Category Archives: Gay Wisdom

Fellow Travelers at the Center

Ft_invite_frontMark Thompson’s "Fellow Travelers"
exhibit now at the Center in New York!

For those of you who live in or near New York City, we wanted to give a
heads up announcement about this exhibit sponsored by White Crane Institute in collaboration with the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center: Fellow Travelers: Liberation Portraits by our good friend, Mark Thompson.

Ft_invite_back_1The show went up March 26th and has received an enthusiastic reception.  If you haven’t been out to see this inspiring exhibit time is running out so get there while you still can.

We’re also happy to announce that Mark will be attending the closing reception next week on April 26th.

We hope to see you there.

Fellow Travelers

Ft_invite_frontMark Thompson’s "Fellow Travelers"
exhibit now at the Center in New York!

For those of you who live in or near New York City, we wanted to give a
heads up announcement about this exhibit sponsored by White Crane Institute in collaboration with the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center: Fellow Travelers: Liberation Portraits by our good friend, Mark Thompson.

Ft_invite_back_1The show went up March 26th and has received an enthusiastic reception.  If you haven’t been out to see this inspiring exhibit time is running out so get there while you still can.

We’re also happy to announce that Mark will be attending the closing reception next week on April 26th.

We hope to see you there.


When I was growing up I would have given anything to have had a relative who might have been, could have been…not discussed. That "funny uncle" whose name would immediately elicit a change of subject. I would have beat a path to his door and demanded answers, guidance…the protection only family can offer. Instead, as soon as I was able, I high-tailed it to the West Coast (I’d always had crushes on surfers) and San Francisco, under the pretense of accepting a "job opportunity." Somehow  I managed to survive the early 70s in S.F.and find a semblance of "Gay identity" in the process without succumbing to drugs and the street. Many of us are not so lucky, and every time I see a news story about some young person’s suicide, my first supposition is "Gay."

Uncle This, of course, is an oft-told tale. Escape from the middle west, the deep south, the constraints of whoever you are, wherever you grew up to a place where anonymity promises opportunity to define self. Gay self. This is the basis of a new play by playwright Dean Gray, Uncle, playing for a maddingly brief run at the ArcLight Theater on the Upper West Side in NYC. Gray’s name may be famliar to some readers as the playwright behind the adaptation of Will Fellows’ fine anthology of oral histories titled Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest. Fellows has gone on to write Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture. While Uncle is not another Fellows-based piece it is in the same vein…midwest roots.

Uncle is fine piece of stage work by a talented playwright who readily admits to putting much of himself up there on the stage. The protagonist, Brent (played handsomely by Brian Patacca) is from rural Wisconsin. Now living in New York City, pursuing a composing career, his psyche is perilously on the edge…the first scenes, wordlessly show him alone, and suicidal despite having achieved what, by any standards in the NY music scene, would be considered "success." As Brent explains to his mother, Iris (played lovingly by actress Nancy McDoniel, most recently seen in  the 9/11 film, United 93) he’s  "tired of being alone."

Uncle_2 [L: James Heatherly and R: Brian Patacca – photo: Jim Baldassare]

He’s not alone anymore, and hasn’t really been alone for some time. First, there’s the handsome and sweet Sean, (actor James Heatherly) working in the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library, who is immediately smitten with Brent and drawn into his intensity. But Brent’s other constant companion is the ghost of his long dead Uncle Irvin (actor Darren Lougee) that uncle that no one spoke of, and when they did, someone changed the subject. Finding a snapshot of his Uncle Irvin (that, in this production, is actually of the playwright’s own family), on one more "good-son" journey home to Wisconsin, he questions his mother about the other man in the picture, the one wearing the matching sweater to Uncle Irvin’s. Mom plays dumb and changes the subject to cheese.

Surprisingly spare, the play is, in the end, moving and sweet without cloying. There are ghosts and flashbacks. There are moments in which Gray comes perilously close to "sending a message," and there are some close-to-soap-opera moments, but he dodges these (for me) cringe-inducing pitfalls with well-drawn, human characters…characters we’ve all known or been at one point or another in our lives as Gay people. My partner and I were crying at the end…and they were tears Gray earned honestly. And I hasten to add, they were not the tears of another Brokeback "dead queer" at the end of a morality tale, but tears of reconciliation and the power of love and family. Nor, I might add, is there gratuitous parading of half-dressed handsome men. For those of us for whom this is kind of exposure is important, or at least desirable, yes, shirts and pants are removed. But I’d have to say the sexiest moments are fully clothed and simply sealed with a kiss. Sometimes less really is more.

Gay_bar_book_1_1 Speaking with playwright Dean Gray, this morning, he tells me his next project is another adaptation of a book titled Gay Bar. He’s not really interested, he says, in being tagged as "a gay issues playwright," and I sympathize…but then again, you write what you know. He spoke of his aging parents, something we all come to terms with at some stage of life…but something that takes on even more weight in the lives of many gay men, either because we’re estranged from family or, as is more often the case, and less often acknowledged, the "good sons and daughters" who take on the burdens of aging parents when heterosexual siblings are otherwise engaged with their own children and their own families. 

All too often…and all too often at the hands of our own media…GLBT people are portrayed as care-free with plenty of surplus income for disposal on fashion and style and travel. Tra-fucking-lah!

I may have known one or two gay men like that in my life, but by and large most GLBT people I know are hard-working, just trying to get by and, at the same time, frequently the people who are most involved in taking care of family matters. I’m far from being a proponent of "we’re just like straight people, except for what we do in bed" but the fact of the matter is, this is sadly NOT the image we see of most GLBT people and it is the one I find most common in my own experience…family is important to us. In fact, family is probably THE critical consideration in most GLBT people’s lives when thinking about coming out. [Memo to Oprah…next time you sit there wide-eyed and clutching your fucking pearls, trying to find out why some Gay man would "lie" to people he loves, please remember that unlike Gay people, black folk  were never in any danger of losing the love of family because of race. Neither is being African-American reviled as an abomination in the eyes of god. Nor is there the state-sanctioned pressure to become White. Please…you’ve got a joint checking account with god now, Oprah…buy a clue.]

Anyway, for my own part, as I prepared to come out, I finally had to reach the place where I had to prepare myself for the chance…even the probability I thought…that I might actually never see my family again once I came out. While that wasn’t the case, the strain and estrangement with my own family went on for decades. I don’t think this is unusual. Dean Gray has put it on stage in Uncle and it is well worth seeing. As this production will only be there for a short run, we can only urge readers to watch for more from Dean Gray. It’s a nice antidote to Queer Eye. Or at least some much-needed balance.

Essentialism & Constructionism

For those of you interested in the debate between "essentialism" and "constructionism" in queer theory, there is an interesting web site from Rictor Norton in the U.K. based on his book The Myth of the Modern Homosexual: Queer History and the Search for Cultural Unity (London and Washington: Continnum International 1997 ISBN 0-304-33892-3)

Also from Mr. Norton, a nice background page on John Addington Symonds.

Happy Valentine’s Day…

Celebrating Stephen Fry!

Today we celebrate the words of author, actor and filmmaker, Stephen Fry:

"There are plenty of other things to be got up to in the homosexual world outside the orbit of the anal ring, but the concept that really gets the goat of the gay-hater, the idea that really spins their melon and sickens their stomach is that most terrible and terrifying of all human notions, love. That one can love another of the same gender, that is what the homophobe really cannot stand. Love in all eight tones and all five semitones of the word’s full octave. Love as agape, Eros and philos; love as romance, friendship and adoration; love as infatuation, obsession and lust; love as torture, euphoria, ecstacy and oblivion (this is beginning to read like a Calvin Klein perfume catalogue); love as need, passion and desire." Stephen Fry

Wisdom – Monday, Jan. 15th


070115_moliereToday is the birthday of Molière (1622-1673).
The French playwright is considered the greatest writer of French comedy and is known for his plays "Les Femmes Savantes," "The Imaginary Invalid,"  "Sganarelle, ou le Cocu Imaginaire," "Tartuffe" and many other masterpieces of Commedia dell’arte.
Martin Greif writes that when Molière was in his late forties he fell in love with Michel Baron and brought him home to live with him.  When the playwright’s wife protested Baron moved out till Molière ordered him back.  When his wife made an ultimatum that the playwright choose between her or Baron, Molière chose.  Three years later, when the Molière died, Michel Baron was at his side.
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“One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others” ~Molière

“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”  ~Molière

“I prefer an interesting vice to a virtue that bores”  ~Molière

“To live without loving is not really to live." ~ Molière

And knowing money is a root of evil, in Christian charity, he’d take away whatever things may hinder your salvation. ~ Molière
I assure you that a learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant fool. ~ Molière
Let us drink while we can, One cannot drink forever. ~ Molière
Of all the noises known to man, opera is the most expensive. ~ Molière
“Things only have the value that we give them”  ~Molière

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For silly fun, check out David Lehre’s humorous & satirical "Life & Times of Moliere" below:

Easton Mountain Gathering Notes & Audio Clips

Notes from Easton Mountain

by Perry Brass

    I was able to attend the Gay Spirit Gathering, held at Easton Mountain Retreat, in upstate New York, near Troy, from Sunday evening, October 29, until Wednesday afternoon, November 1.

The gathering was actually a “sequel” to the larger Gay Men’s Spirit Culture Summit held in Garrison, NY, two years earlier; but this gathering was smaller, with about 35 participants, and wonderfully intimate and moving. I took brief notes of some of the comments and quotes given during activities which often consisted simply of men talking about their involvement with spirituality, their communities, and other people like themselves. Some of these have speaker attributes, others do not.

    “Gay does not have a monopoly on joy, but has a real nifty corner of it.” Tim Cooley, Easton Mountain

    “The longing is the path. Heart connection is a concrete force we use. We’re all longing for something. There is a power in longing, compassion, and peace. Assertive is not being violent. I want to emulate the ferocity of flowers.” Joe Weston, California

    “Have I given people a sense of their soul?” Harry Hay, just before his death, quoted by Dan Vera, Washington, DC

    “The necessary beauty of their lives—our gift is to remind people of that.” Dan Vera

    “I spend a lot of time in the world of shadows, that dark place of fear and power.” Rosey, New York

    “I don’t believe in self-help. I believe in inhabiting the masks completely.” Rosey, New York

    “Passion comes from holding my outrage and idealism together.” John Stasio, Easton Mountain

    “Surrender to the truth of your own experiences . . . what drives me is the choicelessness of my life.” John Stasio

    “I seek the company of my fellows because I know how dangerous the world we live in is.” John Stasio

    “My passion comes from the strength to keep my innocence alive, and to honor that innocence in others.” Perry Brass, Bronx, NY

    “My passion comes from knowing God loves me . . . Lead a full life, claim your spiritual heritage.” Michael Kelly, Easton Mountain, via Australia

    "We all stand beside our own pool of tears.”

    “This thing called the body, and using it to connect with desire makes me passionate.”

    “Words—I’m passionate about things being said well. I act through the body. I’m passionate about healing through pleasure . . . To be alive in your body is to be awake in the world.” Don Shewey, New York, NY

    “I had long-term short relationships. But I did not know what love was; I was not big enough to know the fullness of love.”

Thoughts of my own:

Structure is a point of entry into each other.

The problem of people who become conduits for the Eternal is that they become aware at some point of their own emptiness.

Statements from a panel on the future
of Gay Spirituality and the movement toward it:

Audio Links to each panelist’s talk are below each summation and will open in a separate window.  Audio is in mp3 format and will take a few seconds to download.

Toby Toby Johnson (writer and therapist):
“We are part of the ‘new myth,’ a shift in consciousness. Gay consciousness sees the world from outside and above, since we don’t fit in. Homosexuality is a dynamic of psychology rather than of biology; a function of consciousness. The Gay Movement is in two forms: political and society; and gay spirituality, addressing ourselves directly.

    “Let’s change each other.

    “Homosexuality should be a spiritual gift. It is a dynamic of consciousness, and makes use of kindness and spirituality. We need to change our vision of homosexuality. Wake up the boddhisatvas!”
Toby Johnson’s Statement (mp3 audio) (first few words are missing, apologies)

Michael Cohen (therapist and Body Electric facilitator):

“I see lots of hungry men wanting information and permission to be in a body. Initiation is important; Body Electric is about initiation. The secret mission of Body Electric is to ‘crack open your heart,’ to make men fall in love with themselves again.”

Michael Cohen’s Full Statement (mp3 audio)

Jay_michaelsonJay Michaelson (teacher and writer):
“Gay spirituality is powerful, transformative, and limited. I am not interested in the ‘origins of homosexuality,’ the debate in pop culture. We need to bring our work out into the world.

    “Are we the alternative to Western religion, or are we trying to make Western religion more open to us?

    “Marketing is important to understand in the growing of the movement.”

Jay Michaelson’s Full Statement (mp3 audio)

DuncanteagueDuncan Teague
(performance poet and Afro-American spiritual leader):

“I want to acknowlege the ‘Lord,’ or the people who’ve made Easton possible. People are still struggling with spirituality, liberation, and consciousness. Church is home for Afro-Americans. We want to recreate a church where we can feel spiritual.

How many black gays have done Body Electric?

I’m a Unitarian because they support what I do.

    “It’s about our relationships, and that white gay men exist in their own planet.

Katrina shifted the consciousness of this country. If Katrina had happened in Connecticut, wouldn’t things have been different?”

Duncan Teague’s Full Statement (mp3 audio)

Jonstasio1John Stasio (founder and director of Easton Mountain Retreat):
“I live in a rarified environment.

Each one of us has a dimension in our experience connected to a larger experience or community. The work of this movement is help us navigate in that inner world. I had an experience as a boy of being connected to the galaxy. It made religious rules have no reality. I had that religious experience at 17. At 19, in bed with man I was infatuated with, I had a vision of Jesus coming down from a picture in my room and entering a threesome with us. So helping people have a profound experience about themselves is what my work is all about. It is irresponsible of us to look at people who can’t help us—such as organized religion—instead of ourselves. The epidemic made us ask big questions about the meaning of life. Death is a profound teacher. We need to have rich, meaningful lives together. If we can support that, we can have a community together.
John Stasio’s Full Statement (mp3 audio)

More remarks:

    “We need to be a source of action in the world.” Rosey

    “In terms of historical moments, we, the community, haven’t had that much time. We have the resources to go further.” Chris Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA

    “Not being ashamed is work, and transformative.”

    “We’re winning; things cannot go back.” Toby Johnson

    “Everyday something happens that tells me I am an oppressed person.” Harry Faddis, Easton Mountain

    “There are people who need to receive the invitation to open spaces.” Dan Vera

    “This is a fruit of grace that we can meet and be here.” Michael Kelly

    “Ask yourself: What is the next right thing to do?" David Coleman