Friday, 27 October 2017

Ten Commandments to live by for 2018

Taking stock after a very full and exerting year, much of which was spent in and around Faerie Gatherings, I’m starting to formulate some useful principles to live by for the rest of my life!
I am a little saddened that it has taken me the best part of sixty years to arrive at, what now seem to be, these fairly self evident truths. 
As queer mammalian creatures with our crazy-mixed-up vicariously motivated parents and teachers, and our fears and hungers and drives, we bounce ourselves into relationships, social circles, lifestyles, careers and patterns-of-being which often serve us less well than they might. 
Well, that’s what happened for me and it has taken a lifetime as an over-busy professional and 2 whole years of ‘doing-nothing’ post-retirement for the mists of conditioning and self deception to finally begin to clear.
So here are the personal 10 Commandments I will endeavour to live by, if not for the rest of my life, then at least for the next 12 months or so…..

1 Thou shalt become ever fiercer in thine honesty regarding personal integrity
This involves locating what I am feeling in my heart and being brave enough to bear witness to it regardless of how this revelation might be viewed by others as shameful, undesirable, unlikeable, unenlightened, - whatever!

2 Thou shalt stop apologising for whom thou art

3 Thou shalt stop seeking the approval of others

4 Thou shalt start to accept that being disliked for thine authenticity is the integral and undeniable flip-side of being liked for thine authenticity

5 Thou shalt stop using the words GOOD and BAD
These words are a root source for Duality and are Black Magick spells which establish the fault-lines of Divisiveness. I need to continue to recognise them as lazy signifiers of a privileged value system and always worth opening to scrutiny.

6 Thou shalt find a different way of saying “I hate it when…”
Hatred can so easily find its way into consciousness even via this ostensibly playful invocation.

7 Thou shalt avoid opinionated people
Keep remembering that they are desperately attempting to impose some order onto the gloriously, implacably, chaotic nature of life, the universe and everything. Attempting to challenge opinionatedness just cements it in place. Simply knowing what I know should be enough. Chaos will prevail.

8 Thou shalt stop being drawn to positions of ‘leadership’ 
They are a mirage. I am only able to lead myself. Just find some space and see what happens by being in it. And then endeavour to stop seeing what happens and simply ‘be’ in it.

9 Thou shalt keep identifying what brings thee joy and keep engaging with it on a regular basis

10 Thou shalt recognise when what thou art engaged with has become joyless and, no matter how worthy-seeming the project, thou must let it go. And let it go as quickly as possible!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Hate Crime in Brighton- Maybe we need to get out more?

I’m still recovering from a summer of Faerie Gatherings!

Faerie-space is where I’ve been able to allow my spiritual queerness to be fully present, affirmed and celebrated. Over the years I’ve really benefitted from the opportunity to be quiet in nature. Here I've revealed to others my most shameful aspects. And here I’ve found love and acceptance not in spite of my perceived shortcomings but because of them!

I decided therefore, to offer myself in service to this fabulous, anarchic gang of consciousness developers. So I put myself forward to facilitate three consecutive gatherings during July and August.

First of all was Faerie Sex Magick at Folleterre, the Euro-Faerie Sanctuary in France. Thirteen brave Faeries together with 3 facilitators and a cook came together for an week of intensive heart circles exploring our barriers to intimacy. Our objective: to reach a point where all of us could agree that we had developed a deep enough emotional understanding of each other to safely enter into an erotic space together. This was my sixth workshop and, as always, there was much to learn from this very unique form of emotional skinny dipping!

Exposed to an angry participant I was opened up to my extreme avoidance of unpredictable anger and violence. Though my father is dead and gone, the wounding he inflicted on me with his aggressive volatility, was still very much alive in me as a pattern of pretending I didn’t need anger as part of my emotional life. I realise now that depriving myself and others of this vibrant aspect of my self-expression gives an indistinct and unreal feel of ‘who I am’ making if difficult for others to fully engage emotionally with me. So now I’m tuning-in to, and expressing my anger as it arises. What a refreshing change!

My next two gatherings were the Global closely followed by the Afterglow Gathering.

The Global Gatherings are a controversial development for the Faeries in that rather than making a call to Sanctuary for established Faeries, there is an active intention to reach out to activists in those parts of the world where there is no Faerie culture, raising funds to assist with air travel and subsistence, and shifting the focus away from inner/interpersonal healing towards outer and inter-continental healing.

For whatever reason the LGBTI+ human rights position in UK is now very privileged compared with many countries across the globe.

And, sure, there’s hate crime in Brighton but it’s nothing compared with the hate cultures I’ve been hearing about from activists in Chechnya, Uganda, Pakistan, Benin, Singapore, and Beijing.

Prior to my encounter with the Faeries I was an assimilationist, desperate to prove to anyone that I was just quite ordinary apart from my sexuality. Now as a Faerie I know that I am quite extra-ordinary because of my sexuality.

I’m feeling my anger rising against queer hatred and I’m recognising it as a valuable element of my Faerie-Superpowers! 

Watch out hate-crime-bitches. We're coming for you!!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Unconditional Giving as a Symptom of Approval Seeking

I’ve got a bit of an obsession with Bindweed at the moment!

Over the past 17 years it has mutated, from being a rather pretty climbing vine with lovely white trumpet-like flowers in the corner of our little back garden, into a rapidly growing, infiltrating, triffid strangling all my lovely plants and shrubs, and suffocating them out of light and life.

This summer I’ve  spent hours at a time in that garden unravelling the binding growth from fragile stems and branches. Each time the compost heap ends up with five or six armfuls of the stuff yet within a few weeks it has grown back again with a vengeance.

I’ve had a series of friends recently who were just like that Bindweed in my garden. People who at first seemed exotic and alluring from afar. People who claimed themselves unjustly judged. People for whom my intuition was screaming ‘Beware-they’re dangerous’ (and I disregarded the warnings because I wanted to prove my programming wrong). People who hinted that they were weak and fragile and in need of some support. To these people, metaphorically speaking, I invited them to grow up into the trellis-work of my life.

As the years have gone by, the weight of their vegetation and the suffocation of their foliage have taken their toll on me, draining me of my creative energy and vitality.

I’m sure I’m not the only one this has happened to. Until fairly recently I was a prize people pleaser; a total sucker for validation from wherever I could find it. I got pleasure from sensing  gratitude from others for the gifts of attention, touch, love, money, food, and rounds of drinks I would bestow on them. I was happy to offer myself as a resource and allowed myself to be used by others as and when they pleased.

Unfortunately this approach attracted individuals who were happy to accept my gifts and took the resources I allowed them to access. But rather than this resulting in a natural Yin-Yang balance of giving a receiving, I eventually began to feel drained, depleted and used.

I came to recognise that the fertile soil of my generosity was simply cultivating fields and fields of Bindweed-like users and takers.

I felt a bit sad when I abandoned my approach of unconditional beneficence but, with the help of the Faeries, as I grew to love myself and came to honour the queerness of my own true nature, I no longer felt the need of approval from others, at any cost, to shore up my confidence. I began to recognise that there was nothing ‘enlightened’ about what I was doing. I was simply taking my own natural power to continue becoming my truest authentic self and just pissing it up the wall!

I could easily spray a weedkiller on the Bindweed in my garden but, for now, I’m enjoying the hours and hours I’m spending meditating on the delicate balance of give and take in human relationships!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bears and My Reflections on My Reflections on My Reflection

I have a fear of Bears because they have, in one way or another, got me into the realm of body judging!
When I was a Twink in the ‘body fascist’ phase of my life, I used to think that Bears were just a bunch of guys with hairy backs who had lost the Battle of the Bulge and had found a way to reassure each other that the fight hadn’t been worth fighting in the first place.
Now in my twilight years, having hung around with The Faeries for the past 8 years, and having conscientiously and consciously challenged my socially programmed preference for the Body Beautiful, I am just about able to summon up some compassionate forgiveness for the opinionated brat that I was!
However, when someone I meet says they are a Bear, I kind of fear that my Faerie identity will be judged as too girly, not-manly-enough, not-hairy-enough, not fat enough (with the wrong sort of fat), not socially-locally-connected enough, not interested enough in raising money for charity.
Since I don’t actually know any Bears, I know these are simply my own personal projections onto a group of people who don’t deserve to be feared in this way.
Take the American Black Bear for instance. It seems like it’s reputation for being a dangerous killer is a whole lot of nonsense cooked up in the paranoia of the US collective sub-conscious. In reality they are beautiful, sweet and gentle creatures who are simply trying to get by, just like anyone else.
Anyway, the Bear theme for this month got me thinking about my body and how I judge it (and how I fear it is judged by others). It reminded me that a few years ago, in a fit of self-improvement, I did an exercise aimed at flushing out my subconscious negative body self-talk. I stood in front of a mirror- naked- and wrote down all the words that sprang to mind to describe what I saw. Then by the side of each word I wrote down its opposite. This is what emerged:

My Reflections on My Reflections on My Reflection

Here is a Body, Vulnerable and Exposed…..Shameless
Sacred Holy, Totally Acceptable and Divine, Spiritually Balanced
Slim and Trim, Surprisingly Youthful, Young and Vital

Cuddly and Curvaceous, Smooth and Furry, Muscled
Beautifully Androgynous, Masculine Enough, Dinky Genitals- Perfectly Formed

Beautiful, Amazing, Hairy and Handsome
Strong, Adapting, Dynamic, Evolving, Growing
Wonderful Changing Regenerating Miraculous!

Attractive, Sexually Magnetic, Tasty
In Surprisingly Good Nick, A Great Oak, A Well-Looked-After Vintage Car

You are Smouldering, Sensual and Sensuous
Feeling, Touching, Tasting, Smelling
The Silent Witness and Guide 
Where Ethereal and Material Clash

The Vessel, The Instrument, The Tool
Transient, Transitory and Transitional
Indispensable Now- Yet Ultimately Disposable

Body! Talk To Me! Show Me How You Feel!

It’s an interesting exercise- try it and see what happens!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

10 Steps Towards Emotional Intimacy: The Faerie Heart Circle Ritual

1 Find at least one other person you feel able to confide in and who would be able to confide in you. (If you don’t know anyone you need to find a new set of friends- or start up a Meet-up Group!)

2 Find a special object- call it a Talisman- to hold and pass around the circle.

3 Designate a date and time and set aside at least 2 hours free of disturbance.

4 Turn all your devices off and prepare to communicate the truth of what is going on for you right now. In the Flesh. No edits. The raw, honest authentic truth! 

5 Pick up the talisman and say ‘In this Heart Circle I will have the opportunity to share but only when I hold the Talisman. Do you agree to do this too?’

6 Wait for all present to say- Yes I agree! (if they don’t, then send them home and find another group!)

7 Light a candle and pass the Talisman and this text to the left. The next person says ‘At the beginning of my sharing I will say my name and it will be repeated back by the circle as an affirmation of mutual support. Do you agree to do this too?’

8 This person lights a candle then passes the Talisman and this text to the left and so on.

9 These statements are said, asking for agreement, by other participants or if there are just 2 or three of you they are shared between you:

  • I will speak from the heart about what is alive and true for me right now.
  • I will own my statements by using ‘I’ and ‘my’ rather than ‘you’ or ‘we’. 
  • I promise to listen with empathy and to have a compassionate awareness of any judgement as it arises within me. 
  • During the circle, I may hear something that resonates with me. I will not directly comment on, or offer any advice to others. However it may affect my subsequent sharing.
  • I may say nothing when the talisman comes to me but I will allow myself time to be present with my feelings before passing it on. 
  • I will allow others personal space to be fully with their own experience- in tears or laughter. Comfort or hugs may be non-verbally offered and accepted when the sharing has finished. 
  • I will look after my emotional and physical needs and if I have to leave the room I will do so at the end of a share.  
  • If I would like to talk about something said in the circle with that person afterwards, I may ask  but I accept that the answer could be no. 
  • I promise to keep everything in this heart circle CONFIDENTIAL. 
10 Now take the talisman and share from the heart for as long as it takes then pass it on. When all has been said hold hands. Take 3 deep breaths then blow the candles out. Enjoy!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

If You Like To Take It Up The A*se- Does That Make You A Sissy?

Last week I had sex with a guy in the sauna. Yay! And afterwards when we were cuddling and chatting in our little cubicle (it can happen sometimes- occasionally) we got on to the subject of how to respond to THAT QUESTION: ‘Are you a Top or a Bottom?’

It’s a question often furtively asked during the course of a bit of fumbling exploratory touch. It seems to be asked by guys in a rush to get to some kind of destination. They ‘aint looking for some mutually explored erotic adventure. It’s like they want to fast forward to some live-action, conventionally plugged-in, porn cum-shot.

I usually indicate that I’m enjoying the touch happening right now and that I’m capable of going with the flow of wherever it might take us. Which usually gets us back in the zone!

My sauna buddy seemed interested to talk about this topic, so I told him, for the record, that with regard to gender I personally identified as a bigendered. 

And, furthermore, having reflected on how my bigendered-ness impacts on my sexuality, I’ve come to the conclusion that the feminine pole of my gender is BISEXUAL! She’s into men who are into her femininity and she’s also into women who want to engage in sexual play with her. (Hmm- one of these days that fantasy of a dominant woman with a strap-on taking me to heaven will become a reality!). 

And then there’s the masculine end of my spectral identity, who is a sexually versatile gay guy. He enjoys f*cking, being f*cked, s*cking, being s*cked, d*minating and s*bmitting. It’s all f*cking great!

Then my sauna lover said ‘Well, I’ve done Queer Studies and they said there, that ‘Bigendered’ doesn’t exist because gender is all fluid-like’. He was young and not a little irritatingly- if not invalidatingly- correct. I suppose!

As a sissy child I was ruthlessly coerced into eradicating any element of femininity from my behaviour. I was a quick learner and a good little actor and so rapidly acquired a reasonably convincing straight-acting veneer of false-self. It’s taken years to recognise and challenge the shame that I was made to feel about my sissy self. Thankfully I am now able to honour and reclaim it as my precious birthright.

Why does this ugly gender expression repression happen? And why do so many men  continue to hide and despise their feminine nature. Is it because we live in a patriarchal, misogynist culture hating women and seeing men who resemble women as even worse?

Whatever it is, we do appear to be stuck with this gender binary thing and it does seem, for many, to touch on something deeply fundamental which shouldn’t be messed with! 

Maybe I’m just a freak of nature. Maybe most men are just men. In which case that’s just fine too!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Hope of a Not-Doing Faerie

A few years ago I began to wonder whether that little urge to ‘make a difference’, I’d  always been encouraged to cultivate and demonstrate in my life, wasn’t just part of a fast-breeder-mass-effect fuck up for the planet. What if I could just take a step back and let it all just be. And what if everyone else could just do the same? The amazing subversive Taoist principle of Not-Doing (Wu-Wei). The counter-intuitive behavior of responding to the demanding voice which says ‘Don’t just sit there DO SOMETHING’ by quietly replying ‘Don’t just do something- SIT THERE’
....And BREATHE. 

When I first started this practice it felt like I was taking my hands off the steering wheel, blindfolded whilst driving at full pelt down the M1. Now it feels more like gently being driven along in a Google car (but still with that nagging fear of imminently getting mangled beneath an undetected articulated lorry!)

If you want to do something radically different in 2017 I strongly recommend giving this practice a try- at least for a few hours here and there, just to see what it feels like.

As a very tiny element in a vast and elaborately complex system with little or no definite understanding of the Grand Master Plan I am starting to humbly recognize the dangers of believing that I know and understand more than I do. By practicing ‘Not Just Doing Something and Sitting There’ I find that the planet Earth not only continues to rotate on its axis but it also continues to revolve in its orbit around the sun! 

A favorite expression of my dear departed mother’s was  ‘Leave it in the hands of the Lord’ which was her Christian mantra for dealing with fears, anxieties and uncertainties. Maybe I’ve somehow inherited this outlook and, though I said goodbye to the Christian Male God story a long time ago, I am becoming increasingly trusting of some organizing principle which is much, much greater than my little flesh and blood self and which just might possibly know what it is actually doing!

How do I harness my personal power then, so it can act in harmony with this organizing principle? How do I purpose myself to be a fully effective participant in this amazing dance party we call Life? 
Without hurting anyone, I try to simply tune into being who I am without guilt or shame; to dispel ideas of who I should be or what I should do. I also contribute towards attempts to hold safe space where folk can feel free to try out being who they are too- without guilt or shame. 

And what seems to happen next is the experience of Joy and Love. I begin to feel joyful. And I sense the joy of others. And I feel Love.  (Cue for song: Donna Summers “I feel Love”)

My hope then, for 2017 and beyond, is for more of all this please!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Warning: Youth Advice Alert!

The great queer Faerie poet-film-maker James Broughton once said: ‘Crazy old men are essential to society. Otherwise young men have no suitable role models’
A young friend told me that he’d recently had a tarot reading and from this he learned that he needed a teacher.
How do the young learn from the old?
Eight years ago when I first conceived of my GaySocrates blog, my stated intention was: ‘from an experienced and seasoned perspective, to wisely corrupt the gay youth of today with love’.
Back then, in my late 40s I felt that a number of factors had conspired to keep me from accessing the elder wisdom of my queer tribe. Firstly my very queerness had inoculated me against trusting any form of authority. Secondly, I was aware that elderly queers had lived through hard times; their fundamental nature had been criminalized and construed as illness to be medically attacked so they were highly likely to have been fucked up by this. Thirdly, for me, AIDS had wiped out a whole swathe of what might have become ‘big sisters’ to me and my generation. All the potential advice and guidance they might have offered had gone up in a sad puff of crematorial smoke. And last, but by no means least, there was that creeping ageism out in our wider society which was becoming especially pernicious out on the gay pub and club scene which meant that most of the older folk I might have bumped into over a drink or two were voting with their feet and staying at home with their friends and partners.
So that’s how the blog and subsequently this GScene column came about. I wondered if there would be any value in putting my aged musings out there for the perusal of any Youth, who like me, felt a kind of ‘elder deficit’.
I’ve learned a lot over these past 8 years.

1 Probably the most important lesson has been to stop looking for the amazingly wise teacher who will offer all that advice and those fabulous make-up tips! At least for me, the idea that this person exists is a mirage. 

2 Instead my learning has come from the rich tapestry of friends and relationships (old, young and in between) I have encountered in Faerie-space away from the gay cis-male monoculture of the scene.

3 Anyone who ever purported to be a teacher of wisdom for me, probably learned far more from me than I ever did from them!

4 There is great value in appreciating the flaws of a self proclaimed guru. As Leonard Cohen famously said:
‘Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in!’

Having said all this please be warned:

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth. Baz Luhrmann

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Are you a closeted spiritual being?

Another Brighton Pride...So you’ve done the parade, seen the show at the park, hung out in the village, got a bit wasted. You’re out and proud! You’ve challenged the subtle (and not-so-subtle) sexuality/gender policing and shaming that you’ve been exposed to all your life. And it feels good.....
Now what? Maybe there’s even more to you than your queer identity?

Harry Hay (gay man, intellectual, activist and one of the founders of the Faeries) would often ask three questions at the start of a talk or a conference: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here?

Pride marches, parades and festivals have helped us to acknowledge ourselves and to recognize and celebrate our contribution to diversity. So we’re starting to know who we are. Yet we’ve some way to go in understanding where we came from and what our purpose may be.

Hay spent time researching the role of the queer in Native American and primitive cultures. He found that these societies valued and prized their queer children as Two Spirit beings. Queer kids were encouraged to develop their shamanic nature and were cultivated to take on and hold crucial positions in the spiritual and cultural life of the tribe.
Hay believed that Two Spirits seeking each other “ghosted the twilight regions” and that the process of seeking one another and categorizing their relationships led to an intellectual breakthrough. They had the gift of seeing their own socially productive relationships as roles or constructs and so were more easily able to to see the real person behind the role play. They thus considered one another and indeed the world with a radical subjectivity, seeing through the show and establishing relationships on deeper spiritual levels.

Sadly, for most of us, our two-spirit-ness has been a mark of shame and has resulted in us being hounded out of our own religious communities. Forced to choose between our sexuality and spirituality we have had no spiritual home where our queerness could be seen as central and essential to our esoteric nature. 

Harry Hay was a communist. Back in the 1970s he wrote that the West was “in an anarcho-capitalistic social and ethical stagnation” and he believed that “the Homophile” (us queers), as descendants of the Two Spirit, had the responsibility of finding the way out.

Forty years on and the ethical and social stagnation is beginning to stink! 
Are you ready to re-kindle your spiritual flame? Do you want to join forces through the development of lore, myth and ritual to inspire contemporary action? Then get yourselves along to the Queer Spirit Festival ( 17-21 August in Wiltshire (BA13 4AQ).

Here you’ll find ceremony and ritual, earth spirituality, a sacred sexuality temple, spirit mysteries, yoga, meditation, dance workshops, music and cabaret, nature walks, heart circles.

Four days of camping in the sunshine (or rolling around in the mud!). Meeting new friends and nurturing ourselves. Let’s find each other and have some fun!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

I am Changeling!

Rose raindrops, kitten whiskers, melting to springtime!
Glamour, compassion, laughter!
Love, joy, pleasure!
Bravery, to dare, to be!

The Glorious Nurturing Dreaming!

Dog-bites, bee-stings,feeling sad!
Mundanity, bullying, tears!
Hatred, despair, discomfort!
Fear, shame, guilt!

The Neglectful Nightmare Banality!

I am Changeling!
This the Yin and Yang of my lot!
No pleasure without pain!

So...I simply remember my favourite things...
And then I don't feel so bad!

Meet me on the Other Side
Back in the Fabulous Bedlam of FaerieSpace!