Past TRIBE Topics (2013)

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Being an Other: Otherness and Assimilation
(Thursday, January 17, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

The debate continues within our Tribe about the value, the necessity, and even the meaning of assimilation. Even when we achieve complete legal equality, gay men will still be a statistical minority. Some gay men want to celebrate that difference while others want to embrace the well-earned victory of unfettered integration. During this gathering we will discuss the value of being the “other” and the allure of “assimilation.”

Discussion Topics: 

  • Are we really fundamentally different from our non-gay brothers? 
  • What does assimilation mean? 
  • Is assimilation a positive step for gay culture? 
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly of being different. 
  • Some many gay men want to continue making waves. Isn’t the war over? 
  • What can we learn from other minorities? 
  • What do you love about being different? What do you love about being able to blending in?

Dating vs. Hooking Up
(Thursday, February 21, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this gathering will focus on the one thing all gay men have in common: our urge to merge with other men. Come learn about other men’s dating habits and experiences. Maybe share your own story. Who knows? You might find a man to spend next year’s Valentine’s Day with in the room.

Discussion Topics: 

  • The perfect date. 
  • What’s the difference between dating and hooking up? 
  • It’s been a week since Valentine’s Day. How’d you do?
  • Cruising, computers, and smart phones. Using your tools.
  • What gets a guy a second date with you?
  • Deal breakers.
  • Good Sex and Bad Sex: how do you define it and is it a deal breaker?

The Cruise Director: Gay Events in West Hollywood
(Thursday, March 21, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

If you were the cruise director for the Cruise Ship WeHo, what events would you program for gay men? Now imagine all of WeHo’s parks and open spaces are yours to schedule activities for, what are you going to put there? Someone has to make these decisions, why not you? In this discussion we will explore what’s possible in WeHo’s open spaces between Gay Pride and Halloween.

Discussion Topics: 

  • What’s missing? 
  • What do we keep? 
  • Why do gay men need programing specific to us? 
  • How do we promote West Hollywood as a gay mecca? 
  • What about the lesbians?

Gay Gardens: Aging Gracefully
(Thursday, April 18, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

The gay male community is undeniably a youth obsessed culture. How do we age gracefully in a community that is so focused on staying young? How does the gay male culture in West Hollywood denigrate aging? How does it, or could it, celebrate it? Are you planning for your retirement? And is it our responsibility to care for the elders in our community? To mentor our youth? How do we do that?

Discussion Topics: 

  • Aging gracefully in a youth obsessed culture 
  • Retirement – how do we plan for it? 
  • Mentoring – teaching our youth about our history and how to live as gay men 
  • Over 50 and inside West Hollywood. Now what?

Gay Activism: We’re Here. We’re Queer. Now What?
(Thursday, May 16, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

The gay community is on the doorstep of full equality. Is activism still necessary? The discussion will center around up and coming issues in the gay community – what is the next frontier of gay activism?

Discussion Topics: 

  • Is activism still necessary? 
  • What issues do you care about? 
  • The nature of activism in 2013 – Social media and beyond 
  • What’s left in the battle for equality? 
  • How do we mobilize the younger generation to act?

Shirts and Skins: Sexual Subcultures and Ways to Be Gay
(Thursday, June 20, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

Which team or teams do you play for? Our Tribe consists of a wide variety of diverse sexual subcultures. From Jocks and Geeks to Twinks and Bears to Leathermen and Drag Queens, and every color of the rainbow in between, there are so many different ways to be gay. Which subcultures do you identify with? Which do you not really understand? How many different kinds of gay are you?

Discussion Topics: 

  • Types of sexual subcultures 
  • What’s your favorite way to be gay? 
  • The fear factor: what are the sexual subcultures that you don’t really understand? 
  • Sexual Anarchists vs. Picket Fence Preference 
  • Trying it on: what subculture would you like to be a part of? 
  • Do you think any factions hurt our image?

My Chemical Romance: Hook-Ups and Addiction
(Thursday, July 18, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

The gay community seems to have a higher propensity toward addictions: drugs, alcohol, sex. Historically, most hook-ups began in bars. Now we have online PnP. How do we navigate this legacy of addiction and the changing nature of how we meet and hook-up with men? Does West Hollywood have an appropriate balance between the bar culture and the sober culture? What impact do the new hook-up apps and websites have on our culture of addiction?

Discussion Topics: 

  • To app or not to app: What apps and websites do you use to meet men? 
  • Are bars still a viable hook-up spot? Why or why not? 
  • What addictions are most prevalent in the gay male community? 
  • Are drugs and alcohol a turn-on or a turn-off? 
  • Would you date someone who feels differently than you about drugs and alcohol? 
  • PnP: online and off-line 
  • Learning to get off, after getting off drugs 
  • Resources for addicts and those who love them

Tops and Bottoms: West Hollywood Gay Culture
(Thursday, August 15, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

Top or bottom: that is the question. The group will discuss the actual ratio of tops to bottoms, how often men do both and in what situations, and what it all means to the gay culture in West Hollywood.

Discussion Topics: 

  • What’s with the stigma of being a bottom? 
  • How many men will both top and bottom, and in what situations? 
  • Perception, reality, and the gay culture in West Hollywood
  • The Power Bottom: the varied dynamics of topping and bottoming 
  • HIV and risk reduction

From Closets to Queer Caucuses: Gay Politics
(Thursday, September 19, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

The Tribe will discuss our role in the political landscape, both here in West Hollywood and Nationwide. How important is it to advance our agenda? How much power does the gay body politic really have? Do we need more queers in elected office? Would you run? Are we more or less likely to vote for our fellow gays?

Discussion Topics: 

  • The real Gay Agenda: Our issues and Our electeds 
  • The Obama Factor: Is money our biggest bargaining chip in elections? 
  • Elected and electing gay officials 
  • Running for office 
  • The power of your vote: how do you use it?

I’m Coming….OUT! – Coming Out Every Day
(Thursday, October 17, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

The process of coming out is not a one-time deal: our initial coming-out is followed by a nearly daily process of coming out every time we start a new job, move to a new city, reacquaint ourselves with old friends, or meet new ones. In this month’s program, the Tribe will share their coming out stories and difficulties and talk about why it is so important to come out, who to come out to, how to do it and how this never-ending process impacts our lives.

Discussion Topics: 

  • Why coming out is important 
  • Coming out in your daily life 
  • To whom do you come out and how do you tell them? 
  • Personal or Political – Coming out as activism 
  • Public Displays of Affection 
  • Mentoring and setting an example for gay youth

Sexopoly 2.0: Health and Fitness
(Thursday, November 21, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

The gay male culture, particularly in West Hollywood, has often been accused of being health and fitness conscious to the point of obsession. How committed are you to being fit? How often do you work out and where? How much do you know about the health issues particular to gay men? In this month’s program, we examine the health, fitness, and medical issues facing men who have sex with other men.

Discussion Topics: 

  • How much do you work at working out? 
  • How important is your health vs. your body image? 
  • Fitness and West Hollywood gay male culture: A six-pack at all costs? 
  • Steroids, testosterone and other enhancement drugs 
  • The Big C – Prostate, Testicular and Colon cancer 
  • The urge to merge: the gay male sex drive

Making the Yuletide Gay: Holidays and Traditions
(Thursday, December 19, 2013; 7:30pm to 9pm)

This month’s discussion will focus on the conventional or unique ways that we view and celebrate holidays. How do you define family? What are your holiday traditions? Are they traditional in the conventional sense or have you made your own, unique traditions?

Discussion Topics: 

  • How do you define family? Bio family or friends? Or both? 
  • The pressure to conform to conventional traditions 
  • Our traditions: holidays the gay way 
  • What do you celebrate? Which holidays are your favorite?

*There will be a bonus meeting with the SHE Lesbian Discussion Group in 2013, likely in February or March. Details on that are forthcoming.

How the discussions work: The facilitator of the group will offer a topic for discussion, and the men present will come up with the insight and the answers. Guest speakers will spark dialog, but not lecture.

Parking: Validated parking is available in the 5 story parking structure on the south side of the property. That is the structure with the huge Shepard Fairey “Elephant” mural on it. Please DO NOT park in the library parking lot.

Drugs & Addiction
(Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:30 pm)
Navigating our disproportional propensity towards addiction.

Discussion:
• Which drugs are gay men doing today?
• pnp?
• Learning to get off, after getting off drugs.
• Resources for addicts and those who love them.
• Gay sober culture in West Hollywood – It’s huge!

Gay Activism – Into the Boardroom and Out of the Streets?!?
(Thursday, October 11, 2012 7:30 pm)
Illuminating both the historical and the contemporary face of gay activism. Who are we now? What changes are needed and what are we doing to bring it about? Which strategies are most effective?

Discussion:
• What is a gay activist?
• What is the purpose of activism and are we achieving it?
• Fighting the machine when we’ve become the machine.
• Who or what are we fighting for and against?
• Are we just pissed off or is there a point?
• Historical gay activists.
• Meet today’s activists.

Race to Judgment
(Thursday, November 8, 2012 7:30 pm)
Racism is still alive and well in the gay community. How does it affect you and how do you perpetuate it (or not)?

Discussion:
• What are the negative race stereotypes in the gay male community?
• Are we all racist in some way?
• Are we more or less sensitive to minority communities because we are all part of a minority community: the gay male community?
• How does race affect the life of the gay men’s community?
• Do we handle it better or worse than mainstream America?
• How big a role does race play in our dating and sex lives? Does it matter?

WeHo’s Future
(Thursday, December 13, 2012 7:30 pm)
As the largest demographic in the City of West Hollywood, we have the power to shape WeHo’s future. What are we doing to with that power? Do we, as residents, have a responsibility to protect the City’s legacy as a beacon of gay culture and progressive thinking?

Discussion:
• Are we driving the change happening in the City of West Hollywood?
• Do we have a special responsibility to guide the City’s future?
• Is West Hollywood a “Gay City”? Should it be? Does it matter?
• What is the gay male culture of West Hollywood? Does it need updating?
• How can we change the City for the better?
• How do we re-energize the City as a center for gay male culture?
• What’s next for WeHo? What do you want your City to be?

Sex, Romance, HIV/AIDS, STDs, Politics, Liberation, and Responsibility 
(Thursday, April 12, 2012 7:30 pm)
Examining the medical, political, and social landscape facing men who have sex with other men.

Discussion:
• Poz, Neg, and Undetectable – the new vocabulary of HIV/AIDS.
• Communicating with potential sexual partners.
• HIV/AIDS transmission today – where and with whom is transmission occurring?
• Talking about it and not talking about it – what’s really happening 30 years into the AIDS epidemic.
• Sex Positive vs. Sex Negative dialog.
• Safe sex, safer sex, and barebacking. Defining your level of acceptable risk.

Beyond the Bars - Gay Male Social Spaces
(Thursday, May 10, 2012 7:30 pm)
For decades social spaces for gay men were typically bars and bathhouses. Now we have virtual space and a plethora of social groups to associate in. This discussion will explore the social opportunities available for gay men beyond the bars, both virtual and physical. We will also explore ideas about spaces that are still missing and how we might create them.

Discussion:
• Revisiting the gay male enclave.
• Why is social space important?
• Are we striving to create it in a purposeful way?
• The relationship between gay culture and physical gathering spaces.
• Pride Parades/Festivals – how are they relevant?
• Virtual Space – opportunities and pitfalls of virtual space.
• Inventory of physical gathering spaces available today.

Family
(Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:30 pm)
Define what family means to you as a gay man. We’ll hear from a diverse group of gay men in traditional and non-traditional families. The group will explore these and other ideas of family.

Discussion:
• Gay parents.
• Families without children.
• Chosen & Biological families.
• Marriage Equality.
• Poly relationships.
• Family traditions: holidays, birthdays, funerals, and weddings – what do your traditions look like?
• Mentoring: finding one and being one. Bridging the generation gap.

Gay Elders
(Thursday, July 12, 2012 7:30 pm)
A gathering programed entirely by gay men over 50.

Discussion:
• A discussion programmed entirely by gay men over 50, including: 
        - A message for the elders. 
        - A message for the youth. 
        - A message for all those in between.

Gay Youth
(Thursday, August 9, 2012 7:30 pm)
A gathering programed entirely by gay men under 30.

Discussion:
• A discussion programmed entirely by gay men under 30, including: 
        - A message for the youth. 
        - A message for the elders. 
        - A message for all those in between.