‘Invisible Man’ To Offer Support To Gay Men

GayINDIANA UNIVERSITY – A new group might provide the answer to the problems of gay men on campus who don’t identify with any existing student support networks. Invisible Man, a discussion group created by IU graduate student Matt Baber and supported by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Support Services office, plans to be an outlet for gay men who don’t necessarily feel they fit into the traditional gay stereotypes.
“The name, Invisible Man, represents the men within the larger homo/bisexual/curious community who might not be obviously nonxheterosexual to each other or to society,” Baber said. “These are the guys who might not feel comfortable being gay or bi because they don’t identify with, for example, pride parades and some of the values that society has traditionally assigned to homosexuals.”
The group is loosely affiliated with the GBLTSSS office but Baber primarily organizes, facilitates and funds it. Baber said the group is geared mainly toward gay men but welcomes all men regardless of sexual orientation.
“It’s open to all male students who want to become stronger and more empowered men who want a safe place to find friends, mentors and resources that will help them understand healthy ways to integrate manhood and sexuality,” he said.
The GLBTSSS office is working with Baber to get the word on the street about the group and encourage participation within the gay community at IU.
“There are students out there not interested in the traditional groups that we offer,” GLBTSSS Director Doug Bauder said. “There are needs not being met and folks who would really enjoy the fellowship of other men with their needs.”
Baber created Invisible Man because he said he did not feel that there was a group with the sort of resources and support that he needed to feel comfortable with his sexuality. As part of the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation graduate studies program, Baber is required to do an internship. He said by applying that requirement to the organization, he saw an opportunity to create the kind of support group that he had always wished existed when he was an undergraduate.
“(The thing) I took away from the coming-out experience was that I had to first be gay and then try to build manhood,” he said. “I realized that other guys likely share my struggle to integrate manhood and sexuality in ways that our culture and communities don’t often teach us to do when we don’t define ourselves by our sexuality.”
In weekly meetings, group participants will discuss a range of issues revolving around the topic of what manhood means in their daily life, and they will try to find ways to realize a strong male identity. Sexuality will be discussed but is not the only concern of the group. Rather, the group is more a way for men to become deeply connected to themselves and those around them, Baber said.
While it might resemble other groups on campus, Barber said Invisible Man is unique in that it specifically addresses manhood rather than relationships.
In the past, the GLBTSSS office has sponsored a number of groups tailored to specific needs within the GLBT community. Organizations for transgender and gender-questioning individuals, a group for black students in the GLBT community and a group for lesbian and bisexual women are examples of some of the groups the office has created and supported.
“We find here that students express their needs of the moment,” Bauder said. “Matt (Baber) came in and talked about his experiences to us, and when he said he wanted to start Invisible Man, we were more than happy to support him.”
from The Indiana Daily Student / Whitney Mitchell

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