Saturday, March 6, 2010
Reaching Out to the Lesbian & Gay Widowed
Originally uploaded by *MSM*
Last week I had a wonderful telephone conversation with Michele Neff Hernandez, of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. Her organization works to provide a national network of support for those of us who have experienced the loss of a family member. The emphasis on their work is with the widowed. One of the programs they have is called "Widow Match." This is an online service which matches up widows, or widowers, with similar circumstances for online support and correspondence. I think this is a brilliant program given how so many people lack access to bereavement groups or services in their own community. And as many of us know, the whole experience of widowhood in itself can be very isolating.
In my own searching for support, or participation is such programs like their Camp Widow, I found myself first asking if lesbian and gay widowed individuals were welcome.d I also always ask that if we are welcomed to various functions, will we find that the topics, or conversation to be inclusive. For me this is so important. When I first became part of the larger widowed blogging community I was embraced by both straight, and gay, widows and widowers. As a man I found that our numbers are significantly overshadowed by the amount of women out there writing about their experience. When some of my fellow widowed blogger began inquiring if I would be interested in joining them for Camp Widow in August 2010, I was hesitant to say yes. While these wonderful women had befriended me, I wasn't sure if being a man was going to be a problem at such a function. And, If not, would being a gay man pose a problem. Now while being a man may have it's drawbacks in some areas of life, I am quite fond of being one. And while being a gay man is troubling for some, I happen to love being in the club.
Okay, in my usual fashion I am making light of a serious subject. A couple of months ago I contacted Michele to ask what Camp Widow was all about, and letting her know that while it sounded great, I certainly didn't want to infringe on what may be an event for women only. Michele kindly responded to my inquiry, saying they welcomed everyone, and would love to have more men attend. In our conversation I learned that there was only one male in attendance last year, Matt, who I can only assume was quite popular with the ladies. I have seen his blog, and he is quite nice of the eyes.
Anyway, long story short, men are welcome to all their events, and they would like to widen their net to begin providing support to the lesbian and gay community as well. That's where I enter the picture. As many of my readers know, I was inspired to begin this blog when I was out there searching for support. Looking online, I found that there was very little in, and for, the gay community. And, while I am currently considering my own entry into the field of services for the widowed, and being bent toward the gay community, I am not currently in the position to take anything of that magnitude on at the moment. In my conversation with Michele, she asked if I could help her gather a listing of other lesbian and gay widow(er)s who would be interested in being part of the Widow Match program.
I will be gathering a list of people around the world who are interested in being a support to others, or who is interested in receiving such support. I happen to think it is a great idea. I will be encouraging lesbian or gay widow(er)s to write me at this blog, or to my personal email address, if you are interested. Feel free to ask me questions, and know that this process is going to take a few months get get off the ground. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also encourage those of you in any of my communities, be it widowed, male or gay, to please consider attending this years Camp Widow. It would be a great opportunity for all of us to grow in our support of each other, and how often will there be an opportunity for all of us to gather in person.
One last note. If you decide to join us at Camp Widow, drop me a line to let me know. If you contact SSLF, let them know you heard about them through Dan. No, I don't receive a commission, just would like them to know you are part of my community.