Welcome to a brand new feature on Fanboys of the Universe! I talk to a lot of site members in my travels and get a lot of emails, and the same questions and conversations often come up. In Dear FBOTU, I will do my best to answer questions you have about whatever’s on your mind. If I can’t answer it, I’ll grab an expert to do it for me. We’ll start with one of the most frequent questions I get. In coming weeks, we’ll tackle a few more. Feel free to submit your own via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, let’s get started!
I’m a gay geek, but don’t seem to have any other gay geek friends. How do I find my people?
You ask a great question, and there are many, many answers. One place to start is your local comic book store. If you’re into comics, and you have a good relationship with your comics monger, you might try proposing an LGBTQ comics club or discussion night. It doesn’t even have to be at the store. Even if you can put up a flyer, it’s a start. This depends on how cool your comics monger is and what kind of relationship you have. I once handed a stack of FBOTU postcards to my comics monger and asked him to give them to all his LGBTQ customers. He didn’t bat an eye.
If you’re not a comics geek, or if going through your LCS isn’t an option, I also recommend Meetup.com. Creating a profile is easy (and free), and the site allows you to do a lot of browsing before you even get to that point. Before you start your own group, though, be sure to look for an existing one. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to join a group that’s marginally related to what you want. If you’re hoping for a gay sci-fi book club, but can only find a gay modern lit book club, give it a try. Maybe you can form a sub-group. Movie and even television Meetup groups are a good way to meet a lot of people at once, and you already have at least one thing in common with all of them. If Meetup doesn’t have what you’re looking for, or there’s nothing in your area, try starting a group. Keep it simple and easy, though. Don’t make your first Meetup a costume party with an admission price. Try coffee or a meeting in a park first. You can also harness the power of Facebook to find your new gay geek friends.
It may feel like a daunting task, but it can be done. Nick DelGiudice of Gay Geeks of New York has created a thriving gay geek community in the Big Apple in only a few short months. Nick’s group meets monthly for trivia night at the local LGBT Center, and throughout the month for movies, cons and other special events.
In terms of advice, Nick has loads of knowledge to share. “If you’re looking for a group like mine,” Nick advises, “I’d start with looking in your city’s local magazine for the gay community, if one exists. Also try your city’s LGBT Center for geek events and/or groups. Last stop is the good old-fashioned internet.”
Being a community organizer is no easy task, and Nick recommends taking a long, hard look at your goals before you start. “First thing you need to ask yourself is how committed you are to it,” he says. “Because if you don’t give 100%, it will probably fail. If you are committed to it, then I would begin by looking for a space to have a regular gathering, whether it be weekly or monthly.”
Here are a few more valuable tips from Nick for starting and organizing a community gathering:
• If there is a cost, don’t be afraid to charge people at the door, but keep it affordable. I wouldn’t suggest more than $5.
• Next, decide what will happen at each gathering. I center mine around geek trivia, which is a great way to unite people and break the ice for new members.
• Next, begin advertising. Create flyers, promo cards, etc. and go to every comic book shop, gaming store, book store, etc. in your area.
• Start a Twitter account and a Facebook page and give yourself at least a couple of months lead-in time before your first gathering, which would allow you time to spread the word.
So, as you can see, creating a community takes some time and effort. Don’t give up, though! I once proposed a gay geek meeting at a coffee shop, then a movie afterwards. Responses ranged from “I don’t want to see that movie” to “I don’t support corporate coffee shops, only local.” Then, no one showed up. But…I didn’t give up! I just got more creative.
Liekwise, Nick has faced and dealt with a few obstacles of his own. “There were some challenges, the most prominent being keeping the budget low,” he says. “I funded the first gathering of my group completely on my own, not knowing if it was going to be successful enough to be ongoing. Another challenge is keeping your members interested.”
Nick’s Gay Geeks have taken New York by storm, and he’s not about to stop there. “My hope is to one day spread my Gay Geeks group to other cities across America. We are known as Gay Geeks of New York, but I’d LOVE to start chapters in other cities. Gay Geeks of Los Angeles, Gay Geeks of Miami, Gay Geeks of Houston, etc. If someone would like to start a chapter, feel free to contact me!”
If starting a movement isn’t what you had in mind, you can still find a circle of friends who share your interests. But you’re going to have to put yourself out there. Start a blog or Twitter account, write or share things you’re passionate about, then advertise it among your existing friends, or on sites like FBOTU. Follow the blogs or Tumblr pages of people who share your passions (no matter where they’re located) and put the word out that you’re looking to hang out on a local level. (NOTE: As always, when meeting strangers, even ones you’ve chatted with for ages, it’s best to meet in public and let other people know where you’re going and who you’re meeting.)
Finally, you should always feel free to post on FBOTU‘s Facebook page, in the comments section below or in the Forums. And if you see FBOTU at a con, come say hi! We may not live in your city, but odds are we’ve met other gay geeks in your area. Use us as a resource. Use us! Your geeky and gay new friends are waiting!
My thanks to Nick for his fabulous input and advice. You can learn more about Gay Geeks of New York on their Facebook page.
Do you have advice for Geek Solo? How did you find/create your gay geek circle of friends? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!