By Kuljit Bhogal | @kuljit_sb

With the pandemic still limiting the way that we meet each other, it’s likely that online groups will continue to be a big part of how we stay connected with each other. Here are 5 Reasons why you should think about giving them a go:

1. Meet someone new

If we always did the same things that we always do we’d never learn anything new. Online groups can be a way of meeting new people, being exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking about old problems.

You don’t have to agree with everything you hear, but being part of the conversation might help refresh your view of things and sometimes this new perspective can be life changing.

2. Socialise in your slippers

There’s no pressure on you to get dressed up, to smell nice or to even brush your teeth if you don’t want to. Although, we’d recommend that you take a look in the mirror just before a group as you never know what you might have stuck between your teeth.

Being able to talk to other people without worrying so much about what clothes you’re wearing is one of the best things about online groups. You get to turn up, take part and go back to what you were doing without leaving the comfort of your room.

3. Community and belonging

We’re all feeling the lack of social contact at the moment. Bumping into your weird neighbour on a daily walk isn’t really enough to replace the joy of meeting a mate for a coffee and a chat.

Online groups can be a great way to feel connected with other people and the world around us. Although people say that the online world isn’t the same as the ‘real world’, it actually has more in common with a face-to-face meeting than you might think.

Seeing people laugh, smile and sometimes cry will remind you that we’re all trying our best to get through these strange times and we’re all in this together.

4. Building a routine

Being inside more than usual, especially in the winter, can be hard work. If you don’t have work or study to motivate you, watching endless boxsets can make all the days blur into one.

Online groups can help you break up the day and if you don’t have much else to do, the group can give you a reason to get out of bed and brush your hair.

It’s normal to have days when you’re feeling like you’ve got low energy and you feel a bit down in the dumps. Online groups can help you forget yourself for an hour or two and being around others, even online, can give you an energy boost!

5. It’s fun

It’s easy to forget this one, but meeting other people can be a lot of fun. Especially if you join a group that is about music or dancing or just having a chat and an online cup of tea together.

Smiling is proven to improve how we feel, even if we’re not feeling particularly happy. Seeing other people laugh and smile is also good for us.

If this is what you’re looking for, make sure you sign up for a group that’s a bit more light-hearted and take some time to go regularly. The more you get to know other people, the more likely you are to enjoy yourself and you might even make some new friends in the process.

If you’re feeling nervous about meeting new people, remember that most people will feel the same. Choose a topic that you’re interested in and if you can, read a bit about the person or the organisation that is running the group. Decide on whether the group is on the right day and length of time for you.

Remember to think about your safety as much as if you were meeting someone in person. Don’t share personal details with people you’ve just met and don’t feel pressured to talk about things you don’t feel
comfortable talking about.

If the group is distressing for you or isn’t working out, there’s nothing stopping you leaving the group after it’s started and putting it down to experience.

Dr Kuljit Bhogal currently runs GMFA’s bi-weekly online peer-support groups for South Asian gay, bi and trans men. To find out more or to join the next session visit