Seeking The Truth of Who We Are

The gay community has been largely defined from the outside, our modern culture formed as a result of sexuality becoming a kind of identity. But we are not our sexuality.

The theme of this month’s Let’s Talk About Gay Men, Sex and Drugs event at KU KLUB in Lisle Street, Soho on Thursday 9th April 2015 is TRUTH.  I love this event where anyone can have five minutes to share through words, song or performance, see it offering a crucial forum at a time of hectic changes in gay life.  My thoughts on Truth offered here.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1544692712461292/

Queer communities have been able to develop openly because of the secular rationalist outlook of the modern world and the reduction in the power and influence of religion. (We can see how we are treated in some parts of the world where religion still dominates life). But the modern materialist scientific paradigm is not able to tell us who we really are or why we are here. We are not just these bodies. There is something divine and magical inside us. We knew this as bright gay children and my journey has brought me to believe that as qieer people we were born to embrace this and live it. For the divine soul in us does not believe in laws and religions and conventions, it believes in freedom, love, pleasure, and self-expression, for all. Coming Out is the first sign that we have the potential to think for ourselves, break down society’s taboos and find our own Truth. The world however tries its best to keep us in the boxes that divide humanity and keep us serving the military-industrial economic monster that has become the modern God.

We live in a left brain dominated society where imagination, intuition, psychic phenomena are considered insignificant. But these ‘irrational’ right brain activities can take us out of the constantly active ego mind and into the energies of the soul, to deeper places in ourselves where we feel and find our place in the whole, where we can know our innate oneness with all beings. This experience is lacking in our society, but the need in us to know these feelings is strong. Chems and chemsex are appealing because they give us time off from the rational chattering mind and all its problems. We get time in the soul, but often at a toxic cost, not least because over time we need more and stronger drugs to have a good time. But we could be doing this consciously…. Tantra, Shamanism, Meditation, Yoga, 5 Rhythms dancing, creative pursuits are all ways we can learn to shift our internal perceptions and enter states of being that bring us healing, insight, understanding and soulful feelings of the universal bliss from which we come.

Humans put so much energy into chasing heightened states of perception and connection when in fact the simplest way to enter into union with the deep rhythms and ecstatic feelings of life is to drop the chase, drop the worries, come to stillness, come to the Now. Accept that everything in the universe is yearning and reaching for expansion and connection, that is the core energy of the lifeforce that we are, it drives all our play and passion. We do not always have to chase, we can turn within, taking time to feel that the core love and joy we are seeking out there in the world is already within us – time to get to know and nurture that feeling inside – brings us balance and strength, so that when we do play and pursue our joys we are coming from a much more grounded, confident place within ourselves. We will need less chems to get to where we want to be and the sexual connections we can reach will be awesome.

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At radical faerie gatherings queers expand the experience of collective gay life into the territories of the heart, emotions and the energy body. We explore community through open hearted communication, operating from subject-Subject consciousness (treating each person as another subject, who deserves the same love and understanding that we hope for, not an object to be used for our gratification); we bring healing, balance and perspective into our lives through time in nature opening ourselves to self-discovery. Gatherings are altered reality spaces that often last 10 days, and feel timeless, eternal, and gift us with insights and understandings into the true nature of reality and who we are in it.

When it comes to the truth of who we are, why do so many of us queers look to scientists and humanists to guide us and not listen more to the prophets and pioneers of our own community:

Walt Whitman believed ‘the divine love of comrades’ would bring about a revolution in human relationships and society. Edward Carpenter saw us as the vanguard of a new humanity, bringing celebration of the body and sexuality to the fore, turning round centuries of sexual oppression, and lifting humanity to a higher vibration as a result. We are coming up fast to 50 years since start of the legal gay liberation story in the UK, but we are a portion of society beset with health crises and drug issues.  We have not yet found the Truth of Who We Are.   Our liberation has to evolve beyond the political, social and sexual into the spiritual: the question of who we are, and how we see and treat each other, is central to our future.

Suggestions from some of our gay prophets on how to manifest more of the unique and wonderful qualities our queerness gives birth to in us:

“Throw off the green frog-skin of hetero-imitation” (Harry Hay)
“Run in circles holding hands” (Will Roscoe)
“Maximize our differences from straights as an act of love” (Don Kilhefner – Assimilation or Affirmation)
“Outdistance the angels” (James Broughton – Shaman Psalm)
“Not be what the men create us to be” (Larry Mitchell – The Faggots And Their Friends Between Revolutions)
“Re-member our true nature[s]” (Mitch Walker – Visionary Love)
“Become less like a man and less like a woman” (Andrew Ramer)
“Choose the highest love” (Andrew Harvey – Rebirth Through The Wound)
“Let your strangeness be your guide” (Harry Hay)
“Threaten the very core of the patriarchies” (Paul Monette – On Becoming)

“Take…. delight in life and in the gay expression of it” (Ram Dass)

ram dass Ram Dass

QUOTATIONS TAKEN FROM PERFORMANCE PIECE PRESENTED BY  SPIDERCUTIE aka JIM ARACHNE AT BEYOND TASTE AND TALENT SHOW 2005

The beginning of the end for HIV?

World Aids Day 2014: as i travelled in to central London to speak at a ‘Let’s Talk About Gay Men, Sex and Drugs’ event at the Charing Cross Road Manbar, there were only a few red ribbons around on the tube – and only on gay men it seemed – with no acknowledgement of the day on the front page of the Evening Standard.  They missed the scoop, which i found on the BBC website when i got back home:  “HIV evolving into milder form” – a team of scientists in Oxford are telling us their research reveals “the virus is being “watered down” as it adapts to our immune systems.”  They even speculate “the virus may eventually become “almost harmless” as it continues to evolve.”   Apparently the antiretroviral drugs are targetting the more virulent forms of the virus and encouraging the milder ones to survive.

The scientists are keen to point out HIV is still deadly and isn’t going away in a hurry – but also saying: “We are observing evolution happening in front of us and it is surprising how quickly the process is happening.”

I want to say the same about gay life based on some of the things i heard at the Manbar last night.  The community gathered on Charing Cross Road, a cross generational event and it was a relief to be at a World Aids Day event that made room for the expression of our intellect, emotion and creativity – rather than being just another fundraiser, where we are encouraged to drink beer and throw money in buckets.  It was actually more than a little bizarre to be in the former 79CXR, once known as a haunt of lustful and sleazy pick up vibes, hearing intelligent, witty and insightful words from so many men.  Pubs have been hugely important in gay culture during recent decades, but they can rather reduce us all to a low common denominator of predatory, drunken behaviour.  Speaking to each other, about things that matter, is not the norm on our gay scene which often provides us a wordless escape from our lives into altered queer realities.  On this night however I felt the potential of our social spaces to serve as community hubs.  I remembered how AIDS brought us together as a community – the slow response from the authorities forcing us to become more organised, more militant and more compassionate with each other – and i felt some of that spirit last night.

I also saw how COMPLEX our situation has become.  There are so many levels to our situation: every speaker last night had something different and something fascinating to say to the crowd in their 5 minute slot.  Dan from ACTUP spoke proudly of their action to deliver a load of bullshit to the door of UKIP that had happened that very day.  Scene podcasters Dylan and Jack, poet Alexis Gregory and several open mike contributors presented tales of gay party life, which comes over as ecstatic, hilarious and tragic at the same time.  In just a few years things have changed enormously, and those that would deny that there is a massive drug use crisis in gay London have got their heads in the sand.  Two decades ago injecting drugs was unheard of on the scene, but now slamming parties are quite normalised; the inability many experience to have sex without drugs came up a lot – also the difficulty of finding someone to play with who doesn’t use chems.  Grindr was compared to cottaging – it used to be that gay men went into public toilets to find strangers to have sex with, now we sit at home and do it.  (My memory of cottaging suggests that the adrenalin of fear – of attack or arrest – was great enough to get the ecstatic juices flowing.  Although you would see the occasional drunken man in a cottage, taking drugs was not going to work, you needed your wits about you to indulge in this dangerous game.)

I stood up to offer some poetic insights into the situation, based on my 25 journey with the virus and the internal, spiritual, transformation it provoked in me.  Telling the pub that my lowest cd4 count back in the 90s was 3 earned me their focussed attention.  I was not the only one bringing some spirituality into the night – young poet Nasser spoke of how we need faith in something in order to steer our personal ship through life’s waters: in ourselves, in a god, in Cher – something!   In the contributions i saw how this complex situation of lust, drugs and disease forces us a gay community to move beyond judgement.  There were several pleas for this last night, and I felt the call resonated in the crowd.   The drugs open the gates to great times, there is no point in denying that.  Condom free sex is glorified in porn and in life as the best thing on earth (though other perspectives were expressed last night, were given some much needed air).  If we judge each other’s behaviours the conversation will go nowhere.  It’s not hard to see that many men are using each other like commodities to be enjoyed and discarded.  it’s clear that drug use gets out of hand for some, and that underlying our behaviours is our old friend SHAME.  We are only a few decades into our gay liberation, we are still inventing, re-inventing, what it is to be a same sex lover on this planet.  We clearly need to love each other, and ourselves, more. As a community, a tribe within the human family, we have some serious healing to address.  What has encouraged me after attending this gathering of scene queens who care is that there are signs of that healing, of expanded love and some spiritual awareness emerging from many angles and from every age group.

The night’s revelations peaked for me when Gregory Mitchell, writer and activist on PrEP, presented a vision of the future where a daily Truvada pill would provide protection against infection from HIV.  Greg, who was growing up when homosexuality was still illegal, and remembers pre-aids sexual  freedom, has remained hiv negative and enjoyed an active sex life over the decades (though in the 80s he said he stopped having sex all together, it just became too scary).  He proudly sported a #TruvadaWhore t shirt and painted a picture of happier times to come.  So far, PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, is showing a 99% success rate.  A two year trial is currently underway in the UK.  It is estimated that if men who are at risk of infection use PrEP it could be possible to eradicate the virus from the gay community within two to three decades.

Is there a sense growing amongst us, a wisdom emerging, that understands that nothing is ever entirely dark or light?  There are two sides (at least) to every story.  The drug mania, like HIV, is part of our evolution as a sub-tribe of humanity freed from centuries of repression.  In some parts of the world we are still persecuted – African presidents call us Satanic – and still live in abject fear.  Here in the west we have gained some freedom – including the freedom to destroy ourselves through unbridled excesses. I believe we owe it to our brethren and sisters around the world to rapidly evolve through our collective crises and become powerful examples to the world of the LOVE, LIGHT AND HEALING we bring to the human family.  The powers that be are not going to stop us throwing ourselves off the cliffs of insane addictions and incurable diseases, as in the 80s and 90s if we want to create a better, stronger, more caring, more creative, queer community we have to do it for ourselves.

Congratulations to Pat Cash, David Stuart and the Manbar for hosting a World Aids Day event with brain, heart and balls.aidsribbons