IMG_4653eA new support group is opening in Wollongong to combat social isolation, loneliness and depression among gay men on the South Coast.

Featuring talks from Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery and local LGBTI Liaison Officers from Wollongong Police, the Discovery and Hope workshops will run once a month and will centre around discussion of male sexuality and self-esteem.

Speaking to the Illawarra Mercury, Discovery and Hope founder Jon Le Breton said he was inspired to start the group because gay men in Wollongong lack the “social interaction and safety” found in larger cities.

“I want to increase the feelings of safety for others. I felt quite isolated as a teenager and I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it – I moved away to feel safer to explore who I was, who I wanted to be, my sexuality and my purpose in life. I felt like it wasn’t safe enough to do that in Wollongong,” Le Breton said.

In December HIV/AIDS support body ACON closed its Wollongong office after 25 years, with support for gay men in the region substituted with two trained part-time health officers.

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