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Thursday 09 April 2009

Should Ben follow his heart... to Florida?

Posted in: Family Matters
By - 24th June 2008

Jacquie Grant affectionately known as the "tranny granny", Jacquie's had a colourful life which has seen her go from being harassed by police and arrested on the streets of King's Cross in Sydney in the late 1950s, to a happier life in New Zealand, where she has fostered more than 60 children, and now has numerous grandchildren. Jacquie lives in Hokitika.

Bill Logan is a counsellor, celebrant, gay activist and revolutionist in his fifties, Bill's been on the Gay Helpline in Wellington since 1982, was a co-founder of the NZ AIDS Foundation, and played a significant role in the struggle for homosexual law reform.

Tom Hamilton is Rainbow Youth's Executive Director, and also has several years experience working within LGBT communities in Australia and the USA. Tom also has extensive knowledge about community law, support work and counselling.

Previous advisors include secondary school teacher Carol Bartlett, gay activist Jim Peron,"Out & Proud" ambassador AJ Marsh, ex Youth Coordinator for Rainbow Youth Rob Marshall and editor Jay Bennie.

If you have a question you'd like to put to our panel, please complete our

Young Aucklander Ben has met a lovely guy online, but there's one problem - his dream man lives in Florida...

Hello GayNZ,

My name is Ben, I'm 20 from Auckland.

I have made contact with a great guy who lives in Fort Lauderdale in Florida. We met online a few months ago and swapped pictures, chatted on MSN and we even talked on the phone. He says I should go and visit him. I have been saving up to fly over there in NZ winter for the hot hot summer over there!

I haven't booked my flights yet because my friends are all telling me that I'm crazy to be going to visit this guy. They are telling me not to go, but I very much want to.

So I would like your advice. Should I go? And take a chance? Or are my friends right, is it a stupid idea?

Advice from Rob Marshall:

Rule number one: Don't believe everything you see, read or hear online.

Not everything on the net is what/who you think it is. As you know photos can be manipulated. Online friends are strangers until you have met them in real life, don't forget that. It may feel that you know someone a lot quicker when you talk to them over the net but be wary they may be lying about who they are.

Grooming is when a person tries to 'set up' and 'prepare' another person to be the victim of sexual abuse. Grooming takes quite a while (even months and years), and can be very subtle and sneaky. Victims of grooming often don't realise that they're being manipulated until after they've been sexually abused, and even then, some victims don't see how the grooming led to their abuse.

That said if you protect yourself, meet in a public place, if you think he is dodgy then don't take it any further. I could ask you why you need to travel half way around the world to meet someone, or is that too obvious a Question?

Advice from Jacquie Grant:

What have you got to lose?

Spending winter in NZ when you could be in Florida, even though I love NZ it's no contest, and guess what there are millions of hotties over in the USA so if this one does not pan out you just never know who is around the corner, put it down to being an adventure and go for it, he just may be Mr. Right.

Advice from Bill Logan:

Well, Ben, it all depends!

If you are going to be devastated if it is not perfect love, then this is a mistake.

But hey! Getting away in the winter is great. Travel is great. Fort Lauderdale is great. And the reasonable prospect of a neat affair is even greater.

Life without risk is pretty meaningless, but a little insurance is also wise. Why don't you discuss this directly with this guy? There's no way of being sure in advance that you will click and it would be good to have some sort of understanding of how to handle things if they don't work out so well.

And right now, join, and within that join the QueerCouchsurfers group. That way you'll have some places to stay if things go wrong. - 24th June 2008