Writing isn’t fun for everyone, but everyone does it. Whether you’re sharing a Facebook status update, tweeting a cheeky comment or sending an email, you are writing on a daily basis. Even if writing isn’t your “thing”, you probably understand the importance of it.
Unfortunately, writing has become a very rudimentary activity in our lives, when in fact it can be one of the most powerful skills we have with which we can express our creativity, thoughts, ideas, feelings, and learn new things about ourselves and the world around us.
Some see us as a voice of reason, others as Life Coaches or a sounding board. Most see us as a powerful and engaging platform to connect with an extraordinary caliber of gay men who are looking beyond the emotional wounds, baggage and other hang-ups that can impact our everyday lives.
We believe the true value of our work can be found in the lives of the participants, so our approach is as flexible, diverse and authortive as you want it to be.
The Exploration is held over 2.5 days – Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday . The journey is exhilarating and life-changing but also intense, revealing, nurturing and profound, all experienced from within the comfort of a safe and intimate environment.
On Wednesday 22 May we held our first Bitesize event. The Quest Bitesize is an evening designed exclusively for The Quest graduates to come together and explore issues relevant to their journey of authenticity, reconnect with other graduates and to learn and discover new things that can facilitate their journey of self-discovery and authenticity. In a way, it is an evening that is aimed to reignite the passion that brought us together in the first place.
“As a gay, you understand that while you’ll always find peers who allow you to be exactly as queeny as you are, there is still a social hierarchy that puts a premium on masculinity. Tops are valued. “Straight-acting” is a badge of pride, despite the term’s corrosiveness…”
What comes up for you when you digest that?
You must know the feeling. You go through your drawers and find an old favourite shirt you’ve forgotten about. You think: “Gosh, I wondered where this had gone. I thought I’d lost it.” When you put it on and look in the mirror, it still fits like a dream and looks smashing.
That’s how I felt when I recently landed back on the ‘dating scene’ — pleasantly curious and ready to strut my stuff. With 40 around the corner and because I’m wary of repeating old patterns, I was a bit apprehensive too despite my enthusiasm.
Nowadays, gay men are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to how we can connect with other guys. The obvious and easy choices are online dating sites and smartphone apps. I’ve tried both and I know they offer loads to look at and hold the alluring promise of immediate gratification, but they’re also time-consuming. I mean really, how many frogs can one man kiss? Continue Reading →
A participant on our recent one-day workshop ‘Getting Clear on Sex & Intimacy’ shares what led him to attend, and his insights from the journey.
Reaching my mid 30s and not having a sense of what imtimacy is, let alone what it means to be, has been rather disconcerting. A comment Darren (co-founder of The Quest) made recently resonated with some of the thoughts on sex and intimacy I had been having in recent months. He reminded me of a time when I was younger, when my identity as a gay man was not determined by sex or the overt sexualisation of the gay scene I find around me. It permeates so many aspects of our lives whether we choose to admit it or not: the gay press, scene magazines, limitless online pornography, online hookup sites, phone applications.. the list is endless. Continue Reading →
In the third and final conflab between The Quest co-founder Darren Brady and international theatre practitioner and academic Paul Woodward, they make their final reflections on the power of crafted storytelling for the stage and its potential within The Quest provision, as well as heralding the launch of the next phase in storytelling The Haunting…
So this is our final conversation about storytelling. I know that you have recently performed yourself and I was interested to know- What do you think happens when somebody shares an important story about themselves with an audience? Continue Reading →
Rainer, a participant on our recent workshop ‘Getting Clear on Sex and Intimacy‘, reflects on the one-day exploration.
In our society there aren’t many places where I feel save enough to allow deepest feelings to occur. During the ‘Sex and Intimacy’ workshop in April, I had the possibility to ask myself how I am in this subject in relation to old lovers, to clichés and to my own beliefs. The questions being asked scrutinised my own thinking and opened something up in myself.
Exploring what my relationship to sex and intimacy is, I found myself having a hard time to separate those two. Although one can have sex without much intimacy, I find it still confusing. If I just want to have sex with a guy, maybe what I really want is intimacy, but it’s hard and too difficult to create it. Maybe the sex is easier to deal with, as it can be a technical thing. Continue Reading →
I’m real pleased that I signed up to do The Quest’s Mastery Weekend. It helped to complete a few of the things that I started to deal with during The Exploratory Weekend. In fact, I kind of think of them both now, as a single entity. A week’s worth of Questing, with a bit of an intermission, half way through.
Seeing guys change, seeing guys free themselves from their shackles and weighted chains, has been truly heart-warming. So fantastic to witness. And I hope the other guys who have drifted away, are in a better place than they were before.
I suppose it’s about Expectations, ours and others. Do people really think that spending a weekend or two with Darren and Ade is going to immediately transform all of our lives? Ah, but wouldn’t that be miraculous if they could. Just a swish of their magic wands. . . Unfortunately though, we live in a world without that specialist brand of magic. Continue Reading →
I began to regularly attend the First Tuesday Socials. Still shy and awkward though. This new peer group was so different from my “other” peer group. The one of “Grebs, Goths and Metal Rockers.” Oh and please don’t think I was not being gay when I was with the “Rockers.” I was. I still am the ultimate Uber-Gay there. How could I be anything else? Surrounded by a sea a heterosexuals, the only man in the room, with any sense of style when he danced. And with such a “predatory, sexual, menace.” How the girls love it. And yes, the straight guys there too! And both peer groups accepting of me, for who I am, what I am, whoever that maybe.
Love, unconditional love, anything less is not worth a damn.
Then The Quest did the “Going Beneath the Surface” performance. Gay men standing up on stage and telling true stories from their lives. Telling their uncensored truth. And yes sometimes, the painful, brutal truth of their history. Continue Reading →
Hmm, my journey with The Quest.
Okay, so where to start? Where to begin? Hmm, okay, here goes.
Hi. My name is Jason. Pleased, very pleased to meet you.
There now at The Quest, in my assumed role of service. A point of light along your way, if you so choose, to stop on by. There for those, most alone, those lost in the darkness of their nights. A safety net for the fallen and the dispossessed. A hand held out to “My Brothers in Arms.”
And tell me, do you wonder about me? Wonder how I got to be this creature before you?
Ah, my history, now that really is a story in the telling. . . in the showing. . .
But, I will hold myself, in talking to you now, about only these past several months or so. The months that I have journeyed with The Quest.
My first contact with The Quest was via their Website. It seemed interesting. Some place different. It called to me in my darkness. And my darkness was. . . Well. . . Very DARK. Continue Reading →
Ade: In our upcoming one-day workshop on April 13th we will be exploring Sex and Intimacy. Do you feel that many gay men are able to distinguish between the two? We often see Sex portrayed in many of the gay magazines, and very little said about Intimacy, Connection, Openness and Engagement. I think many of us know the language of Sex and only few know the language of Intimacy. When I look back to when I came out in my late 20s, my approach based on what I saw was – sex first, intimacy second.
Darren: Yes and often we think the act of sex is intimacy when in fact it can be totally lacking in intimacy. So how would you describe the ‘language of intimacy’?
Ade: I would say the language of intimacy is the same as the language of Vulnerability. I recently heard Brene Brown say vulnerability has three components – Risk, Emotional Exposure and Uncertainty. When I look at my own journey with intimacy, it’s when I allow myself to be open to those three components, that I find myself in a space of connection and authenticity with the person that I am with. You? Continue Reading →
“Doing the inner work gives us access to our own power. This creates the conditions for a transformed world”
Ade: There has been a lot in the press over the past couple of days about Cardinal O’Brien in terms of him allegedly having ‘inappropriate relations’ with a couple of priests. Not sure if it is indeed true, but if it is, what came to mind for me was – here we go again with a closeted homophobic person who has unresolved shame issues. What thoughts and feelings came up for you?
Darren: A mixture of feelings. Partly I was sad at the idea of somebody being trapped in a role that demanded suppression of a central part of their identity and who then allowed this to find release in circumstances that were not consenting. Another part of me felt excitement that a silence was being broken, that some truth – however dark – was coming to light. How about you?
Ade: Yes, also a range of emotions. I felt sad that someone in a position like his was not using his life to help heal the wounds of others. This is a guy who has been very openly homophobic and infact last year was named Stonewall Bigot of the Year. He is someone who could help bring about change and help many gay men and lesbians heal their relationship with God. Instead, due to his unhealed stuff he has not helped at all.
Darren: Yes the ‘unhealed stuff’ can have a powerful and negative impact and when that is present in someone with power and responsibility it can be a recipe for disaster. For most of us – who do not hold these positions – I suppose we can look at the negative impact that our own unhealed stuff has not only on ourselves, but also on those around us. If we do this we can begin to understand – not condone – the behavior of people branded as bigots. Continue Reading →
In the second part of a trilogy of discussions, the creators of Beneath The Surface explore the many issues raised in reviving a live storytelling performance
Paul Woodward: So… in resurrecting the performance Velvet Rage Live: Real Stories which was performed at the Sarah Siddons Theatre in November, it became the revised version Beneath The Surface which was presented last week at The Embassy Theatre at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama… I wonder if we could reflect this session on what happened in-between these events in terms of the cast and their relationship to the material… and I guess within that there is a good question that we can use as a conflab starting point and focus…
Is a story completed once it is told?
Darren: The guys had moved on in quite a significant way after they performed their piece the first time. When we regrouped to go through the piece for the performance a few months later there was a different energy to the stories. It was less ‘charged’. They were assured and confident and had a distance between themselves and the events they had retold in their stories. It was actually quite beautiful to witness. It also created a challenge- how do we now make these stories have emotional impact for the audience? Continue Reading →
Peter, a recent participant of The Quest Weekend Exploration Workshop, talks about his faith and love of God.
I’ve been wanting to share this story about my life and faith for some time, since my love of God is at the very foundation of who I am. My faith is so important to me in my everyday life, and in my understanding of who I am as a gay man, but I know for many gay men the notion of God, the church and religion generally evokes very negative feelings and in some cases can trigger very painful memories and experiences. It’s my hope that the following words could stir up some hope and possibility for the future.
After years of trying to conform to the straight life I’d chosen and to ignore and suppress the growing desires and feelings within me, the pressure became so overwhelming that I couldn’t lie any more or hide the real me. When I eventually left my wife and family 7 years ago I was an assistant pastor of a church, head of the youth ministry, chairman of a Christian charity and Governor of a CofE church school. Once I came out I had to resign from all of those roles as well as being totally rejected by my children. I was also the MD of a business I ran with my wife, and some time later had to resign from that too as well as leaving our beautiful home that we’d lovingly restored. From having what most people thought was a perfect life, I suddenly had absolutely nothing and was living in my sisters dark and dingy box room. Most of my friends were from the church and they all turned their backs on me. And if that wasn’t enough, it was made very clear to me that unless I repented of my sin I was no longer a Christian or a child of God. It was such a dark and utterly soul destroying time. The rejection of my beloved children was the most painful of all, and life just didn’t seem worth living any more. I had no strength left in me to fight back and my guilt was almost too heavy to bear. I could hardly look anyone in the eye I was so ashamed of myself and what I’d done. Continue Reading →
In December 2012, Gabriel participated in The Quest Weekend Exploration Workshop. Here he reflects on his journey with The Quest.
Despite being a lot in my head, sometimes I take decisions without thinking too much; I just jump into the water. The Quest was such a case!
Late last year, a friend invited me to the book launch of ‘Love Me As I Am: gay men reflect on their lives‘, which appealed to me because it showed something I could easily relate to – my difficulties in growing up gay. That same evening, when I arrived home, I registered for the next available workshop with The Quest; no further questions asked. Continue Reading →
“Breaking that silence means emerging from the closet of shame. To proclaim oneself openly as gay is, above all else, to come out of shame – profoundly, to break the silence. This is why the term “Coming Out “ is a shame metaphor’ – Gershen Kaufman and Lev Raphael (Coming Out of Shame – Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives)
I remember being a closeted 22 year old, when the footballer Justin Fashanu came out in 1990. It was the talk of the office, as we all watched from the sidelines to see how the story would unfold. Sadly, that story did not have a happy ending, for whilst Justin had taken the bold and courageous step to come out, he was not met by a world ready to embrace a footballer, who happened to be gay. Regardless of how that story concluded, I continue to be inspired by the courage displayed by Justin, and his story certainly gave me the courage to eventually come out and live my life as an openly gay man.
Yesterday, almost 23 years after Justin became the first openly gay footballer associated with English football, another footballer came out as gay. The player in question was 25 year old, US born Robbie Rogers, who had played for the US and Leeds United. Whilst Justin’s coming out had provided the tabloid press with stories reinforcing certain stereotypes of gay men around the issue of sex, Robbie’s coming out was very different, as he took us on a journey that many gay men travel, in their quest to live an authentic life. Robbie showed us what lies beneath the surface of the masks that many gay men have learnt to wear. In his note, Robbie says -
“Things are never what they seem….. My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers and even different from my family………” Continue Reading →
As part of 2013 LGBT History Month, on 6 February, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in a unique collaboration with The Quest for Gay Men, presented a special one-off showing of the groundbreaking and compelling performance storytelling event – Beneath the Surface: Real Life Stories.
The performance brought together a diverse group of nine gay men as they reflected on their lives, with a raw unflinching honesty to describe their individual and collective fight to come to terms with growing up different, in a heterosexual world. Inspired by the book ‘The Velvet Rage’ by Alan Downs, this performance was first performed in November 2012 as part of the 2-day event – ‘Gay Utopia: going beneath the surface‘ - hosted by The Quest.
To read a review of the performance by the online magazine, ‘So-So Gay’ – click here.
In the first part of an ongoing Conflab, The Quest co-founder Darren Brady and Storytelling Coordinator Paul Woodward discuss their journey as Storytelling Facilitator and Dramaturg (respectively) for the recent performance piece ‘Beneath The Surface’.
The show was first premiered last year at the Sarah Siddons Theatre as part of our Gay Utopia weekend, and recently re-worked and performed to great acclaim at The Embassy Theatre at The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.
Paul: I thought we could kick this off with our responses to a quote I read recently: The secret of a moving story is to tell it from a place of complete authenticity - Annette Simmons.
Darren: Yes absolutely! But in reality that’s easier said than done! As gay men we learn very quickly (from the ages of 4 upward) to start hiding a key part of our true (authentic) selves, so showing ourselves does not come naturally to us.
Paul: And I think its interesting that the very nature of theatre itself presides on a kind of inauthenticity – in the traditional sense, the actors and the audience are collaborating in a lie – pretending neither is there in the same space at the same time. There’s always been speculation about why gay men in particular are drawn to the theatre arts. I wonder if its something to do with two forces prone to hiding reality, or a masking of truths based on some fundamental in-authenticities. Gay men and theatre – the mix in some ways was always going to be explosive, for our performers and audience both. Continue Reading →
The world recently watched with anticipation as the most successful championship cyclist the sport has ever seen perform an extraordinary series of disclosures in his highly publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey. Despite many years of staunch denial, supported by a mercilessly aggressive campaign of defence against almost all detractors, including libel actions upon both friends and colleagues alike, Lance Armstrong finally came clean to the world, and admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs to clinch the once legendary championship victories that had inspired so many.
I don’t know about you, but it was, for me, a uniquely unsettling experience. It wasn’t just due to the squirm factor of watching a publicly disgraced man attempt to seek absolution through trial by TV. Nor was it embarrassment at watching a man making a last ditch attempt to claw back some remnants of a career for himself. It was something else, something deep inside of me that stimulated these acutely uncomfortable feelings. Continue Reading →
Mark, a recent participant of The Quest Weekend Exploration Workshop, shares the journey of him coming to terms with his sexuality – and coming out as a gay man, later in life.
I first noticed I might be relating to the world differently from many other boys when I was very young. My friends at infant school were girls rather than boys. I was timid and avoided the ‘rough and tumble’ play of other boys. Even although as a slightly older child most of my friendships shifted to being with boys, I naturally befriended those who were gentle, more imaginative and more cerebral. In those early years I also began to sense that not liking team sports, or not wanting to put myself in physical danger, meant that I was not conforming with what the world expected of ‘proper boys’. Although I could see I was not alone in these tendencies, a ‘mis-match’ was definitely becoming apparent. Unbeknown to me, even at this early age, my shame began to insidiously influence my self-perception and behaviour. Continue Reading →
Welcome to The QuestConflab. What is a Conflab? It’s pretty simple really, Conflab is another term for an ‘informal discussion’.
Every fortnight, Ade and Darren, founders of The Quest, discuss and explore a different theme. The theme of this Conflab is – “I’m fine, I don’t need any help”
Darren: Something I have been thinking about a lot is that as very young children we learned to be self sufficient in response to finding ourselves ‘different’ from others and not getting acknowledgement and support. This led me to thinking that this often gets in the way of us asking for help and certainly showing our vulnerability in front of others. It may also be the reason that many gay men find the prospect of the work we do as very daunting
Ade: When you say them ‘finding the prospect of doing the work daunting’, do you mean – doing the work by being with other gay men or simply them doing the inner work and facing their demons? I for one, think both apply. There are a number of gay men that I have spoken to who tell me things like – I don’t trust other gay men and I don’t like being with other gay men. And in terms of doing the work, I guess that ties in with what we discussed when we had our conflab on ‘talking a new language‘. Continue Reading →
~ A Dramaturg’s Perspective on ‘Beneath The Surface: Real Life Stories’
As we await the next incarnation of The Quest storytelling performance inspired by The Velvet Rage… Paul Woodward, the production Dramaturg reflects here about how the original production Velvet Rage: Real Life Stories was shaped and structured, and the processes which brought the piece to fruition….
It’s a weird old word, German in origin (and boy does it sound it), which when I describe myself as such makes people check my breath, to see if I’m drunk and trying to say ‘dramatist’ or ‘director’ – in actual fact, its kind of a specialized combination of both of these things. I’m going to resort to Wikipedia here (the academic in me shudders at this of course) for the clearest definition I could find:
Dramaturgy is the art of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage. Dramaturgy is a distinct practice separate from play writing and directing, although a single individual may perform any combination of the three. Some dramatists combine writing and dramaturgy when creating a drama. Others work with a specialist, called a dramaturg, to adapt a work for the stage.
Dramaturgy may also be defined, more broadly, as shaping a story into a form that may be acted. Dramaturgy gives the work or the performance a structure.
And that’s basically what my role was for this project. I was the structure and shaper guy for the piece, the guy in charge of production design, and who took a co-directorial position, alongside Darren Brady, who was taking the reigns on this particular project, as facilitator. Continue Reading →
It’s been two years since Attitude broke new ground with the ‘‘issues issue’’ which focused on the sensitive and somewhat taboo issues of mental health problems in gay men. Sparking a national debate, this special edition of Attitude lifted the veil from discussing controversial issues such as internalised homophobia, depression, sex-addiction and shame in an open and transparent way.
But what has changed since then? Having identified the key issues we face, there are now a growing number of gay men who are seeking a new kind of conversation, one which allows them to explore the deeper meaning behind their experiences as gay men. This is reflected in the new book ‘Love Me As I Am: Gay Men reflect on their lives,’ which presents the moving stories of 24 gay men from all walks of life writing an open letter to their sixteen year old self. Developed from a workshop exercise by life coaches Ade Adeniji and Darren Brady, the book signals a new willingness of gay men to step forward and tell their stories in a way that empowers them to break free from the self-destructive patterns that have blighted our community.
In this article James Barber speaks with Ade and Darren, to find out how they are helping gay men to heal the wounds of their past so they can live more authentic lives. Continue Reading →
Welcome to The QuestConflab. What is a Conflab? It’s pretty simple really, Conflab is another term for an ‘informal discussion’.
Every fortnight, Ade and Darren, founders of The Quest, discuss and explore a different theme. The theme of this Conflab is – Gay Men Living Their Best Lives
Ade: So, it’s the beginning of the year and many people are thinking ‘new year – new start’, for some this means living their best life. I guess its therefore apt that our theme should be ‘Gay Men Living their Best Lives’ – when you think of that statement, what comes up for you?
Darren: For me ‘best’ equates to ‘true’ – so when I am being and acting my truth, I have the greatest experience of life. When I am dishonoring my truth, problems and dissatisfaction set in. What does it bring up for you? Continue Reading →
We hope you enjoy the The QuestConflab. What is a Conflab? Its pretty simple really, Conflab is another term for an ‘informal discussion’.
The theme of this Conflab is – What does this Time of Year mean to gay men?
We would welcome your thoughts, reflections and feedback on the discussion.
Ade: So what are we conflabbing about today?
Ade: Not keen on that as it is a Christian holiday and potentially excludes so many people. Maybe something broader, like ‘What does this Time of Year mean to gay men?’
Darren: Good idea. This time of year for me has usually led to me feeling very much an outsider – like the uninvited guest looking through the window at the party inside.
We are really excited to introduce another innovative offering to our friends and supporters, and that is – ‘The QuestConflab’.
What is a Conflab? Its pretty simple really, Conflab is another term for an ‘informal discussion’.
How did the idea come about? Due to our passion for working with gay men and exploring what lies beneath the surface of our lives, we often find ourselves having a range of conversations on that issue. Whenever we mention this to others, the feedback is that we could share more of these musings, as they are relevant to what The Quest is all about. And so we thought – why not try it? Therefore every fortnight, we will review your suggestions on topics and then let you ‘listen’ as we discuss and explore the issue..
We hope you enjoy the The QuestConflab, and we would welcome your thoughts and feedback on the conversation. The theme of our first Conflab is – A new language between gay men. Continue Reading →
At the age of 23 I stood trembling at the entrance to my mum’s bedroom and as she sat at her dressing table I stuttered the words- ‘mum I have something to tell you’ ‘I know’ she replied stealing my thunder and upstaging my moment.
In that moment there was incredible relief, but in the subsequent years I wondered why for 23 years my mother had been silent and never asked me anything about my sexuality.
Tell your children about men who love men
And women who love women, in all manner of ways.
Tell them stories about the princess who meets her prince, yes,
But tell them also about the princess
Who made the flower girl her lady-in-waiting,
And loved her dearly ‘til the day she died.
Tell them of the soldiers
Who came back from the war loving soldiers,
And the people, from all walks of life,
Who choose lovers sex-similar,
Not different. Continue Reading →