Introducing The Rising Strong Workshop

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 →

Sweet Dreams: Why bakers have become Quest backers!

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 →

The Two Way

Ian McCurrach talks to Nirmal Sandhu about being Gay, British and Asian 

Ian McCurrach
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.

Nirmal Sandhu
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 →

5 days on The Daring Way™

Ade Adeniji and Darren Brady, Co-Founders of The Quest, recently went to San Antonio to take part in The Daring Way™ certification training. In this conflab, they reflect on their insights since the journey.

Darren: It’s been 5 days since we finished participating in The Daring Way™ training in Texas with Brené Brown. What reflections and insights have you had since then?

Ade: Too many to roll off in a single conversation, and many are still percolating.

One of the main things that immediately dawned on me whilst there is that there are many practitioners out there who are also keen to work with their clients on issues such as Shame, Courage and Vulnerability. In our journey with The Quest, it has often been hard to find other practitioners, in the UK, doing this work.

From a practitioner’s perspective, The Daring Way™ program was a good way to integrate the work we have been doing with gay men. The essence of the program was – Show Up™, Be Seen™, Live Brave™ – this pretty much captures what we have been doing with gay men over the past 3 years; looking at the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviours that can often get in the way. Continue Reading →

The dilemma of ‘hook-up’ apps

In this Conflab, Ade Adeniji, Co-Founder of The Quest and Sunny Bahra, a previous participant of The Quest workshops, talk about gay men and the dilemma of hook-up apps.

Ade: @HuffPostGay recently featured a piece entitled “why I’ve given up on hooking up” where the writer talked about his journey with ‘dating’ apps. What were your thoughts?

Sunny: The article really resonated with me as I, of late, have been having a similar attitude to the whole scenario of “dating apps”. As humans we all crave connection and online dating is the, relatively, new way of meeting and conversing with people – whether you are straight or gay.

Ade: So, what is your attitude towards these apps? I for one think that its all down to the user and the underlying ‘hunger’, ‘need’ or ‘intention’ that is driving them to use the apps. Continue Reading →

Reflections on the Journey

Darren: As we approach our third year anniversary I thought it would be interesting to talk about the journey so far and where we intend to go next.

When you look back over the last 3 years what stands out for you?

Ade: So many things stand out – too many for this conflab!

I remember reading The Velvet Rage when it came out in 2005 and really connecting with it and wanting to share the insights with every gay man I knew – well that did not happen and it simply rested on my bookcase, until you and I came together for our 6-week journey with a group of gay men in the Summer of 2011. That 6-week journey with The Velvet Rage really stands out for me. I thought I knew a lot of stuff, but by the end of the first evening, I remember saying to you – ‘gosh, I am getting a lot from this, much more than I could have ever anticipated’.

The other thing related to that which also stands out for me, is the hunger for this sort of deep exploration amongst gay men. I remember us having a number of enquries as to when we would be running the next group. Continue Reading →

The horizon beyond Same-Sex Marriage

As the first same-sex marriages take place in England and Wales,  Ade Adeniji and Darren Brady talk about the issues beneath and beyond the legislation and their impact on Gay Men.

Darren: What impact will same-sex marriage make to Gay men?

Ade: It will have a multiple impact. Not just on gay men, but on their families and other people that they interact with. First of all, I’ll just like to say that this legislation is a great thing, because for starters it signifies that same-sex relationships are just as valid as heterosexual ones. For gay men, it means that our relationships go beyond sex and invoke intimacy, longevity and love. It also shows those in our lives who might not embrace us for being who we are, that at least the legislation validates the expression of our relationship – not that it needs validating in the grand scheme of things; but it is symbolic.

Darren: I agree. I think for future generations who are born into a time where all human beings can choose to marry, it will reset the button. Continue Reading →

Growing Up Gay in a Straight World

In this conflab, Ade Adeniji, Co-Founder of The Quest and Sunny Bahra, a previous participant of The Quest workshops, talk about the notion that ‘Gays need to grow up’.

Ade: Beige Magazine recently ran an article with the headline ‘Gays need to grow up‘ and it struck a cord with many people. What were your thoughts on seeing the headline?

Sunny: Well it’s been something that I have been thinking about for quite a while and the article just prompted me to talk to you about it. Why do gay men have this perceived attitude of not wanting to grow up? The article gave some interesting insights, but I think the issue is much deeper than they were willing to go.

Ade: Yes, I had thought about the theme recently too; I was getting ready to go out and had caught sight of myself in the mirror and for a minute or so I wondered whether what I was wearing was ‘age appropriate’.

But don’t you think that for many gay men, particularly those without children, it feels like time is frozen and we are forever young?

Sunny: I think that is only a tiny part of the argument. Sure children and any responsibility like that will make you “grow up” – but lots of straight people don’t have kids and their behaviour can be very different. Continue Reading →

Race, Culture & Sexuality

In this conflab, Ade Adeniji, Co-Founder of The Quest and Sunny Bahra, a previous participant of The Quest workshops, talk about the journey of black/Asian gay men and the importance of having conversations about race, culture & sexuality.

Ade: As you know, The Quest is co-organising an event this coming Friday titled “The Rainbow Intersection – a dialogue about Race, Culture & Sexuality in Modern Britain“. The intention of the event is to engage people in a conversation about multiple identities.

I’ve heard some say there is no need for such events, for the UK is now considered progressive when it comes to issues around sexuality. What’s your take on this?

Sunny: I think it’s incredibly important. The UK is leading the way as an integrated multi-cultural country. It’s because of this that I think we can and need to have conversations about race and sexuality. Lets face it racism exists, whether it’s in Europe or in Africa. It’s another significant layer of shame that we, as gay men of colour, can feel. Continue Reading →

National Coming Out Day -Coming Out Still Matters

Ade: So, 11th October is celebrated as National Coming Out Day and the theme for this year is ‘Coming Out Still Matters’ – what does that theme mean to you?

Darren: For me ‘coming out’ represents something different from the ‘one off’ event many of us consider it. I think that every day we make choices of whether we allow ourselves to be seen and I consider these moments ‘coming out moments’. So it may be talking about our partners, about wanting to find a boyfriend, a book we are reading or even something about a hobby we have. It can be subtle moments where we are faced with a choice – shall I be expressed or shall I divert, go silent, retreat. Continue Reading →

What are you into?

In this conflab, Ade Adeniji and Francois Lubbe talk about Gay Men, Online hook-ups, Dating, Sex and Intimacy.

200px-Grindr_iPhone_home_screenAde: I’m really looking forward to our conversation, as the subject is one I am sure many gay men can relate to. I think a good place to start is the recent survey by Grindr, which said that — “Out of 2,000+ respondents, an overwhelming 77% of them [gay men] want to get married someday (and 4% of respondents already are married)….” What were your initial thoughts when you saw that?

Francois: I get stuck here: “an overwhelming 77% of them want to get married someday”. This clearly shows that gay guys are looking for a lasting connection with one other person, which is in stark contrast of the image of gay men in the gay-and-mainstream media depicted as a bunch of half-naked exhibitionists who party hard 4 days of the week and having numerous sexual partners.

However, it will be interesting to know if those who participated in the survey hoped to meet their potential life partners on an app like Grindr, or on other similar gay hook-up sites. Continue Reading →

The Father+Mother Storytelling Performance

In this conflab, Ade Adeniji & Paul Woodward discuss their upcoming storytelling performance – The Father+Mother Project.

Father and Mother Continue Reading →

Sex, Drugs and Drink

vauxhall-and-iIn July, the Southbank hosted a discussion and debate chaired by Matthew Todd, Editor of Attitude magazine, looking at whether there is a problem with Drink, Drugs and Sex for Gay Men. Francois Lubbe, Editor of The Quest publication ‘Love Me As I Am‘ and The Quest Co- Founder, Darren Brady went along and this conflab took place a few days later.

Darren – So Francois, how did you feel during the discussion?

Francois – I was hoping to hear a solution-driven discussion, since most of the panel members had already engaged in similar discussions in the past. The fact is, as a gay man, I can see that there is a problem within our community in terms of destructive behaviour and how it affects our community. In my view this is beginning to take on epidemic proportions.

D – Yes I agree. I wanted to hear more about the root causes of this behaviour and less about what the behaviour was. It felt like we were describing the problem and not considering ways forward. A bit like listening to the music being played on the deck of the Titanic. Do you think that it is difficult having a solution driven conversation? Continue Reading →

Reflections on Gay Pride

Ade: Around the world, the Gay Pride season has truly begun! When you think of Pride what comes up for you?

Darren: Pride for me has always been synonymous with being within a large group – a sense of being the ‘majority’ for a day. I remember the feeling of walking on the marches with thousands of other LGBT people and looking at members of the public on the pavement and thinking ‘the roles have been reversed’.

It created such a wave of confidence in me. How about you?

Ade: Yes, I feel the same. I always equate Pride with ‘the day being gay is celebrated’. I went to my first Pride in 1995 in London. I was still in the closet and had tagged along with some gay friends – out of curiosity. I remember calling them to ask if I could come along and feeling a sense of shame about asking. On getting there, I wanted to be ‘Out & Proud’ like everyone else, but remembered feeling unworthy and deeply flawed about being gay… 12 months later, I was out and proud, and a steward at the 1996 London Pride – from Shame to Pride!!! Continue Reading →

Masculinity, Manhood and being a Gay Man

Ade: So in our Conflab today, we are exploring the topic of masculinity, manhood and being a gay man. I thought a good place to start might be looking at this quote I came across in a blog recently –

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?

Continue Reading →

Stories, Ghosts & The Art of Performance Storytelling

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

Darren
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 →

Getting Clear on Sex & Intimacy

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 →

Cardinal O’Brien and the recipe for disaster

“Doing the inner work gives us access to our own power. This creates the conditions for a transformed world”

The CardinalAde: 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 →

Reflections on ‘Beneath the Surface’ (Part 2)

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 →

Reflections on ‘Beneath the Surface’ (Part 1)

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 →

“I’m fine. I don’t need any help”

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 →

Gay Men Living their Best Lives

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 →

Being Gay at this Time of Year

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?
Darren: Christmas?

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.

Continue Reading →

A new language between gay men

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 →