Women’s Coming Out Support Group celebrates two years

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The Women’s Coming Out Support Group (WCOSG) has been running for two years now. One of the group’s facilitator’s Leigh Pafford, says the group has become more intimate, “I think they’re now relying on each other for support, which is what we wanted because we still get the new people coming in, but now we have people who have been involved with the group for two years so.”

WCOSG’s other facilitator Peggy Whiteside says, “I think people are starting to feel it’s their group as much as it is ours, that they’re beginning to take responsibility for it.”
Pafford believes that WCOSG helped to expand the women’s programming at the Pride Center, “Because of our group, we now have someone else who is starting a women’s social networking group for women who are out.”

Pafford said, “When we started, we were one of the few resources women had…”

Whiteside chimed in, “In New Jersey … forget about at the center.”

Pafford agreed and mentioned wanting to see a Moms group for LGBT women and a professionals group.

Whiteside added, “Anything that brings people into the center is a good thing…”

Pafford chimed in, “Especially women.”

Whiteside agreed, “Yes, especially women.”

Anyone who identifies as a woman and LGBT may attend the meetings. Anyone under 18 must have a guardian. It’s okay to bring a straight ally.
Group members take advantage of the group’s private Facebook page to ask questions about coming out or finding an LGBT-friendly service provider.
Whiteside hopes that as time goes by, “That women will continue to help each other and grow with the group and have positive experiences in their life even if this is the only place at this point that they feel like they can be out, that it’s a positive experience.”

The group is open to topic ideas, trip ideas and social outing ideas. One such trip the group went on last Spring was to the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, which contains an enormous collection of materials by and about lesbians. Pafford noted, “You could spend a month in that place and you wouldn’t see everything.”

One member, Jessica Fox, enjoyed her first experience with the group, “I think it’s so awesome and so necessary because coming out is so hard.” She added that the man she’s living with didn’t take it well that she’s bisexual. The group is important, according to Fox, because, “coming out is a really long, hard process and everybody has a different story.”

Emily Harkins excitedly said, “I think it’s really good—a welcoming environment, comfy, which is good because in this area there’s not that big an LGBT presence like Asbury Park.”

Harkins attended her first meeting in October 2010 right around the time of the notable suicides, “This group has given me a lot of confidence especially to be outspoken with gay rights and definitely more of an activist now as much as I can be to where I even now have a blog about my experiences.” Harkins is now a member of Human Rights Campaign. You can find her blog at www.equalityjourney.blogspot.com.

 

The Women’s Coming Out Support Group (WCOSG) has been running for two years now. One of the group’s facilitator’s Leigh Pafford, says the group has become more intimate, “I think they’re now relying on each other for support, which is what we wanted because we still get the new people coming in, but now we have people who have been involved with the group for two years so.”