Gay Utopia – Going Beneath The Surface
…“The maturity of the event both in approach taken by the panel members/the real life story performers and the willingness by all to take responsibility for taking issues forward in our community”…
‘…My school boy mantra has returned: “I’m a failure, I’m ugly, I’m dirty, I’m broken and nobody will ever love me”…’ These are the words of Christopher Nicholls, contributor of the book Love Me As I Am, as he tells his story of growing up gay and the impact Gay Shame had on his life.
On Saturday, 3 November, guests of the Gay Utopia event had the opportunity to see many of the contributors to the book Love Me As I Am, live in action on stage. The Velvet Rage On Stage was performed at the Sarah Siddons Theatre, Paddington Green Campus (PGC), Paddington Green, London W2 1NB. This storytelling performance formed part of the weekend event, Gay Utopia – Going beneath the surface.
Gay Utopia addressed some of the tough emotional realities gay men are facing today. As the gay community stands at a pivotal point in its ‘coming of age’, with many gay men stepping forward and speaking out about the impact that Gay Shame has had on their lives, this was a very timely event. A case in point is, Will Young who recently admitted to his own pornography addiction as a result of being burdened by the shame of being gay.
The effects of Gay Shame often have terrible consequences: teenage suicide, self-harming and addiction. Many people in the mainstream (gay and straight) choose to ignore or turn a blind eye to the darkness hiding within the walls of a community that appears outwardly content and PROUD. The reality is that many in the gay community struggle with depression and mental health issues, social dysfunction, dissatisfaction, destructive behaviours and abusive relationships, and wide-scale addiction ranging from alcohol, drugs and sex.
On Sunday 4 November, Ade Adeniji and Darren Brady (Founders of The Quest and professional coaches), were joined by a panel of leading gay figures, academics and counsellors who tackled the Big Questions: Where do we go from here? What lies ahead for the gay community?
The panel included:
- Matthew Hodson: Head of Progammes for the gay men’s health project, GMFA.
- Dr Adam Bourne: Research Fellow with the Sigma Research group at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who has conducted numerous studies into the health and well-being of gay and bisexual men, particularly focusing on HIV and sexual health, mental health, as well as alcohol and drug use.
- David Smallwood: A therapist and counsellor, who specialises in the areas of areas of Addiction, Gay and Lesbian issues, and any childhood trauma leading to anxiety and depression.
- Dennis Carney: Facilitator of therapeutic workshops targeting gay/bi men for the last 12 years at London’s leading LGBT Mental Health charity, PACE and also leads the development of workshops and events aimed at Black gay/bi men.
- Mark McCormack (PhD): Lecturer in Sociology at Durham University and researcher, focussing on the changing attitudes toward homosexuality. He recently published the book, The Declining Significance of Homophobia.
The debate and discussion were chaired by Paul Steinberg, a Senior Health Improvement Specialist and the public health lead for men who have sex with men (MSM) at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
Read Paul Steinberg’s recent article, ‘Some People Are Gay. But Are We Over It?’, in Beige Magazine, by following this link:
To read more about the work of The Quest, the book ‘Love Me As I Am’ and ‘Gay Utopia’, follow this link: