinking it would all be OK if I just lived somewhere else. Now I don’t know what to do because I still haven’t found friends and I still don’t feel that I fit. I have a job working at a construction company. (Believe it or not, I am really good at building things.) Most of the people I work with are nice, but I don’t do anything with them after work, mostly because they don’t ask me. And, a few of the guys make fun of me, calling me “girly” when they want something.
Right now my life is pretty much about working 10 hours a day and then going home, watching TV and then going to bed. In the summer I sometimes work seven days a week so I have plenty to do. The good thing in my life right now is that I am mostly not being made fun of, but the bad thing is that I am lonely and don’t know why I can’t make friends. I am afraid that life will always be like this.
What can I do to make people like me and want to be my friend?
A: Making friends is not an easy task when you move to a new town. It takes everyone a while to fit in and find their niche. It sounds like you haven’t been doing anything but working and going home to bed. That doesn’t help.
I don’t know where you live so I can’t give you specifics about where to go to find other gays. But no matter where you are, it is important that you find out where like-minded individuals hang out, and then spend time there. You may want to look into liberal religious organizations – if religion is of interest to you – in your area; it is a good place to meet young people, whether or not they are gay. Some, but not all, churches that you might investigate are: Unitarian Universalist Church – for people building their own spiritually, wherever that leads them – or liberal Christian churches, such as Church of Christ, the Metropolitan Church and liberal synagogues or other religious groups that would be accepting of LGBT folks.
You can also look in Between The Lines to see what activities are going on in your area, or visit www.pridesource.com. Do web searches for the area that you live in to find out what’s going on. Joining groups of people who have like-interests is a good thing to do, and provides an easy setting for getting to know others. Once you hook up with a group, people will be able to tell you other things that are happening in your area. See if there are any “coming out” groups or other groups that support LGBT people.
My guess is that given the isolation you have felt and experienced while growing up, you probably didn’t develop many social skills, so you may not have a lot of self-confidence in social situations. Social skills develop over time, so it will be important for you to go slow in finding your way in the gay community. Focus on safe places to explore friendship, who you are and your sexuality. Good luck, and let me know how you’re doing.
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