Reflections on Sex and Intimacy

Rainer, a participant on our recent workshop ‘Getting Clear on Sex and Intimacy‘, reflects on the one-day exploration.

sexandintimacyIn 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 →

Reflections on The Quest Mastery Weekend

sunrise over london croped flattenedI’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 →

My Journey with The Quest (Part 2)

Jason, a recent participant of The Quest Weekend Exploration and The Quest Mastery Workshops, continues the personal story of his journey with The Quest. (Part 1)

Uber-GayI 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 →

My Journey with The Quest (Part 1)

Jason, a recent participant of The Quest Weekend Exploration and The Quest Mastery Workshops, shares the personal story of his journey with The Quest.

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.

NightwishYou may have seen me around. May have seen me at one of those, The Quest events. Seen me standing there. Oh, you know the one, that strange guy in the gothic clothing. The “freak.” The “fuck up.”

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 →

God is on our side guys!

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 →

Journeying with The Quest

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 →

Reflections on Robbie Rogers Coming Out

“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.

Robbie RogersYesterday, 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 →

Review: Beneath the Surface – Real Life Stories

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.

Living Well, who have been a supporter of The Quest right from the first workshop that ran in June 2011 also wrote about the performance – click here for details.

Continue Reading →

Ghost Rider

~ Shame and Disclosure in the Curious Case of Lance Armstrong

A Personal View, by Paul Woodward

Lance Armstrong

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 →

Coming Out at 48

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.

1967b BidefordI 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 →

Tenderness, Taboo & Togetherness

~ 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 RagePaul 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….

What is a ‘dramaturg’?

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 →

Facing the Man in the Mirror

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 →

Silence = Shame

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.

Continue Reading →

Tell Your Children About People Like Me

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 →

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I never got to come out to my father. And it was only after his passing that I came to learn that he knew about the ‘elephant in the room’, he had simply never asked me and I had simply never told.

The first time I found out that he knew about the elephant in the room, was in the summer of 1989. My mother was visiting London from Nigeria, and one afternoon during a heated telling-off from her, she said ‘so I hear that you are now following men around’. Continue Reading →

Speaking a new language

What became apparent during our recent Gay Utopia event is that The Quest is beginning to form a new language around ‘who we are’ and ‘how we communicate as Gay Men’.

The storytellers demonstrated this powerfully when they went onstage and shared their stories to an audience, and during the panel discussion it was clear to me that talk of ‘authentic futures’ was both a phrase and a concept that most were struggling to articulate.

Continue Reading →

Stereotypes, Myths and Gay Culture

At The Quest First Tuesday Social earlier this week, the host for the evening set lovely icebreakers to get people mingling and having some stimulating conversations. One of the tasks read – ‘Whilst you are talking to people introducing yourself, try to identify at least 3 BIG GAY MYTHS: e.g – ALL gay men love musical theatre, ALL gay men are fabulous interior designers and ALL gay men adore Barbra Streisand.

The conversations were certainly stimulating and engaging, as all sorts of other gay myths were suggested and explored. The myths were plentiful and included – ALL gay men love beauty products, ALL gay are promiscuous…… ALL gay men are peadophilles…. the list went on. The subsequent conversations were rich, as we took time dispelling many of them on an individual basis. Continue Reading →

Voracious appetite

I have often wondered how certain people manage to achieve so much. I have observed the rise of personalities who seem to be able to create and produce so many things in such short periods of time and I have gasped in admiration wondering ‘how did they do all that?

As our weekend event- Gay Utopia – arrived and happened and an answer to that question started to emerge.

Continue Reading →

Redefining Gay Community

This past weekend has been such an exciting chapter in the journey of The Quest. It was not so long ago, on one sunny Sunday afternoon on 8th May 2011, that Darren and myself sat in a Thai restaurant on Charlotte Street and talked about the journey of gay men. We had just left an event where Attitude magazine, in association with The Drill Hall, London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard and Pace Health had put on a panel discussion exploring some of the issues that gay men go through.

The event had used as its premise ‘The Velvet Rage – Overcoming the shame of growing up gay in a straight man’s world’, by Alan Downs. I was a big fan of the book, having bought it a few years prior and had since read it a number of times. The book had spoken to me on many levels and articulated my journey from childhood to adolescence into adulthood. Continue Reading →

LOVE ME AS I AM: Gay men reflect on their lives

Published by ‘The Quest’, ‘Love Me As I Am’ is an anthology of 24 biographies and letters written by gay men as they reflect on the childhood experiences that shaped their lives. Their writings could very well be among the most provocative, sad, enlightening and inspiring tales you will ever read. Continue Reading →

Are gay men fucked up?

Interview with Stuart Haggas of FS magazine
Continue Reading →

The Scream

The most expensive picture in the world: a scream

Angst has never been so valuable. Edvard Munch’s The Scream has just fetched £74 million.

It is a visual representation of something we can all identify with – inner pain.

Has pain become the new ecstasy?
It sounds contradictory, but is that how it works?
Continue Reading →

I don’t want to tell the truth

Today I have to make a two minute speech about The Quest to the other students and staff at the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

I almost left the course over this. I contemplated withdrawing from The Quest over this.

I don’t want to stand up and talk about the Quest.

Why?

Because I will have to tell the truth.
Continue Reading →

Gay men and shame is not exactly an easy sell

 

Gay men and shame is not exactly an easy sell.

How to make it sound fun, entertaining and attractive?
Continue Reading →

Join us on a journey…

Embark on a unique journey with a wonderful group of intrepid gay explorers.

Your experienced guides will navigate you through 4 distinct landscapes-
Continue Reading →

I am your Quest

Who are you?

I am your Quest.

Pardon?

I am your Quest.

What does that mean?

It means I am your story

My ‘story’? What is ‘my story’?

Continue Reading →

Beyond the Workshop

The weekend workshop was a process of cathartic release. We explored the past, released some pain, distinguished the roots and glanced at the future. At the end of this process many were relieved of the past to some degree. For some there was a glimpse of authentic validation which felt new and deliciously wonderful. The sense of freedom was real and the accompanying energy, positivity and love was tangible.
Continue Reading →

Talk is cheap? Or we cheapen talk?

The discrepancy between our ‘talk’ and our ‘actions’ is a major source of upset and frustration to those around us.

How often do we say we will do something we then fail to do?

Continue Reading →

All that glistens is not gold.

Every weekend thousands of gay men in London strut their stuff.
The bars are packed, the dance floors sweaty, the back rooms brimming.
The chatrooms humming, the parks bristling, the saunas… perspiring.

We seek release.
Continue Reading →

Gay Men reflect on their lives

Later this year, The Quest will be publishing an anthology comprising the stories of gay men reflecting on their lives, and the experiences that have shaped the person that they are today.
Continue Reading →