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Speaking from the ‘I’: Peter Cotton

My Story‘ is an ongoing series featuring previous participants of The Quest Workshop.

Peter Cotton attended The Quest Workshop in November 2014…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

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.

What was your experience of The Quest Workshop?

Peter - My StoryThe workshop was a very positive experience for me. Over the years, as part of my commitment to personal development, I had been on the receiving end of varieties of adult education, group therapy, psychotherapy and life coaching. So I had an idea of what I might be letting myself in for and was ready to make the most of it.

The three facilitators (with their team of assistants) very quickly and professionally established an atmosphere of trust and openness that enabled the twenty workshop participants to explore their issues in a safe and supportive environment. It was scary at times, and one or two of us were tempted to walk out. But, in the event, everyone stayed on board, and judging by the way we have maintained contact since, everyone appreciates having stuck with it.

Was it what you expected? Tell us how

Having read “The Velvet Rage“, I was expecting that the workshop would invite us to look at the formative stages of our lives and to examine how our attitudes towards our sexuality and our ways of expressing it had been shaped by early negative influences. I was also expecting that as a result of our work together during the workshop, I would have the chance to resolve to make some changes to my life-style. Both of these expectations were very fully met.

What I was not expecting, but am extremely grateful for in retrospect, was the encouragement to remain connected to The Quest community. This has now become an important element in the gay “tribe” of which, in some amazing way, I have become a member over the last few years.

What did you get from the workshop?

In the course of my personal development I have worked with therapists from different backgrounds – analytical psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. These two can often be seen to be in competition. So I came to the workshop with some questions about whether it would really be helpful to spend time exploring my early life experiences. Wouldn’t it just be better to learn some ways of handling more positively here and now the situations that I have to face as a gay man? In the event, exploring, during the workshop, my early experiences of physical, sexual and emotional abuse has been a very liberating process. The experiences remain in my memory, of course, but I have been enabled, through the process of the workshop, to let go of much of the pain, frustration and anger that they engendered.

What difference has the workshop made to your life now?

There are three lasting effects of the workshop for me. The first is confirmation of how empowering and enriching it can be, when appropriate, to be as open as possible about my sexuality with people I meet. The second is a greater sensitivity to the ways in which we as gay men can easily be trapped into leading rather superficial lives. So, as I seek to relate to other gay men, I attempt to be as open and honest and genuine as possible. Of course, I don’t always succeed: we are a mix of different, sometimes conflicting, drives. And thirdly, I’m learning to appreciate my own company. Unlike many gay men, until the last eighteen months, I have never lived alone. Learning to do so at this late stage in my life is a huge challenge. But thanks to The Quest process and to the continuing Quest community, I am making progress and am proud of it.

To find out more about The Quest Workshop or to register, click here.

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