Service User who joined in 2014

I am a 55 year old guy married 27 years, no kids. After some major life changing events I started to realise in my mid to late 40s that I was gay and finally came out to my very supportive and understanding wife in March 2013 at the age of 53.

After years of isolation, depression, and suicidal thoughts I approached the LGBT Foundation for help and was introduced to Icebreakers and joined in August 2014 and have been every week since.

I was initially concerned that I would be too old at 54 and would feel out of it, or isolated, or that the group would be too cliquey, or that I would have to stand up in front of a room full of strangers and say ”Hi I’m XYZ, and I’m gay”,  but nothing was further from the truth. All new members wear a yellow name badge on their first visit so that others in the group can easily identify them and make them feel at home and that’s what happened to me. On my second visit when I didn’t really know anyone, other than a few guys I’d met the week before, I made a point of talking to the new guys because we all had our newness in common. I’ve been doing that for the last year and now become part of the furniture.

As for my age, well I’m not the youngest in the group but also not the oldest. We have had some members in their 60s, 70s, and 80s come to the group so it’s never too late to make a start.

It has also been a surprise for me to meet 4 or 5 other heterosexually married guys, some divorced some not, that I can share my experiences with.

For me the main thing was to make it part of my regular routine and so even if it’s pouring down with rain or freezing cold I still go along. I’ve read somewhere that if you do something for 6 weeks then it becomes habit forming so that was my initial goal, and I’ve attended every meeting since.

As a new gay guy being able to meet other gay guys just for friendship and support in a non-sexual environment without the pressure of expectation of sex has been a great help in my personal, all be it late, development as a gay guy. In some ways it has quite literally been a life saver when I think back to the dark days and suicidal thoughts. I’m now a confident gay guy who doesn’t care who sees me walking through the gay village or in one of the many bars talking to my many new friends.

I would recommend going along and giving it several weeks before deciding it’s not for you and if you try my suggestion of talking to the other new folks each week it will seem less daunting as you start to become part of the group.

This was a thank you letter from one of our past service users.

Hi guys, I’d just like to write a personal message to all the volunteers who contribute to the running of Icebreakers for your help, information, understanding, and patience.

The first evening I thought coming out was a mistake. Little did I know then it was the best decision I have ever made. My life has changed completely for the better, I feel amazing, full of life, happy all the time, like a teenager. I’m proud just to be me, it’s amazing. Without Ice Breakers I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Thanks, guys, for volunteering and helping guys like me.

Thanks JC