Monday, November 19, 2007

I Thoughts this was Interesting

"Going Our Own Way"

by Jesse Monteagudo

In "A Separate People Whose Time Has Come," the late Harry Hay —
founder of the Mattachine Society and the Radical Fairies — wrote
about the special roles that Lesbians and Gay men, bisexuals and
transgendered people, play in society: We are "messengers and
interceders, shamans of both genders, priestesses and priests,
imagemakers and prophets, mimes and rhapsodies, poets and
playwrights, healers and nurturers, teachers and preachers, tinkers
and tinkerers, searchers and researches." Since Hay wrote those words
other queer authors, mystics and philosophers have echoed his words
and his belief that homosexuality is more than just sexual

Gay, Lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are special people,
and not just because our affectional or sexual orientation or our
gender identity is different from the majority's. We are special
because we play special roles in society. Since we are not limited by
strict categories of gender or sex, we often lead the way, leaving
others to follow. According to Judy Grahn, author of Another Mother
Tongue, "Society uses all Gay people who participate in Gay culture,
for special purposes. We are closely watched to see what constitutes
the limit of a thing — too far out, too much, too low, too bad, too
outrageous, too soft, too dangerous, too rough, too cultured, too
aggressive, too sexual." If we could go back in time and examine the
first woman or the first man who ever tried to do something new -
from world-shaking philosophies to styles of fashion — It's very
likely that she or he was Lesbian or Gay, even if that person never
expressed his or her sexuality.

One of the ways GLBT people lead the way is in the field of religion
and spirituality. This we do in spite of, and sometimes because of,
opposition in the part of the religious establishments. In many
cultures, sex and gender-variant people serve as priests, witches,
shamans and sages. And while traditional Judaism, Christianity and
Islam condemn homosexual acts, and often restrict the roles of women
to those of wife, mother, nurse, teacher or servant, they could not
keep many of our ancestors from expressing themselves in their own
unique ways. Many of our ancestors, in the days before GLBT-affirming
churches, synagogues and temples, became mystics, both as a way to
express their own unique talents and because mysticism involves a
personal relationship with God that does not require an intermediary.
Judaism, Islam and Christianity offer many examples of gender-variant
mystics, women and men, who by expressing their own spiritual
yearnings paved the way for others.

In Medieval Iran, the mystics of the Muslim Sufi tradition were often
Gay or bisexual men. For many Sufi masters, the path to the love of
God often went through the love of a beloved disciple, the
shahid. "God is Beauty," said the Qur'an; and for many Sufis that
beauty was most exquisitely expressed in the beauty of a young man.
In the case of Rumi, the greatest of the Sufi poets, his love for
another man was literally earth-shaking. For many years, Rufi shared
his life with his Beloved Friend, Shams al-Din. When Shams
mysteriously disappeared — probably murdered — Rumi mourned his
Friend in his own unique way. He put on mourning robes, a white shirt
open at the chest, a honey-colored fez, and sandals, and for forty
days danced a dance of lamentation and love in the garden where Shams
was apparently killed. From Rumi's experience came a new and lasting
religious order, the "whirling dervishes."

Our Jewish ancestors, who lived for most of the last two millennia as
minorities in Christian or Muslim lands, were not as free as the
Sufis to express themselves so freely. Yet gender and sexual variance
managed to come through at certain points of Jewish history. For
example, the authors of the Cabala, the great book of Jewish
mysticism, wrote at great length about the Adam Kadmon, the
androgynous primordial human, and about the Shekinah, the female
aspect of the Divine. And in Medieval Spain, at a time when Jews,
Christians and Muslims lived in harmony under the Moors, Gay or
bisexual Jewish poets like Moses Ibn Ezra, Solomon Ibn Gabirol and
Jehudah ha-Levi wrote poems that bridged the secular and the sacred.

Within European Christianity, the mystic tradition was often
expressed by members of various monastic orders. The Christian
monastic tradition attracted many men and women who had no intention
of getting married but who welcomed the opportunity to live in same-
sex communities where they were able to express or sublimate their
sexual or affectional orientation through prayer, song, religious
work and community service. Saint Aelred, abbot of the Cistercian
convent of Rievaulx in northern England in the middle of the twelfth
century, was obviously Gay, though probably celibate. To St. Aelred,
spiritual friendship, which Aelred called "true friendship," is "a
gift of God's grace." Though we don't know anything about St.
Aelred's sex life, if any, we are told that he cultivated "spiritual
friendships" with many of the young monks under his rule.

Many of the Christian mystics were nuns who, because of their gender,
were kept out of leadership positions in the Church. One of the great
nun mystics was Hildegard of Bingen, a 11th century abbess who was
also a poet, a prophet, a playwright, a composer and a scientist
whose writings indicate her love for other women. In 17th century
Mexico, another talented nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, wrote
volumes of mystic poetry from her cell in the convent of San Jerònimo
while at the same time conducting a series of passionate friendships
with other women, including the wife of the Viceroy.

Today's Lesbians and Gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people,
follow in the footsteps of these and other great mystics and poets
and saints. Many of us left the religious institutions that we grew
up in and gone our way, finding our own paths and expressing our own
gifts. And, by doing so, we inspire others to do the same. We are,
indeed, "a separate people whose time has come."

Jesse Monteagudo is a writer and activist who lives in South Florida.
Reach him at

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November Activity!

Is There A Difference?

"Too often we get captivated by the busyness and hecticness
of daily living that we forget to reference our deeper, intuitive selves...""
– Christian de la Huerta

What is our unique vision of spirituality?
And how does it manifest in a gay/queer context?

Workshop Focusing on Gay Spirituality

Gay spirituality will be the focus of a workshop guided by art therapist Dean Pappas. Participants will create three-dimensional self-portraits using modeling clay which will serve as a jumping-off point for a discussion of each person’s spiritual vision and worldview.

All materials will be supplied and a small fee to cover expenses will be requested. Additional money above and beyond the requested fee may be donated to the scholarship fund designed to assist those in need to attend upcoming retreats.

Dress is informal. It will be unlikely that the modeling clay will get on any clothing, but if you have concerns about damaging clothing, please wear something that you might consider as "work clothes".

Please bring a drink or treat to share.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Fellow Traveler…and His friends

A White Crane Conversation with Mark Thompson

Bo Young: I think most people, when they think of Mark Thompson, think of a
writer, not a visual artist. When did you start taking pictures?

Mark Thompson: Although I am not known for taking pictures, photography has
always been a secret muse for me. I started taking pictures in high school. I attended
a very progressive, artsy-liberal campus in Carmel, California, during the 1960's where
many alternatives were offered. I remember taking a photography class there, and one
of my fellow students was Edward Weston's grandson. Weston, of course, is one of the
consummate photographers of the 20th Century. I greatly admired his work, and in
fact could walk a short ways down to Point Lobos and see where he took many of his
famous images on my favorites beaches.
Also not too far from my school was the legendary Friends of Photography gallery
where Weston's peers such as Ansel Adams and Wayne Bullock showed their work. So, I
was very inspired to frame and capture my own point of view.
Later, when I moved north to study journalism at San Francisco State University,
I continued to take pictures — only now my focus was the burgeoning Bay Area gay
liberation movement. Soon, I began my professional career as a journalist and
editor at The Advocate, and the pen and tape recorder became my first tools of choice.
Plus there were many other very talented photographers on the scene. So I used my lens very
selectively, photographing mentors and friends, rather than parades or protests
which were then so abundant. Later I focused on documenting the Radical Faerie
movement as they were the closest group I could find that mirrored my own hopes and dreams.
The faeries were my own authentic tribe.

Bo: Question: The portraits that accompanied the interviews in Gay Soul were
yours, too, weren't they? Are these part of the Fellow Travelers work?

Mark: The portraits in Gay Soul (published in 1994) were taken by me to
illuminate the speakers and their words. I am reusing six of my favorite images from that book
in this collection of 15 "guides" — or gay elders, if you will — and dozens of never
before-seen color images of the radical fairies taken over a 15 year period. My
black-and-white portraits of early AIDS activist and singer Michael Callen and photographer
Robert Mapplethorpe are among the pictures that have not been previously exhibited.

Bo: What does the title "Fellow Travelers" mean to you?

Mark: Fellow Travelers for me means being in the company of like-minded
companions: Brave brothers who are building a community, moving forward together! It is also
a sly reference to the use of the phrase during the early days of the Cold War when
people who were accused of being communist sympathizers were dubbed "fellow travelers." It
was a coded word used pejoratively, so I wanted to redeem that and give it a more
positive application for today

Bo: So who are the Fellow Travelers?

Mark: Just about everybody who reads this magazine, who has ever attended a
radical fairie gathering or a Gay Spirit Visions retreat, or has done anything to
achieve healing and authenticity as a sublime, radiant, self-actualized and purposeful gay man who
loves others like himself.

Bo: Well, we certainly hope so...but you haven't taken pictures of everyone who
reads this magazine (I'll be out for my sitting!) Who are some of the Fellow Travelers in
the book?

Mark: "Fellow Travelers" is divided into two sections: Guides and Tribes. Some
of the iconic individuals, or "guides," who have influenced or touched upon my life in
significant ways include James Broughton, Ram Dass, Harry Hay, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Paul
Monette. There are many others, of course. The Tribes section contains dozens of pictures
taken at various Faerie gatherings held across Western lands during the 1980s and early
'90s. Some of the images from the first Black Leather Wings Radical Faerie gatherings
will probably be controversial to some readers.

Bo: Controversial how?

Mark: The book concludes with powerful images of the Sun Dance and Kavandi
rituals, which involves ritual body piercing. Not everyone may understand the cultural
context for doing this and therefore be put-off. I hope not, as I do my best to explain the
background of these ancient practices and their relevance to the gay men conducting them in
the photos. As seen here, spirit and the flesh are truly one.

Bo: We're running four of the photos in this issue...Harry Hay, Clyde Hall,
Essex Hemphill and Robert Mapplethorpe. Tell me about the portrait of Harry Hay.

Mark: The picture of Harry Hay was taken one glorious summer day in 1987 in the
pasture of Wolfcreek, Oregon. Harry and I sat for several hours while he told me the
story of how the Mattachine Society was first formed in Los Angeles in 1950. It was a really
terrible time for gay people and Harry would sometimes get teary eyed with his story-telling,
stopping a moment to wipe his eyes and say, "Never again, Mark. Never again." Finally,
just as the sun was setting low behind him, the perfect moment for a picture came — so I
took it. All of my photos have been taken at the end of a long day of conversation with the
individual. The pictures and talk were all part of a discerning process.

Bo: Discerning…how? Explain.

Mark: The process of discernment is a sifting through known facts and questions
to arrive at some new truth, answer, or insight. In this case, the questions mainly dealt
with issues of meaning and purpose for gay men who are often left bereft of either, due to
the homophobic society we live in. The tragic consequences of this catastrophic loss
are widely seen in our community. I have often found the process of discernment to
be a good part — a real beginning — of the emotional healing work that needs to be done in
our lives. It certainly has been that way for me.
On that note, let me add that a critical part of discerning this book came out
of my collaboration with Los Angeles graphic designer Mark Harvey. He was somehow able
to sift through and organize almost 30 years worth of images, and then craft them into
an elegant and cohesive book. He also inspired me to write new text for the volume,
which will be published as a limited edition art book. Mark has been a joy to work
with, and the book would not be possible without him. The entire four month-long process has
been a refreshing reminder of how well gay men can work together when we really set our
minds to it.

Bo: I think I wasn't clear about my question on "discernment", though I love
where you went with it. I was asking specifically about how you used discernment in your say it is a critical part of getting these beautiful
pictures...can you describe how?

Mark: The pictures usually came at the end of a long day of being with the
subject. After much stimulating conversation the "perfect moment" would arrive in which to take
the picture. I use only natural light, so I had to be quick and adaptable — very
discerning — to try and capture the soulfulness of the person in just a shot or two.

Bo: Assotto Saint and Essex Hemphill, are both featured in the exhibition and
book. I became familiar with both men's work, primarily their poetry, in the late
1980's through the publication of Joseph Beam's seminal anthology, In the Life. A few years
later they were featured in Marlon Riggs' equally groundbreaking documentary, Tongues Untied.
Assotto and Essex were key figures in this important new movement of black voices within
our community. They spoke truth that many still did not want to hear: That the gay
world could be as racist as any other. I still remember bars in the early Castro
Street scene that did not welcome men of color.
Their work was so curious, fresh and alive — but tragically short lived because
of AIDS. Beam died in 1988. Marlon and Assotto in 1994. And Essex a year later. I
appreciated Essex's fierce determination to stand up and say his piece, no matter what! As
he famously did the day he denounced Robert Mapplethorpe as a racist at a gay writer's
conference in San Francisco in the early '90's. And the sweet lyricism of Assotto's work
always had a special appeal for me. I flew from my home in California to Manhattan one day in
1991 just to photograph him. His lover of many years had just died, and while deeply
mourning he brought a tremendous sense of vivacity to our time together. Good gay poets
have always captured my heart and soul — most certainly these two beautiful and
talented men.

Dan: What were your impressions on Mapplethorpe? You mentioned Hemphill's
critique of Mapplethorpe's depictions of the black male form in his essay "Does Your Mama
Know About Me." I'm wondering what you feel the significance of Mapplethorpe's work
and life bear for gay men today? He seems to be remembered more for the outrage visited
on his work by the public than for his life or work.

Mark: Robert really liked to cultivate his bad-boy persona as it fueled the
controversy that always surrounded the work — and, not incidentally, promoted sales. I found
another side of Robert the day we met, though. Someone very charming, sweet-natured, and
thoughtful about what he was doing. He was, admittedly, ambitious, but so what? It takes a
lot of chutzpah to make a successful career in the arts. I took many photos of Robert
that afternoon, but the one I choose was the most softly -focused of the group
because that softness best represented the person I found. We had a lot in common, and he
really let his guard down for me. I think his work remains important for several reasons, one being that it
captured an era when gay male sexual exploration was a significant part of our experience. He
came to prominence in the 1970's, a decade during which we saw the sexual revolution
really come home. For example, at the beginning of the decade no one had heard of things
like fisting (which he elegantly photographed) but by the end of the '70's there were clubs
nationwide devoted to it. Some of Robert's photos still have the capacity to shock today, but I think he
was less interested in other people's reactions and more in capturing what he called "the
perfect moment" of any experience. He liked to photograph black men, he told me, because
he was fascinated with the myriad ways light reflected off their skin tones. People
forget, too, that he is considered the greatest photographer of flowers. Nobody could do more
compositionally with a tulip in a vase than Robert. So what was the link between his pictures of taboo sex and tulips? What else is a flower in bloom, he replied with a chuckle, than a throbbing hard-on. For Robert — and
especially the shy inner boy part of his nature I connected with that day — everything was
about the birds and the bees.

Bo: Finally…of the portraits we're running in this issue, the one I have one of
the closest associations with is Clyde Hall. We've been friends a long time. Have you danced
the Naraya?

Mark: Clyde Hall's exemplary work as a spiritual leader in our community is what
motivated me to ask him for an interview and photo. He is someone whom I only
met for a day, but whose authenticity and integrity as a person left an indelible
impression. Our memorable day together concluded with me literally hanging out of a second story
window of the house Clyde was a guest in; one hand clutched tightly on the sill, the
other stretching the camera back as far as I could in order to catch the last rays of
the setting sun on Clyde's face.
One aspect of Clyde's story I find so fascinating is his revival of the Naraya.
It is a ceremony I look forward to doing one day. "I live
a Spirit-filled life," Clyde told me. "If you try to talk yourself out of living a life
with Spirit, you get into all kinds of trouble." And I believe him!

Bo: You and I have been having this conversation for some time now...and these
beautiful portraits bring it up once again.
Why should anyone care about who these men are or were? Why should any young gay
man, or any gay man, of whatever age, for that matter, look at these very
different men...old, black, white, Indian, living or dead, and various combinations
thereof...some of whom were in interpersonal conflict when they were alive, and see anything that
should mean anything to him? Why are these faces important? What's the connection?

Mark: Each of the men portrayed here and in the Fellow Travelers exhibit and
forthcoming book have created important legacies in the form of literature, art, recordings,
and ongoing work that exists to enhance our lives. See these photographs as portals
of discovery, rather than just black-and-white pictures. If a reader tries a Google
search on each of these lives they will be amazed. Delve even further into the work itself
and you will be illuminated, entertained, and in some way transformed — as was I.
My collection of photographs is not meant to be encyclopedic or encompassing, in
any way, of the countless artists, teachers, and spiritual leaders of the gay men's
movement. Rather these are portraits of some of the men who helped to liberate me,
personally. As Edward Weston so profoundly illustrated, the universal is best captured in a
grain of sand.

Fellow Travelers will be exhibited at Cup of Joe's Coffee Shop in Salt Lake City
from December 1-31, 2007 with an opening gala and opportunity to meet Mark Thompson
and Clyde hall on December 7, 2007 from 7-9 p.m. at Cup of Joe. Mark Thompson can
be reached at:

For additional information regarding the SLC showing

© White Crane Institute 2007
All Rights Reserved. Reprints or excerpts may be used with permission

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why Retreats?

I found this article on a site called Q Spirit by Christian de la Huerta and wanted to share it with you as we prepare and consider the January retreat at Windwalker Ranch

Why Retreat?
Posted by christian on November 9, 2007, 11:36 am

Too often we get so captivated by the busyness and hecticness of daily living that we forget to reference our deeper, intuitive selves. ..

The benefits of a retreat are manifold: relaxation, rest, healing, reconnecting with oneself. The opportunity to go within enables access to deeper answers and allows us to get distance and perspective from the circumstances of our lives.
Why Retreat?

Too often we get so captivated by the busyness and hecticness of daily living that we forget to reference our deeper, intuitive selves. TV can be entertaining as well as educational, but it can also be a distraction, deflecting self-reflection. Our relationships with lovers, family, friends and co-workers likewise provide the juice that makes life worth living and the necessary friction out of which growth ensues. Yet, they too can be a diversion from the inner journey, where the potential for maximum fulfillment lies.

The benefits of a retreat are manifold: relaxation, rest, healing, reconnecting with oneself. The opportunity to go within enables access to deeper answers and allows us to get distance and perspective from the circumstances of our lives.

Retreats afford the opportunity to reassess the direction our lives are taking, and to make the necessary course corrections.

The word "retreat" comes form the Latin meaning to "draw back." In spiritual retreats we withdraw from the "real" world – from surface living – and enter the deeper inner realms. For most of us the inner journey is an adventure that remains vastly uncharted and unexplored.

Going within

One of the constants found among most spiritual traditions is the importance of going within.
Jesus is said to have said: "the Kingdom of God is within you." "If human beings knew their own inner secrets, they would never look elsewhere seeking for happiness and peace," asserts a Sufi master. A well known Wiccan prayer ends with: "And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without." The whole thrust of Buddhist or Hindu meditation is to quiet the mind and delve inside.

Retreats, especially those that include time for silence, make possible the temporary quieting of the constant inner chatter which Buddhists call the "monkey mind." Our thoughts are compared to monkeys randomly jumping from branch to branch.

Types of retreats

Among the many types of retreats are meditation, yoga, and breathwork. Retreats can be solitary or in groups, guided or not. Camping for a few days alone in nature could be profoundly centering, healing and inspiring. Most people choose to join more structured settings, where they feel supported by a facilitator and a group of like-minded others, all sharing a similar purpose. Some choose to rent a secluded house or other venue and hire a leader to facilitate their friends or colleagues in a variety of experiences to deepen their connection to themselves and each other.

Generally, participants are then inspired to go without once again, and re-engage the world as integrated human beings making a real difference.

Below are some retreat opportunities coming up during the next few months.

I hope that you will take some time for yourself and dive deep into your own inner journey.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dear Friend

Below is an invitation to a special event that I hope you will take advantage of, it is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity that may potentially shape how you see yourself as a queer man. Please review this request carefully and if you feel drawn to participate please pursue this RSVP. Once you respond to this I will be inviting other people within the gay community but wanted to offer this to a select few to see what my space limitations will be. If you think there is someone who would appreciate this invitation please share, but I can only allow 25 participants. The location of this event will be given when you RSVP (So I have an accurate count). We are intentionally keeping this group size small to facilitate a powerful and intimate experience.

231 East 400 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Phone (801) 557-9203

November 3, 2007

“Bring gay men together in Circle to explore what the specific gifts are that we bring, things that the larger culture needs. And once you have a consensus as to what those gifts are, begin letting the culture know exactly what it is that they are getting from us. It is in this way that we will be given respect and acceptance, not by simply demanding rights or asserting that we deserve them.”

Harry Hay, Gay Civil Rights Activitist/Visionary

Dear Friend:

Two years ago John Cottrell and Jerry Buie had a discussion about creating an enviroment for gay men to explore a deeper essence around queer identity. To shift community thought from marginalized life to profound living. We found The White Crane Instititue and with their tutorship found a valuable resource in bringing out this vision. One of these resources is the Fellow Travelers: Liberation Portraits by Mark Thompson. This exhibit has been to major cities throughout the United States and receiving acclaim for the message of queer history, perspective and the wisdom our history makers have brought forth for queer men today.

Who is Mark Thompson?

Mark Thompson has authored several books such as Gay Soul, Gay Body, Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning, Long Road to Freedom and Leather Folk. Each of these books explore Queer identity, history and perspective. Gay Soul in particular, of which the exhibit is based, offers insight into our queer history and the framers of that history. In their stories we find the foundation of the work of equal rights and esteemed sense of self.

December 1-31, 2007 at Cup of Joe’s Coffee Shop Fellow Travlers: Liberation Portraits will be exhibited. We have the priviledge to have Mark Thompson in Salt Lake City to highlight his exhibit, explaing the orgin and purpose of the show as well as autographed copies of his books that will be for sale at this reception as a fundraiser for Queer Spirit. The opening reception with Mark Thompson is on December 7, 2007 from 7-9 pm.

On December 8, 2007 Mark has agreed to a smaller group process and discussion that will be centered on Gay Soul Making. This event is by invitation only to ensure a smaller and more intimate discussion. The discussion will be centered around the following themes
“What does it really mean to be a gay man?

Where do we come from? What are we for?

Coming out as an Inside Job: What does that mean? How can gay men conscoulsy seve the communities that they are in?

Why is homophobia evryones problem and what can we do about it?

To offset cost we are suggesting a $25 dollar donation that will be dedicated to the cost of the event. This is a rare opportunity to be with others in our community, to discuss the issues relevant in our selves and our community.

Your RSVP to the December 8 event secures your space. We ask that you confirm your participation by November 15, 2007 to jerry Buie at (801) 557-9203.

To summarize

December 1-31, 2007 Fellow Travlers will be exhibited at Cup of Joe’s Coffee Shop

December 7, 2007 at 7-9 pm Opening Reception/Book Signing with Mark Thompson

December 8, 2007 (invitation only) discussion on queer spirituality with Mark Thompson at The Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

We are excited to have this exhibit and Mr. Thompson in Utah. We are equally excited at the outcome of this meeting and the time together. Please do not hesitate to call if there are questoins at (801) 557-9203 or

Jerry Buie
John Cottrell