The Quest Programme for Gay Men (London)

Registrations

Our next The Quest Programme will take place on Fri 16 – Sun 18 March 2018. Closing date for registrations is Fri 9 March.

During the programme we will be Investigating the past, Exploring the present, Releasing the pain and toxicity of the past and present, and Cultivating the awareness and tools to enable a wholehearted and nurturing present and future.

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The Quest Program for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Gay Men

“The Quest ……. which focuses on encouraging feelings of identity authenticity, was successful in reducing feelings of internalised homophobia, which the present project and previous research have both identified as a key factor underpinning decreased wellbeing among BME MSM”
– Black and minority ethnic men who have sex with men, Project evaluation and systematic review (Public Health England, De Montfort University), May 2016

In 2015, The Quest was commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) to deliver its flagship “The Quest Program” to Black, Asian and Minority Ethinic gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM). The final report from the evaluation can be found here.

Due to the overwhelming requests that have come in over the past year to deliver the program again, and following on from the feedback in the evaluation report, we will be running a subsidized BAME The Quest Program in 2017. This has been made possible by donations from Friends of The Quest initiative, along with our commitment following on from the PHE study.

When: Friday 21 July 2017 (7pm – 10pm), Saturday 22 July 2017 (10am – 6.00pm), Sunday 23 July 2017 (10am – 5.30pm); follow-up integration session Thursday 10 Aug 2017 (7pm – 10pm).

Final date for registrations – Fri 14 July

Click here for more information, dates and registration details. Continue Reading →

The Two-Way (Being Asian and Gay in the UK)

Ian McCurrach (Editor of The Quest Newsletter) talks to Tahir Saleem (a previous participant on The Quest Programme) on being a Volunteer Assistant on The BME Quest Programme

Ian: Tahir, you recently took part as an assistant on The Quest Programme for Black, African, Black Caribbean, mixed Black and other ethnicity (BME) Gay Men, and Men who have Sex with Men. Why do you think it was important to deliver this programme for this group of men in particular?

Tahir: Asian and black gay men in my opinion and from my own life experience, definitely do have a considerable need for a programme such as The Quest Programme taking place in our community. Coming out is really a near impossible feat for us. Our culture typically involves the extended family, the neighbours and community playing quite a significant role in our life and usually an abundance of religion.

Ian: What issues do you think this group of men has to deal with that differs from other gay men?

Tahir: This is principally in two ways: firstly we battle a different culture and norms that make it considerably harder to deal with being gay, and then secondly upon acceptance of our own sexuality we become a visible sub group of the greater gay brotherhood. The black and Asian family, or peer culture, is embedded with shame, especially gay shame. Continue Reading →

Speaking from the ‘I’

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

Robert Ramcharan attended The Quest Workshop in January 2012…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

After coming out as gay in my 40’s, I increasingly became a big believer that I personally needed to continually examine and develop myself and not stand still or fear change. I began to believe that I needed to think about my actions and reactions in the light of a wide range of developmental guides, regarding human thought processes.

I had come from what would I call ‘a life for others’, rather than myself, where I was married to a woman for nearly 20 years, with no male sexual encounters or gay experiences, up until the age of 40. I had 2 kids with my wife, which meant a lot of responsibility. I had been bought up with quite a bit of Roman Catholic guilt, as well as coming from an Asian West Indian background, involving expectations of what a “normal” life should be.

When I inevitably came out (I really had no choice in the matter, not because the situation was out of my control, but because not living my true self was impossibility). I went very wild, but eventually discovered that even this behaviour was not me either.

I had recently done a course which encouraged me to get involved in a community project. I had read “The Velvet Rage” by Alan Downs regarding the fact that shame was a significant (hidden) driver behind many gay men’s behaviour; I was very keen on getting involved in any project that bought Alan to the UK to speak to gay men. After some private research and advice from friends who had heard of Darren and Ade and their work, I met them in a West End restaurant. We talked a lot and I found them passionate and engaging. I was encouraged to first try the course and perhaps possibilities would develop from there, given my personal belief, I had no hesitation in agreeing. Continue Reading →

Speaking from the ‘I’

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. Continue Reading →

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

Paul Ryan attended The Quest Workshop in April 2014…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

When the train hits the buffer it comes to a stop; well my life hit a buffer and I felt there was no way to go forward – just like the train hitting the buffer, with no way forward.

It all started with my best friend dying, and within weeks of his death I lost my job, and learned that my mother did not recognize me when I went to see her, (she passed away on the last day of my workshop). My confidence went down like sinking ship, I felt I did not belong, had no value in life, was unloved, unworthy of anybody and did not love myself. I had two choices –  to go down the road of life long depression and a life of loneliness or find help to recover my confidence and rebuild my social life make new friends and stop procrastination my life and avoiding myself.

Continue Reading →

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

Tobias Oliver attended The Quest Workshop in November 2014…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

The last two years has seen a great deal of challenge and change, both good and bad, for me and my family. Perhaps inevitably, this brought with it a greater sense of introspection and self-examination. (I turned forty a few years’ ago, so perhaps it’s just a mid-life crisis or ‘spiritual awakening’!)

Whatever the reason, I felt compelled to take a long, hard look at myself and my life. Something I have so skilfully avoided in the past, mainly because it’s difficult and I don’t usually like what I see. I had a good idea what was probably lurking there and it scared me. I was afraid.

Then I picked up a flyer for The Quest in Soho on a visit to London – I live in Sheffield, but am frequently in the capital to visit family or for work – and it spoke to me. I kept reading it, and visiting The Quest website. Continue Reading →

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

Mark Ward attended The Quest Workshop in December 2012…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

I ‘came out’ to everyone at the age of 48 in the summer of 2011. I had spent years of living a heterosexual life peppered with some vague mumblings to a few close friends about being bisexual. In my adult life I had never had sex with a man, but had experienced two physical relationships with women in my late 20s and early 30s interspersed with long periods of celibacy. So I was ‘out’ but pretty confused and unsure ‘how’ to live my new self.

In my many searches on the Internet looking for answer to my confusion, I came upon a reference to the book “Love me as I am” and I eagerly ordered a copy. The book both resonated with me and left me with even more questions. At the end of the book was a link to The Quest website. I visited it and then without much thought or procrastination (unusual for me) I found myself booking onto a workshop. I didn’t know what it would involve or whether it would be right for me, but I knew I had to take the leap (any leap) and ‘do’ something.

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Searching for that place called ‘home’

In conversation with Jeremy Helligar

Ade Adeniji (Co-Founder of The Quest) speaks to Jeremy about being black and gay, online dating, relationships, being an outsider, and much much more.

41jU4kxFLmL._UX250_Jeremy Helligar is a journalist, author, pop culturist and world traveler from New York City, where he spent 15 years working as a writer and editor for People, Teen People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly. In 2006, he moved to Buenos Aires, where he learned Spanish and launched his own blog, Theme for Great Cities, a travelogue, memoir, entertainment bible and Sex and the City rolled into one. He followed four and a half years in BA and two and a half years based back and forth between Melbourne and Bangkok with one month in Berlin, one month in Rome, and one month in Tel Aviv, before landing in Cape Town. Jeremy currently resides in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?: Tales of Love, Lust and Language Barriers on the Other Side of the World“.


Ade: I first came across your work on The Huffington Post and when I then started reading your book (Is it true what they say about Black Men) I immediately felt this urge to have a conversation with you, because right from the beginning you talk about being black and being gay. What was your inspiration for writing the book?

Jeremy: It’s funny because it happened in spurts. I didn’t set out to write the book. I have a blog called “Theme for Great Cities.” I’ve been maintaining that for about six and a half years now. And it just started off as me wanting to share my thoughts with the one or two people who I figured would end up reading it. Over time friends and strangers who ended up reading the blog kept telling me ‘you really ought to write a book. Because you have all of these experiences, you’ve traveled to so many interesting places, you’ve met so many different people, you should write a book’. And after a while I started saying maybe they are on to something, maybe I should write a book.

And the title, well…. a lot of times I talk to different writers and they have a lot of trouble coming up with a title because they want something that encapsulates the theme of the book. For me I don’t think that the title “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” necessarily encapsulates the theme of the book, but it’s definitely the theme of my life since I left the United States. As I’ve said so many times before, it’s the one question that I’ve heard in every country, on every continent, in different languages. With the book title, I wanted to take ownership of it and have a little bit of fun with it. Continue Reading →

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

Ian Smith attended The Quest Workshop in September 2014…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

I had developed a general malaise towards life. I felt disconnected from my friends and my surroundings. Feeling that no-one understood me and because of that I didn’t want to try and connect with them anymore. At weekends I would only leave the house to scratch the itch of needing sexual contact, otherwise I would have been in my pyjamas all weekend. Life wasn’t getting worse, but it definitely wasn’t getting any better. I decided some changes need to be made. Continue Reading →

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

Steve Harding attended The Quest Workshop in June 2014…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

I became aware of the work of The Quest through a mutual friend of Ade’s. Over the years I have done a fair amount of personal development work, but this has been largely one to one and I was keen to gain a new perspective on my ‘story’ through group work.

What was your experience of The Quest Workshop?

I found The Quest workshop challenging, nourishing, enlightening and overall a life-enhancing experience. Continue Reading →

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

Jide Rowland Macaulay attended The Quest Workshop in April 2014…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

First it was my curiosity to find out what was going on. I knew that I had issues, mostly especially at the time I was struggling with many undecided matters about my sexuality and importantly decisions about my future. Deciding how to deal with issues with my “family of origin”, dealing with both internalized anger and external abuses, my religious community and reconciling my sexuality as a black gay man of faith, and of Nigeria descent.

What was your experience of The Quest Workshop?

Extreme, candid and authentic, extremely genuine and a life saving experience. Whilst I have attended numerous workshops about being gay and life, The Quest workshop stood out as exceptional, and I have since challenged myself to build on what I have learnt, so I can move forward positively. Continue Reading →

The Quest Workshop for Black and Minority Ethnic Gay and Bisexual Men (London)

“Amazing! I would highly recommend it as the cultural aspects of upbringing did not need to be explained – participants ‘just understood’…” May 2015 Workshop Participant

Public Health England (PHE) has commissioned The Quest to deliver its flagship “The Quest Workshop” to Black African, Black Caribbean, mixed Black and other ethnicity (BME) gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM).

The delivery of the workshops is part of a wider PHE project evaluating different models of direct behaviour change interventions for BME gay men and MSM aimed at reducing health risk behaviour and building resilience.

The next workshop will take place in September (London). Please note that the workshop is now sold out and if you register, you will be going on a waiting list.

Feedback from participants on the March (London) workshop include:

“Really fantastic – I knew it would be life-changing; it has been”
“Enriching and transforming”
“Loving, Caring, Nurturing, Supportive, Wonderful”
“Unique, Special, Powerful”
“Challenging, Supportive & Rich”

Click here for more information, dates and registration details. Continue Reading →

Aching for Home

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou

I was disowned for 10 years when my family found out about my sexuality. About 3 years ago, one of my brothers died and I reconnected with my family through the mourning period. Right now, I am at my dad’s house and frequently spend time with my family.

I remember having a conversation with my brother within which I asked him to explain why he had disowned me. 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 →

Coming Home for Christmas

I am from a sea-side town in Sicily. Christmas is one of the few times of the year when I get to come back and spend time with my family. There’s lots of noise, lots of bickering, lots of talking of who’s eating what and who’s driving who to the shops, lots of talk about nothing. My parents show affection by filling the fridge. Today for lunch it was savoury pastries, fries, aubergine lasagne, lentils pasta, chicken escalope and a slice of panettone. I have to remember to go back to the gym when I come back to London.

There is still so much I haven’t said to them, yet so much that I have allowed them to see of who I am. I love my parents, they provided for me, made sure my belly was always full and bought me toys and clothes and gave me pretty much everything I ever asked. We weren’t very good at talking about feelings, we brushed things under the carpet. When I was 8 years old I walked inside the bathroom to find my sister unconscious; she had tried to commit suicide. We never talked about it since. If we didn’t talk about it, it didn’t exist, it never happened. 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 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 →

Daring Greatly with 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 Ade shares his reflections on the journey to meeting Brené.

Ade - Daring

I remember being filled with such excitement and anticipation when in early April I discovered that Brené Brown was coming to London to give a talk at The School of Life. I immediately posted the details on Facebook, and notified a few of the guys who had journeyed with The Quest about the event. Since discovering Brené’s work via her TED talks, Darren and myself had often referred to her research in our work with gay men on the issue of shame, vulnerability and courage.

I got out my diary to put in the date and then noticed that I had another engagement on the same day, which I could not get out of – or could I? I was in the process of starting a monthly group coaching session in June, and our second session would clash with the Brené event. I debated whether to move the session, but everything was already in place and so I gradually settled to the possibility of the talk making its way to YouTube and seeing it there.

Few weeks later as Ernesto told me that he had his ticket for The School of Life event, I silently debated whether I could take my coaching group for an outing to see Brené, but by that stage the tickets were all gone. ‘Oh well, that’s that’ I thought! Continue Reading →

About meeting Brené and being vulnerable

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 Ernesto shares his reflections on the journey to meeting Brené .

ErnestoSince I was a young teenager, I have been reading lots of personal development and psychology books. Throughout all these years I have come across wonderful books, those that change us and leave a profound impact in us. Brene’s latest book ‘Daring Greatly’ is definitely one of these wonderful books. Sometimes I even say that ‘Daring Greatly’ is probably the best book I have ever read – and yes, I know that is quite a statement to make!

I am also aware that how good a book is, depends highly on where we are in life at the time we read such book and it’s normally a very subjective matter. A book that can be great for me is not necessarily as good for someone else. I believe this is the result of how well we can relate to the book personally. If the book resonates with something we are going through or have experienced before, then the better the book is. It is like if the book was directly speaking to us. This is also why when we read a book again some time later we discover complete new meanings, because we are now reading it with a different state of mind.  And this is probably why ‘Daring Greatly’ was such a good read for me; because it came at the right time and it relates to things I have gone through; and I continue to go through. 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 →

The List – A new take on speed dating

You must know the feeling. You go through your drawers and find an old favourite shirt you’ve forgotten about. You think: “Gosh, I wondered where this had gone. I thought I’d lost it.” When you put it on and look in the mirror, it still fits like a dream and looks smashing.

That’s how I felt when I recently landed back on the ‘dating scene’ — pleasantly curious and ready to strut my stuff. With 40 around the corner and because I’m wary of repeating old patterns, I was a bit apprehensive too despite my enthusiasm.

Nowadays, gay men are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to how we can connect with other guys. The obvious and easy choices are online dating sites and smartphone apps. I’ve tried both and I know they offer loads to look at and hold the alluring promise of immediate gratification, but they’re also time-consuming. I mean really, how many frogs can one man kiss? Continue Reading →

Rediscovering my core need for intimacy

A participant on our recent one-day workshop ‘Getting Clear on Sex & Intimacy’ shares what led him to attend, and his insights from the journey.

Reaching my mid 30s and not having a sense of what imtimacy is, let alone what it means to be, has been rather disconcerting. A comment Darren (co-founder of The Quest) made recently resonated with some of the thoughts on sex and intimacy I had been having in recent months. He reminded me of a time when I was younger, when my identity as a gay man was not determined by sex or the overt sexualisation of the gay scene I find around me. It permeates so many aspects of our lives whether we choose to admit it or not: the gay press, scene magazines, limitless online pornography, online hookup sites, phone applications.. the list is endless. 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 →

Reflections on The Quest Mastery Weekend

sunrise over london croped flattenedI’m real pleased that I signed up to do The Quest’s Mastery Weekend. It helped to complete a few of the things that I started to deal with during The Exploratory Weekend. In fact, I kind of think of them both now, as a single entity. A week’s worth of Questing, with a bit of an intermission, half way through.

Seeing guys change, seeing guys free themselves from their shackles and weighted chains, has been truly heart-warming. So fantastic to witness. And I hope the other guys who have drifted away, are in a better place than they were before.

I suppose it’s about Expectations, ours and others. Do people really think that spending a weekend or two with Darren and Ade is going to immediately transform all of our lives? Ah, but wouldn’t that be miraculous if they could. Just a swish of their magic wands. . . Unfortunately though, we live in a world without that specialist brand of magic. 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 →

God is on our side guys!

Peter, a recent participant of The Quest Weekend Exploration Workshop, talks about his faith and love of God.

I’ve been wanting to share this story about my life and faith for some time, since my love of God is at the very foundation of who I am. My faith is so important to me in my everyday life, and in my understanding of who I am as a gay man, but I know for many gay men the notion of God, the church and religion generally evokes very negative feelings and in some cases can trigger very painful memories and experiences. It’s my hope that the following words could stir up some hope and possibility for the future.

After years of trying to conform to the straight life I’d chosen and to ignore and suppress the growing desires and feelings within me, the pressure became so overwhelming that I couldn’t lie any more or hide the real me. When I eventually left my wife and family 7 years ago I was an assistant pastor of a church, head of the youth ministry, chairman of a Christian charity and Governor of a CofE church school. Once I came out I had to resign from all of those roles as well as being totally rejected by my children. I was also the MD of a business I ran with my wife, and some time later had to resign from that too as well as leaving our beautiful home that we’d lovingly restored. From having what most people thought was a perfect life, I suddenly had absolutely nothing and was living in my sisters dark and dingy box room. Most of my friends were from the church and they all turned their backs on me. And if that wasn’t enough, it was made very clear to me that unless I repented of my sin I was no longer a Christian or a child of God. It was such a dark and utterly soul destroying time. The rejection of my beloved children was the most painful of all, and life just didn’t seem worth living any more. I had no strength left in me to fight back and my guilt was almost too heavy to bear. I could hardly look anyone in the eye I was so ashamed of myself and what I’d done. Continue Reading →