Queer Spiritual Pioneers of Europe

The Huffington Post recently featured a piece on LGBT religious leaders, stating “Reflecting and shaping the culture in which it is embedded, religion has historically been hostile to LGBT-identified people and communities. However, over the last three decades more denominations, congregations and individuals have come out in support of honoring the full humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people.”   The initial list of 15 has now been expanded by readers to an amazing 90 people.  Looking through the slide show there are plenty of dog collars, and unusual sounding churches (it’s easy to set up a new church in the US), and one could be left with the impression that the future for queer spirituality is to be found within the religious zone.


Spirituality is the huge area that gay liberation has still to come home to.  Over five decades we have created phenomenal social spaces, made huge political and legal advances, plus survived a deadly plague…but currently much of gay life seems caught up in drug fuelled craziness, with little interest in seeking any wisdom to balance the hedonism. The need for some spiritual grounding and awareness is becoming painfully clear, the crisis of drug dependency and mental health issues especially visible in our sexual cruising circles.   However, spirituality is not about finding a religion to follow, it is about the search to understand who we are and to be that in joy and wholeness.  Coming Out is one step on the path of self discovery:  we have to listen and respond to the inner self in order to come out, and we would benefit hugely from recognising as a community that the story doesn’t end there.  Self-discovery is an ongoing process, and listening to to the soul inside makes for a healthy life, one that embraces growth on every level as a constant feature.  The images of queer religious leaders, and the books/articles that occsaionally appear in the media about gays in religions give a misleading impression.  While many queers do find a place in some religious settings, many more of us are pursuing our own personal growth and realisation in ways of our own choosing, which might for example come through a pscyhological approach (such as Loving Men and The Quest below), or via tantric, pagan or other healing practice.  The search for the deep realities of who we are on a soul level is an individual one, and we queers are naturally resistant to teachers and leaders who seem to set themselves up as superior in any way.  I observe a deep seated desire for equality amongst us, and gradually spiritual spaces are emerging where we are all the teachers and the students at the same time, journeying together into deep states of communion and revelation.  Gay spirituality in my experience works best when we all recognise the divinity within each other, then share our own particular skills and interests, acknowledging that no single one of us ever has all the answers.

Below is my alternative to the Huffington Post list.  I have restricted the entries to people i am aware of operating in the field of queer spirituality in Europe, but most references are to the UK – because I live there and so am most tuned in to what is happening in this country.  I welcome any additions to the list that anyone can add to make it more comprehensive and recognisant of the true European picture (just add more names and links in the comments section please).  I have mostly avoided activists who are working within religions, but one or two whose work I consider especially valuable have snuck in.  My aim is to show just how much energy is building in this spiritual sphere of growth and discovery, and how unnecessary it is to be part of a religion to experience it.  I could have added many more solo practitioners who are furthering the cause of queer spiritual awakening by offering their healing services, but that would be another kind of list – I am attempting here to name and honour the people I have observed making important, heartfelt, contributions to the healing and growth of our lgbt+ communities.

First let’s mention…

(1) EDWARD CARPENTER the UK’s grand daddy of all things queer and spiritual. He lived 1844-1929 and wrote about the the role of the ‘Uranians’ in bringing about revolutionary shifts in human relationship with the body, with sex and with God. The Edward Carpenter Community, set up to create non-commercial spaces where men could meet and get to know each other, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015. Several retreats are held each year, some with spiritual themes. http://www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk/

and then come right up to date:

(2) GEERT OETKEN, known as Eilendes Wasser, who along with (3) JOHN FERGUSON (Habibi Ding) and (4) EDUARD REINIER VANKOOWIJK (Junis) pioneered the arrival of radical faerie gatherings to Europe, the first happening on the island of Terschelling, Netherlands, in July 1995. After ten years of summer and winter gatherings the enthusiasm, and the funds, were enough to purchase sanctuary land. Geert and other landfinders, including Vincent Nauwynck (Lanai) and Joost Brand (Dee Tale) dedicated their holiday times to the landsearch until Folleterre was found and the first European sanctuary of queer spirit opened with an inauguration gathering at Autumn Equinox 2005.   http://www.folleterre.org/

(5) MIQHAEL KANNEMEYER, co-founder of holistic healing project the Helios Foundation, Miqhey Mixture has been serving the cause of gay political, social and spiritual liberation since the Gay Liberation Front days of the 1970s. He is an active community builder, connecting the various branches of the queer spiritual tree into a practical vision of the purpose and potential of this developing side of queer life. He is particularly active with the Albion Faerie gatherings in the UK and recently co-facilitated the Tribal Vision Gathering of the EuroFaeries at Folleterre, celebrating 10 years of European sanctuary. Miqhael is a co-creator of 2016’s Queer Spirit Festival.  http://www.albionfaeries.org.uk/

(6) JASON TANTRA, with a background in spiritual healing, clairvoyance and mediumship, Jason began his journey with Tantra in 2006 and now runs workshops, retreats and a festival through Tantra4GayMen. He works to reveal the magic possible when sexuality is combined with spiritual awareness and practice. The third annual Men’s Tantrafest takes place in Wales in September 2015, where 50 men will take a journey together into the power of the heart and the spiritual potential in sexual energy.   www.tantra4gaymen.com

(7) BUZZY DANDELION, creator of Quintasensual Festival, a Tantric celebration of sexuality and gender in all their diverse and divine forms, taking place for the second time in Somerset, UK, August 2015…. perhaps the most groundbreaking exploration of Tantric energies on the planet, moving understanding of the spiritual path way beyond old stuck notions of gender norms and expectations. Buzzy’s first love in life was science, and see his work in the spiritual field as driven by the urge to get in touch with the basic divine principles and essence behind all phenomena. He is a co-creator of 2016’s Queer Spirit Festival.   http://quintasensual.org/

(8) LOU HART, co-creatrix of Queer Pagan Camp (along with (9) SIREN HARRADINE and (10) WOODY FOX), teacher of the Craft and from 2005-12 Chair of Camden Forum ……. . The first gathering of Queer Pagans in the UK in 1998 brought together nearly 100 lesbian, gay, bi and transgender lovers of nature, forming a cauldron of possibilities that has grown and evolved into several camps per year. At QPC community and spirituality are explored through ritual, workshops, music and performance with the calling to manifest our skills as queer healers and connectors of the planes of consciousness at the forefront.  http://queerpagancamp.org/  

(11) AL HEAD, creatrix of Emerge Camp and 2016’s upcoming Queer Spirit Festival, Al – known also as Earth Song – has been working as a healer with energies of nature and spirit for over 30 years. She offers workshops and retreats around exploring, unblocking and boosting the energy flows we experience in these human bodies – the first This Land Sex Magic residential weekend is coming up early November 2015.   http://movingenergy.me.uk/

(12) ANDREW HARVEY, internationally celebrated author and teacher of mystical awareness and sacred activism, Andrew’s work was largely ignored by the lgbt community until he was invited to speak at the second LoveSpirit Festival in 2013, where he delivered his insights on gay spirituality with passion. The speech can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gadzf3Ktw8     http://www.andrewharvey.net/

(13) MARK MULLIGAN, brought Naked Yoga for men to London in 2007. Yoganu classes are held every week in Covent Garden, plus there are workshops and retreats. The current facilitators include (14) RICHARD WILLIAM GEORGE, who is recognised as Senior Yoga Teacher by the Yoga Alliance.    http://www.yoganu.co.uk/

(15) ANDY SAICH, facilitator of intimate and tantric explorations for men since 1990, Andy is one of the co-creators of LoveSpirit Festival and runs workshops in London, Berlin and elsewhere through Men in Touch (menintouch.co.uk) and GayLoveSpirit.  http://menintouch.co.uk/     http://www.gaylovespirit.com/

(16) GEOFFREY HENNING, a co-founder of Crusaid, one of the leading HIV/AIDS charities in the UK from the 1980s until its absorption into the Terrence Higgins Trust in 2011, Geoffrey has trained in mediumship and in 2012 launched the LoveSpirit Festival, an event aiming to bring together activists and facilitators in the field of queer spirituality and inject some spiritual awareness into the LGBT+ universe.  http://www.lovespirit.org/

(17) LEVIATHEN HENDRICKS co-organiser of LoveSpirit Festival and facilitator of the London Queer Spirit MeetUp group, Leviathen has been developing ways to expand the conversation around spirituality in the queer community since 2010.  http://www.meetup.com/London-Gay-Spiritual-Meetup/

(18) JOHN BELLAMY, creator of the Gay Spiritual Group in London in the late 1990s and host at Hamilton Hall in Bournemouth, which offers retreats and workshops for gay men as well as a space to retreat or holiday in gentle spiritual surroundings.  http://www.hamiltonhall.info/

(19) THOMAS LOHMANN, creator of GayLoveSpirit, an international network through which various facilitators offer intimacy workshops, tantric healing and counsellling. (20) KAI ERHARDT, (21) DAAN VAN KAMPENHOUT and (22) VOLKER MORITZ are among the men offering workshops on erotic, sensual and shamanic themes.  http://www.gaylovespirit.com/index_en.php

(23) JAMES PHILIP, spiritual channel, healer and teacher at Celestial Earth and the College of Psychic Studies, organises retreats and workshops to heal, restore and expand consciousness.  http://www.celestialearth.org/

(24) PETER KOGELBAUER, erotic healer and men’s retreat leader based in Barcelona.  http://peter-kogelbauer.com/

(25) ARMIN HEINING, founder in Germany of the Institute for Meditation and Tantra, offering Gay Tantra workshops and trainings since 1992.  http://www.gay-tantra.eu/index.php

(26) BODHI, creator of DANCE OUT LOUD, LGBT 5 Rhythms group meeting weekly in London.  http://5rhythms.webs.com/   http://www.meetup.com/The-Dance-Out-Loud-Group/

(27) HANS SCHUMANN, creator of Spiritual Gay Men in London group that meets regularly in Clapham, providing a space for men to learn about and discuss a wide range of spiritual topics.  http://www.meetup.com/Spiritual-Gay-Men-in-London/

(28) DEAN ADDAMS, Shamanic Practitioner, creator of the London Gay Men’s Shamanic Circle that meets monthly in Earls Court, providing a space for men to experience shamanic journeying, encounter spirit guides and share their about their journeys of self discovery. http://www.meetup.com/London-Gay-Mens-Shamanic-Circle/events/224032673/

(29) CAROLYN COWAN, Kundalini Yoga teacher, pscyhosexual and relationship therapist and facilitator of ‘Mastering the Addictive Personality’ workshops.   http://carolyncowan.com/

(30) DANNY ARNULDSSEN, co-facilitator with HUNTER FLOURNOY, DAVID JELNIEK and CHRISTOPHE VAN THYNE, of an annual International Gay Retreat in Belgium, a space for men to explore relaxation, brotherhood, adventure, in depth intimate connections and playfulness.    http://www.gayspiritfriends.nl/international-gay-retreat.html

(31) AMANDA GAYLOVE, sexuality educator and creatrix of Queer Conscious Sex spaces, where beings of all genders can explore sexual energy, pleasure and connection, Amanda cites Barbara Carellas (UrbanTantra) and Dossie Easton (Ethical Slut) amongst her teachers.    http://queerhearted.com/  http://radicalqueerloverite.tumblr.com/

(32) LONDON FAERIE, creator and facilitator of Sacred Pleasures, multi-gendered spaces exploring intimacy, fetish and community. Events happen in London, plus workshops in Paris, Prague, Berlin and elsewhere.   http://londonfaerie.co.uk/      http://sacredpleasures.co.uk/

(33) SEANI LOVE and (34) REBECCA LOWRIE, ‘The Sexual Alchemist’, co-creators of the School of Erotic Mysteries, offering workshops and healing work to people of all genders and sexualities.    http://www.schooloferoticmysteries.com/     http://rebeccalowrie.com/

(35) SHARON FERGUSON, minister with the Metropolitan Community Church in north London, Sharon in liaison with the LoveSpirit team negotiated for a spiritual themed marquee in Trafalgar Square at Gay Pride 2013 (the space generously given by Pride London with no charge) where short sample sessions on wide range of topics including channelling reiki energies, meditations, chanting, kundalini yoga, were offered. The space was a melting pot of conversation and debate, with queers from huge range of spiritual and secular backgrounds joining in. Unfortunately Pride London has not felt able to offer this kind of space for free again, since they need to balance their books and can make a lot of money out of renting space in the square.   http://mccnorthlondon.org.uk/aboutus/who-we-are/

(36) REVEREND JIDE MACCAULAY, founder of the House of Rainbow, works to provide Christian fellowship and worship for marginalised communities within the Church and support the activism of lgbt in Africa.  One of only two specifically Christian activists on the list, I have included Jide because of the groundbreaking work he is doing for people of colour and faith. http://www.houseofrainbow.org/index.html

(37) VYVYAN CHATTERJIE, Interfaith Minister, facilitator for several years of spiritual themed retreats with the Edward Carpenter Community and builder of queer spiritual community, Vyvyan (Notre Dame des Arbres) has given much to build the Eurofaerie network, centred on Folleterre Sanctuary in northern France.   http://www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk/       http://eurofaeries.eu/

(38) GUNNY CATELL, known also as Mata Hairy, has pioneered radical faerie space in Austria, giving birth to the Austrian Faerie Gathering in 2013 (the second one is this August 2015), and writing the first book about the faeries in Europe: Rise Like A Faerie, available soon.   http://radicalfaeries.at/

(39) SEB COX, creator of Big Lingam Tantra and the Brotherhood of Pleasure, based in London.   http://www.meetup.com/BIG-LINGAM-TANTRA-LONDON/    http://www.cumm.co.uk

(40) TIM FOSKETT, co-creator of Loving Men, along with (41) ALFRED HURST and (42) DENNIS CARNEY, offering ‘adventures in intimacy’ retreats, personal growth and community space for gay men.    http://www.lovingmen.org/

(43) ADE ADENJI and (44) DARREN BRADY, co-creators of the Quest for Gay Men, dedicated to healing the emotional wounds that gay men carry from growing up in a straight world, and developing self-awareness, compassion and community.    http://www.thequestawaitsyou.com/

(45) SURAT SHAAN KNAN is a transgender activist, working for the Liberal Jewish movement UK, is a campaigner for faith-related LGBTQI issues, and founder of RAINBOW JEWS.    http://www.rainbowjews.com/

(46) NICK KIENTSCH trained for 6 years in a Thai buddhist forest tradition and now teaches mindfulness and meditation for gay men in London   www.evolvingminds.org.uk

(47) NIKKI SLADE leads Kirtan groups and offers individual voicework tuition and healing.    http://www.freetheinnervoice.com/

(48) GAVIN FRANK offers Kirtan sessions in London and voice workshops    http://www.listentothevoice.co.uk/

(49) EILEEN BELLOT, ceremonialist, healer and founder of QUESTLIFE in London, exploring growth and transformation, and including retreats and circles for women.    http://www.meetup.com/Questlife-Inspiring-your-full-potential/

(50) CLOE JACKSON, creatrix of The Dancing Universe, offering retreats and Dance Your Naked Truth workshops in the UK   http://www.thedancinguniverse.com/

(51) JUSTIN LURIA, creator of the School of Earth Medicine, exploring energy healing, shamanic healing, vibrational remedies etc through workshops and individual sessions. Workshops include ‘Healing the Rainbow Wound’ for the LGBT+ community.   http://www.schoolofearthmedicine.com/

(52) DAVID PARKER, ‘The Swarmite’, breathwork therapist active in healing in London since the 1980s, his interest lies in tales of love, CODEPENDENCY, Debauchery & Urban RECOVERY in the Big Smoke.   http://www.theswarmite.com/

(53) INGO CANDO, founder of the WOTEVER WORLD collection of characters, events and community activism, Ingo creates spaces where gender norms dissolve and inspired queer self-expression takes off.  Wotever events build on the spirit of acceptance, equality, respect, imagination and humour.  “Respect and welcome to one and all. No matter what identity, or multiple identities any person may have or choose, Wotever welcomes them. This includes, but certainly is not exclusive to: drag kings, queers, women, mtf, femmes, trans, butches, queerbois, gay, drag queens, dykes, bisexuals, ftm, men, straight…..Wotever etc. All will respect all.”  Through this openness the Wotever crew are creating the kind of liberating social scene that is in accord with the vision of the original pioneers of gay liberation, making it possible for our queer spirit to grow into its light, power, joy and bring its gifts to the world.   http://woteverworld.com/

and I will include myself to finish off this list for now:

(54) SHOKTI LOVESTAR: radical faerie, shamanic healer, blogger and spiritual activist. Shokti facilitates queer spiritual spaces at Folleterre Eurofaerie sanctuary and Albion Faerie events, including London drum circles, and is a co-creator of the first QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL coming to the UK at a site in Wiltshire in August 2016. I seek to bring light and awakening to the lgbt+ community, seeing this as a crucial moment in our collective growth as we approach the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of sex between men. I consider direct spiritual experience and expanded understanding as the method by which we can open ourselves to the great mystery and take the journey of gay liberation to the spiritual level (which means finding out who we are and being it, and does not mean living a ‘pure’ life trying to aspire to standards and demands set by religions or anyone else). https://shokti.wordpress.com/    http://queerspirituk.tumblr.com/





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