Feed your mind – Part 2

learn learn

Learn to… Come out

Being Gay is easy but Coming out as a member of the LGBT and gay community isn’t easy, especially when you’re young, and for many of us it’s an on-going process rather than a one-off event. The Sexual Debut course run by GMFA and Pace helps participants gain skills on how to negotiate in the gay scene and build confidence around sex and relationships in a safe and supportive environment. The eight sessions also help to develop communication and assertiveness skills to help us make the right decisions. The course is free and takes place in North London on Thursday evenings. Go to: gmfa.org.uk/event/sexual-debut. London Friends run a group for women that offers support and discussion about coming out. Classes take place on the second and fourth Monday of every month. Go to: londonfriend.org.uk/get-support/social.

Learn to… Write

What to write about your current LGBT and gay lifestyle, have you always felt there was a novel in you, just waiting to be written? Or do you want to write short stories – or poetry? There are a number of LGBT and gay writing groups who can help nurture your inner author. Try Pink Ink on the third Monday of every month at London Friend in North London (londonfriend.org.uk/get-support/social) or in Brighton check out events run by Queer Writing South (queerwritingsouth.wordpress.com). If you’re in or around Manchester, Young Enigma run monthly workshops and other events for LGBT and gay community writers (youngenigma.com)

Learn… Just for fun

There are any number of organisations running classes and opportunities to learn purely for pleasure. Look in local papers and on community noticeboards for local evening classes but there are two national charities who run thousands of classes on hundreds of topics every year.

The WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) have been around for over 100 years and run classes in everything from numeracy and literacy to art appreciation and languages. For example, one class in Herne Bay in Kent will be studying the life and work of Oscar Wilde in 2014. See wea.org.uk/courses to find courses near to you. The U3A (University of the Third Age) is a similar organisation, catering to retired people. Find their courses on u3a.org.uk

Learn to… Sing

For all the gay community wannabe singers there are plenty of opportunities to sing with your LGBT friends, with gay, lesbian and mixed choirs across the UK (See uk-ireland.proudvoices.org/choirs to find your nearest chorus) but sometimes you just want to sing for the hell of it. Camp cabaret, favourite Lorraine Bowen runs singing workshops where no experience is necessary, just a desire to turn up, open your throat and sing along. On 16 March you can learn Rogers & Hammerstein songs with her in Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex, or on 6 April you can Sing-a-longa-Abba with Lorraine in the very venue in Brighton where the Swedish supergroup won the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1974. Go to: lorrainebowen.co.uk for more dates.

Learn to… Improve your career

Have you ever applied for a new job, only to be told that you lack the necessary qualifications? There are plenty of options for continuing with your education, even if you’re well past school age. Every city or county council will have an adult education programme where you can study for GCSEs, NVQs or A-Levels. Check your council’s website for details.

The other option worth exploring is the Open University. Gone are the days of boring programmes presented by men in dodgy knitwear at 6am on BBC2. These days, courses are largely online with occasional evening or weekend tutorials and you can learn at your own pace. The range of courses is enormous and you can just do a unit on a topic that interests you or work towards a degree or even a masters – and OU courses are now internationally recognised as being among the best university degrees by employers. Have a browse through open.ac.uk/study to get a feel for the courses on offer.