40 men daring to see the sacredness of man’s love for man, expressed physically, emotionally, affectionately, compassionately, sexually. Delicate yet strong, gay men daring to love, to embrace and explore spiritual realities, and to rise to a place of holy joy.
“I will make the most splendid race the sun ever yet shone upon;
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades” WALT WHITMAN
The first UK Tantra4gaymen festival has just taken place in a beautiful retreat setting in the south western corner of Wales, a blessed piece of land owned and cared for by a lesbian couple, who welcomed in their gay brothers with no qualms about the activities we would be getting up to. I know facilitators of touch workshops who have had venue owners pull out of contracts because of the kind of touch that would be happening. But here we, and the sacred work we were undertaking, were welcomed with open arms and bountiful smiles.
This is sacred work. Religions teach that LOVE is key to life yet they punish men who express that love physically. How many centuries is it since a tribal cult in the middle east recorded laws that instructed that men who lay with men were guilty of an abomination and should be stoned? At the same time in other parts of the world, effeminate men and butch women were being honoured as two-spirited communicators with the spirit realms, were cherished for their healing gifts and the perspective on life they could bring. These days we are becoming more aware of the latter group, these transgendered healers having been identified in almost every part of the world, but it is the bitter words recorded in the Holy Bible (and the Koran) that have left the most powerful and well known legacy, and have been the underlying justification for the persecution and killing of men who love men for centuries – not that that ever stopped us from doing it.
“Accept your homosexuality. Don’t condemn it; there is no need. It is a perfectly valid way. And if you accept it, one day you can go beyond it; if you reject it, you can never go beyond it, that’s the problem. If you reject it, it will haunt you. If you deny it, it will try to overpower you. The denied parts of your being become revengeful. So there is no need to deny it. It’s perfectly valid.Mm? There are so many ways to relate sexually, homosexuality is one of the ways; simply accept it. Joyously accept it, not grudgingly, not reluctantly…” OSHO
Despite these words from renowned tantric Osho, most tantra schools adhere to a very strictly defined male-female binary and despite acknowledging that we all carry masculine and feminine within us, do not allow space for the possibility that we all are capable to channelling both polarities. But at this tantra festival male and female are concepts that hardly get a mention. We start from the point that we are all sacred beings, divine souls capable of merging our individuality with another and with the cosmic creative force of the universe, of overcoming the lonely illusion of separation and experiencing how love reveals the ONENESS of all life.
Gay liberation has ridden high on the secular, atheistic/agnostic culture of the late twentieth century. Liberal laws have given us the freedom to explore who we are, to express our sexual urges without fear and to build heart centred relationships with each other. As the revolution in marriage customs happening across the western democratic world shows, some gay people are keen to walk the same path as heteros and form nuclear family units. The story of social and political change in attitudes towards us over the last few decades is in fact a LOVE story. We are free to love as never before, and free to fall into all the pitfalls and melodramas that relationships can bring.
“If the day is coming when Love is to take its rightful place as the binding and directing force of society, and society is to be transmuted in consequence to a higher form, then undoubtedly… the Uranians will have have an important part to play in the transformation.”EDWARD CARPENTER
Some of us have sensed that there is more to our ability to love than the urge to settle into monogamous domesticity. Our hearts are huge, we are capable of loving many. In fact love motivates gay men in many ways – to be creative, to dance, to be healers, to care for the planet, to be gentle with the whole world. As our influence in the world increases, the power in our gentleness of spirit is what is required to bring to an end the long epoch of aggressive male dominance. When we are more confident of the truly holy nature of who we are and the energies we bring to the world, I believe we will combine our strength with that of the peace loving, compassionate women of the world to bring an end to war and hatred, and birth the aquarian age of tolerance and understanding.
“Our beautiful lovely sexuality is the gateway to spirit. under all organised religions of the past, judaism, christianity, islam, there has been a separation of carnality, or shall we say of flesh or earth or sex, and spirituality. As far as I am concerned they are all the same thing, and what we need to do as faeries is to tie it all back together again” HARRY HAY
At this tantra festival we honoured LOVE as the lynchpin of life. We dared to stare into each other’s eyes and say I LOVE YOU. We dared to reveal ourselves with all our imperfections and explore the potential of our bodies as vehicles of bliss. We allowed our hearts to open until we were feeling love for each other, even if we had just met. We discovered that when love is flowing so freely our hearts break open through joy, copious tears flow and we heal.
We know we are wounded. We know gay men collectively carry a massive historical wound. There are clear reasons why out on our gay scenes there are so many bitter, damaged, selfish men, abusing themselves and each other through excessive drug use and cold, casual sexual encounters. But the urge to love, to be known and seen and cherished, to give that to others, exists in us deeply, and strongly – and when the call goes out, and the chance to love and heal arises, some of us respond.
“Be not shy of the love you can share with other men. Fear of love is fear of the sublime. Put lovemaking before moneymaking and troublemaking. To be a lover is to practice the major art of life. You must love even if it hurts. It will hurt more if you don’t love.” JAMES BROUGHTON
A festival is a place of celebration, a ritual that lasts several days and will transform us, as only true sacred celebration can do. Our fears and shadows will be exposed, but this is something to welcome. The air of celebration and the atmosphere of love will carry us through if we let it. We will see who we are, and the brightest parts of us will have the chance to shine, sometimes after many years of suppression.
A Love Temple holds the sacred energy of what we are doing. After a long day of workshops and building connection this late night space is where we can relax and play in the divine light of men loving men. By honouring the holiness of touch, of sex, of love in all its forms, we are gay men creating a revolution in the way we perceive ourselves and are perceived by the world. We also turn around the energy of sexual addiction that affects many of us: by embracing the sacredness of sexual connection, we turn it into holy fodder for our self realisation, allowing its awesome energy to fill our hearts, minds and bodies and lift us into divine JOY.
This is what we did in a far flung corner of Wales. We will be back next year for more.
“Those who see any difference between the soul and the body have neither.” OSCAR WILDE