Thank You

This New Year I want to thank everyone who has had any contact with The Quest. Participants, their families, friends, partners and husbands. Thank you because you make up a body of people that have collectively helped shape my life over the last few years.

The work we have undertaken together has changed my understanding, my emotional connection and my sense of purpose when it comes to relationships and Gay men.

I had no idea at the outset how much lay below the surface of my life and of those I came into contact with, but together this has evolved into a rich and eye opening experience. I see things so differently now and as a consequence I have more compassion, empathy and patience. Continue Reading →

Solitary Confinement: The Story of my gay childhood

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 →

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 →

The Two Way

Ian McCurrach talks to Darren Brady (Co-Founder of The Quest and The Daring Way™ Certified Facilitator-Candidate) about The Daring Way™ workshop

Ian: Can you tell me what The Daring Way™ is all about?

Darren: The Daring Way™ is the way in which Brené Brown translated the findings of her research and the content of her book “Daring Greatly” into an experiential workshop.

The workshop explores what it takes to ‘Show up, Be seen and Live Brave’ in the world. The premise is that we can live our fullest life when we move beyond fear and shame and learn how to navigate the negative inner dialogue that keeps us small. The workshop develops our ability for self-compassion and empathy as we identify what brings us joy, passion and fulfillment. It is very much an examination of where we are today and where we want to get to tomorrow. It is interactive, creative, educational and pioneering. Similarly to The Quest, this workshop takes place over a Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday daytime.  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 →

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 →

Memories of 2013

Our intention for The Quest has always been to provide a platform that enables Gay Men to transform their lives; so that they can embrace Life from a place of authentic self-expression, compassion and fulfillment – this in turn helps facilitate a healthy and nurturing gay community.

2013 has been a beautiful year for The Quest and we have journeyed with many amazing gay men. Some of the highlights from 2013 included: Continue Reading →

Broadcasting Ourselves

Today at 4.37pm Scott, aged 5, looked at a Christmas brochure and pointed to a doll set. It includes ‘realistic’ doll, clothes, hair accessories and a dressing table. His eyes lit up and he jabbed the picture shouting “me, me, me for Mistmas ”

It was 10.14 am when Jason, aged 12, spotted David in to school corridor. Heart beating, Jason approached and stuttered…”See you at morning break?”

Dwayne, aged 8 has made a Xmas card for his teacher Mr Brown. His pen hovers over the greeting he is writing inside. He hesitates before writing “love” in front of the “from Dwayne” 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 →

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 →

The State of Gay

There are two distinct and very different stories being told about the experience of being gay in the UK in 2013 and the difference in these stories could not be more stark.

On the one hand, we have the positives – the soon to be legal status of gay marriage, established civil partnerships, increased visibility in the press and media, an equal age of consent, mainstream support for positive role model and anti bullying work, cross-party support for gay equality, the effective treatment of HIV, governments globally legalising equality and gay marriage, increased openness about sexual identity from public figures and gay parenting becoming widespread. This picture has lead to some naturally optimistic assumptions that things are looking good and that being gay is no longer an issue for those lucky enough to live in a progressive United Kingdom. It is a picture and a set of assumptions we all so desperately want to believe. And it is a picture that is so at odds with all the data available that demonstrates so alarmingly the state of Gay mens’ mental health both in the UK and around the world. Continue Reading →

Meeting Brené Brown

Ernesto Moreno, Darren Brady and Ade Adeniji recently sat down for an interview with Brené Brown to talk about her work as it relates to the lives of gay men. Here Darren shares his reflections on the journey to meeting Brené .

Darren - BreneThere are moments in life where reality meets a dream. The moment someone agrees to a date, we hold the keys of our new home in our hand, we look into the eyes of our new born child for the first time, we open the letter containing the results of our hard earned qualification. These moments can be large or small, outwardly major or seemingly insignificant but they contain a magic where suddenly what we imagined becomes possible, what we dreamed of emerges in front of our eyes. And so it was for me on the day we met Brene Brown.

A few days before we received confirmation that Brene would be able to meet us during her upcoming trip to the UK, a friend had sent me an Internet  link to one of her famous Ted talks. Ade and I had just completed one of our foundation weekend workshopsand as I watched this talk I had the repeated realisation that almost everything she was saying was the same as what we were doing with the gay men who had just completed the workshop. It was as though her last 12 years of research was being plugged directly into what we were exploring within our workshop. 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 →

My New Best Friend!

When I was in Thailand recently a very powerful thing happened to me. Bear with me as this may sound a little strange… my body started talking to me.

Many times before on holidays I have made it a routine to go running along the beach and this time was no exception. I found myself jogging, barefoot along the beach and I could suddenly hear my body talking.

“oh, this feels gooooood ” it told me, “I really needed this, I need to move through space”

It was a different sounding voice to the one I was used to. That voice said things like –

“oh, ok, were going running but not too far. Look for a marker in the distance and that’s as far was we will go and then turn back. Let’s not overdo it”.

This voice was absent. 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →