When Scott Stockholm and his partner, Donn Mann, moved to Tucson from Indianapolis about four years ago, they were concerned about the lack of creative and fun social networks for gay men in Southern Arizona. They were introduced to Jeff Glebocki, who had also just moved to Tucson; Glebocki came from Cleveland, where he helped start G2H2, a monthly happy hour and networking event for gay men. Therefore, the three decided to bring the G2H2 formula to Tucson. For more info, visit www.g2h2tucson.com.
How did you come up with this idea?
Jeff (Glebocki) was one of the co-founders and creators of the original organization in Cleveland prior to moving to Tucson. The city of Cleveland was experiencing a similar need in the gay community. G2H2 is a monthly organized networking and social event targeting the gay population and providing an alternative to the typical bar scene. We got together with other friends and decided to start a G2H2 here in Tucson, and we're about to celebrate its third anniversary.
When does G2H2 meet?
The events are held at different venues on the third Friday of every month, with no fees other than the cost of drinks.
What do you think is missing in Tucson?
When you look at demographics, what's missing is a midlevel professional market. There is a much higher population of very young or over 40, with a very thin thread in between. When we relocated here for my partner's job, I, too, found a challenge securing a midlevel professional position. Another transplant to Tucson told us it would take us four years to find our way in this city before we felt comfortable and connected. Since I had time on my hands, I decided it would be best to refocus my energy on collectively working with Jeff and others toward something positive. ... Tucson is a city of a million people, and we knew the gay population is large, yet we didn't see activity at bars that represented a city of a million. ... We think the Internet and other social media have changed the demographics in the typical bar. It is important to provide other venues (for) social environments to meet people face to face.
How has G2H2 done so far?
In July 2007, we combined our e-mail contacts and sent a blast invitation to 50 people. Through word of mouth and those in the know bringing friends along, we have grown close to 600 contacts and regularly have over 150 people in attendance. Since the happy hour has worked so well, we have been asked to consider adding another event each month. We are getting ready to launch G2H2-T on the first Sunday of every month. This will be a midafternoon venue to provide an atmosphere to connect and enjoy the weekend before the busy work week begins again.
How do you plan each month?
We try to have venues booked three to six months in advance. When we work with a potential location, we promote it as "an opportunity to market your establishment" to a population which tends to spend money in a social environment. G2H2 is a happy-hour format from 5:30 to 8 p.m., so we ask the venue to provide food at no charge, and they can increase the charge on drinks a dollar or two if needed.
How do you pick locations?
We try to target locations based on the time of year, like resorts during the summer, as well as new businesses.
That makes sense, since resorts are less busy that time of the year.
Yes, and we try to also be mindful of venues more central to the city. Pastiche was our original location, and they were very open to working with us from the beginning, as were Elle, Vila Thai, Old Artisans, Casa Vicente and Armitage (Wine Lounge and Café). We recently even did an event that was very popular at the Reid Park Zoo. Hotel Congress has been great to us, providing several happy-hour options for G2H2. ... We have held our past two holiday events at (the JW Marriott) Starr Pass.
What can people expect when they come to a G2H2 event?
They will hear background music playing and see a diverse group of predominately men, and some women, ranging in age from early 20s to mid-60s enjoying drinks, appetizers and conversations with new and old friends at the end of a busy week. G2H2 has really facilitated a fantastic way for us to connect with great friends we likely would not have met otherwise.