As South Africa recently celebrated ten years of democracy, the OUT Johannesburg-based Gay Men’s Support Group celebrates ten years of giving support.

Established by OUT in 1995, with psychologists Kevin Joubert and Juan Nel, the support group has assisted gay men in exploring and discussing feelings and issues that affect their personal lives. The group provides positive support to gay men whom, through social norms and conditioning, have been discouraged to express vulnerable feelings.

“There is a danger that emotionally gifted boys grow up into being emotionally stunted men. This group encourages me to re-learn the language of feelings, a vocabulary I had long since forgotten”, says James, a member of four years standing.

Each member is encouraged to make attendance a high priority by having to pay a nominal monthly fee and by being accountable to the group. At meetings, members share a significant part of themselves. Members agree to maintain confidentiality, what comes up in the group stays there as sacred trust.

“The two or more hours I spend in group have restored my faith in gay men; it’s a space to be in without concern for judgment. Everybody is real and it has unlocked my fear of speaking out”, says Dave, who has been with the group for over five years.

“Members need to trust each other to disclose vulnerable feelings rather than report superficial activities; this is the priority in selecting members. Our facilitation ensures that only appropriate members are placed in the group”, says Kevin Joubert. “Also consent from existing group members is sought before enrolling new members.”

A member is free to leave the group after attending a number of sessions, but is encouraged to meet one last time with the group, both to say goodbye and to explain why he is leaving. This allows the group to assess the impact of the group support. It is also an act of respect and a courtesy to the group to allow for closure.

Having a good support system is critical to ones well-being. This gay men’s support group has, for the last ten years, given gay men the opportunity to safely share feelings, overcome isolation, build friendships and be “at home” with each other. For its members it has become a regular one night stand.

For more details contact:

  • Kevin Joubert – 083 633-1413
  • Juan Nel – 083 282-0791

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