More impending Meetup drama. Hopefully not! With GaySociety. Throughout June and July, I have been alternating Fridays between ShyBis (my group) + GaySociety (AJ's group). This has been working beautifully. However, there has been a schedule clash. I have been booking my events every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month. But July had 5 Fridays. GaySociety have simply been booking their events every 2 weeks, regardless of which Friday it is. Therefore, we have fallen out of sync.
Yesterday, I lost quite a few of my Twilight RSVPs because of the Friendly Friday drinks. One of the hosts from that group attended my group saying that he was a "spy". LOL. So, I decided to leave Central Station (King's Cross) early (21:45) and head down to the Duke of Wellington (Soho). There, I managed to catch up with Ilyas & Ian (who is one of the hosts). I explained the situation to Ian. AJ came over and joined us. Ian initiated a conversation between myself and AJ. The object? I could find out what dates AJ has coming up. And, if necessary, re-schedule some my dates around his dates to avoid any potential further clashes.
I love both groups. Why should I have to make a choice between them? Jenny described me as a "people pleaser".
At some point during my conversation with AJ, Tom P walked over. He tried to kiss me on the cheek in a friendly fashion but I was not in the mood. Reluctantly, I agreed to. Perhaps AJ could see that the atmosphere between us might be slightly frosty. I think that the animosity has passed. Still, that does not make me want to kiss Tom P on the cheek. Perhaps I acted a bit standoffish with him when he was simply trying to be friendly.
AJ said that there were a few things that I had done that had hit their radar. Which is a somewhat polite way of putting it! A diplomatic man indeed. I knew. Some examples that I can probably guess:
AJ told me that he attended LGS. And that one of the organisers spiked his drink. Initially, I listened to what he was telling me. Suddenly, AJ seemed like he did not wish to discuss this anymore and said that he would like to talk with me next week. I asked him which communication method he prefers (Whatsapp, SMS, Meetup, Facebook, Email?). He said that over the phone is best. I showed him his number on my phone and he confirmed that this was correct. He went to the bar.
By this point, I had consumed enough drinks that I felt inclined to explain the whole LGS debacle. I explained to AJ that when I joined Meetup 2 years ago, LGS was organising Meetup events in the Cock Tavern Kennington, which is practically on my doorstep (SE11). The previous organiser (Jill) stepped down. I went online to check the cost without knowing that you could have up to 3 groups with an organiser account. It went straight through and told me "Congratulations on stepping up as the new Organiser of LGS". I was tempted to step down. However, I thought that this might look bad. So, I stayed on as organiser in name only. I explained to AJ that I basically do nothing with that group. The Cock Tavern events run themselves. I was not intending to do anything with that group. I felt like I needed to reassure him. Now, I feel like I laboured the point far too much when he already received the message that I was not malicious in my intent.
Regarding ShyBis, I implored that I wanted to keep it as a subsidiary / peripheral group and for it to not conflict with GaySociety. AJ asked me if I might consider joining the admin team of GaySociety. This is understandable. From my point of view, we are not in competition. From his point of view, this appears to be the case. There is a natural conflict of interest. If I were in his position, I would wish to draw on my "competitors", both for their skills and also to keep an eye on things. Like I tried to do with the Queer Park Rebels. AJ asked me if I would consider abandoning ShyBis and becoming a full-time organiser of GaySociety. Feeling socially pressurised, I said that I would consider it (in front of Ian). Well, I have considered it. Now that I have considered it, I think that this is a bad decision.
Earlier on in the evening, I managed to sit down and have a drink with Gy, the general manager from Central Station (I am telling this story back to front but never mind). He expressed how delighted he is with the Twilight events. Apparently, I have proven to his superiors that I can bring a crowd in. His bosses are happy. That makes him happy. Gy gave me his Whatsapp and said that it would be easier to reach him via that medium (for booking dates etc.) rather than via email.
I explained to Gy that my original plan with the Twilight events was to step it down to once per month and organise more dinners. However, I acknowledged that the Twilight events are going well. I was worried about interrupting the momentum when it is going well. I proposed to him the idea of keeping it every 2 weeks. Gy said that he likes me group. And that this would be sensible. Of course, because Gy happens to be the general manager of Central Station and it is in his best interests for me to bring him clientele.
Gy explained that with the Geeks Meetup group, there are now 2 organisers. The group grew too large for 1 organiser to handle. He recommended to me that if something similar happens with ShyBis, I should not assemble an admin team. It becomes too chaotic, stressful and political. Briefly, I recounted to him what had happened with the 20s & 30s group. And I reassured him that I had no intention of making anyone a co-organiser (apart from the founder of the group who does not do anything). I have Alex & Ian as event organisers. Which means that they can organise events but not change anything fundamentally about the group. And I have no intention of making anyone else admins on the Whatsapp group. I have seen what happened to Jenny. I do not want that to happen to me. Alex is active on the Whatsapp group and usually responds to general queries about the group quicker than I am able to. He has a good handle on things. I must be wary about not giving someone too much control. I am sure that Alex would not do to me what Anna did to Jenny. But it is wise to remain prudent, in general.
Gy told me that apparently, some of my members had contacted him directly. This is a revelation! He insisted that he did not wish to be part of my Whatsapp group. Which is completely fair and reasonable. He advised me to sort out my guys. And for me to liaise with him separately.
Anyway, the point of this whole long-winded story is that the advice received from Gy (earlier in the evening) and AJ (later in the evening) was conflicting.
Basically, my take on it is this.
I would like the ShyBis group to be a subsidiary / peripheral group to GaySociety. I would like to continue supporting GaySociety and signposting my members towards GaySociety. I think of ShyBis as a shallow end in a swimming pool. Since the GaySociety events take place in vibrant bars in central London and my ShyBis take place in quieter bars outside of the centre (King's Cross and Vauxhall), I imagine that the less confident members might stay with my group and the more confident members would attend both groups.
Therefore, I would need to be careful to not book Central Station on peak nights (e.g., New Year's Eve). I asked AJ if he had any plans for GaySociety on New Year's Eve. He told me that they have booked every 2 weeks on a Friday up until New Year's Eve. I expressed that I would rather be with GaySociety on New Year's Eve than have the pressure of organising something with my own group. I had the impression that he was happy with that but not in the mood to discuss any of this in a noisy Duke of Wellington.
I asked AJ if he is booking every 2nd and 4th Friday. He said no, just every other Friday up until New Year's Eve. So, in theory, all that I need to do is shift my Twilight events slightly and either have a 1-week or a 3-week gap between September and October.
Repeatedly, AJ said that we will talk next week. I tried to find AJ on my way out of the bar. Because (yet again), I felt like I had said too much. I think that this might be my anxiety again. I feel embarrassed about saying something along the lines of "when I stepped up as organiser for LGS, Jill said something "who is that slag?"" Which was a massive exaggeration. I think that I had a bit too much to drink by this point. Maybe AJ will not remember?
One positive point: AJ said to me "I know you love attending our events. I have no worries!"
On the 20s & 30s front, I saw quite a few of the boys there, on their way out to Heaven. It was clear that they had chosen to attend GaySociety over ShyBis. A couple of them had previously been on my Twilight guest list but changed their RSVP to "no" when GaySociety announced the Friday Friendly Drinks. Anyway, they were all extremely lovely and friendly and gave me massive hugs. I said to Jason "we were having a conversation last Saturday and I cannot actually remember what we were talking about!" Jason said that it is fine, he does not remember also. Jason said that they were on their way to Heaven. He made a joke about me not being able to come with them due to my lack of ID. I firmly insisted that I was not going anyway. I was staying here in the Duke of Wellington, finishing my drink and heading home. I did exactly that. I stayed with the quieter 20s & 30s crew who were not going to Heaven. I finished my drink, headed downstairs when the upstairs closed and tried to find AJ on my way out. But I could not. So, I ended up leaving on my own and messaging him instead.
[00:08, 28/08/2021] Rory Duffy: Hi AJ this is Rory, just left now, tried to find you on my way out. Please let me know when would be a suitable time to speak. Hope you enjoy the rest of your night and bank holiday weekend 🥳 message me anytime xx
I think that this wraps up everything quite nicely. I sent a couple of messages to the 20s & 30s group that I thought might look bossy and authoritative. But it is warranted since people kept coming up to me at the Meetup and asking if I had organised the events. And it is true that I was instrumental for saving the Retro Bar dates up until Christmas. So, I can take some credit!
[01:09, 28/08/2021] +44: Tomorrow there is a meeting? A what time?
Plus, I had been hosting ShyBis all evening. It is difficult to flit between hosting and participating mindsets and ways of communicating. I ended up completely abandoning ShyBis upstairs on the roof terrace, which I have never done before. I feel like my role with the ShyBis group is shifting slightly. Now that Alex is more active as an event organiser, I do not need to be so much of a presence all of the time. My role is to set up the events. Thus far, I have already gone above and beyond the call of duty by remaining until the end for all of the events. 2 weeks ago, I stayed at the karaoke too long and left it too late to join GaySociety afterwards. I arrived at the Duke of Wellington at 23:53 and was turned away. This week, I not only abandoned my group on the roof terrace by heading downstairs to the karaoke shortly after 8. I also abandoned them when they subsequently headed down by leaving the venue at 21:43. I was constantly a step ahead of them. I apologised to a couple of them for leaving early. But they did not seem to mind. I think that it is healthy for me to get into the habit of leaving my group whenever I want and feeling OK with it. Jenny does that. Why not I? All that I need to do is create a space for shy guys to meet one another. Whether I stay or leave is my choice. In the coming months, I hope to organise some events but not be present at all of them. To stand back a little and let the group develop organically on its own without me needing to be there all of the time.
I will give AJ about a week to see if he responds about a time when we can speak. Before hassling him about dates. Ian & I talk. I always have that leverage with him being one of the admins. Regarding Alex, I will see him at tomorrow's picnic and explain my decision. I have chosen to continue the Twilight events every 2 weeks and alternate them with the dinners. Once I have heard back from AJ regarding dates, I will book the Twilight events for October, November and December. Alternating Fridays to GaySociety. And give Alex some possible dates for the meals. This seems like a sensible plan. I am satisfying Gy by continuing to bring him clientele. I am satisfying AJ (hopefully) by running dates past him and scheduling my Fridays around the GaySociety group. And I am satisfying Alex and the ShyBis group by giving them a few more events and a little more autonomy.
Meanwhile, this frees me up to think about the Saturday events that I would like to start up. And the possibility of finding a daytime venue with an outside space that could function as a hybrid park / bar Meetup.
Lastly, on a minor Whatsapp note: I do not usually post my opinion on a Whatsapp group because I do not know who I am speaking to. But when Alan (who happened to be an admin) asked "who is single and who is taken" to the members of the group (including Rob), I found it a little divisive and triggering. How might I feel if Rob said that he were single? How might he feel if I said the same? It is not as simple. We are involved. It might not be a conventional "in or out" / Black & White relationship / friendship. I felt that I needed to say something at this point in order to gently put the conversation / question to rest.
[13:50, 26/08/2021] Alan: Hi gang hands up who is single and who is taken on here ??
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