GAY 101: Being A Social Butterfly
Maybe you’re new in town or you’re just out of a long-term relationship. Perhaps you’re about to finish an intense graduate program, or maybe you woke up this morning and decided you need some new friends because your old ones have gotten annoying. For any number of reasons, a large number of you want to know how to meet people in Richmond.
In my last column I discussed places to make friends outside of bars. My chief suggestion was to start online — on Facebook, GayRVA, GayRichmond.com, or any other website with events listings. This site has a calendar of free and inexpensive LGBT friendly events in Richmond. I suggest you click on that link (after you finish reading this column, of course). Find something happening that looks interesting or fun, and make plans to go. You won’t make new friends sitting at home watching Glee, will you?
If you’re like most people you won’t want to go alone, and if you’re new in town you might have only a few acquaintances to invite. Sadly, your only two choices are to invite people you don’t know well or to go alone. (Your third choice is to stay home alone with Netflix and microwave popcorn, but you don’t need my help doing that.) I suggest you invite people – acquaintances, co-workers, Facebook friends – anyone who might be pleasant company for an evening. Just make sure to invite multiple people, and make sure they know you’re inviting multiple people. Tell them “I’m planning on going to (insert selected activity here) this weekend and trying to get together a group of people to go with me. Do you want to go?” Suddenly you’re not someone lonely for company, but a fun person with interests who initiates things. And even if only one person accepts you’ve made it clear that it’s not a date.
Assuming you find something to do and people to join you, your next step is to meet new people once you get there. This is generally the hard part. If you’re lucky, the people you came with will know people and introduce you. If not, the best people to strike up a conversation with are the organizers of the event. It’s their event – they have to be nice! Introduce yourself. Compliment them on the event. Offer to get involved. Ask if they have a Facebook page to find out about upcoming events. And of course, since they’re the organizers they generally know lots of people and are likely to make introductions.
When you meet someone who seems nice or interesting, make sure that you get a means of follow-up. Get their last names so you can find them on Facebook. Get their phone number. Find out what other events they go to and put them on your calendar. It’s not enough just to meet people – you have to be able to reconnect once the event is over.
The final step is, of course, to follow up. Friend them on Facebook. Text and say you enjoyed meeting them. Make plans to go to another event and add them to the list of people you invite. You won’t create a new circle of friends the first time you venture out in Richmond, but meet a few new people every time you go out and eventually you’ll find a group that you feel comfortable with.
(One final note: if you use Facebook to message or friend-request people that you’ve met, make sure your profile has your real name and real picture on it so they can remember you. A friend request from a name you don’t recall with a picture of Underdog or My Little Pony is one you’re not likely to accept, right?)
Your questions are always appreciated – submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll try to answer as many as we can.
Paul M. Newton has lived in Richmond since 1986, all of that time in the Fan except for a brief stint in Brandermill. He works in human services and volunteers periodically with several LGBT organizations.
“On the day of the Supreme Court ruling, this ratio was double, one out of every five people.”October 16, 2015
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