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    Jan 06, 2008 6:36 PM GMT
    So I just had this conversation with XCRunner336 and I thought it might be worth having this discussion for those who aren't finding a lot of " meaning" in the gay culture and feel like you want to give up or drop out or whatever. The truth is, our culture is pretty amazing and it's not just sex or perfect bodies or clothes etc. Those things are great, but there is more.
    This is my experience volunteering with AIDS patients..
    The poet Mark Doty once described AIDS as "God moving his hand over the face of the water and causing a ripple". It struck me as odd, but after making and delivering meals for people stuck inside and dying in the 90's, it made perfect sense.
    I see it in a spiritual way too, I suppose. An important reminder to be compassionate and loving and open. Guys I would normally never meet or say hi to taught me to be better, smarter and more compassionate. When you see guys who can't walk it makes you love your legs and the freedom of running. It shows the wonder and beauty of breathing without difficulty. When you are around someone who is wasting away, it is easy to forgive the couple extra pounds you put on over the holidays. It reminds you of the importance of being nice to people you are afraid of. I learned to how to forgive myself because they could forgive themselves for being careless. It's very deep to have that time with someone who has hardly any time left and nobody else to care or love them. It was pretty amazing , actually. I wasn't as sad as i assumed I would be. Hard to think about a cute guy not paying attention to you when you go through that with someone. My definition of beauty became much broader through looking at them and I was able to see myself with new eyes. I wasn't scared of being gay or different anymore. I could relate to the common thread of being a gay man and it struck me as being pretty great. I went in not believing in anything and while I don't subscribe to a religion or particular belief , I saw how powerful we all are.

    So , it frustrates me when all some people see is a culture of sex and perfection when we have contributed to the revitalization of cities, art and culture. We aren't invisible anymore because of people who were brave enough to be seen when no one wanted to see them. Sadly, even in 2008, the closet if full and HIV infection is once again on the rise. Don't marginalize yourself or see yourself as valuable only if you are masculine and "str8* appearing. And if the cutest guys in the bar or your world don't pay attention to you, who gives a fuck. There is so much more when you put yourself out there in a position to do something great for someone who needs you.

    So for the new year, stop focusing on why you can't find a boyfriend, think about living your life a little brighter and give up the shame, the insecurities, the doubt and the anger. Give yourself a little credit.
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    Jan 06, 2008 7:04 PM GMT

    This past summer, I volunteered at a camp for children and adults who are affected or infected with HIV. It was an experience that has changed my outlook a lot. I can't believe I'm saying this now because if you knew me in person, I'm definitely the kind of person that keep my emotions private. But at the camp, I cried in front of people. It was heartbreaking to hear people tell their stories...especially when little kids talked about how they missed their mom or dad.

    When I left the camp, I had to spend a couple of days to recuperate. I think I took away from the camp a new outlook in what is important to me. One important thing I took away was self-care. For my health and my happiness, I had to make sure I wasting time with things that weren't important to me. Look in the mirror and ask yourself whether what you're doing is making you happy. If the answer is "no" for too often, things need to change. And I had to proactively change some things in my life to increase my happiness. I can say, I'm definitely smiling a lot more nowadays.

    And self-care also included feeling good about my place in this world. This is why I have been volunteering for various organizations since I was in elementary school and continue to do so currently. There's nothing more satisfying than putting a smile on someone's face.
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Jan 06, 2008 11:22 PM GMT
    Amen again.

    It is nice to know there are people, like you guys in the world.

    I don't know if I could do that kind of thing, as I would get upset in that kind of situation, but I wish I could. I would love to help gay people who have problems accepting there gay, as that was my problem for many years, and I had no help.

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    Jan 06, 2008 11:47 PM GMT
    I volunteer by teaching special olympians kayaking. It dont consider it a hassle - as i get so much out of it. Its fun- even when its difficult theres funny moments.
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    Jan 07, 2008 6:04 PM GMT

    Theres so many organisations that are out there that need a hand. Volunteering is rewarding - it doesnt have to involve working with sick or deprived people.

    If you want to help other gay people theres icebreaker groups - to help other newbies through the coming out phase and feeling like they are the only ones that have done it. But dont feel like you have to work only in the gay world - there's a whole heap of other groups out there.

    Yes it can be a hassle some times - but overall its well worth it.
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    Jan 07, 2008 6:18 PM GMT
    Great topic guys.

    I volunteer for a Lesbian and Gay helpline and have done for 15 years or so. Volunteering is very rewarding and is a great way of giving something back to society.

    Personally, the type of volunteering I've have done has helped me grow, I believe, and become more tolerant as a person.

    And if all you do care about is finding a man, then volunteering for a Gay organisation is also a great way to meet new people.

    So what is stopping you?

  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Jan 07, 2008 6:27 PM GMT
    Volunteering for any organization that makes your community a better place is a worthwhile endeavor. I've been the Volunteer of the Year for the YMCA of Edmonton, teaching fitness classes for the past seventeen years. An hour at a time, I've put in what would be equivalent to eighteen months of full-time employment.

    A very typical reaction from participants who discover that I'm a volunteer is "It would be nice if they paid you." However, they don't understand that the organization wouldn't be operating in their community if it wasn't for the contribution of volunteers.

    You don't make the world a better place by complaining about how little your leaders do to make the world a better place. You lead by example. I learned long ago that some people comprehend that concept, and many more people don't get it whatsoever.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 07, 2008 8:27 PM GMT
    I know, lately I feel like I'm around people who are complaining about everything, but doing nothing. I don't get it.
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    Jan 07, 2008 9:00 PM GMT
    Great post topic.

    Check out this Website for some ideas of how to use your time. They can match you with organizations that suit your interests in your area. I am not sure how extensive their HIV/AIDS organization listings are.

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    Jan 07, 2008 9:45 PM GMT

    Reading most of the above post reassures me that there are indeed good people out here always ready to help..

    i volunteer for the red cross as a school speaker, speaking on humanitarian issues and it is certainly very very rewarding. our world is facing many crisis be it poverty, aids, flesh trade, so on and so forth and it depends on our generation to put a full stop to issues surrounding humanity today by speaking out, donating, volunteering, its all going to go a long way and cheers to all those who put their time, energy, and grace to make this world a better place

    Albert Einstein-"our world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything".

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    Jan 07, 2008 10:12 PM GMT
    Volunteering is a great way to give back, and helps not only the community, but also yourself! Being in my fraternity is great because we do a lot of community volunteer work. It's great! But everyone has something that they can't do to help. From donating blood, to something more specialized with your own skills. I taught self-defense classes for women, and I taught clarinet to kids whose families couldn't afford to pay a regular teacher. Just find a skill you have and find a way to use that and volunteer.
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    Jan 07, 2008 10:16 PM GMT
    I'm a Big Brother in the Big Brother Big Sister Program. They really need more male volunteers, and you guys would make great Big Brothers.
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    Jan 07, 2008 10:48 PM GMT
    When I lived in NH I used to volunteer at a cat shelter. Pretty much just stopped by often to play with the animals and help them adjust to people.

    If anything just giving time back to people, animals, etc makes you feel better inside.

    Time is our most valuable resource, because we can never increase it. Offering some of it to others is always a positive thing.