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 →

Reflections on 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. 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 →

Gay Men and the New Way Forward – why being different is a gift

In conversation with Raymond L. Rigoglioso

Raymond L. Rigoglioso is the author of “Gay Men and the New Way Forward” and Founder of “Gay Men of Wisdom”. Ade Adeniji, Co-Founder of The Quest, talks to him about the unique gifts gay men have as a result of being different.


Ade:  I think a good place to start our conversation would be on the title of your book “Gay Men and the New Way Forward”, how did you come up with it?

Raymond: I wrestled with the title and had about 6 different working titles throughout the whole process. It was at the end of writing the book when this phrase “the new way forward” appeared. It struck me as the essence and the core of what we’re really about, which is – introducing new ways of being in the world.

Also, at a time when we’re so out of balance because of patriarchy, with the masculine running amok and the feminine devalued. This idea of a “new way forward” is one that integrates balance of masculine and feminine, human activity and nature, and individual rights and group responsibility. It really struck me as very core to the essence of gay men – what we’re really doing, without even conscious awareness; by coming out and by living openly. We can lead humanity through the new way forward when we become aware of our capacities, what we’re currently doing, and then using those skills purposefully. 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 →

Deconstructing ‘Shame’ and ‘Ashamed’

I was talking to someone recently about the work of The Quest. I had mentioned ‘shame’ as part of my response to a question he’d asked. “I do not feel ashamed about being gay”, he said very firmly, before I could finish my sentence.

It’s a response I’ve heard from a few people when I have mentioned “Shame” and “Gay” in the same sentence. In this particular conversation, I responded by mentioning the work of Dr Brené Brown, who defines shame as “the fear of disconnection”. I explained that, according to Brené, the majority of the population feels shame, which can be triggered for a variety of reasons because, as she and many others have said, “we are wired for connection”. Brené goes on to say that “when we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection.” He was not buying it and the conversation soon moved onto other topics. As I left that evening, I found myself replaying the dialogue over and over. The word ‘ashamed’ had struck a cord and I could not get it out of my mind. Continue Reading →

Speaking from the ‘I’

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

Jean-Felix Callens attended The Quest Workshop in November 2014…..

What brought you to The Quest Programme?

Firstly, it was recommended by my psychotherapist. Secondly, it was recommended by two close friends.

What was your experience of The Quest Programme?

It was life affirming and life changing. I experienced “a before and an after” The Quest. I had done a lot of work on myself prior to attending the programme and The Quest did not only consolidate this work, but it also took it much further. Darren and Ade have designed a solid and powerful programme that took me on a challenging and supportive journey of self-discovery in a diverse group of gay man who are all, included myself, learning to love and accept ourselves on a deeper level. 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 →

My Wish for 2015……

We are conscious that this time of year is often a time of reflection and anticipation. We therefore felt it would be a lovely idea to once again kick start the new year with a blog post featuring some of the gay men who have journeyed with The Quest.

We hope that by sharing their responses we can highlight that we all connected and ‘hardwired for connection’; even though our journeys might often take us on different paths and look very different on the surface.

We asked the men to complete the four statements below:

  1. What I rediscovered from my journey with The Quest in 2014 was…….
  2. My 2015 Wish for myself is………….
  3. My 2015 Wish for Gay Men everywhere is………
  4. My 2015 Wish for the Gay Community is………..

Continue Reading →

Sex: Smoke and Mirrors – what lies beneath our desires, addictions and compulsions

In conversation with Robert Weiss

RobWeiss_Web200x300Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is Senior Vice President of Clinical Development with Elements Behavioral Health. He is author of Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men and Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction. An author and subject expert on the relationship between digital technology and human sexuality, Mr. Weiss has served as a media specialist for CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Today Show, among many others.

Ade Adeniji (Co-Founder of The Quest) sat down with Rob during his recent visit to London to talk about Addiction, Drugs, Intersection of Race and Sexuality, Gay Culture and much much more.


Ade Adeniji: Having read your book [Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men], one of the things that struck me is that I meet a number of gay men who have many of the signs of sex addiction that you identify in your book, and yet, they don’t use the word ‘addict’. Do you come across that in your work?

Rob Weiss: I think it’s very individual, but there’s also a lot of denial. If you look at the back of “Cruise Control”, there’s a little section about why I wrote the book. What it says is that I was at an HIV conference in the 90s and I was sitting backstage with a bunch of therapists, who were gay men. They were complaining about how they could not talk about the problems within the gay community – such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol problems, and sexual acting out – because there’s this thought that when you have an oppressed minority, and if you’re among that minority, that you don’t want to say what your own issues are.

It’s like being in an unhealthy family where no one talks about the problem. Because if, as gay men, we say we have sexual problems, then the larger culture says, “See, we knew that. We knew those people were all sick, and all sick about sex,” so it just doesn’t get talked about. This was during the height of the HIV crisis. 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 →

“KILLING MY MOTHER” – Review

….. by Michael Gaffney

Ade - Story 1I was fortunate to witness Ade’s recent performance of “Killing my Mother“. What an arresting title and it soon became apparent how it came about. The performance was performed at the School of Social Entrepreneurs where The Quest hold it’s workshops.

I have experienced many profound and powerful feelings in this venue and this event was no exception.

I was immediately drawn in to the emotion of Ade’s vivid, visceral and candid story of his life. The immediacy and power of events was conveyed by the story being told in the present tense, although the story moved backwards and forwards between different years. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion and there were also flashes of humour, which meant that the story felt incredibly rounded, grounded and real. Continue Reading →

The Two Way

Ian McCurrach talks to Peter Collins about his experience of marching in London Pride

IM: Peter, I have never taken part in London Pride before, so what would you say to me, or others who have no previous experience about what they might expect to find?

PC: London Pride is an extraordinary event, especially if you’ve not taken part before. For me it’s an outright celebration of being gay from across the community, with a huge variety of expressions and identities of what it means to be gay to thousands individuals and hundreds of groups. It’s also a fantastic and colourful extravaganza, a real sight to behold, and a unique way to meet and party with people you’d never come across anywhere else. But London Pride also goes beyond being a celebration and for many is an important statement to London, the nation, the media and the government that we are here, we are here to stay and we are a force to be reckoned with. Continue Reading →

The Two Way

Ian McCurrach talks to Ade Adeniji

5 Steps to Authentic Self Expression

IM: What are the main outcomes of the Authentic Self Expression WorkOUT?

AA: The session is an opportunity to deeply explore the different aspects of self-expression and examine how we ‘show up’ (or not) for each one of them. The intention is that participants leave with a clearer idea of what authentic self-expression personally means to them, identify the gaps between where they are in relation to authentic self expression and where they desire to be and during the day we will spend time practicing closing the gap. 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 Past Is A Foreign Country

Editor of “Love Me As I Am: Gay Men Reflect on their Lives” and Quest Workshop participant, Francois Lubbe made a short film about Ade Adeniji’s journey with storytelling, the piece is titled ‘The Past Is A Foreign Country’.

The short film takes a brief but in-depth look at the positive impact and healing power of storytelling, and how its application and practice can transform lives.

The Past Is A Foreign Country from Little Red Shoes on Vimeo.

“Sometimes, the best way to move forward in life is by looking back—even if the story of our past is one we want to forget”

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 →

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 →

Telling Stories

Short documentary following Ade Adeniji, Co-Founder of The Quest and Paul Woodward, international theatre practitioner and academic, as they prepare for their two separate one-man storytelling performances, ‘Killing My Mother’ and ‘Fathers & Feathers.’

The performances were developed in collaboration with The Quest and premiered at The Pinter Theatre, in London, on 5 October 2013.

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 →

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 →