members from time to time ask about starting a Bi MEN SUPPORT GROUP
in their local areas.
WHAT is a Bi MEN SUPPORT GROUP?
What a support group IS is largely up to its FOUNDER - or FOUNDERS.
Do you want a social group - or do you want a serious topical discussion
group - with a tad of social afterwards or at other times - do you want
a JO CLUB ??? You want a monthly or weekly poker party - or a bowling
team - or a sports fans beer and munchies viewing group?
IT IS UP TO YOU or to you and the 1-2-3 other folks who help you get
the group going!
GETTING THE GROUP GOING!
Put up NOTICES by emails to all the Bi Men Chapters in your area - and
to other bi and gay men's groups in your area. IF you want a mixed group
of bi men and bi women that is another CRITTER - but if so notify the
bi ladies in your area and try to get a bi gal to work with you as co-chairman.
ASK bi guys in your area who are interested to REPLY to you (or other
key person). The person handling interested men should be prompt and
give out enough info to keep them interested. Ask those interested to
PASS IT ON to other bi and gay men they know in your area.
KEEP INTERESTED PERSONS advised.
The first actual FORMAL MEETING of the Group should be delayed until
you have ten to a dozen SOLID bi men who will show up. Consider informal
early get-togethers as meeting over coffee or drinks at a public place
or in someone's home if they can host easily. Keep building interest
and make email contacts in the early stages. FOREPLAY has its place
The KEY CONTACT person must be prompt and reliable and give enough info
to keep interest UP. IF you are NOT the right person for the job - be
sure you DELEGATE to HIM.
LOCATION - LOCATION - LOCATION:
Find the right place LONG-TERM for your monthly group meeting is important.
Take your time to find the right place. If your home is available and
IS THE RIGHT PLACE fine. Chances are it may NOT be the right place.
FREE PLACES or CHEAP SEATS at area CHURCHES; GLBT CENTERS; and even
PUBLIC LIBRARIES are not good locations.
Men are a tad shy about opening up. A gay location or a church may not
be right for bi or bi-curious MEN.
Make sure the LOCATION is central and easy for interested persons in
your area to get to. Consider a bar or restaurant that is DOWNTOWN (or
such) in an off period as lunch on a Saturday afternoon - or drinks
at 6 pm to 9 pm on an off week night. Such a place with a back room
with privacy is ideal. IF money is involved make sure that EACH PERSON
gets and pays via separate checks. Keep costs low for the regular meeting
place IF NOT FREE. IF the location owner requires a minimum (i.e. one
drink or coffee or such) make it clearly known to all those attending.
As much as possible try to find a GOOD LOCATION that can remain the
monthly meeting spot for a year or longer. Moving the spot around month
to month is unwise.
TO ADVERTISE OR NOT ADVERTISE:
Consider CHEAP or FREE ADS in GLBT publications - notices at the local
GLBT center - and perhaps ALTERNATIVE PUBLICATIONS as LA Weekly, The
Village Voice, READERS, SF Guardian and similar alternative publications.
IF costs are involved in the early stages you likely will have to cover
these alone. Later on you can ask the GROUP if they want to pass the
hat to continue any such ad campaigns.
WORD OF MOUTH is the key to real and lasting success - make sure you
ask again and again for all involved to spread the GOOD NEWS of your
WHAT TYPE OF GROUP DO YOU WANT?
You are the Founder - or you and 1-2-3 guys are the Founders. What DO
YOU WANT? If you want a nudist group that sits around nekkid and yaps
about this and that fine. If you want a serious support group with heartfelt,
soulful sharing that is a different thing. If you want a JO CLUB that
is a completely different thang! But what DO YOU (or the Founders) want
from the group?Make that CLEAR NOW - early on - so the persons coming
to join you KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT - spell it ALL out clearly.
IF it is a social group as beer and munchies and watch big games - is
monkey business permitted. IF you have some HARD and FAST RULES - make
them known early on.
IF there are ANY EXPENSES that you are NOT going to cover YOURSELF -
make this clear - early on. There is nothing worse than whiners moaning
you are in it for the money or just trying to make money off them. Sigh.
DATE(S) FOR THE GROUP MEETING:
Plan on once a month - on the same date each month. Check a calendar
for a year out. Pick a Saturday afternoon or a weekday evening that
looks good FOR YOU and FOR OTHERS the coming year. Avoid holidays and
other major events. It is best if the monthly date and the LOCATION
remain the same for the first year or so.
GET A CALENDAR for the coming year set up. Try to start in the Fall
or Winter. In the summer too many folks are running here and there.
IF YOU WANT - plan to take July or August OFF - but that's up to you.
As years go by consider DECEMBER OFF or plan just a social only event
FOREPLAY - Do NOT Jump the Gun!
Build up interest in the FIRST FORMAL MEETING for 1-2 months. Have some
friendly informal early meetings - with a few people - even different
sets of folks - over coffee or drinks or lunch - but build momentum
for the first formal meeting.
With Bi MEN you need 9 to 12 men for the first meeting if at all possible.
You can do it with 6 to 8 - but 9 to 12 is best. You need to consider
whether GAY MEN are welcomed openly in your group. IF SO it will be
easier to get the numbers up early on - but too many GAY MEN will often
quite frankly "spoil" a Bi MEN SUPPORT GROUP. But - this is
your group and all such matters are UP TO YOU as founder.
So you have 9 to 12 good Bi MEN and gay-married men - ready to go -
so you are ready for your first meeting!
THE FIRST FORMAL GROUP MEETING:
You have a good location - you have spread the word and DATE and TIME
of the first meeting for weeks now - you have made a real effort to
schmooze at least 6 to 9 to 12 Bi MEN to show up - OK - let's DO IT.
You really BELIEVE that at least six to nine men will show up for your
first meeting? OK.
You and hopefully a "helper" or friend arrive early - make
sure everything is in order - or get it in order. Your helper is there
to take each person aside after you have WARMLY GREETED them - and get
their name and email address - and collect any monies involved or explain
any charges (drinks, meals, or minimums involved). IF you do not have
a "helper" to do this necessary but thankless task make sure
they KNOW about any RULES or charges that are involved.
Allow - 10 to 15 minutes for everyone to drift in. Try to keep them
yakking not just sitting there in silence. IF need be have a list of
topics for future meetings to hand out - with space for comments and
for their own suggestions and additions to keep them busy and focused.
You or another co-Founder are the GROUP LEADER - so have a full agenda
planned. Introduce yourself - then have each person introduce themselves.
By your example demonstrate what you want them to do. You SHOW YOURS
then they show theirs.
When it comes back to YOU - be frank - honest and SELF-REVELATORY. If
you can NOT yourself be this way or do this then try to have another
bi guy there who can. Some people LOVE TO DO THIS - HI I am SAM I am
red-blooded oversexed bisexual male - let me tell you about ME! Someone
needs to get the self-revelation ball rolling - you or someone you select.
THEN either have a GROUP DISCUSSION on a preselected topic - or topics
- or let each person WHO WANTS TO - tell about themselves.
See how it is going. Allow at least an hour if not 90 minutes.
When it runs out of steam throw it out for topics for future meetings
and suggestions for the FUTURE. As speakers; a social event; or what
ever comes up. IF several guys want to keep yakking - adjourn
the meeting but welcome all who want to keep talking to stay there or
move to the bar or a coffee shop or - whatever.
Don't keep NERVOUS - SHY - ANTSY types too long. An hour of facing up
to their bi side may be more than enough for some men their first meeting.
This may well be the first group of people on EARTH they have ever openly
admitted to that they are even bi or even bi- curious PERIOD.
Say GOOD-BYE to everyone you can and warmly ask them to come back next
month and to please spread the word to others. REMIND them that word
of mouth is so very vital in the bisexual community nationwide.
HAVE FUN WITH YOUR GROUP!
While there will be frustrations and there is some work involved - this
should be FUN for you. So make sure the FOCUS of the GROUP is what you
want from the get go.
Over time you may bore with it - well pass it on. With time the GROUP
may have just talked itself out - and need to do other things - or evolve
into a more social group.
FRESH BLOOD is important so keep looking for new members! IF you do
not get new blood - at least consider a guest presenter or going out
one month to attend another presentation that has some tie-in or which
the members are in favor of.
When and if it is time to pass the TORCH ON - or just close it down
- fine. Try not to burn out - with time - take a month off here and
there - with someone else filling in for you - or just shut down in
the summers or December. Or make December a social event - and take
July and/or August off.
IT IS IMPORTANT to our community to have these groups - so either pass
it on - or pace yourself so you can stick with it for the long
DO LEARN FROM OTHERS!
The dynamics of most all support groups are pretty much the same. Ask
around - benefit from the mistakes and the WINS of others. No need to
re-invent the wheel on this one. Contact MAC at the Bi MEN NETWORK -
if you need some help here.
Try to get others involved in helping you. Many people enjoy helping
out - as the SHY PERSON who gets the names and email addresses - and/or
collects any money or tells them about any costs involved. Or the computer
geek that enjoys spending HOURS yakking on the NET and talking it up
and keeping everyone updated and in touch! Whatever! Let others help
you TOTE THE WEARY LOAD!
MAKE FRIENDS + Meet Interesting People!
Lastly realize that with time you will get as much if not more than
you give to this project. You will make many new friends - if you want
to you will likely get laid again and again or at least get lots of
offers - and you will meet many interesting people. AND try to keep
a mental list of all the wild bi folk you have met - that can be a lively
topic at some future group event or meeting!
HAVE FUN! "Life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to
death!' So says MAC at the Bi Men Network as well as Auntie Mame!
Big Hugs & Best Wishes,
Stewart ("Mac") McCloud
Founder and Moderator
The Bi MEN NETWORK
Now over 1/4 million MEN strong!
OUR MOTTO: "You are NOT alone!"
Contact MAC at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ENJOY! ************* "MAC" **** Semper Fi