I’m not female, I don’t live in a depressed area, and my parents don’t live in my basement.

But the plight of a middle-aged woman hit home, nevertheless: Her friends have drifted apart, and she wonders how to find new friends or maybe a companion.

Less innovative or pro-active advice columnists might suggest joining a synagogue, church, or the League of Women Voters — existing groups which either don’t meet one’s needs or which require conformity to someone else’s agenda.

But Salon.com’s Cary Tennis tells her not to await help from elsewhere:

I say build, not join. There probably isn’t an existing community for you to join that would meet your needs. You are going to have to build it.


Current community structures work for some but not all. What about the rest of us?

Over the years, I have encountered several “ex-gays” who aren’t being changed at all by Exodus, but who support the Exodus culture war against sexually honest people. They hang on to Exodus because they claim not to have found alternatives, or because resent that, during their time as openly gay or lesbian individuals, no one offered them a pre-packaged cure for loneliness. Perhaps no one nearby offered them a healthy low-key hangout, or a friendly hiking club, or an affirming spiritual group, or a ready-made dating partner.

That’s a passive and self-focused attitude; it’s a near-guarantee of failure. Tennis says:

Because our architecture and planning are so bad, many of us are literally starving for society. If your architecture and city planning were good you couldn’t be isolated. It wouldn’t let you be isolated. It would channel your purposeful movements past other groups so that you have regular, low-stakes contact at a safe distance and in motion. But in the face of bad architecture, bad planning and isolating patterns of work, transportation and consumption, we need to make artificial structures.

Life is not a fast-food restaurant, and healthy lifestyles are not served in instant, pre-packaged happy meals.

Religious groups such as Exodus promise happiness in the form of pre-packaged conformity. They claim that good health can be achieved through the consumption of religious and therapeutic junk-food, and they encourage people to seek “freedom” from adult responsibility.

If you’re same-sex-attracted, feeling isolated, and wondering where to bond in healthy ways with others, don’t wait for community to happen — and don’t wait for someone else to define “community” for you.

Make your community happen.