The mission of the Men's Resource Center for Change is to support men, challenge men's violence, and develop men's leadership in ending oppression in our lives, our families, and our communities.

First Time Visitor? Click here.

Home

About the MRC

Programs & Services

Editorial--April 2005

Gay/Straight Dialogue:
Remarkably Unremarkable

By Michael Dover

Five nights a week, in three Valley towns, groups of men sit down together and do something men aren't "supposed" to do: talk honestly about their lives. These are the Men's Resource Center's drop-in support groups--places where men can come as often or as seldom as they like, to be with other men and share their feelings, thoughts, experiences, hopes and fears. One of these is specifically for gay, bisexual, and questioning men and provides a safe, friendly space for men who identify as such to explore the particular issues they face in a world that still presents significant challenges for those who go against the supposed norm.

Our other four groups--three "open" groups and one for men who have experienced childhood abuse or neglect--often see gay and straight men together and, as a (straight) facilitator of open groups, I find these interactions especially meaningful. I have had the privilege to be present on two occasions over the years when a man who was questioning his sexual identity came out to the group after attending for some time and sharing his struggle. The trust embodied in those men's speaking their truth, to a group of men they knew only through these weekly conversations, moved me deeply.

Those were particularly memorable moments of gay/straight dialogue, but what I have since come to appreciate is the regularity, the normality of these discussions. Virtually all the groups I facilitate include straight and gay men engaging on the full range of subjects--family relationships, partners, loneliness, depression, work, life choices, and, yes, sex. The remarkable thing about these meetings is that they are unremarkable. Gay and straight men sit and talk about relationship issues together and it doesn't matter that one man is talking about a woman partner and another about a man. They hear each other's stories and listen to each other's questions with appreciation and understanding. And all go home enriched from the evening's encounter.

There is still a place, even a necessity for "identity politics," but thankfully there are also places where we transcend those politics and recognize our common humanity.

Michael Dover is MRC Associate Director. He can be reached at [email protected]. This essay was written for the Northampton Pride Guide, the official publication of the 2005 Northampton Pride March, which took place on May 1. For information about the MRC's support groups, click here.

236 North Pleasant St.
Amherst, MA 01002
413.253.9887
Fax 413.253.4801

Satellite Office:
29 Howard Street
Springfield, MA 01109
413.734.3438