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Rhode Island social worker creates new coming out group

by Joe Siegel
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Tuesday Jul 21, 2009
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A new group has been created to help enable LGBT people in Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts to share their sexual orientation with others.

The Providence Gay/Bi/Lesbian Coming Out Social Support Group begins on Wednesday. Licensed social worker Tom Fronczak, who has provided psychotherapy services for several years, will facilitate the group.

Even with greater than ever acceptance of LGBT people in mainstream society, Fronczak said he believes there is a need for a social support group to help those who are still struggling with their sexual orientation.

"The (coming out group) was created by me in response to my increasing awareness that there are a number of wonderful and otherwise high functioning men and women who are in part, socially isolated and lacking supports, mentors and a road map if you will, for effectively coming out and moving into authentic and full self expression around their sexual orientation," Fronczak said.

Fronczak’s clients report experiencing loneliness, depression, anxiety and shame about their sexual orientation. They frequently mentioned the need for a support group.

"It is through connection and shared support that members realize they are not alone, that there are countless ways of owning one’s sexual orientation and how to do so in a healthy, safe and respectful way."

"While it is true that our society and culture is changing and growing in their awareness and ability to embrace variant forms of sexual self expression, there are still those, born and raised in an earlier time, influenced by family, culture, ethnicity or religious beliefs who can still feel tremendous shame, self doubt and anxiety around fully naming and owning their sexual orientation," Fronczak explained.

Fronczak added he feels some LGBT people remain "caught up in the shame of secrecy around their sexual orientation" and feel completely isolated and often times depressed as a result.

"It is through connection and shared support that members realize they are not alone, that there are countless ways of owning one’s sexual orientation and how to do so in a healthy, safe and respectful way," he added.

Fronczak said he hopes in the future there will be even more acceptance of LGBT people in society. And as a result, there will be fewer people struggling to come out of the closet.

"I look forward to the day when some child says to a mom or dad, "do you mean there was a time when people thought it was wrong to be gay?" Fronczak said. "That day is coming, but until then let us all take responsibility to support and care for one another in a way that allows them to fully shine. This group is but one path along such a bright and hopeful future."

The Coming Out Group is private and confidential and is for adults of all genders. Anyone interested in joining will need to RSVP and pay the $25 fee. Log onto www.meetup.com/ComingOutRI or e-mail Fronczak at TJFronczak@aol.com or call (401) 431-2953 for more information.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.

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