by STEVE OSTROW
Mature Age Gays

I announced the date, 16 September 1991, for the first meeting of what I called MAG, the Mature Age Gay Men’s Group, in my regular article in Sydney Star Observer and invited everybody to my 59th birthday party.

For a first-time event, it was encouraging to see 40 old-timers show up. Slowly as the evening progressed, they started to relax.

I catered for the evening by having eight barbecued chickens cut into eighths, tubs of salad, and dozens of carrot and bran muffins. Everything went except the guys, who stayed and stayed, basking in the camaraderie of their own peers.

The monthly meetings soon became twice a month. After a while we structured the group by having a constitution, an executive committee and a president, secretary and treasurer.

Over the last seven years we have seen the group grow to where we now get 150 or so men at each meeting. I served as President for the first six years and now sit on the board and oversee the project as Liaison Officer for ACON.

Meetings now are like a well-produced Broadway show. When you first attend a MAG meeting you will be greeted by a host from the welcoming committee. He will also see you are not left sitting in a corner and feeling lost. After an initial coffee social session, we usually get some of our members to share some humorous anecdotes about their lives and then, after a brief presentation of committee reports, we usually have a guest speaker giving a dissertation on topics ranging from male impotency to how to be effective in drag. This is then followed by a pot luck smorgasbord dinner where everyone either brings a plate or throws a couple of bucks on the table.

The group is a peer support, educational and social entity, and as such gets the HIV/AIDS information over in a holistic way which has proven extremely effective. MAG is now the largest gay club, meeting on a regular basis, in all of Australia, and our newsletter is posted to over 600 members on our mailing list.

MAG serves the entire community through its PLWHA dinners at Heffron Hall, under the auspices of the Metropolitan Community Church, a gay and lesbian diocese founded by Reverend Troy Perry. On a Sunday afternoon you will find 30 or 40 MAG volunteers cooking, catering and serving a sumptuous meal to people who are living with AIDS.

MAG liaises with Long Bay Prison to assist gay inmates, and also supports the pediatric AIDS ward at Prince of Wales Hospital -” each year MAG men collect and distribute some 500 stuffed animals and toys to the kids.

It says a lot about our ageist gay community when you see 150 MAG men choose to sit in the basement of the ACON building on a Saturday night because there simply isn’t anything better around. Over the years mature men have found friends through MAG, and indeed many partnerships have been established. MAG has been, and continues to be, one of my proudest achievements.

info: To find more about Mature Age Gays visit www.magnsw.org or contact Steve Ostrow on 9358 1460. MAG meetings are held in ACON’S Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, office on the second and last Saturdays of each month from 6.30pm. Mid-week gatherings are held at the Taxi Club on Flinders St, Darlinghurst, every Wednesday from 6.30pm.

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