Pink Triangle Services (PTS) has launched a new men’s group for gay, bisexual and trans men of all ages. The group, the first of its kind within the agency, aims to bridge the generation gap.
Claudia Van den Heuvel, the executive director of PTS, says the group was formed to fill a void when the older men’s group ended in 2010. Previous attempts to set up a younger men’s group failed when participation turned out to be zero.
PTS staff conducted focus groups to determine what issues were pertinent to men and what challenges an all-ages group might face.
“One of the challenges that was identified… is that men of older generations face certain health issues that younger men don’t; younger men face certain social environments that older men don’t,” says Van den Heuvel.
Wes Clarke, the lead facilitator, feels that having a cross-generational group opens up areas for exploration.
“A lot of insight and wisdom are to be gained from establishing a forum where men of different backgrounds, experiences and ages come together to explore areas of common interest and concern,” he says.
Clarke will work alongside several other facilitators with diverse experiences. He says having more than one facilitator helps with continuity — in case a facilitator is absent — makes programming easier and assists in establishing links with the broader gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community.
“These linkages will be crucial in helping us bring in community leaders and subject-matter experts to speak with us,” he says.
The group’s first meeting was a success. Approximately 15 people of various ages and orientations attended the meeting.
“We had an excellent turnout and the level of enthusiasm was high,” Clarke says. “Participants affirmed their support for the group and offered a number of topics of interest they would like to discuss in the future. The interest and the energy were there, and there is a great deal of material to work with.”
Funding for the new men’s group comes out of the agency’s core operations funding. How successful the group will be does not depend on continued funding but rather on the enthusiasm and commitment of participants.
And that is something Clarke is counting on.
“I am heartened and appreciative of the support that the group has received so far. I am looking forward to lively discussions and the opportunity to hear from subject-matter experts on issues that are of interest to men,” he says.