Newcomers, the coming-out group for men aged 18 and up, had been in ‘hibernation’ since June 2010. We restarted the group again in October 2011 and have been meeting fortnightly ever since (on every second Tuesday from 6pm to 7.30pm).
Unlike previous occasions, the meetings have been held in the CBD rather than in someone’s home. However the format – where one person tells their life and coming-out story, and then the group asks questions and identifies parts of the story that they can relate to – is similar to the approach we have taken in the past.
A total of 15 men have contacted Newcomers between October 2011 and June 2012. Ages range from 18 through to 60s, with the most common being guys in their 20s and 40s.
The fortnightly meetings tend to average between 6-10 attendees. This year we also invited Newcomers to the WGWG monthly guest speaker sessions, as well as some of the WGWG social events (such as condom-packing at the Awhina Centre, as shown in this photo).
Testimonials are a good way of demonstrating how much of an impact this type of support group can have on people’s lives. Here is an example, which was published on our website in May 2012:
“Being a gay man thinking of coming out, I joined Newcomers hoping to hear about the stories of others and how they found the whole coming out process. I have always been able to relate, in some way, to the stories shared by other members of the group and have been amazed by how much some members have gone through – it really puts my own reservations about coming out into perspective. I also like the informal and ‘no drama’ nature of the meetings as well as the support and honest advice the group provides. I have been going to Newcomers for about three months now and would recommend it to anyone who is keen to give it a go.”
The Lesbian Drop-In continued to meet monthly during 2011/2012 and was very well attended. Throughout the year we have had guests such as Chris from LILAC come along and inform us about the library and resources available to lesbians. Visitors from as far away as France, Canada and Mexico shared their experiences of arriving in Wellington and their settling process. We have also arranged social events such as booking in to see the Italian movie Sea Purple and having drinks afterwards. The Drop-In is a friendly, inclusive and welcoming bunch of women and we are very grateful to the funders of our group.