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He was excited – the two met on an online dating site.After speaking on the phone for about a week, they agreed to their first face-to-face meeting over the weekend. I’ve met guys talking on the phone,” said Fred, who’s a proud Puerto Rican-Italian.His eyes squint when he laughs, an infectious sound that echoes through the living room of his modest apartment in Jamaica, Queens.Settling back into his sofa, he rested a leg on the seat, ready to open up about his upcoming date.Being at the receiving end of discrimination of any kind, Hays said, can have a long lasting effect on someone’s emotional well being. Drug and alcohol use in our community is sky-high compared to other populations.Teen suicide, that’s what we’re hearing a lot about today,” said Hays.For decades, clean-cut, muscular Caucasian men have become the dominant image of what gay men look like in mainstream media, even though diversity is the focus at most Pride celebrations annually and gay men who don’t fit that image find themselves on the outside.
In this particular space that ALP has created, there is no box, there is no ‘if you are a gay man that you look a certain way or your body is a certain shape’.
“So that men of color group formed because there was this strong desire to talk about race and validate their own experiences as gay men of color.” Although groups like DQNY and GAPIMNY provide a safe, open space for their members, some people believe they can have a harmful effect on minority groups they serve.
“Sometimes, that comes at the expense of just sectioning yourself off, rather than coming to the issue,” said Terry Purdue, 28, an African-American gay man who has also faced discrimination based on his race.
Trocchia said the group has been a success, with at least a dozen members that meet once a month.
“It’s (being a gay man with a disability) is difficult,” said Trocchia, who has used a wheelchair for the last 33 years.
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Treating gay people who suffer from problems like racism and other forms of discrimination, he said, comes by providing a safe and open spot to open up.