Monday, August 4, 2014

3 Easy Group Exercises: Sexual identity and gender | Part 1

via United Black Element (U-BE) Adaptation of the Mpowerment Project to Young Black MSM.  There are more exercises in the adaptation manual. It is a free download when you register at


Setting up the space and setting the tone for exercises.

Note: We recommend conducting this brief opening activity at the beginning of each session of activities below. 

  • To get participants involved right away by participating in setting the atmosphere. 
  • Having the statements (see list below) on separate signs and posted throughout the room is meant to more easily catch the attention of the participants, who might otherwise easily disregard a list of items all on one sign.
  • Signs
  • Something to easily attach the signs to the walls so they can be removed later and re-used.
Ask participants to post the individual signs on the walls around the room

Instructions for the facilitators

Convene the participants back to the center of the room and ask them to read the signs silently and take in their meaning 

Statements to be posted on individual signs


Mpowerment YVR | Vancouver BC 


Figure 8 – Sexual identity, gender, and the lives of Black gay/same gender loving (SGL) men


  • The following activities address sexual identity and gender in order to:
  • Promote self-awareness and generate a debate on gender and sexual identity
  • Promote self-empowerment.
  • Develop awareness of the stereotypes and stigma that are associated with being gay, and our acceptance of cultural images of what men’s lives are like depending upon their sexual orientation.
  • To question stereotypes in order to envision life as a Black gay/SGL man against negative social expectations.

Figure 8.1 – Discussion of how gay men are portrayed 
(Estimated time 20 minutes)

  • Lead participants in a debate over their sexual identity, which is different from (and typically rejected by) the social and cultural norms of the dominant heterosexual culture. The debate should also touch on how this experience has affected their lives.
Instructions for facilitators

  1. Explain to participants that this activity is about the representations and stereotypes of gay men.
  2. Ask participants to sit in a circle, with the facilitators as part of the circle.
  3. Tell participants that you will read a statement and they will have to reply with the first thing that comes to their minds, without thinking about it.
  4. Provide an example and make sure that at least 3 participants answer. For instance, say “What people eat for Thanksgiving,” or “What people do on the Fourth of July.”
  5. This activity must be performed very rapidly, with one facilitator reading the statements and the other writing the answers quickly on a flip chart.

First round (do it quickly but repeat the activity twice)

Ask participants to name the first thing that comes to mind when you say: "Negative things and myths about gay men."
  • After doing the exercise twice, the co-facilitator quickly reads all the answers written on the flip chart but without lingering on any of them. 
  • The activity then continues with a group discussion of the answers given, identifying negative characteristics and stereotypes.
Questions to facilitate the discussion

  • Do we feel that these characteristics and stereotypes are true or false?
  • What does it mean that some people, or even ourselves, believe these things about gay men to be true?
What the facilitators should say at the conclusion of the activity
  • These are some of the stereotypes and negative things that people say of gay men. In reality, many of these are exactly that, stereotypes and things that people believe, maybe we ourselves sometimes believe them to be true either of ourselves or of our gay brothers. What is important is to keep in mind that there is a great diversity of gay men.
  • Now we’re going to take a 5-minute break to set up some equipment and, when we come back, we’ll talk about some people, situations, or historical events that may give us quite a different view of gay men. 
SOMOS OC | Mpowerment Orange County CA


Figure 8.2 – Celebrating our identity & imagining our lives without homophobia
(Estimated time 20 minutes) Pg. 81.

To spend time visualizing being free from some of the negative thinking associated with homophobia.

List of celebratory statements to be distributed to and read by the participants.

Instructions for facilitators

  1. Have the participants either stand or sit in a circle.
  2. Ask them to answer the question “What is it like to be gay for you?” with the first thing that comes to their mind.
  3. Comment on each reply and talk about the real difficulty of being gay (if that is what emerges in the replies) or the advantages of being gay (for those that indicate so in their answers).
  4. After this initial round, distribute one card to each participant.
  5. Ask one participant at a time to read out loud the sentence on their card. Have each person pause for 30 seconds after the previous participant has finished reading his sentence, before the next one takes his turn.
  6. Ask them to use these 30 seconds between each statement to visualize/imagine how they would feel if they lived in a place where those statements were true.
  7. After all have read their cards, the facilitator will pause to assess the participants’ reactions, ask them how they feel and whether they have anything they want to say.
List of sentences to be written on the cards and read by the participants 
(distribute only one card to each participant)

  • I am proud to be gay because I am free to be me.
  • I deserve to be loved and respected by the people around me.
  • I will feel free when I can display affection for my boyfriend in public.
  • I will be happy when I can speak freely about my sexual orientation.
  • I will strive to create a world where people are not discriminated against for their sexual orientation.
  • My friends and family love me and respect me, regardless of my sexual orientation.
  • I will be an agent of change in the world around me.
  • I will be a leader in my community and achieve progress.
  • I have it in me to find happiness in my life.
  • I will fight against homophobia in my community.
  • I will bust up stereotypes that promote discrimination against gay men.
  • I am a unique, valuable, and powerful person.
  • I have the right to be happy, and I deserve it. 
SLO Fusion | Mpowerment San Luis Obispo CA


Figure 8.4 – masculine vs. feminine: creating images
(Estimated time 20 minutes)


The goal of this exercise is to explore stereotypes about masculine and feminine men, including assumptions about sexual orientation and behavior, and social expectations of each.


  • Flip charts
  • Markers and pens
  • Glue and adhesive tape
  • Magazine images for collage
Instructions for facilitators

  1. Get participants to create two images (using any of the materials they need) of a young man. Tell participants that in one poster, the man must be portrayed as masculine, in the other poster he is portrayed as feminine.
  2. Let participants decide how femininity and masculinity are portrayed (e.g., clothes, stance, expression, accessories, etc.).
  3. Once the images are completed, post them on the wall and, next to each, post a flip chart sheet.
  4. As a group, ascribe personality characteristics to each image and, as these characteristics are called out, write them on the flip chart next to each respective image. 
  5. As a group, ascribe a sexual orientation to each image (gay, bisexual, or straight), and write it down on the flip chart.
  6. As a group, list what type of sexual activities the man in each image enjoys (including whether they are usually the top or bottom partner).
  7. Lead a discussion about why and how the group decided on the personality characteristics, sexual orientation, and sexual activities. Notice if any stereotypes are made according to how the man in the image is portrayed, whether masculine or feminine.

Questions for facilitating this discussion

  • How did you decide who was masculine and who was feminine?
  • What did you look at in each image to make that decision?
  • Do you think that gay men are more feminine than straight or bi men? • Do you know any fem straight men? 


via United Black Element (U-BE) Adaptation of the Mpowerment Project to Young Black MSM.  There are more exercises in the adaptation manual. It is a free download when you register at

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