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And How to Get There: Understanding the Need for Change

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Life is about change. I have known I am gay for a very long time, but I didn’t recognize it when I was younger because I lived in rural Missouri. My understanding of gay was dressing like a girl and being feminine – wow, how I was wrong. There are all types of gay people.

Throughout our lives we have gone through many changes; exploring life, understanding what it is like to be gay, finding partners, building a career, and building a life. It wasn’t until my partner introduced me to Prime Timers that I understood change.

Don, my partner, is currently serving on the PTWW board as Vice President of Chapters and is the founder of the Kansas City Prime Timers. Don started the chapter after meeting Woody Baldwin at Labor Day in 2001. When he returned to Kansas City he checked with other older gay men, arranged meetings, and developed the chapter with the help of four other men.

Don can’t take the credit for all of it, but he started a chapter that has grown through the years and fostered the spirit of Prime Timers. He still believes in the organization and helps new chapters get a foothold to starting successful chapters across the country.

I am writing this article for several reasons. First, organizations flourish when there is diversity in its membership. Second, I see the need for change in the organization as we transition to more electronic forms of communication – hell, most of us date or find dates on the Internet! Third, the development of the new PTWW website offers exciting opportunities for chapters and men to continue to develop brotherhood and friendships. And finally, I am frustrated.

Four years ago we moved to Palm Springs, CA. Although we are both members of Prime Timers of the Desert, we do not frequent the events as much as we did in the past. I find there are things from both chapters I enjoy. In KC we enjoyed having the whole chapter in for dinner and drinks. With PTOD I enjoy the mixers and getting to know new people in the chapter; however, I feel a void and a lack of intimacy with the group and have slowed in my attendance at the mixers. To my fault, we have not attended dinners or lunches with PTOD, as I still work and have a lot on my plate. Instead we have dinners at home and when we want company, we invite others to join us. I still feel the need for Prime Timers in my life and want to do more with the organization.

I recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Management and during the grueling year and a half curriculum I read the 1995 article Leading Change: Why Transformational Efforts Fail, by J. P. Kotter in the Harvard Business Review. Kotter is a professor of Leadership in the Harvard Business School. Over the course of the next couple of issues, I will write an article highlighting a step or two of Kotter’s eight steps to transforming your organization, which I will list for you now:


  1. Establish a Sense of Urgency – Examine market and competitive realities, identify and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
  2. Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition – Assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effort and encourage the group to work together as a team
  3. Creating a Vision – Creating a vision to help direct the change effort and developing strategies for achieving that vision
  4. Communicating the Vision – Using every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies, teaching new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition
  5. Empowering Others to Act on the Vision – Getting rid of obstacles to change, changing systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision, encourage risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions
  6. Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins – planning for visible performance improvements, creating those improvements, and recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements
  7. Consolidating Improvements and Producing Still More Change – Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision, reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents
  8. Institutionalizing New Approaches – articulating the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success, and developing the means to ensure leadership development and succession

As members of the gay community, whether we are in the closet, young, old, transgender, male, female, or bisexual we owe ourselves the right to happiness. In order to become happy with our organizations there will come times when there are creative differences, lengthy discussions, and sleepless nights.

We are in a pivotal time in the United States when DOMA is likely to be stricken down by the courts and in the coming months we will need a strong organization that offers our members the support we need. Please read next month’s continuation of this article when I address Establishing a Sense of Urgency and Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition.

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Bryan Quinton

Currently a member in the Palm Springs, CA chapter.  I was at the presentation for the new site in Denver and I must say, it is better than I realized