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 →

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 →

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 →

Ghost Rider

~ Shame and Disclosure in the Curious Case of Lance Armstrong

A Personal View, by Paul Woodward

Lance Armstrong

The world recently watched with anticipation as the most successful championship cyclist the sport has ever seen perform an extraordinary series of disclosures in his highly publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey. Despite many years of staunch denial, supported by a mercilessly aggressive campaign of defence against almost all detractors, including libel actions upon both friends and colleagues alike, Lance Armstrong finally came clean to the world, and admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs to clinch the once legendary championship victories that had inspired so many.

I don’t know about you, but it was, for me, a uniquely unsettling experience. It wasn’t just due to the squirm factor of watching a publicly disgraced man attempt to seek absolution through trial by TV. Nor was it embarrassment at watching a man making a last ditch attempt to claw back some remnants of a career for himself. It was something else, something deep inside of me that stimulated these acutely uncomfortable feelings. 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 →

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I never got to come out to my father. And it was only after his passing that I came to learn that he knew about the ‘elephant in the room’, he had simply never asked me and I had simply never told.

The first time I found out that he knew about the elephant in the room, was in the summer of 1989. My mother was visiting London from Nigeria, and one afternoon during a heated telling-off from her, she said ‘so I hear that you are now following men around’. Continue Reading →

Are gay men fucked up?

Interview with Stuart Haggas of FS magazine
Continue Reading →

Deconstructing Flaunting

At the beginning of this year, during a conversation on Facebook with a friend from High School, he posted the following:

“just read a post in which a family member said to confine your sexuality to the bedroom…something u should expect more of by the way…more people are gonna be upset especially as u seem to be “flaunting it in their eyes”. Hope the attitude you put up is really you and not a front?”

Continue Reading →

Listening to shame

On the Weekend Exploration workshop, we spend a lot of time investigating ‘shame’. As part of  that process, we explore how it might have shown up in our life in the past  and where it might still be manifesting in our life today. Part of the exploration also includes investigating the methods we might have used to compensate for shame, and where that might still be occurring in our life today.

In this insightful TED talk, Brené Brown reflects on shame (and vulnerability) and how it forms part of our human experience.

The Quest – The Journey

Ade Adeniji and Darren Brady talk about The Quest.

Alan Downs speaks about shame based trauma

Alan Downs, author of ‘The Velvet Rage’, speaks about shame based trauma.