Women’s Coming Out Later in Life Support Group

 

This Women’s Coming Out Later in Life Support Group is an open and ongoing Group for women residents of Georgia.  Attendance is ‘open’ to you once we establish that the group is a good fit for your needs.  This group meets on an ‘ongoing’ basis, with no start and end dates.  Once added to our list, you are welcome to RSVP and attend anytime.

History 

In 2014, after months of searching for resources for clients who were curious and questioning their ‘not-so-straight’ sexual orientation, I began this Women’s Coming Out Later in Life Support Group.  Our first meeting was standing room only with over 13 women attending.

Currently, we meet twice per month – once on SecureVideo/Zoom and once in person.

On the days Group meets, 100+ pre-screened women receive invitations by email.  And typically, 5-10 women RSVP and attend each Out Later in Life Group meeting.  Summer months typically have smaller attendance.  And each meeting is a bit different, with different attendees, different topics and different overall ‘moods.’  Our primary objective is holding a safe space for women who are exploring their sexual orientation, facilitating connection and building community.

Our Group

This Women’s Coming Out Later in Life Support Group is for you if you

  • Are curious about your sexual orientation for the first (or not first) time
  • Don’t know the questions, much less the answers yet
  • Need a safe space to speak, listen and share with other women
  • Are still getting comfortable with your sexual orientation
  • Are divorcing (or contemplating) divorce because of your sexual orientation
  • Crave community, connection and support with other women

Working with an individual therapist while attending this Out Later in Life Group may be beneficial for some attendees.  I am happy to share recommendations with you or discuss whether you and I might be a good fit for therapy.

Group Mission

  • Welcome you into a safe, supportive, respectful space for exploration
  • Help you get comfortable in your own skin, at your own pace, in your own way
  • Connect women who ‘get it’ – no explanation required.  And yes, you will make friends!
  • Support each other in curiosity, exploration, creating unique paths and simply ‘be-ing’
  • Share information, resources, events, experiences and more
  • If you are a woman 18-80+ living in GA, you are welcome to inquire about Group
  • No one is turned away for financial reasons / Please see Meeting Process below

Meeting Process

The Women’s Coming Out Later in Life Support Group Calendar is posted here.

Please mark the dates on your calendar (and always check the day-of for cancellations.) 

  1. Complete a brief phone consultation.
  2. Receive your email invitation, usually no later than 1:30 pm.
  3. Simply email me back no later than 3:15 pm that day.
  4. Our Group fee of $25 is waived for those with financial or security concerns.
  5. If you RSVP, you will receive a unique, one-time, encrypted link at 3:15 pm.
  6. Links are also sent and used for payment only on days that we meet in person.
  7. Trust us.  Everyone is terrified the first time they attend. We get it.  Promise.

Great Starter Resources

8 Things Later-in-Life Lesbians Want You to Know, Huff Post, Helene Tragos, Stelian, 2015

Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire, Harvard University Press, 2008

Coming Out Late in Life – and Finding a New Life in Midlife, New York Times, 2023

W2W Resource Guide – Books, Websites and Lots More

Group Guidelines | Disclaimers

Group Definition

This Women’s Coming Out Later in Life Support Group is a support/community Group facilitated by a licensed therapist, and is not a therapy group.  Participating in this Group’s meetings does not confer or imply a therapist/client relationship between you and Melissa Lester, LCSW during your participation in this Group or between Group meetings, whether we have contact or not.  This Group intends to create a safe space, foster individual growth and encourage the cultivation of community.

Respect for Others

As a participant in this Group, you agree to value and respect diversity of thought, expression, experience, religion, faith, ability, knowledge, awareness, education, ethnicity, race, culture, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, physical presentation, financial means, occupation and any other differences that may be shared implicitly or explicitly among Group members during or outside of Group.

Privacy

For online meetings, please be sure you are in a private room with no one else present.  No one should be able to see your computer screen or hear your audio at any time.  Exceptions are made for infants and animals 🙂  For in-person meetings, you guarantee not to disclose the physical location of any group meetings or events.

Confidentiality for Others

Your attendance at any Out Later in Life Group event indicates your agreement to not share any details of someone else’s story, whether they are members of this Group or not.  This includes first name, last name, nicknames, occupation, circumstance, ‘just an interesting story,” or any identifying or potentially identifying information.  Any detail is often enough for someone to be recognized by others or by themselves.

Your Anonymity, Confidentiality & Safety

The presence of others in Group makes it impossible for me to guarantee your privacy, safety and/or confidentiality.  In addition, it is possible that you may encounter others in Group you know directly or indirectly.  If you have concerns about being recognized or about your confidentiality or physical safety, please speak with me about your concerns.

Photographs & Recordings

Your attendance at any Group event indicates that you agree to not photograph, record, recreate, or republish any aspect of this Support Group or any information about Group members, past or present, in any medium, in perpetuity.  This guideline is a requirement, regardless of any state laws that may contradict this guideline.

Timeliness

Group is held in an intentionally relaxed atmosphere.  We generally start a few minutes late to give everyone time to arrive without unnecessary stress.  Timeliness is appreciated, but there is no judgment for being a few minutes late.  Life is stressful enough.

Resources

We will always make time during Group to (voluntarily) share contact information, resources, events, invitations and more.  Please feel free to share any resource that might be helpful to someone in Group including other support groups and other mental health providers.  There is also a W2W Resource list on this website.  Creating connection and community is a primary purpose of this Group’s existence.  

Community Relationships

I encourage you to connect with Group attendees outside of Group meetings.  All activities or communication that takes place outside official Group meetings should be designed to protect everyone’s privacy, confidentiality and safety.  I recommend not posting locations publicly and only using HIPAA compliant and encrypted technology platforms.  All communications, interactions, meetings, activities and events not sponsored by Melissa Lester, LCSW are independent and not affiliated with this Coming Out Later in Life Support Group.

It is up to you whether or not to disclose to the Group any personal relationships that develop between you and other Group attendees.  I do encourage transparency when at all possible for the integrity of the Group and emotional safety of all attendees.  If intimate relationships develop, my recommendation is that you each take turns attending Group.  Please keep in mind that personal relationships among Group members can have multiple consequences for you and other members of Group.  One potential consequence is that the Group may become less emotionally safe or less private for you and the other person in the relationship.  If you would like to discuss these issues with me, please feel free to reach out.

Safety

Physical and emotional safety are our very first priorities.  Lives, marriages, jobs, child custody and other risks are very real for some Group attendees.  Absolute confidentiality is required and the best way we can keep each other safe.  Never share your individual one-time link with anyone.  Never share physical locations of any group attendee, meeting, event or activity.  If you have any safety concerns, immediately report these to your therapist, the other person’s therapist and/or call 911.

Dispute Resolution

These Support Group Guidelines are governed by and interpreted under the laws of the State of Georgia.  Any action brought by any party against Melissa Lester, LCSW or Social Work Supervision, Inc. shall first be submitted to mediation, and if not resolved, shall be brought in courts within DeKalb or Fulton County, GA.

Attendance At Will

You acknowledge that all participation in this Support Group is at will.  You understand that you may attend or not attend and participate or not participate as you see fit.  In addition, you understand that you may request your removal from the COLIL Support Group Invitation list at any time.  Melissa Lester, LCSW also reserves the right to remove any Invitee from the Invitation list for violation of guidelines.  I will always attempt to discuss my concerns with you in advance.

Not a Therapeutic Intervention

This Coming Out Later in Life Support Group is not a therapeutic intervention or therapy, and is not a substitute for mental health therapy.  My role as Support Group Facilitator is limited to organizing and holding a safe, judgment free space, and facilitating community building and resource sharing.  In this role, I do not offer medical, legal or clinical advice or treatment, including but not limited to Mental Health Treatment.  This Support Group is not a substitute for medical, legal, health, mental health, substance abuse or any other professional advice or treatment.  Your participation in this group does not establish a therapist/client relationship with me.

If you are currently in therapy, under the care of a mental health professional or otherwise under mental health counsel, you should notify your provider or doctor before participating, as issues may arise.  Melissa Lester, LCSW shall not be held liable or responsible for any damage you may suffer as a result of failing to seek professional advice.

Attestation

By requesting to be added to this COLIL Support Group email list and/or attending one of our online meetings, in person meetings, events or other sponsored gathering, you acknowledge you have read, understood and agree to all the foregoing.  You further agree that you support both the letter and the spirit of these guidelines and agree to both take and refrain from any actions that a reasonable person would to ensure the safety and well-being of all COLIL Support Group attendees.  Failure to be aware of, read or understand any Definitions, Disclaimers or Guidelines stated on this website does not exempt Group attendees from adherence to all of the foregoing.

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