Reflections on The Quest
Posted on November 23, 2016 by The Quest
We are getting ready to facilitate our final The Quest Program of 2016. It will be the 31st one, with around 500 guys who have now dared to embark on the Program. Those numbers exclude the thematic workshops, retreats and socials that we have hosted over the years. When we include those numbers, we’ve had over 1,500 guys who have interacted with The Quest in some shape or form.
When Darren and myself ran our first offering for Gay Men in the Summer of 2011, at the now closed Barcode, under the arches in Vauxhall, I had no idea that we would still be as passionate in creating a space for Gay Men to come together and untangle the emotional and psychological stuff that can often get in the way of living a life in alignment with our values and/or intentions.
I had left the corporate world at the end of 2009, and my intention then was to build a Coaching and Consulting Practice that worked with a diverse range of people and organizations. I wanted to do work that allowed me bring all aspects of myself to my professional life. I believed I could do it and was excited about what lay ahead. Working with Gay Men was certainly not on my radar, as I went about 2010 and early 2011 reaching out to old and new clients in the field of Human Resources and Learning & Development.
When we ran those sessions in 2011, it was going to be a one-off, and here we are at the end of 2016 getting ready for the 31st!
I keep learning so much about myself from facilitating each The Quest session and have had to confront (and re-confront) many of the scar tissue and wounds from my past. Even though Darren and myself hold the space and guide the process, we walk side-by-side with the participants.
With each session we facilitate I feel so honored to be a benevolent witness to the sacred stories that the guys share with us and each other. I had imagined spaces like that during my years in the closet and was left bruised and hurt when I came out at 27. I had been met with what I had perceived as judgement, shaming and betrayal. I look back at that experience differently now. I feel myself and many of those I had met had hidden scars and wounds that we carried, and when they rubbed against each other, rather than respond with compassion or empathy, we reacted by attacking; It was simply too painful to acknowledge the hurt, sadness or anger. Seeing guys come together on The Quest Program and explore this stuff collectively warms my heart, and is indeed an honour.
It has also been a challenging adventure and many times I have wanted to jump ship and go back to my familiar, unsatisfying and yet, less scary corporate career.
Along the way we have met many champions, who have supported the work of The Quest and us in many many ways – emotional, financially and practically. I don’t think we’d still be as passionate in doing this work without those champions. To each one, I say ‘Thank You’ – Your love and compassion has not gone unnoticed.
There have also been many critics, who have come in different guises. From those who have said – ‘you are only doing it for money’, ‘this work is unnecessary, why do Gay Men have to come together for this type of exploration’ to ‘this type of work is best left to therapists and not coaches’. Yes, it hurts when I hear those critics, however to each one, I also want to say ‘Thank You’ – Your voices allow me to constantly check-in with my intentions to ensure I am staying in alignment with my values when it comes to The Quest.
And so, here we are…. getting ready to run our 31st session. Passionate as ever. With a deep knowing that this work is important and vital, not just for the Gay Men who attend, but for everyone in their lives and those they encounter.
As I look back, there have been many highlights since embarking on The Quest which always make me beam when I remember them, here are just a few:
- Our book launch for ‘Love Me As I am’ at Foyles Bookstore
- Our storytelling performance at Sarah Siddons Theatre featuring guys who had been on The Quest Program
- Interviewing Brené Brown on her research and how it relates to gay men
- The 3 year anniversary party organized by guys who had been on The Quest Program
- Our series of Firsts: Summer Retreat, Summer Camp and London Pride March
To every guy who has been on any of our programs or events, thank you for the memories. I wish each one of you ongoing courage, love and compassion as you navigate your own Quest in embodying and expressing that wholehearted version of yourself.
I am excited and looking forward to meeting the many men who will journey with us in 2017 and beyond.
Co-Founder, The Quest