The Stunning Life
by Jerry Buie
In a recent movie Dustin Hoffman plays a magical toy storeowner, who comfortably lives in his own reality. He approaches his young woman-friend who is on the edge of her own journey of self-awareness. He asks her with a matter-of-fact look:
“Are you prepared to have a stunning life? ”
Queer Spirit as a community group process has reached hundreds of men in a relatively short period of time. The website, advertisements and newspaper articles are begging the question: What is Queer Spirit?
Queer Spirit is about Stunning Life Stories! In a society that seeks for gay men to marginalize our queerness, Queer Spirit seeks to have queer life magnified, examined and honored.
The journey of Queer Spirit becomes unique for each man’ s process. Queer Spirit becomes a safe container for us to explore in many and marvelous ways, our Stunning Life Stories and how we weave those stories together as a community.
The Queer Spirit movement, with its retreats, monthly circles, gatherings, various workshops, email list and what other tools we can access become an opportunity to explore who we are. We sidestep the world we have been coerced into and create our own environment, our own process and our own connections, to dig deep within and to bring out the gems we find.
Queer Spirit is an unfolding of the old stories of domestication and an unraveling of the “you should do… ” and is an exploration of possibilities. We look to our unique cultural expressions, history, traditions, roles and archetypes and ask questions, explore and seek inspiration. Queer Spirit is a personal passion because it feeds participants on many levels.
It is not a religion. It is not a theology. It is not psychology. It is not therapy.
It can be the container for whatever it needs to be. It can be the opportunity to follow the archetype of the Visionary and the Dreamer in the most intimate manner. It can be the cauldron to ask the question “Why Not? ” It is our process of exploring potentials, possibilities and beyond.
What Is Queer Spirit
I get posed this question frequently and each time I answer the response is different, due in part to the eclectic nature of what Queer Spirit proposes. Queer Spirit is experiential. And, in that experience each person will be touched by a different component and conclude something different. Defining Queer Spirit would/could undermine the concept of Queer Spirit.
Queer Spirit is many ideas, desires, stirrings and awarenesses. Thanks to my time with radical faeries, queer Elders, wisdom keepers of different traditions and relationships with intuits and energy workers, I am provoked to explore and examine the profound spiritual gift of being queer.
In my life I meet many gay men who hide the “who” and “what” they are. They embrace deep stories of shame, embarrassment and merely want to “fit in and be like everyone else.” After these many years I am convinced that the process for gay men is less about psychology and more about a willingness to explore outside the rigid boxes we create for ourselves. The process of exploration must involve a community of willing men who hunger for self-awareness and connection to spirit, queer essence and honor. Integrating and defining our stories and lives address this objective.
One role of Queer Spirit is to suggest a new paradigm of profound living as Queer Men as envisioned and defined by queer men. Queer Spirit becomes a container, a place of permission, to freely follow the heart to a place that liberates opportunity on a deep soul level.
The Vision & the Beginnings
My friend John Cottrell came to my office one day in his capacity of program director for a local Harm Reduction Program. As we were getting to know each other I began to share with him a desire to do deeper work with gay men, incorporating spirituality, outside my role as therapist. With the various resources at my disposal I felt I had something unique to offer. I have been sitting on this intent for years. John’s response? Let’s do it! John provoked the story into reality by offering his support, talent and resources. John and I began to meet and visualize what Queer Spirit would represent and the idea of a retreat was birthed, as a starting point. We recognized that the retreat would only be one compoent to this process. How would we keep the energy moving beyond the retreat? We would create a social aspect that would intergrate continued self-nurturing. We would do Yoga, meditation, lodge, pipe ceremonies, talking circles, discussion boards and engage whatever tools crossed our paths. Hence Queer Spirit becomes more than a retreat, it becomes a movement of liberation from within as we circle frequently to share in our processes.
I am inspired by the words of Gay Elder Harry Hay who said: 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.
Our discussions took shape and the vision began to emerge. The vision for Queer Spirit would be about creating a container: to create a process, a journey, in which Gay Men would gather in circle, in ceremony, in ritual, in our sexuality, our sensuality, our psychology and our deep, and at times, unknown essence. The vision includes tapping into the magic and the ancestral knowledge of who we are as individuals of a Queer nature. Queer Spirit is an ambition to create an intimate space in which individual truth; vision and stories are explored, expanded, embraced and then witnessed and brought forth. I am inspired by the words of Gay Elder Harry Hay who said:
“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.”
This statement is a source of great wealth and opportunity. To engage in circle with Queer Brothers through discussion and experience, to utilize, not only my spirit but also my body and to bring those things together collaboratively is a way in which to weave a place of interpersonal power and connection.
One might conclude that Queer Spirit is a political movement. If one considers Harry’s words and the process of liberating from restrictive stories Queer Spirit could be seen as a coming out process from within. Imagine how that process might shape political outcome?
I believe the nature of this journey is one I would recommend for everyone— Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, Straight, Male or Female and any other social construct we wish to define ourselves. It is my belief that we are all journeying in this world together to celebrate our diversity and our inter-relatedness.
What I have come to realize is frequently we are cajoled into stories that are not of our own choosing and that this happens to us unconsciously. We never question the truth because we are dogmatically steered to only one reality. Typically we cling to these stories because they are all we know.
So, maybe… Queer Spirit is about bringing out of obscurity what is in our souls? Learning to reacquaint ourselves with the authentic places we have allowed our personal judge to criticize?
Queer Spirit is about finding our authentic and deep knowing and manifesting that freedom in our conscience lives. The process of community then presents a sounding board as well as a process of witnessing.
We are easily mesmerized by the domestication of social politeness and we spend a great deal of our lives being the ideal, except we did not define the ideal. It was not of our choosing. Often our pain is about fitting in as opposed to creating and embracing what is natural and authentic. This comes from mom, dad, society, religion, culture, peers, and media: and we compare ourselves to this ideal, thinking it is “right”. I have found, in my own particular journey, that to sit in circles and to witness as well as to share can be an incredibly stimulating experience. I realize that reality is perception and perceptions can be shaped, reality shifted and now I become the deliberate creator of my own life experience.
Queer Spirit then, as a Group/Community, becomes a weaving of an intricate tapestry of compassion, persuasion, love, understanding, boldness and beauty; our masterpiece of life is full of inspiration, individualization and inspiration. It becomes a vehicle to cross over our personal edges and tap into human growth.
Queer Spirit is a concert of queer men wildly dancing under the stars with desire and joy, companionship and camaraderie.
Where Will Queer Spirit Take Us?
I see many paths, many journeys, many unfoldings and what we bring to the circle becomes a loving contribution to the individual sitting next to us.
Queer Spirit is a heart-centered journey.
Are we ready to have a stunning life?
Think about that question. It’s very provocative. It requires us to look beyond self-imposed limitations and step into the realm of STUNNING!
What is Queer Spirit? It is connection, exploration and camaraderie on a soul-to-soul level. It is a connection with the sacred within each of us as Queer Men. It is a journey with the rituals and magic that is unique to our experiences as Queer Men. It is about the witnessing of the untold stories and embracing opportunities to bring forth the life that leads to stunning conclusions.