Online, you'll find tools to help you explore the myriad social and political aspects of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Whether you want to know more about the coming-out experience, are looking for local community resources, want some GLBT activism opportunities, want to stay current on GLBT news and popular culture, are looking for fun things to do, or are looking for a date, the Web can provide access to whatever information or resources you need.
If you're just starting to question whether you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, it's probably a pretty scary and confusing time in your life. You might not yet feel comfortable discussing your concerns with friends or family members. Or perhaps you're ready to seek out support or community but don't know where to go. Not that long ago, you would have had to do a lot of furtive reading in bookstores and libraries before you were ready to venture out in the world. Now you can make that initial exploration a little more safely and anonymously.
If your child, sibling, parent, or spouse has just come out, you're probably bewildered, and possibly terrified. At the very least, you'll need to adjust to what may be a big change in your life and expectations. The Web is a great place to start seeking information.
- It helps to be familiar with the terminology. GLBT refers to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender. Sometimes you'll also see Q for Queer and/or Q for Questioning. GLBT and LGBT are the most common catchall abbreviations. If you type either into a search engine, you'll find many community sites. To gain familiarity with GLBT terms, take a look at this Swedish site.
- Try to avoid just typing the words, "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual," or "transgender" into a search engine without any modifying terms. While you'll certainly get some informational sites, you'll also get a lot of pornography. That can be pretty jarring if it's not what you're seeking.
- The anonymity of the Web is part of what makes it a great starting place when you're first seeking information about yourself or a GLBT loved one. As you get more comfortable, the Web will help you find others for support.
To read the coming-out stories of other people ...
- as the name indicates - is a collection of coming out stories. It's searchable and sorted into six categories: gay men, lesbian women, bisexual men, bisexual women, transgender persons, and straight family and friends. Most stories are written by teens and young adults, but there are submissions from people of all ages.
describes itself as being a place for queer or questioning youth. This site houses more than 1,000 coming out stories-primarily those of teens and young adults. The archive is searchable and can be filtered by gender, age, and submission date. You can also add your own story to the archive.
For guides to help you through the coming-out process or to answer questions ...
is an FAQ about all issues pertaining to transgender issues and transitioning. It's relevant for individuals questioning their own gender identity, and for family and friends confused by a loved one's transition.
Straight Spouse Network
is an international organization that provides information and support for heterosexuals whose spouses have come out of the closet as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Get information and learn how to manage the change in your family. You can also find an online or local support group.
The Internet has transformed GLBT people's ability to find community resources and each other. Prior to the Internet, it took a lot more legwork to find community, and it was particularly tough if you didn't live in a major city. Now you can find local, national, and international resources from the comfort of your home. Eventually, you'll still probably want to venture out-of-doors, of course.
- Most major-and many smaller-cities have GLBT community centers. Depending on the size of the center, expect a range of program options, including support groups, counseling and health services, social activities, dating groups, and 12-step meetings.
- The term "community" can refer to the larger GLBT community as a whole, or a smaller, more focused group.
- Sometimes it's difficult to tell how inclusive a group is simply by its name (or acronym). Sometimes "gay and lesbian" is inclusive of bisexuals or transgender individuals and sometimes not. Sometimes "gay" means men and woman, and sometimes it means only men. Check out a group or resource's Web site for a more detailed description, or contact them using the e-mail address provided.
For a list of offline GLBT community centers ...
The International Lesbian and Gay Association
is a helpful site if you live outside of the United States or plan to travel abroad. They're an activist organization, and their site provides info about the social and legal situations for LGBT people all over the world.
To find a virtual community ...
is an online community center. The site features articles and columns on news, entertainment, lifestyle, family, and money, as well as personals and more. It's a one-stop shopping site for all things GLBT.
is part of the same consortium of sites as Planetout. A lot of the news and features are the same, but it's a little more focused on sex and the gay male.
is a lesbian social networking site affiliated with the Showtime lesbian series The L Word
. The site is hyped endlessly on the show, and marries information about the show with social networking.
is a forum that functions as an online support and general discussion group. You can read the message boards without registering but you have to register to post any messages.
is a global, teen-specific support and information site. This site strongly encourages safe online behavior for teens and requires registration to access much of the site.
is an online transgender community with a vast array of information such as drag kings or tips for air travel. Temenos also hosts other LGB community sites. Check out the links page
Of course, in addition to general community resources, there are plenty of subject-specific GLBT resources—many more than can be listed here.
- As a general rule, you can type GLBT [subject] into a search engine to find gay-specific resources for any type of affiliation. For example, "GLBT health".
- The Links sections in major community sites can often guide you to subject-specific groups and resources.
For GLBT health and well being ...
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
is a great resource both for medical professionals and researchers, and for people looking for GLBT medical professionals. It includes tips on how to manage your health and has a searchable provider database.
is a health and wellness site devoted specifically to transgender individuals. Its features run the gamut from the medical side of transitioning to fitness and nutrition.
For GLBT parenting resources ...
GLBT news is no longer a fringe topic. All major news outlets cover stories pertaining to various facets of the GLBT community. However, GLBT sites consolidate national and local stories, and cover the smaller stories that are under the radar of major media outlets. Additionally, GLBT sites cover the news from a gay perspective.
- Local media responds to reader interest and concerns. Contact your local paper or television station to comment on GLBT stories they cover, or to inquire why they're not covering GLBT news.
is a national lesbian and gay news magazine. Its online site features Web-specific articles, and also contains some of the features from the print version.
magazine is published by the same group as The Advocate. It has more of a gay male focus, and emphasizes style and fashion.
magazine covers lesbian news and culture. The Web site features a collection of articles from the magazine's 15 years of publishing history.
is a funny and insightful lesbian pop culture site that chronicles and comments upon lesbians in TV, movies, and music. Check it out for news, links, and its daily and weekly blogs.
's tagline is "because real gay news is too damn depressing." Think of it as a GLBT TheOnion.com.
is an online daily gay newspaper. It contains some of the entertainment news from AfterEllen and AfterElton.
There are more GLBT activist groups out there than you can shake a stick at. It's possible to get involved with a myriad of groups to fight for all aspects of gay rights. Some groups are primarily looking for financial donations while others are looking for volunteers to work on particular campaigns—or even to help run the organization.
- Joining an advocacy group is not only rewarding due to the work that you do: it can also be a great social and community-building opportunity, and a chance to meet like-minded individuals.
- There are more ways to get involved than there is time to volunteer. Before jumping in, think about what issues are most important to you, how much time you have, and whether you'd prefer a national or local group.
For some general groups that deal with GLBT issues ...
The Human Rights Campaign
occasionally takes some criticism for not having "gay" in their name. However, they're the largest and arguably best organized GLBT rights group, easily recognizable by their signature yellow equal sign on a blue background. Their mission is to work for equal rights for GLBT people. They monitor and "grade" politicians on both sides of the aisle and sponsor numerous community initiatives, including a National Coming Out Day program, and a Gay Marriage Project. Their Web site contains a state-by-state list of local steering committees and volunteer committees.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
is theoretically grassroots, but does not have as ubiquitous a presence as The Human Rights Campaign. They do, however, engage in a fair amount of local activism. They sponsor regional conferences and invest in training activists. Check out their local resources
is the oldest LGBT nonprofit law center in the United States. The main way to get involved with them is to donate money and/or become a member. They also send out online calls to action: send letters and faxes to show your support for a particular issue.
For groups that deal with specific GLBT issues ...
The Service Members Legal Defense Network
is dedicated to repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and to allowing GLBT soldiers to serve openly. There are online volunteer opportunities, and they're looking for volunteers at their DC office.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights
is a lesbian-focused nonprofit law center. The ways to get involved via their Web site are limited to donating money. But it's a great place to stay abreast of legal issues pertinent to lesbians.
The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition
is dedicated to fighting gender-stereotyping and gender, sex, and sexual orientation discrimination. They have a Gender Youth Network that provides opportunities for grassroots activism in local communities.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
is a media watch group that promotes fair and accurate portrayals of GLBT people. There are ways to get involved via their Web site; for example, report instances of accurate and inaccurate GLBT representation in the media. And they also regularly look for volunteers to help produce their Media Awards Events.
is a nonviolent civil disobedience group whose mission is to fight political and religious oppression. Their most high-profile ongoing action is an "Equality Ride" to Christian colleges modeled on the Freedom Rides during the Civil Rights Movement.
For gay-specific partisan political groups ...
The Log Cabin Republicans
consider themselves loyal Republicans who believe in equality for all Americans. Although some consider "Gay Republican" a contradiction in terms, they believe that anti-gay discrimination runs counter to true Republican ideals.
Faith and spirituality can be complicated issues for GLBT folks. Many people raised in communities of faith leave their traditions due to real or perceived discrimination. Some find being gay and religious oxymoronic either because of their views of religion or because of what they've heard from religious leaders. But many others maintain the spiritual beliefs of their childhoods or seek out new religious communities as adults. If religion or spirituality is important to you, there are many resources on the Web to help you find a community of faith.
- There are gay-specific organizations associated officially or unofficially with many of the world's major religions.
- Some mainstream religious organizations are very open to active GLBT participation. The Unitarian Universalist Association, in particular, is known for its inclusiveness.
- Many people find that GLBT-oriented religious groups allow their members to be fully religious and fully gay.
is an organization of gay Catholics. They are not officially recognized by the Catholic church, but do have dialogue with the Catholic church. They provide support to GLBT Catholics and are working to end discrimination against GLBT people within the church.
That All May Freely Serve
is a gay Presbyterian group that was founded when Rev. Jane Spahr was removed as pastor of the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York, for being a lesbian. They advocate for an inclusive faith.
is an online magazine for GLBT Christians. The site features articles, podcasts (known as "Godcasts" on the site), and an online community.
is dedicated to introducing non-Arabs to Arabs and Arab culture. Their Web site contains a section on gay and lesbian Muslims.
Coming out and community and activism are all well and good, but what about good old-fashioned fun? The Web is full of resources for finding GLBT groups for travel and leisure.
- Consider what you're looking for in a GLBT vacation. Are you looking for a cruise or an all-inclusive resort-type of vacation? Will you be traveling alone or with others? Are you looking for a specifically gay vacation, or do you just want to make sure that you're aware of the GLBT-friendly options wherever you travel?
- Some sites offer comprehensive lists of gay travel links. They are a great place to do your initial browsing. Consider Travelers Digest and Gay Travel Links. Both sites provide links to travel agents and tour operators, and provide general and specific GLBT travel suggestions.
- For an incredibly thorough group of sport and hobby links, check out Bent Links.
For GLBT-friendly travel planning ...
runs GLBT adventure travel excursions to traditional and exotic locations-Antarctica, anyone? Some trips are specifically for singles, but others are more open. And your straight friends are allowed to come along.
is a lesbian travel company best known for its lesbian cruises. Featuring entertainers such as the Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, and Kate Clinton, Olivia Cruises are probably the best-known lesbian-specific travel option.
is a primarily gay male cruise and resort company. They feature a range of cruises, and you can check out tour videos on their site.
is a directory of GLBT-owned and -friendly vacation rentals. The directory is searchable and comprehensive and the property detail pages provide summaries of the properties as well as links to the owners' sites. Many offer discounts if you mention PurpleRoofs.
is a summer camp in Maine for GLBT adults. It's a rustic, all-inclusive vacation on the grounds of a real summer camp. Remember when summer was the best time ever? It still is.
For GLBT-friendly sports and hobby groups ...
is a primarily gay male site for sports fans and athletes. It has news and a directory of local sports groups.
International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics
is dedicated to promoting GLBT swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming. All of these events are hot tickets at both the Gay Games and the Outgames.
is for you if you're not so much into sports. Knitting is a very popular GLBT hobby, and this e-mail list can connect you with other enthusiasts.
While being GLB or T is not all about sex or relationships, dating is certainly an integral part of most single people's lives. The Internet has transformed dating for all populations, but the degree to which it has enhanced GLBT dating options is indescribable.
- You don't need to use a GLBT-specific dating site to find a same-sex date. Many dating sites have same-sex dating options. Fewer traditional dating sites have transgender options though.
- Have a sense of what you're looking for when you begin-particularly if you are a gay man. Some sites are more sex-oriented, and some are more dating/relationship-oriented. You'll have a better chance of finding what you're looking for if you target your search.
- Be honest, and be careful. If you misrepresent yourself online, you're unlikely to be able to maintain your charade in person. And remember that not everyone out there is who he or she claims to be. Be cautious about what personal information you disclose. And it's always a good idea to plan a first date for a safe, public place. If you're a teenager, stay away from sites catering to adults.
- If you're looking for transgender dating sites, avoid any sites that use the term "shemale." It's probably not a legitimate trans site.
has a wealth of GLBT profiles. The personals are free to browse but paid membership is required to respond to profiles. Lesbians are unlikely to be approached by men on this site.
are more focused on gay men and a little more on sex. However, there are lesbian, bi, and trans profiles. Membership is required.
is a lesbian-specific dating site. It's subscription based, and there are forums as well as profiles
is a free transgender personals site. It includes warnings about how to avoid fake trans dating sites and Internet scams.
helps gay men find long-term partners. This site is aimed at men who are looking for love and serious relationships rather than just a date. Great design with easy-to-browse content: just type in zip code, age range, or keyword, and Lovetastic will give you some matches. This site has clever, randomly generated profile questions such as "How do you waste your time?" or "If you could be in any movie, which would it be?"
offers lesbian women a place to look for and chat with other lesbian women. Create a profile, search for users with shared interests, create a list of users you are interested in contacting, and see who's interested in contacting you.
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