The LGBT community is a diverse one. As a group that includes people of varying shapes, sizes, colours, genders, ethnicities and beliefs, there are a great many backgrounds and perspectives they represent. The unifying factor of this large group that draws all of these multi-faceted individuals together is who they love, who they are attracted to.
Attraction can take many forms from purely physical to intellectual to a combination of the two. For many people, regardless of LGBT status, the age from 20 to 30 is a time of discovery — knowing what to look for in another person, that chemistry, the moment when fireworks ignite and passion begins. All of this is fine, natural even, but what happens after 30 in the LGBT community?
Once someone reaches the age of 30, they start to notice changes in themselves, some subtle, some dramatic. By this time, most people have been in at least one significant romantic relationship, have had a job, set goals for themselves and so on. This is not true for everyone, as outliers exist in every statistical sampling. However, most people can relate to this basic assessment. Going out to bars and meeting random people for drinks may have lost some of its appeal and the need for deeper, more substantial human interactions become all the more important.
Other changes that occur after this time include the inevitable ebb and flow of interpersonal relationships. So often it happens that friendships can be as easily made as they are broken. When people are younger and more confident in their looks and abilities, it is not as difficult to meet people and make connections. Sometimes these connections can become strained whether by geographical distance or the loss of being able to relate to one another. Whatever the cause, friendships can flourish or fade over time.
When people reach their 30s, a milestone age when most are expected to “settle down” and “plant roots,” some notice a deficit when it comes to friendships. It is all too common to not take notice when we have drifted away from those closest to us. Circumstances can be one of the defining features of this phenomena and play a large role in becoming estranged from friends.
How is it different for a member of the LGBT community? This should come as no surprise, but it is largely the same. Though there are some exceptions that must be noted. The LGBT community includes a vast array of people who have been previously hurt for myriad reasons by an abundance of sources. Many members of the LGBT community are leery of meeting new people for reasons ranging from personal safety to emotional security. Making friends can be a scary process when so many in society take issue with one’s very existence, even more so if one’s local LGBT community is cliquish, closed or non-supportive.
As humans, being isolated from others can lead to loneliness and reaching out to new people can be a process that yields little to no return aside from disappointment. This endeavour becomes more challenging as people advance in age. It seems like this is a boat that many have missed and even fewer had the tickets to board anyway. How does someone remedy this problem? Is there an answer to building lasting friendships for an LGBT person past the age of 30?
First off, before making friends, a person needs to know who they are on a personal level. Asking oneself questions like: What is it that I like best about myself? What are some of the virtues I possess? What are my strengths / weaknesses? What do I like to do for fun in my spare time? When a person gets to know who they are, it becomes that much easier to get to know someone else.
When someone feels comfortable enough to get out there and start making new friends, there are practical activities that can spur this process. Websites like Meetup are very useful for meeting new people who share similar interests. This site allows people to post a public activity like going bowling or starting a book club.
Getting to know other people in the same general age range with interests that correspond to one’s own is a great first step. Like any practical step, it does require being proactive and this can be one of the most difficult pieces of the social puzzle to master. Taking that plunge is necessary, yet it doesn’t need to be a frightful experience. Just keep in mind, the other people meeting up are probably experiencing the same desire to make new friends and share the same insecurities.
Getting out of the house or apartment is key to meeting new people. Those with pets can take advantage of a sunny weekend day and take a stroll in the local park. For those who are avid readers, take a book to a local LGBT-friendly coffee shop and make yourself comfortable. In order to engage fellow patrons, ensure the title of the book is visible as this could make a great icebreaker for the other coffee and tea drinkers in the vicinity. This technique can work both ways, it just requires taking the first step and being proactive. Take an interest in other’s reading material, too.
Last, it is important to not get discouraged if the friend-making process does not seem to be producing results quickly enough. Never give up on meeting new people. Having perseverance and taking initiative to expand one’s social influence does take time, but anything worth doing has its share of triumph as well as tumult.