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Curious minds come together to explore the personal implications of the new book “Straight Jacket – How to be Gay and Happy” by Matthew Todd.
Written by Matthew Todd, editor of Attitude, the UK’s best- selling gay magazine, Straight Jacket is a revolutionary clarion call for gay men, the wider LGBT community, their friends and family. Part memoir, part ground-breaking polemic, it looks beneath the shiny facade of contemporary gay culture and asks if gay people are as happy as they could be – and if not, why not?
Meticulously researched, courageous and life-affirming, Straight Jacket offers invaluable practical advice on how to overcome a range of difficult issues. It also recognises that this is a watershed moment, a piercing wake-up-call-to-arms for the gay and wider community to acknowledge the importance of supporting all young people – and helping older people to transform their experience and finally get the lives they really want.
Many people know about us but don’t really know what the program is about, how it works and the incredible impact it has on participants.
This introduction evening is a special opportunity to learn more. Darren Brady and Ade Adeniji – Founders of The Quest – will be hosting the evening that is designed to shed light on why The Quest is becoming known as the ‘Life-Changing’ Program.
When: Thursday 6 October 2016
Time: 7.00pm – 9.00pm
Where: SSE, 139 Tooley Street, London Bridge
During the programme we will be Investigating the past, Exploring the present, Releasing the pain and toxicity of the past and present, and Cultivating the awareness and tools to enable a wholehearted and nurturing present and future.
Closing date for registrations is Fri 14 Oct.
To register, click here.
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 authoritive as you want it to be.
The Exploration is held over 2.5 days – Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday; along with an evening follow-up session, three weeks after the initial Exploration. 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.
“Obama administration urges states to curb the use of solitary confinement” is the headline in The Guardian. It captured my attention so much, but why? I’ve never been to prison or been affected by somebody being incarcerated.
The article continues that Obama has hopes of “reining in a practice that is still widespread despite having been denounced as potentially amounting to torture”
Juan Martinez, the UN special rapporteur on torture has “called for a global ban in all but exceptional cases”
Scientific research has “revealed the adverse psychological effects of locking away prisoners in segregated cells, with some individuals suffering serious depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviour, hallucinations and paranoia within a matter of days “
I started to draw a parallel. From the age of 4, I started to feel isolated and alone. Although I had my family around me there were invisible walls forming. At times I felt distress, separation, something that led me to feeling ‘different’ and often in my own ‘solitary confinement’. I sought comfort through connection and I gained connection through being well mannered and charming. I was the child that adults couldn’t help but pick up, talk to, joke with. In this attention I found temporary relief from the distress of my isolating difference. Continue Reading →
Ade: I think a good place to start our conversation would be on the title of your book “Gay Men and the New Way Forward”, how did you come up with it?
Raymond: I wrestled with the title and had about 6 different working titles throughout the whole process. It was at the end of writing the book when this phrase “the new way forward” appeared. It struck me as the essence and the core of what we’re really about, which is – introducing new ways of being in the world.
Also, at a time when we’re so out of balance because of patriarchy, with the masculine running amok and the feminine devalued. This idea of a “new way forward” is one that integrates balance of masculine and feminine, human activity and nature, and individual rights and group responsibility. It really struck me as very core to the essence of gay men – what we’re really doing, without even conscious awareness; by coming out and by living openly. We can lead humanity through the new way forward when we become aware of our capacities, what we’re currently doing, and then using those skills purposefully. Continue Reading →
In this conflab, Co-Founders of The Quest, Ade Adeniji and Darren Brady talk about Brené Brown’s latest book “Rising Strong” and their upcoming workshop based on her research.
Ade Adeniji: So, Brené Brown released her new book “Rising Strong” few months ago and we will soon be delivering our first workshop based on her new research. What does ‘Rising Strong’ mean to you?
Darren Brady: For me a big part of Rising Strong is slowing down. Its about pausing, breathing and then looking and noticing what is going on. I’ve had a few challenging situations arise in the last week and I have thought – ‘oh, here’s an opportunity to put these ideas into practice’ I also noticed that in the midst of the ‘drama’ how difficult it was to do this.
Ade: Yes, I can relate to that. I can very quickly make up stories about what happens to me and those “assumptions” often feel very correct and give me a sense of comfort – that feeling of “everything is okay and I am okay”. Continue Reading →
You ask for a kiss. You say ‘I love you’ first. You say what’s really on your mind. You apply for that desired job. You come out to a loved one. You ask for what you need – You walk into the Arena, Dare Greatly and suddenly it does not go as you hoped it would.
This is a programme about falling, learning to get back up and trying again.
This is a programme about cultivating RESILIENCE.
Where: Theatre Delicatessen Rehearsal Studios, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3DA
When: Saturday 17th October 2015 ( 2.00pm – 6.00pm)
Who: Anyone who has a connection to The Quest and is curious or interested in performance storytelling
What: This free taster session is designed as an introduction to performance storytelling with The Quest.
The taster session will involve some vocal and physical work, some improvisation and drama games and exercises geared towards telling and sharing personal stories dramatically and physically. It is an opportunity to see what the project director’s approach will be and for the director to see what you may bring to the project.
Why: We are all great storytellers as we all have a story inside us to tell. Telling your story, sharing your story and owning can help you reconnect with the past and make sense of situations you have been in.
Director Project Director Ian McCurrach is an experienced dramaturg, director and facilitator. For ten years Ian was Artistic Director of the new writing company, based at The Young Vic Studio, which specialized in devising theatre pieces, based on the participants personal stories.
What Next: Simply email Ian at email@example.com to confirm your interest and register your attendance on the free taster session or to find out more.
THE OUT COMES project itself will run over eight consecutive weekends on a Saturday from Saturday 31st October to Saturday 19th December and depending on the outcome may or may not conclude with a showing or sharing of work in front of an invited audience
I was talking to someone recently about the work of The Quest. I had mentioned ‘shame’ as part of my response to a question he’d asked. “I do not feel ashamed about being gay”, he said very firmly, before I could finish my sentence.
It’s a response I’ve heard from a few people when I have mentioned “Shame” and “Gay” in the same sentence. In this particular conversation, I responded by mentioning the work of Dr Brené Brown, who defines shame as “the fear of disconnection”. I explained that, according to Brené, the majority of the population feels shame, which can be triggered for a variety of reasons because, as she and many others have said, “we are wired for connection”. Brené goes on to say that “when we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection.” He was not buying it and the conversation soon moved onto other topics. As I left that evening, I found myself replaying the dialogue over and over. The word ‘ashamed’ had struck a cord and I could not get it out of my mind. Continue Reading →
Jean-Felix Callens attended The Quest Workshop in November 2014…..
Firstly, it was recommended by my psychotherapist. Secondly, it was recommended by two close friends.
It was life affirming and life changing. I experienced “a before and an after” The Quest. I had done a lot of work on myself prior to attending the programme and The Quest did not only consolidate this work, but it also took it much further. Darren and Ade have designed a solid and powerful programme that took me on a challenging and supportive journey of self-discovery in a diverse group of gay man who are all, included myself, learning to love and accept ourselves on a deeper level. Continue Reading →
The Quest Co-founder, Darren Brady talks to Paul Cons (CEO of Konditor & Cook) about his recent participation on The Quest Programme and the reason his company is supporting our Social Enterprise
Darren: Paul, I was so delighted when you recently became involved with The Quest. Could you explain more on how that came about?
Paul: I guess you told me about it a couple of years ago and I was interested, but also very involved in my own personal development work and possibly a bit nervous about trying something else out. However it planted a seed. So when you announced you were doing The Daring Way™ Program with Brené Brown, I was impressed by her TED talk, and again whilst a bit nervous at first, decided to take the plunge. It was an amazing weekend, and after that doing The Quest Programme seemed like a no brainer! Continue Reading →
Ian McCurrach (Editor of The Quest Newsletter) talks to Tahir Saleem (a previous participant on The Quest Programme) on being a Volunteer Assistant on The BME Quest Programme
Ian: Tahir, you recently took part as an assistant on The Quest Programme for Black, African, Black Caribbean, mixed Black and other ethnicity (BME) Gay Men, and Men who have Sex with Men. Why do you think it was important to deliver this programme for this group of men in particular?
Tahir: Asian and black gay men in my opinion and from my own life experience, definitely do have a considerable need for a programme such as The Quest Programme taking place in our community. Coming out is really a near impossible feat for us. Our culture typically involves the extended family, the neighbours and community playing quite a significant role in our life and usually an abundance of religion.
Ian: What issues do you think this group of men has to deal with that differs from other gay men?
Tahir: This is principally in two ways: firstly we battle a different culture and norms that make it considerably harder to deal with being gay, and then secondly upon acceptance of our own sexuality we become a visible sub group of the greater gay brotherhood. The black and Asian family, or peer culture, is embedded with shame, especially gay shame. Continue Reading →
The theme for this year’s The Quest Annual Retreat has been confirmed, and for one very special weekend in July (3 – 5) you’re invited to join us for an ‘Adventure Playground’ experience focusing on relaxation, play and connection.
Leave the city behind, turn off your phones, forget about work, let your emails pile up and give yourself an amazing opportunity to connect with yourself and a wonderful group of gay men in the peace and tranquillity of a beautiful countryside estate in Sussex. Continue Reading →
Graham Hadley attended The Quest Workshop in May 2013……
I was introduced to The Quest through a friend who had been on the weekend workshop. I had been doing lots of personal development work through an organisation called ‘The Essence Foundation’ and a series of gay men events through Loving Men. I was intrigued to see how The Quest was different to Essence and Loving Men.
I did go along to a Quest First Tuesday gathering in Soho to get a better idea about The Quest before going on the course. I received such a warm and friendly welcome that I decided to do The Quest weekend workshop in May 2013. Continue Reading →
Robert Ramcharan attended The Quest Workshop in January 2012…..
After coming out as gay in my 40’s, I increasingly became a big believer that I personally needed to continually examine and develop myself and not stand still or fear change. I began to believe that I needed to think about my actions and reactions in the light of a wide range of developmental guides, regarding human thought processes.
I had come from what would I call ‘a life for others’, rather than myself, where I was married to a woman for nearly 20 years, with no male sexual encounters or gay experiences, up until the age of 40. I had 2 kids with my wife, which meant a lot of responsibility. I had been bought up with quite a bit of Roman Catholic guilt, as well as coming from an Asian West Indian background, involving expectations of what a “normal” life should be.
When I inevitably came out (I really had no choice in the matter, not because the situation was out of my control, but because not living my true self was impossibility). I went very wild, but eventually discovered that even this behaviour was not me either.
I had recently done a course which encouraged me to get involved in a community project. I had read “The Velvet Rage” by Alan Downs regarding the fact that shame was a significant (hidden) driver behind many gay men’s behaviour; I was very keen on getting involved in any project that bought Alan to the UK to speak to gay men. After some private research and advice from friends who had heard of Darren and Ade and their work, I met them in a West End restaurant. We talked a lot and I found them passionate and engaging. I was encouraged to first try the course and perhaps possibilities would develop from there, given my personal belief, I had no hesitation in agreeing. Continue Reading →
Ian McCurrach talks to Shaun de Wet Steyn about his experience of The Daring Way™ workshop.
Ian McCurrach: What drove you to enrol on The Daring Way™ workshop? What did you expect, and in what ways did you hope you would benefit?
Shaun de Wet Steyn: I’m a bit of a self-confessed Brené Brown groupie (there are a few of us around), having watched her TED talks a dozen times and read Daring Greatly.
From a content perspective, her work really struck a chord with me, leading to many ‘aha’ moments. And I find her a phenomenal communicator, using intelligence, humour and warmth to amazing effect. So it felt very natural to want to take my experience of her research to the next stage and that is what attending The Daring Way™ workshop offered me: a group, experiential setting to reflect, share and listen to other humans wanting to dig deeper into what gets in the way from us living fulfilled lives and developing and maintaining rewarding relationships. Continue Reading →
Peter Cotton attended The Quest Workshop in November 2014…..
I have come out as a gay man late in life and have been keen to develop an enjoyable and supportive network through which I can have fun, learn more about myself and discover what it now means for me to be gay. Part of that network has been a gay men’s massage group “Men in Touch”. I was enjoying the tactile aspect of the group as well as the opportunity to form relationships. So when “Men in Touch” (or “Touch Magic” as it was then) joined forces with The Quest to run a day workshop on “Making Room for Love”, I signed up for it. Through that, I was introduced to the two Quest facilitators, to their style of working and to the original basis of their work: “The Velvet Rage” by Alan Downs, a book which, co-incidentally, I had read not long before. Through the autumn of 2014, I attended several First Tuesday Quest Socials, found them very congenial events and eventually signed up for the November workshop. Continue Reading →
Paul Ryan attended The Quest Workshop in April 2014…..
When the train hits the buffer it comes to a stop; well my life hit a buffer and I felt there was no way to go forward – just like the train hitting the buffer, with no way forward.
It all started with my best friend dying, and within weeks of his death I lost my job, and learned that my mother did not recognize me when I went to see her, (she passed away on the last day of my workshop). My confidence went down like sinking ship, I felt I did not belong, had no value in life, was unloved, unworthy of anybody and did not love myself. I had two choices – to go down the road of life long depression and a life of loneliness or find help to recover my confidence and rebuild my social life make new friends and stop procrastination my life and avoiding myself.
Ian McCurrach talks to Nirmal Sandhu about being Gay, British and Asian
In what specific ways is it difficult being a gay BME around the issues of sexuality in your experience? I’m thinking family, culture, friends and peers.
Family: Being gay feels at odds with a sense of responsibility that I used to feel about carrying on my family’s name. I am the eldest child and had a sister who died 16 years ago and so I felt a real pressure to marry and to carry forward the family name. I am from a Sikh background and there is a great emphasis placed on the role of the traditional family and your role within a community and actively participating in the community rather than acting on individual preferences. The dominant feeling is that being gay is dissolute and runs counter to these values because it doesn’t take into account the benefit of the community as a whole. I remember being called out on my choice of living away from my parents, and taking ownership for the way I want to live my life at a religious blessing by my parents local priest. Continue Reading →
Tobias Oliver attended The Quest Workshop in November 2014…..
The last two years has seen a great deal of challenge and change, both good and bad, for me and my family. Perhaps inevitably, this brought with it a greater sense of introspection and self-examination. (I turned forty a few years’ ago, so perhaps it’s just a mid-life crisis or ‘spiritual awakening’!)
Whatever the reason, I felt compelled to take a long, hard look at myself and my life. Something I have so skilfully avoided in the past, mainly because it’s difficult and I don’t usually like what I see. I had a good idea what was probably lurking there and it scared me. I was afraid.
Then I picked up a flyer for The Quest in Soho on a visit to London – I live in Sheffield, but am frequently in the capital to visit family or for work – and it spoke to me. I kept reading it, and visiting The Quest website. Continue Reading →
Mark Ward attended The Quest Workshop in December 2012…..
I ‘came out’ to everyone at the age of 48 in the summer of 2011. I had spent years of living a heterosexual life peppered with some vague mumblings to a few close friends about being bisexual. In my adult life I had never had sex with a man, but had experienced two physical relationships with women in my late 20s and early 30s interspersed with long periods of celibacy. So I was ‘out’ but pretty confused and unsure ‘how’ to live my new self.
In my many searches on the Internet looking for answer to my confusion, I came upon a reference to the book “Love me as I am” and I eagerly ordered a copy. The book both resonated with me and left me with even more questions. At the end of the book was a link to The Quest website. I visited it and then without much thought or procrastination (unusual for me) I found myself booking onto a workshop. I didn’t know what it would involve or whether it would be right for me, but I knew I had to take the leap (any leap) and ‘do’ something.
Ade Adeniji (Co-Founder of The Quest) speaks to Jeremy about being black and gay, online dating, relationships, being an outsider, and much much more.
Jeremy Helligar is a journalist, author, pop culturist and world traveler from New York City, where he spent 15 years working as a writer and editor for People, Teen People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly. In 2006, he moved to Buenos Aires, where he learned Spanish and launched his own blog, Theme for Great Cities, a travelogue, memoir, entertainment bible and Sex and the City rolled into one. He followed four and a half years in BA and two and a half years based back and forth between Melbourne and Bangkok with one month in Berlin, one month in Rome, and one month in Tel Aviv, before landing in Cape Town. Jeremy currently resides in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?: Tales of Love, Lust and Language Barriers on the Other Side of the World“.
Ade: I first came across your work on The Huffington Post and when I then started reading your book (Is it true what they say about Black Men) I immediately felt this urge to have a conversation with you, because right from the beginning you talk about being black and being gay. What was your inspiration for writing the book?
Jeremy: It’s funny because it happened in spurts. I didn’t set out to write the book. I have a blog called “Theme for Great Cities.” I’ve been maintaining that for about six and a half years now. And it just started off as me wanting to share my thoughts with the one or two people who I figured would end up reading it. Over time friends and strangers who ended up reading the blog kept telling me ‘you really ought to write a book. Because you have all of these experiences, you’ve traveled to so many interesting places, you’ve met so many different people, you should write a book’. And after a while I started saying maybe they are on to something, maybe I should write a book.
And the title, well…. a lot of times I talk to different writers and they have a lot of trouble coming up with a title because they want something that encapsulates the theme of the book. For me I don’t think that the title “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” necessarily encapsulates the theme of the book, but it’s definitely the theme of my life since I left the United States. As I’ve said so many times before, it’s the one question that I’ve heard in every country, on every continent, in different languages. With the book title, I wanted to take ownership of it and have a little bit of fun with it. Continue Reading →
We are conscious that this time of year is often a time of reflection and anticipation. We therefore felt it would be a lovely idea to once again kick start the new year with a blog post featuring some of the gay men who have journeyed with The Quest.
We hope that by sharing their responses we can highlight that we all connected and ‘hardwired for connection’; even though our journeys might often take us on different paths and look very different on the surface.
We asked the men to complete the four statements below:
Ian Smith attended The Quest Workshop in September 2014…..
I had developed a general malaise towards life. I felt disconnected from my friends and my surroundings. Feeling that no-one understood me and because of that I didn’t want to try and connect with them anymore. At weekends I would only leave the house to scratch the itch of needing sexual contact, otherwise I would have been in my pyjamas all weekend. Life wasn’t getting worse, but it definitely wasn’t getting any better. I decided some changes need to be made. Continue Reading →
Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is Senior Vice President of Clinical Development with Elements Behavioral Health. He is author of Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men and Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction. An author and subject expert on the relationship between digital technology and human sexuality, Mr. Weiss has served as a media specialist for CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Today Show, among many others.
Ade Adeniji (Co-Founder of The Quest) sat down with Rob during his recent visit to London to talk about Addiction, Drugs, Intersection of Race and Sexuality, Gay Culture and much much more.
Ade Adeniji: Having read your book [Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men], one of the things that struck me is that I meet a number of gay men who have many of the signs of sex addiction that you identify in your book, and yet, they don’t use the word ‘addict’. Do you come across that in your work?
Rob Weiss: I think it’s very individual, but there’s also a lot of denial. If you look at the back of “Cruise Control”, there’s a little section about why I wrote the book. What it says is that I was at an HIV conference in the 90s and I was sitting backstage with a bunch of therapists, who were gay men. They were complaining about how they could not talk about the problems within the gay community – such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol problems, and sexual acting out – because there’s this thought that when you have an oppressed minority, and if you’re among that minority, that you don’t want to say what your own issues are.
It’s like being in an unhealthy family where no one talks about the problem. Because if, as gay men, we say we have sexual problems, then the larger culture says, “See, we knew that. We knew those people were all sick, and all sick about sex,” so it just doesn’t get talked about. This was during the height of the HIV crisis. Continue Reading →
Steve Harding attended The Quest Workshop in June 2014…..
I became aware of the work of The Quest through a mutual friend of Ade’s. Over the years I have done a fair amount of personal development work, but this has been largely one to one and I was keen to gain a new perspective on my ‘story’ through group work.
I found The Quest workshop challenging, nourishing, enlightening and overall a life-enhancing experience. Continue Reading →
Jide Rowland Macaulay attended The Quest Workshop in April 2014…..
First it was my curiosity to find out what was going on. I knew that I had issues, mostly especially at the time I was struggling with many undecided matters about my sexuality and importantly decisions about my future. Deciding how to deal with issues with my “family of origin”, dealing with both internalized anger and external abuses, my religious community and reconciling my sexuality as a black gay man of faith, and of Nigeria descent.
Extreme, candid and authentic, extremely genuine and a life saving experience. Whilst I have attended numerous workshops about being gay and life, The Quest workshop stood out as exceptional, and I have since challenged myself to build on what I have learnt, so I can move forward positively. Continue Reading →
“Amazing! I would highly recommend it as the cultural aspects of upbringing did not need to be explained – participants ‘just understood’…” May 2015 Workshop Participant
Public Health England (PHE) has commissioned The Quest to deliver its flagship “The Quest Workshop” to Black African, Black Caribbean, mixed Black and other ethnicity (BME) gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM).
The delivery of the workshops is part of a wider PHE project evaluating different models of direct behaviour change interventions for BME gay men and MSM aimed at reducing health risk behaviour and building resilience.
The next workshop will take place in September (London). Please note that the workshop is now sold out and if you register, you will be going on a waiting list.
Feedback from participants on the March (London) workshop include:
“Really fantastic – I knew it would be life-changing; it has been”
“Enriching and transforming”
“Loving, Caring, Nurturing, Supportive, Wonderful”
“Unique, Special, Powerful”
“Challenging, Supportive & Rich”