Adam4Adam? Scruff? The bars? The beach? The Publix at Five Points? Exactly where does a gay man, particularly of a certain age, find that "special someone" in South Florida?
Finding Mr. Right, Not Mr. Perfect, a presentation from the Gay Male Empowerment Project [under the auspices of SunServe], attempts to help men on that mission, well beyond offering suggestions of alternative venues.
GMEP started in 2002 when a group of mental health professionals at The East Las Olas Psychological Group found that many of their gay, male clients faced the same challenge - finding some genuine type of connection. At a town hall-style meeting, I was very excited to be one of many community professionals who developed a twelve part series with the goal of helping gay men achieve greater fulfillment, including more authentic relationships.
The first few seminars attracted a sizable audience but the fifth in the series, focused on mating habits, proved to be the box office attraction and the session with the most staying power [the upcoming presentation is the seventh to the Fort Lauderdale community].
After the second Mr. Right presentation, I brought on a colleague, Herb Williams, a licensed mental health counselor and addictions professional, to enhance the presentation by supporting the exercises with some field research. We surveyed gay men in any venue we could find including bars, special events, random walkers on Wilton Drive, The Pride Center and just about anywhere gay men were willing to complete the less than three minute survey [we stopped short at going to any bath houses - no judgment here but we thought most men in that environment were probably looking for "Mr. Right Now"].
The findings are incorporated into the session, giving participants some feedback on what qualities their peers find appealing and those found to be hardcore deal breakers. In this interactive event, the men work on refining some of their expectations about finding a mate, as well as targeting specific efforts they can make to find men who likely share their interests. For some, the exercise on Relationship Readiness often proves to be the most surprising and beneficial. Is it possible that some men simply aren’t ready or even relationship oriented?
At the very least, attendees surround themselves with some like-minded men and right there live and in person get to immediately use the skills they’ve learned and hopefully leave the session with a boost of confidence. During the two hours, they can expect to do be vulnerable, introspective and hopefully more optimistic about meeting their Mr. Right. By the end of the evening, the men often form some bonds, have a few “aha moments” and enjoy a lot of laughs. And now with marriage equality, it will be interesting to hear if they have altered their approach to finding a mate.
SunServe presents Finding Mr. Right, Not Mr. Perfect at The Pride Center, Building B, Thursday, August 27 from 7-9 pm. Suggested donation $10. You can register at www.SunServe.org.