*that don’t involve Grindr or gay bars

By Gareth Johnson @GTVlondon

Whatever age you are, meeting guys can be a bit of a challenge. Well, actually meeting guys is relatively easy if all you’re looking for is a quick hook up – your local sauna or any location-based dating app will give you plenty of options to get your rocks off. But what if you want more than a quick, anonymous encounter? What if you want to connect with someone? Get to know their name, how they drink their coffee, or which side of the bed they sleep on? Here are seven options you could try.

1. Talk to strangers

It’s great to hang out with your friends, but (as a general rule) your friends are not going to have sex with you.  To meet guys who you might want to date, you are going to have to talk to people that you don’t know. I was workshopping this recently with young marketing professional David Hermann who is of the view that most people are fairly receptive to starting a conversation:

“I learned a while back that every gay man has a scared insecure 17 year-old-girl trapped inside him. With that knowledge I can talk to just about anybody. Lots of times the hotties don’t even realise that they are a catch!” You don’t need corny chat-up lines, just be relaxed and be yourself. A great way to initiate a discussion is to ask a question – smile, laugh, be interested in what people are saying.

2. Work

Making the decision to be open about your sexuality at work can seem a bit daunting, but it’s actually a pretty safe thing to do. In the UK you’re not only protected by solid anti-discrimination legislation, but most companies are falling over themselves to create diverse workforces and support their LGBT employees. If you’re working in any kind of largish organisation, chances are that there will be an LGBT-employee network in your workplace. Paul Skovron, chairperson of the LGBT employee network of a Scottish bank, reports that: “Joining the bank’s LGBT-employee network was a real eye-opener for me. Not only did I get to meet people from across the business and make some great friends, it raised my profile within the organisation and gave me exposure to senior management.”

3. Play sport

Across the UK there are lots of LGBT sports clubs, teams and associations that are a great way to keep active and improve your health and fitness, and also provide a range of social events and opportunities to meet people in your area with similar interests. LGBT sport is surprisingly well organised, and there are heaps of competitions around the world that sports teams travel to on a regular basis. The great thing about LGBT sports clubs is that they generally welcome people of all levels and abilities, so even if you’re not the most confident or accomplished sportsperson there are bound to be beginners sessions or lessons that you can tap into.

4. Volunteer

The work of gay community organisations is incredibly inspiring.  Whether they’re providing information and outreach, running safe-sex campaigns, or providing support services for people who are having a tough time, community organisations rely on volunteers to keep operating on limited budgets.

Sign up to donate some of your time and energy with a local community organisation that matters to you. Not only will you feel good about doing something that helps others, but you’ll meet new people and expand your social networks. Monty Moncrieff, Chief Executive of UK charity London Friend confirms that this is a strategy worth exploring: “Volunteering can be a great way of meeting new friends without the pressure or sexual subtext that can come through meeting people on the scene or online. When the focus is on giving your time to support others you find you engage differently, with people you might otherwise never meet, and get to know more about other people’s interests whilst giving something back to your community. Plus it’s a great way to gain new skills and contacts. I was a volunteer with an LGBT organisation for ten years and the experience has definitely been helpful for the job I now do, and I’ve still got really good friends from it.”

5. Network

Most cities will have some sort of gay networking opportunities. It could be a business network, a networking event over drinks, or outings to the movies or the theatre. Try a few different options and test which groups you best connect with. Leave no stone unturned.

6. Go to the gym

Getting to the gym and working out on a regular basis has lots of benefits.  At a minimum it will improve your fitness, plus research shows that regular exercise helps you to feel like you have more energy and will improve your confidence. Most gyms are also fairly social places – you get to know the people who work out at similar times to you. If you seem friendly and approachable it’s inevitable that you’ll find an opportunity to strike up a conversation at some point. Gym-bunny Shih-Ming Yao advises: “The best way to start chatting with someone at the gym is to ask whether they are still using a particular piece of equipment or ask whether you can work in with them. I also tend to tease guys with little jokes such as ‘you’re not going to get bigger legs lifting that!’ or ‘I know you’re stronger than that!’ A bit of banter gets you a long way.”

7. Take risks

Meeting guys involves putting yourself out there, feeling vulnerable, making mistakes, and suffering the occasional rejection. Recent graduate Jose Correa-Rollano advises that if you like someone you should always take the chance and ask them to go on a date with you: “Your inner gaydar is usually going to be pretty reliable – just by the way the guy stares at you, you know if there’s something there, so I would say just ask! The worse thing that can happen is that the guy says say no.”

Dating can be hard work, exhausting, and a bit frustrating. But dating can also be exciting and fun. It’s inevitable that you are going to have to kiss a few frogs before you find your Prince Charming, but why not give it a go? Put your smart-phone away and get in the game – your potential new boyfriend could be just around the corner!

To find a group or social club near you, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/theguide.

This article is taken from FS magazine issue 138.

To read the DIGITAL version, click here.

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