Summer 2017

Summer Solstice 2017 came during the waning phase of the moon and was followed very quickly by Dark Moon.  The surge of light, joy and excitement at the glorious hot sunny Solstice gave way to a strong, internal, emotional pull and purge (or perhaps simply as a need to rest) as the universe prepared us for a powerful SuperNew Moon in Cancer on the 24th June.


Dark Moons are about releasing what no longer serves us, about facing the shadow and turning within to heal before the outward moving energy returns at New Moon. The Dark Moon can be a peaceful time of rest and recharge, but if we have emotional issues/baggage/wounds relating to whichever part of the consciousness that the moon is currently triggering, this can be a tough time. It’s important to remember we all have issues, they just appear (for clearing) at different times for different people.  We can help the process, ease our experience of it, by allowing it, accepting it, even welcoming it. As always, the deeper we go into our pain and darkness the more of it we can clear out of our energy fields.  As Spring energy ends we get the chance for a final Spring clean, of mind, body and soul, ready for whatever the Summer will bring.

For Summer has just begun.  The Solstices are turning points that bring us into Summer in June and Winter in December, just as the Equinoxes open the doors to Spring and Autumn.  The popular name often going around at Solstice is ‘Midsummer’, which is a hangover from Norse cultures where there were really only two seasons in the year.  Shakespeare has a lot to answer for.  By associating Solstice with Midsummer we are telling our subconscious that the most outgoing, playful, hot and sexy season of the year is already half done.  For most of us that is not a cheering thought, and i recommend replacing it with a strong affirmation that SUMMER STARTS HERE – for 3 months now, through the astrological months of Cancer, Leo and Virgo, we get to be Summer babies. This is the season to express, to explore, to play and discover, to commune with and attune to nature, to be out in the world, being all of who we are.  The time to turn within, to repair and realign the self, will come again soon enough.

“The New Moon in Cancer is a good time to commit to personal goals that express the positive energies of the sign of the Crab. These include honoring our deepest, most irrational and intimate, feelings; recognizing the sense of security and safety we derive from whatever it is we call home; allowing ourselves to accept support and offering support to others; and starting a project aimed at improving our domestic lives or a major long-term venture. With this potent Cancer energy, we have the chance to make important changes in our lives that will benefit us well beyond this Moon cycle.”

neptune retro

A major influence on our journeys through Summer 2017 is going to be retrograde Neptune. The ruling planet of Pisces, who influences our spiritual well-being, began his retrograde motion just before the Solstice, on June 16th, and it will continue until November.  This retrograde energy is said to bring a wake up call that can prompt big changes in our lives – it gets us in touch with what is really important to us, enables us to cut out the fantasies, stop ignoring life issues (such as bad relationships or debts), and make clear plans for our future.

This Summer follows the challenges of an intense Winter/Spring season, the turmoil has been manifesting in the bigger global picture as well as in individual lives.  The year of the Fire Rooster is living up to its reputation. Solstice was heralded by many as the entrance into light and expansion, into better and easier times, but then came along the punch of Dark Moon which will have probably disillusioned many already.  The thing to hang on to is that we have to go into our dark places, our wounds and issues, in order to go beyond them.  The astrology of the start of Summer has been pushing us to do just that – and a season of growth, light and discovery has now truly begun.

solstice sunriseSolstice Sunrise at Glastonbury Festival site

This summer will see the gathering together of emerging healers, lightworkers, spiritual warriors of all kinds, for many it will boost the growth of the idea that we are Spirit on a journey to revelation and liberation and it will deepen connections between people that will enable that journey to become more conscious, more visible – and more central to our lives.  At festivals and other events people will experience community, connection and communion in new and exciting ways – the Spirit has prepared us for a leap into new awareness and a brighter vision of our existence.  Are you ready to leap?  We may have to leave our comfort zones for this to happen, relinquish some attachments and unhelpful beliefs.  We will certainly have to open our minds to new ideas, our hearts to new people and possibilities, but the thing to remember is – that is the path.  The shadow work will continue at times, but the focus for the coming months will be on the light of who we are, the light of spirit, the positive potential in humanity as we make the shift from the confusing and conflicted Age of Pisces into the possibilities of the age of Aquarius.

A Summer of Evolution starts here.  In 2017 we commemorate 50 years since the first Summer of Love, 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in the UK (and also 100 years since the Russian Revolution).  As we honour these big shifts in human history we can become more aware of the transformation we are currently going through.  This is a time of change, and it helps to remind ourselves that we have all the resources we need inside ourselves to embrace it and evolve.  In order to really enjoy this ride of transformation we need a sense of the bigger picture, a sense of belonging and a belief in our own soul and the positive growth we  are undergoing.  To get this we need good relationship with ourselves, with nature and with other people.  As we enter Summer the Cancer SuperNew Moon is offering the opportunity to affirm these things and set our sights on the most positive and affirming vision of ourselves, and of life itself, that we can.

solstice sunrise2Solstice Sunrise at Stonehenge

I will be co-hosting a workshop on the transformations we are living through, plus a performance about the role of queer beings in this time at QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL, happening in Wiltshire, UK 26-30 July 2017.

Homage To My Father

Norton George Whiting

22nd February 1926 – 30th April 2017

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My Dad was a peaceful man of water spirit, with a compassionate Piscean Sun and sensitive Cancer Moon who found the conflict, corruption and abuse rife in the world baffling.  He wrote poetry in 2014, some of which will feature here:

I love to walk in the woods at night

when all silent quiet and moon is bright

the wind is whispering in the trees

there also is a very slight breeze

a hedgehog rumbles across my path

a scuttle in the grass a rabbit has just run by

a barking fox in the distance I hear

a bellowing stag is standing near

a small brown owl hoots from a tree

as much to say he wishes he was me

but now I must return to the outside world of turmoil

Norton was a nature man who grew up on farmland and was blessed with a natural sensitivity that gave him the gift of animal magic, animals trusted him, he was something of a horse whisperer. In his retirement he kept a horse Patch and took great delight in driving his pony and trap around the Suffolk villages.

He had a long retirement, nearly 30 years, after 30 years working shifts at ICI Paints. He embraced retirement joyfully, taking the opportunity not only to keep a horse but also to express his passion for gardening, keeping his own garden immaculate, his lawn neat, and looking after other, bigger gardens, such as for the Anstead family in Old Newton.

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Norton was a shy romantic. He had a gypsy in his soul and often dreamt of a simpler life travelling the land in a horse drawn caravan. His parents Blanche and George had 7 kids; one daughter, Renee, and 6 sons, Norton the oldest son. He grew up working on the land and although his life changed, ending up all those years in factory warehouse and living since 1970 in Crown Street, Stowmarket, he still had, in his later life, connection to the place of inner peace and sense of the natural order of things, that growing up with nature had given him.

O why wasn’t I born a tree? To stand in a field and watch the world go by,

To stand with great ease to sway in the breeze. O why wasn’t I born a tree?

If I was a tree I would stand and smile at everyone that crossed my stile. 

The wind it could blow, we might even have snow, then that would be my life as a tree.

norton (4)He met his wife-to-be Rona at a dance hall in the village of Thorndon in the late 1940s, though he, the shy gypsy, was not a dancer. The pace of life was much slower in those days, and I believe they were courting for perhaps a decade, him cycling across the Suffolk countryside to visit his sweetheart, before they tied the knot.

Rona and Norton were married in October 1954, that’s 63 years together, the last decade or so he showing his devotion by caring for my mum as she became less able. After so many years of her dedicating herself to looking after him and me, the roles swapped and he became the housekeeper and chef, even learning to bake fabulous apple pies as good as Rona’s.

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Two Pisceans, with suitable names, Rona was born a Haddock and became a Whiting. They brought up this Aquarian, who has moved out into the world to become a teacher of love and spirit, our quiet little family in a way symbolises the shift of the ages on planet earth from Pisces to Aquarius. Rona and Norton were not destined to have a family of their own, but twists of fate brought me to them, to their little cottage on Stowupland Green where they kept their chickens and a pig, maintaining the link to living with nature that had been part of the upbringing of both of them, a central part of their family histories.

They come from a long line of people of the land, people who have a sense of the natural flow of life and death and the interdependence of people, animals and plants. For this foundling faerie child they provided a loving, protective, safe environment, and when I turned out to be somebody motivated to go out explore the world, they adapted to that, they coped with my colourful haircuts and colourful friends, when I brought boyfriends home to stay they always welcomed them into their hearts.

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Norton lived a simple, full life. Don’t get caught up in the nonsense, could have been his motto. ‘As long as you’re all right, that’s the main thing’ was his defining phrase. He enjoyed pretty good health right up until his 91st year, and the end came quickly and with mercy, over the course of four months, following a prostate cancer diagnosis. Here’s another of his poems ….

As I lay asleep in my bed at night

and in my dreams I dream of time past

I dream of my friends that have long passed

yet they come back to me

as if it were yesterday doing the things in work and play

if only it was yesterday

Norton had led a good life, his karma was good and his soul was able to detach without too much struggle. He began to see the spirit world in his final months and I was glad to encourage him to tell me what he saw, because I had had my own initiation with death 20 years ago which brought home to me that we are souls on an eternal journey, not just bodies having a random experience, that the spirit world is as real, or more real even than the physical, and that love is what connects it all and makes existence rich, rewarding and divine.

I have come to see that the straightforward no-nonsense, unconditional love that my parents Rona and Norton both blessed me with and inspired in me as a child was the greatest gift possible, it set me up for life.  I have danced with Native Americans, smoked chillums with Hindu Saddhu holy men, and been a key player in the development of a spiritual tribe of gay-lesbian-bi-trans people in the UK, but all this is rooted in the simple loving wisdom my Suffolk parents nurtured in me.  Dad and I were able to have conversations in his final weeks about god, Jesus, heaven and hell, and I felt happy to be able to offer him the reassurance and confidence I feel about the journey out of life that we all have to take.

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When he left he went peacefully, having been surrounded by love during his last hours on earth, with me, mum, cousin Leonard and wife Brenda, brother Geoff and wife Hilda at his side. And he left at Beltane Eve, 30th April, when the pagan calendar tells us the veils between the human and spirit worlds are thin, like at hallowe’en. Norton was a true Suffolk gentle-man, a lovely soul, carrying more wisdom than he perhaps let us see: he wrote this last poem a few years ago and there are several copies of it in his notebooks. He definitely wanted me to find it, and in fact he asked that it be read at his funeral….

Do not cry or shed tears

For I am not here I am in the far horizon

Where there is no time, clouds or land to see

I shall one day return, but not as me, so just remember me.

I think it’s ok to shed tears, but also ok to move to a place of acceptance, after all death will take us all.  It is ok to let spiritual peace come and bid him a very fond farewell.  Dad nurtured a feeling of protection and safety and love of nature in me as a child, which prompted me to share this song at his funeral, one he used to sing to me….


Click here to watch: The Fox by Harry Belafonte on 1954 RCA Victor LP. – YouTube

Norton we miss you and bless you on your journey through spirit and into another lifetime.

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The reason I love Jesus


Because he died on the Cross for my sins! ONLY JOKING!

The Jesus story is a mythological map demonstrating the stages of the path of initiation into God-Consciousness, into the place where ‘The Father and I are One’. Mystery Schools both before and since his time have been places where souls who were called were able to explore the initatory path with others. That is why the Jesus story echoes so many older myths, they are all trying to tell us what is possible for us here on planet Earth. But to understand this we have to look deeply into the mysticism of the story, dedicate ourselves to the task and use our own consciousness as a vehicle of exploration. Death and Resurrection are two quite advanced steps on this path, coming after Birth (of the awakened spiritual heart – the Christ child within), Baptism (into the realm of elemental and astral presence and blessing) and Transfiguration (release of ego and growth into light body) but they are not the end of the story, as that other mystical wisdom tradition, astrology, shows us every year at Samhain. Dying to the limited ego self to discover the ecstasy of liberation, finding union with the divine Self, the holy spirit that opens our consciousness to the limitless possibilities of the multiverse, is the goal of eastern religion and western mysticism. It is also what the shamans and witches of the old peoples around the entire world used to do on a daily basis, surrendering into trance and possession to channel the energies of spirit for the benefit of the community. It is the practice of renunciation taken when leaving the world to become a monk, in whatever faith, and the purpose behind medieval monastic communities in Christian Europe – but loving brotherhood was a principle taken a little too far for some and was stamped down by the dissolution of the monasteries and the buggery act under Henry VIII.

The achievement of union with the divine is absolutely not the goal of monotheistic religions which teach that Heaven is only achievable after death.

During the Middle Ages there were many so-called ‘Free Spirit’ movements that embraced the possibility of union with God and approved of achieving that through sexual, including homosexual, means. Once the soul was united with the Higher Self, these movements believed, the individual could no longer sin. Life was to be enjoyed. Far too pagan for the Catholic/State establishment, these ideas were wiped out during the Inquisition.

Easter 2017. A Roman Catholic university in Kansas, USA bans yoga, saying….

“It is a mind and body practice developed under Hinduism, the goal of which is spiritual purification that will lead to a higher level of understanding and eventually union with the divine,” said Rev John Riley, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, to the Wichita Eagle.

“It is for these reasons that Catholics are alerted to the dangers of the practice of yoga and are encouraged to look for other exercise alternatives that do not incorporate a spiritual dimension.”

They do have a point in one sense. The journey of initiation into divine consciousness should be approached humbly and sincerely. It will strip away all illusions about who we are, challenge us to embrace dichotomies and impossibilities… it will break down all our inner resistance and challenge us to rise like a phoenix every time that we end up burnt to a crisp by the power of Kali’s love.

As someone who woke up to the Path of Initiation in the mid 1990s I can say… There is no better ride. But daily I read posts by intelligent, educated people who have got stuck in the paradigm of science vs spirit – when they discuss the possibility of the existence of a creator god it is usually as something ‘out there’, separate. The existence of mystery paths of initiation into the divine Self on this planet is still well hidden.


GAY PEOPLE ARE THE CARRIERS OF THE CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS (which is called other things by other paths) PLAYING THE ROLE JESUS PLAYED 2000 YEARS AGO. When the LGBTQ community catches on to the awakening game, human evolution will accelerate.

Us 1990s awakeners were the third wave of souls coming to awareness of the path since the 1960s. I quickly learnt that the roots for this awakening had been laid in the UK since the late 19th century by the Theosophists, and before that by the Elizabethan mystics John Dee and the Rosicrucians, and long before that by Arthur and Merlin at Camelot.

The second decade of the 21st century is bringng the next wave of awakening. It is hitting like a tsunami, and not unrelated is the intense level of crisis and darkness that certain streams of human consciousness are currently creating. This is for sure the time when the wave of awakening rises so high that many big illusions the world has bought into are crumbling. . But there is a danger now compared to the time of my flowering of awareness in the 1990s – that awakeners can access so much information and connection through the internet that they reach overload, maybe get attached to certain ideas and neglect the real place that truth, peace and understanding are found – inside! Grandmother Ayahuasca has become prominent suddenly because she can give busy modern people a rapid reboot into soul consciousness. She makes us puke out our sickening disbelief and return to the childlike soul state where we can receive her healing and teaching. Awakeners need to remember that all the stories, from Jesus to the Pleiadians, Buddha to the Ascended Masters, are there to wake us up. Also to remember that waking up is not a momentary thing! It is a path of dedication, initiation, mystery, tests, trials, opportunities, ecstasies and agonies as we shift from the material to the spiritual paradigm.

There are many ways and stages of awakening. Once we discover the path we have to learn how to walk on it! We best listen to the teachings that speak most clearly to our own soul and keep out what offends it. Let our habits evolve and adapt. Keep company that supports our ongoing discoveries. And importantly, affirm to ourselves that we are on the path of awakening to our greater, holier, older Self that has already existed many times in many places. This will keep our trials and the world’s challenges in perspective and help us to hold the peace within ourselves whatever transpires in this year of the Fire Rooster.

Jesus said “I am the Way” – or that’s how it is translated.  What he was really telling us is that the ‘I AM’ is the Way, and as manifestations of the I AM we are all on it. The Jesus story is best approached as a road map.

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Read more on the Path of Initiation:

Queer Shamans

THE QUEER SHAMANS who play, dance and work in light and dark

not afraid of either

for they are in touch with the ether

and the rainbow that lies beyond

the illusion of duality

the effects of electromagnetism and gravity

they’ve come to restore some sanity



calls together awakening queers in touch with nature and spirit

… explorers of consciousness, lust and love…  of laughter, light and liberation

The potential lies in us to bring together day and night

To reveal the multiverse beyond

To sing the Goddess song.

Sometimes that song is full of rage

Sometimes it’s sweet and nurturing

Unlocking the gifts of crone and sage

The next chapter of the Aquarian story


Calling to the Witch in every Queer

To the Priestess in every Lesbian

To the Shaman in every Gay barman

The Divine Mother in every Bear

The Abbot in every Faggot

The Deity in every Dyke

The Radical in every Faerie


Queer Spirit Festival.  July 26-30, 2017.  Wiltshire UK



There are many, many young guys on the internet and mobile phone app fuelled gay cruise scene who are chasing the thrill and danger of bareback, unprotected sex with HIV+ men.

“I’m neg, love taking poz loads”

“What makes poz loads so hot?”

“I guess just the risk.”

Why is this game of russian roulette, this exposure to the risk of being infected with a deadly disease (that can be controlled but only by adhering strictly to a daily medication regime) such a turn on for some guys?  Why is positive sperm so attractive to some?



Or is it the response of sensitive queer souls to the complex chaos and overbearing demands of modern human society?

OR…. could it even be  A CALL FROM THE SOUL INSIDE TO ESCAPE THE DELUSION THAT HUMANITY IS STUCK IN?  HIV woke me up to the multidimensional existence that our consciousness is engaged in exploring, and also helped me gain some perspective on the demands and madness of human life.

HIV was for me a trigger to learn that HEALING IS VITAL – and that healing encompasses the whole being, not just the body.  Through living with HIV I came to learn that we are beings of body-mind-soul-spirit, and even came to believe that the reason I became HIV+ in the first place was that i was living a life in the shallow end of emotional and spiritual engagement.  I was not seeking to grow as a person, not seeking to discover my soul’s talents and the magical gifts of my spirit, so my life was heading to a DEAD END.

AIDS was for me an ACCELERATED INDIVIDUAL DISCOVERY OF SELF.  Faced with impending death, a CD4 count dropping to almost zero and multiple aids related conditions ravaging my body, I opened my mind to life’s spiritual questions – who am i? why do i exist? what is life? what is love? – and finally found the spark that got my soul excited.  My inner worlds came to life.  Having chucked god and religion out of my life aged 12, I had been an ardent atheist who denied the spiritual side of existence.  But facing death woke me up to the fact that we are in fact SPIRIT first, and LIVING BODIES, second. Then i found that DEATH was seen as the greatest spiritual teacher in Buddhist, Hindu and Pagan traditions.  Experienced witches bowed to me because they could tell that my journey to the brink of life had opened up a deep connection with the spirit world for me. Overcoming the fear of death is the most powerful thing we can do to free up the spirit energy, love and joy locked in our energy bodies.

HIV invites us to face and embrace our mortality.  This can inspire us to live each moment of life with increased engagement and passion.  It can make us appreciate life all the more, and hopefully open us up to how we create our experience of that life through our own attitudes and beliefs.  HIV for me opened the gates to the spirit worlds and convinced me that we are not simply these bodies on a one lifetime chance existence – rather, we are EXISTENCE itself, getting to know itself, getting to explore its creation, AS US.  Therefore there is no need to fear death any more, it is simply a matter of a shift of focus, back to what we really are.


Why are some guys so keen to become positive?  When I ask that i am somtimes told that it is from their desire to be part of a ‘brotherhood’ – one that feels free to enjoy unbridled sexual connection.  In a world where soul and spirit are not understood or even hardly included, for some it seems that sexual highs are about the best thing to aim for in this life. Of course, from the point of view of this sexual mystic, that makes perfect sense… the chase for sexual ecstasy comes from the longing to reunite with the Source, the whole of Nature is driven by this desire, and it it’s done right, sex can certainly take us there.

For some it even seems that infecting others with the virus is what gives the high they long for….


This brotherhood may be shadowy but it dares to speak its name: websites exist such as that of ‘POZCHEMPIG’ on Tumblr, which declares the “Only way for real men to bond and truly take pride in being a man is to enjoy AIDS brotherhood in each other.”

I propose that the desire to be HIV positive is on one level a push from the soul to make us wake up to who we really are and to what the story of life on earth is really about. We can get to that discovery  through unconscious peaks and dark dives or by pursuing self-chosen evolution.  The effective medications that block HIV’s attacks on our immune systems mean we are encouraged by society to ‘carry on’ as normal, fitting into the system, going to work, playing the game, and for some this becomes the game of chemically enhanced sexuality.   We are not really encouraged to start questioning, searching and finding our deepest core nature.  But HIV affects us deeply, on more than a physical level.  It changes us.  The drug fuelled sex scene is an expression of that. We may not be dropping dead of AIDS any more but the chemsex game leads many to a place of annihilation and devastation, to a place of rock bottom from which they will be forced to learn to live more consciously.  

AIDS took me to devastation, loss of self, but also woke up in me a sense of meaning to my life.  I came to see HIV as a trigger to my personal evolution and was transformed by it.  All over the world I meet other gay men whose lives have been opened up by their experience of HIV.  They have learnt about themselves and grown to be wiser and better people.

So much of the story coming out about long  term HIV+ men is about depression, loneliness, poor health, poverty and suicide.  Why this future would be appealing to negative guys is certainly a mystery.  But in fact this is not my experience. HIV has brought me knowledge, motivation, power, love and friendship.  It has opened me to the evolutionary potential in modern humans – once we get the point that as modern humans, the cutting edge of evolution is in us.  Through our hearts and minds we make choices every day that further our growth into light or descent into darkness.  HIV is the perfect symbol of this power that we humans have, and exercise so unconsciously all the time:  once infected we have the power of life and death over ourselves (take the pills and live or don’t take them and die). HIV can seem like the most devastating thing that can happen to a person – and when I became positive in the 1980s it was – but it can also be our teacher, our healer, our awakener. 

HIV has the potential to wake us up to who we really are, if we ask the relevant questions. That is why I am choosing to call HIV the GOD SEED and that is perhaps why, without knowing why, so many men are chasing it.


Arcane Perfection

An essay summarising some of my historical research into the spiritual roles played by Queers throughout human history appears in a new anthology of writing, just published and available from Cutlines Press and other places, including a Kindle version retailing at around a dollar!  Excerpt and links to book below


ARCANE PERFECTION is a collection of essays, poetry, art, rage, love, rituals, spells, and musings by, for, and about Queer, Trans, and Intersex Witches. The book began as a coven project to further curate the Witchery of our Queer, Trans, and Intersex members, and then the project was expanded to encompass Queer, Trans, or Intersex people from around the world. – See more at:

Arcane Perfection mixes personal stories with mythology, spiritual and political visions, and actual witchcraft, including rituals and spells such as the “Queer Sovereignty Spell for Pride, Power and Protection,” and the “Deadname Decoy Spell.” Articles like “Queer Bears & Berserkers,” “Candles for Queer Magic,” “The Transgender Body as Holy and Liminal Witchcraft,” and “A Trans Positive Ritual Space” are some of the explorations of queer- and trans-centric magickal practice. – See more at:


Here is an excerpt from my essay…..


Sexual practices and homosexual priests and priestesses were normal in the pagan religion of the ancient world. Pan, Dionysis, Aphrodite were among the deities worshipped sometimes in single sex cults. When Roman Emperor Hadrian’s young lover Antinous died mysteriously while sailing on the Nile, the spirit of Osiris was invoked and Antinous raised to the level of a god. His worship was popular, it spread throughout the empire within a decade and was an attempt to revive the power of the old religion in the face of the competition of the more rigorous new faith, Christianity.

In Scandinavia Seidr was a shamanic practice led by women and feminine men. The word for the femininised nature of these men was ergi, which would become an insulting term as the macho patriarchal Christian culture wiped out the pagan past. It was one of the longest enduring shamanic traditions of Europe, only gradually wiped out by the Christian church.

The suppression of heresies that challenged the rising Christian state and of vestiges of the old pagan religions went hand in hand, and both were associated with sexual libertarianism and the acceptance of same sex activity. The Cathars of southern France are a well-known example, but were just one of many ‘Free Spirit’ movements challenging Christian dominance in the middle ages. The Church opposed the Free Spirit notion that the soul in mystical union with god was unable to sin, whatever it does. From 15 to 17C the dark work of the Inquisition was continued in the witch hunts, which can be seen as a concerted effort to finally wipe out the spiritual power of women and of queer nature men from Europe. In Britain we know it was mostly women who were burnt as witches but across Europe there were also large numbers of men burned for the practice of sorcery.

Of course many spiritually inclined queer men and women were drawn into the Christian church, serving their communities, living in monasteries etc. The monasteries of the Middle Ages saw a flowering of same sex love, and resulted in the church issuing ever more edicts against the sexual consummation of that love. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in England in the 16th century he was able to use the accusation of unnatural sexual practices against the Catholic monks. In the Middle Ages and right up until fairly recent times the sacred potential in same sex love was recognised in the Islamic faith by the Sufis, with much of the world’s great mystical poetry (eg by Rumi, Hafiz) inspired by it. The modern religious taboos against queer people have been created by heterosexual men (whose power comes from physical might not intuitive, spiritual gifts) to suppress our spirit, our power, our expression. But the story isn’t over yet.


Having spent a millennium wiping out the spiritual resonance of same sex love and gender fluid individuals on the old continent, what a shock the European explorers had when they arrived in the new world. They found homosexuality was accepted as perfectly normal amongst the Native American tribes, and that the sacred functionaries of the native peoples were gendervariant individuals. The Europeans called them ‘berdache’, a French word for a passive queer, and this word stuck until the 1990s when the native shamans began to reclaim their power, giving themselves a new name – Two Spirit. And it was not only in north America that the Europeans found this link between gender bending and the spiritual work of the tribe. It was documented also in Africa, south America, Australasia. In China and Japan homosexual practices were seen as privileges of the monastic classes, and when the Jesuits protested at this they were literally laughed out of town.

One tribe in Africa has managed to keep alive its ancient wisdom relating to our kind. Sobonfu and Malidoma Some, teachers from the Dagara of western Africa, speak of gay men as gatekeepers and lesbians as witches. They say that to define a person by their sexual practice is to seriously limit them. They teach that it is entirely normal that a person’s inner gender may be different to the gender of their physical body. They teach that same sex erotic behaviour can be used to unlock gates to spirit, to access non-physical dimensions, and that this is vital work that brings balance and well-being to the whole tribe.

There is a vast history, and a beautiful, miraculous spiritual reality awaiting the queer peoples of planet earth, when we awaken to the deep relationship our souls have with nature and the cosmos. Rejected by religion, many of us are drawn to explore our souls through witchcraft and other magical practices, we are drawn to eastern practices of yoga and meditation, because we sense instinctively that spirituality is about having a personal relationship with creation, with nature, with the cycles of life, and not about obeying the rules set down by churches. Spirituality is about finding and manifesting our true self – which sounds a lot like Coming Out. Queer communities might try embracing coming out as a spiritual act, an act of self-actualisation and a step on the path of self-realisation. Then we might see that being queer is a process of self-discovery, an ever unfolding one in which we never stop growing, discovering and becoming more of who we are.


IImage from The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions, 1977.


Super Human: Chems and Consciousness


Shamans across the world have always used substances from nature to expand their consciousness and commune with other layers of reality.  Modern humanity has all kinds of chemical magic that we have added to this pot of potential, but pays too little attention to the reality of the multiverse our trips take us too.

LSD opens the mind

Ecstasy opens the heart

Cocaine boosts the power centre

Crystal Meth/G/Mephedrone expand the sexual drive

(at least that’s all gay men seem to be using them for)


If we take them all is human potential unleashed?

Better to understand that human potential exists without the chems

When we understand what we are:  divine ecstatic souls incarnate

Chems become signposts to the Way, doors to our own nature,

That can show us the unity of consciousness on the dance floor

Take us on journeys through the infinite mind space

That can reveal how strong and mighty the love within us is

Can point to our powerful potential as humans

And unlock the spirit trapped in the body.

They can reveal the thing that science keeps concealed

That the mental, emotional and spirit planes

Are vast, eternal and REAL.


We have travelled and explored the physical

Right down to the quantum level

But while we are a species trapped in conflict and division

The gates to the other realms remain largely closed

One day all will see that the soul is part of infinity

The mental, emotional and spirit dimensions

Are as real, as vast, or even more so, than the physical

Humans have a lot to explore and discover yet

But we still haven’t got a grip on the basics.


The idea that existence is an accident

Or the result of a physical big bang

Will be as ridiculous in the future

As the idea of a flat earth is to us today.

The idea of denying God

Because of the amount of suffering on planet earth

Will be as ridiculous in the future

As the idea that the earth is the centre of the universe.


Existence is made of the forces of Creation

Preservation and Destruction/Transformation

These are the God powers and they exist in us

We live in a free will zone with divine power

In our thoughts, hearts, will and loins

We are the Creators, Preservers, Destroyer/Transformers

It’s time to own our powers

And recognise

That One Spirit is emanating here

As black, yellow, red, white, as straight, bi, queer

The refugee suffering loss is you

The Age of Aquarius will be online soon.

To get there we have to break so many delusions

Escape and transform so much confusion

But when unity is grasped

And our power so vast

Embraced and channelled for love

The veils will lift and the multiverse be revealed

The r-evolution will come.


Stay strong through the tumult

Life is a game but it’s destination is clear

Move beyond division, move beyond fear

The Age of Aquarius

The Age of the Super Humans

Is almost here.



As 2016 draws to its end I reflect on the changes in gay life since I came out of the closet in 1986 aged 21.  The coming year, 2017, will see a lot of soul-searching and analysis of the journey the lgbtq community has been on since the partial decriminalisation of sex between men in ’67.   Here some thoughts from someone whose life was kicked into passionate and romantic technicolour by the act of coming out, but nearly cut short by AIDS a few years later, and who has transformed from shy-repressed country boy to global activist via the embrace of the spiritual aspects of his homosexuality.

21 was the legal age of consent for gay sex when I came out, and although it was fear of social rebuke rather than respect for the law that led me to hide my sexual attractions during my teenage years, the timing does demonstrate that as a young man I didn’t want to rock the boat, to break the rules.  Coming Out of the closet was for me a catalyst for many things, not simply sexual acts.  From this point on I no longer felt obliged to obey the rules and follow the norms of society.  Far from using my Cambridge degree to get myself onto a well-paid career path I became a queer kind of ‘drop out’:   the exploration of the sexual urges, so long repressed, and the excitement of love affairs and potential relationship became much more important to me than the pursuit of work, status and money.

I had been repressing my urge to have sex with men since at least the age of 12.  The only gay representations I saw on TV at that age were characters such as John Inman, Larry Grayson and Kenneth Williams – and while I found them all very funny, there was no way I wished to be seen to be ‘like them’.  In my later teenage years there was a shift – suddenly glamorous gay pop was all over the TV.  1981 saw New Romantic music and style offer a promise of a brighter future after the gloomy years of the 1970s, where punk seemed to be symbolic of the collapse of society.  Boy George, Marc Almond, Pete Burns, Jimmy Somerville were presenting queerness to the world, and the more ‘straight’ bands of the time, such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, were in some ways even more camp and gay.  Rock star Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality became known.  Being queer became less associated with the fey male, the box of queer expression opened and revealed its more masculine side, its rebellious side, its in-your-face side.

In my college at Cambridge University there was one out man and one out woman.  Plunged into this new world I continued to hide who I was, had girlfriends and tried to be ‘normal’ – until one day I wandered into a public toilet on Jesus Green and found myself surrounded by men standing at the urinals with hard ons.  What a rush!  I soon got out of there, head spinning, but plucked up courage to go back late that night and had my first experience of getting picked up and taken to a guy’s house.  We had a good time but the guy stuck a bottle of poppers up my nose and slapped lube on my arse without me expecting either move, so I also got slightly freaked out and left his house shaking.

Soon the public toilets of Jesus Green and Midsummer Common, plus Saturday nights at the city gay pub, the Burleigh Arms, became my happy hunting ground.  I would sneak into my college late at night with towny pick-ups, exploring this new freedom with so much enthusiasm that the work of the final year of my history degree got neglected.  I learnt things the hard way –  eg that if a strange man spends the night biting your neck the whole college will know about it afterwards, I also got to learn quickly about crabs and scabies.  A working class country boy at heart, I was much more at ease in the town’s gay pub than I was in the university gay society, where I felt out of my depth amongst the high camp and privilege, the dinner suits and posh accents.  It was my last year at Cambridge when I came out and I knew that what I wanted to do next was get to London and start exploring and enjoying the pleasures I had so long denied.


In London I found cottaging was going on everywhere.  Pretty much every high street, and several back streets, had public toilets where men went to meet other men, went to release tensions, or simply went to pass the time of day.  Some of these cottages had a dangerous, edgy feel to them but others felt like sacred spots where we were free to do what we liked.  I found the same on Hampstead Heath, which at that time at night was heaving with men.  I also found my special spots where I could go dance, socialise, and pick up men to spend the night with – such as the Bell in Kings Cross.  I got to fall in love with fabulous men, such as Keith a black model from New York, Antony an east end hottie, I discovered how much I loved to dance, but I found mainstream gay bars and clubs too poppy, bitchy and camp, while at the Bell I was amongst an alternative crowd of dykes and queers, often sporting bleached flat top haircuts or shaved heads and Doc Martin boots, dancing to the Smiths, Soft Cell and Siouxsie.  For some years this was my scene, my home.  It was a mixed gender space where trans people, women and gay men all mixed together, and I tended to find myself more at home in such spaces over the years than in men only zones, where things can quickly become all about sex (with the ongoing atmosphere of judgement and rejection that this can foster).  I worked in 1989 at the Black Cap for 6 months, and when I moved to south London in 1990 the Market Tavern became my frequent haunt.  In ’91 I had a spell working at the Earls Court men only fetish bar, the Coleherne and by this time was regularly on the Heaven dance floor tripping the night away.


I came out into an atmosphere of hope and fear.  Gay liberation was still a ‘new’ thing; HIV had only just been received that name, after its early profile as ‘gay cancer’.  Men were scared, but there were also many ‘smalltown boys’ like myself out there fresh faced, optimistic and hungry for love. Safe sex was the message, but when I fell in ‘love’ with someone condom use fell away.  I didn’t know anything different to this scary scenario of course, I had not experienced anything else.  I grew up afraid of being gay, so when I came into the gay world I guess I just accepted that fear was part of the picture.  Not only fear of AIDS, but also fear of attack – the danger involved in public sex in toilets and parks gave an adrenalin rush that made the whole sexual adventure a highly charged one.  I would never have taken drugs while playing in that world, it was important to have your wits about you, to be alert.  At least twice I was threatened as a result of picking up someone in a toilet – had money stolen off me, had a knife pulled on me.  In 1990 I was cruising on Clapham Common when a gang of teenage lads attacked me, hitting me over the head with a tree branch.  My head split open, the blood freaked out the lads and somehow triggered me into such a rage that I was able to tell them all to clear off, and I got myself to a phone box to call 999 (there was an ambulance strike on and so I was taken to hospital in the back of a police van occupied by homophobic officers).

2017:  a much easier time to be gay… or is it?

To be promiscuous in the 1980s took courage.  Toilets and parks were busy cruising spots but they were dangerous.  Promiscuity is much easier nowadays since most of it happens at home.  Toilet sex is pretty rare now – the 1990s saw the closure of most cottages.  I was never a fan of telephone lines and contact ads in magazines as methods of meeting men, they seemed clumsy methods of getting satisfaction compared to instant results in public spaces. Now we have cruising website and mobile phone apps such as Grindr, Scruff etc which have made promiscuity easily available to all who want to try it.  It can still be a scary, even dangerous, experience to meet men this way, but the fear, and therefore the adrenalin level is much lower – perhaps this is why casual sex has become so wrapped up with drug use.  Drugs offer a quick way to shift reality and bring some dramatic tension to the affair.  Men say they use them to overcome inhibitions, and hope the horror stories of addiction and drug related breakdowns will not become their story.  I feel fortunate that I never relied on chemical substances to aid my sexual liberation.  I know it is silly to romanticise cottaging (though park cruising can be fantastic), but my experience of turning up on stranger’s doorsteps and diving into sexual communion has been mixed – while occasionally amazing, the lesson surely is that making sex dates via apps is a lonely and limited occupation, in comparison to meeting in person in a public situation, where you get a sense of the person’s energy and attitude, which can be a more reliable guide than simply looking at erotic pictures of them.

The three decades that I have been Out have seen the liberalisation of attitudes to gay sex and the spread of public sex venues, such as gay saunas, naked bar nights and dedicated fetish clubs, in the UK.  In the late 80s in London we had a few tiny gay saunas, all of them tense due to fear of police raids and the internalised homophobia of the men in them.  In the late 90s sauna culture finally exploded in London, with several large venues opening.  Some of these have gone now, as have several of the sex clubs that opened in that time.  Other, non sex-focussed, gay venues have gone too, to much outcry from some of the community.

A bit of perspective is needed.  Thirty years before I came out there were no out and proud gay venues, there was only the sordid world of cottaging.  Toilet sex was so widespread that a parliamentary report into gay sex laws ten years before the eventual partial decriminalisation stated that no respectable man would be seen going into a public lavatory because of the associations.  The gay scene sprung up in the 1970s and 80s – In London gay bars opened in many parts of town, occasionally provoking a backlash from those who felt such venues should be restricted to places like Soho.  Most of the suburban and district bars have since closed, but so have many iconic central locations too, such as Camden’s Black Cap and Soho’s Madame JoJos.  Sex venues that have come and gone include the Fort, the Block, the ManBar, the PlayPit plus several saunas and our most recent loss, fetish venue the Hoist in Vauxhall.

Obvious factors are often quoted for this phenomenon – gentrification pushes out what is still too often perceived as ‘lowlife’ activities; cruising apps make bars less crucial to our sex lives; gay people are more accepted in society and so do not need as many dedicated spaces.  These factors may be true, but another might be that commercial businesses that rely on people getting intoxicated to make their living, is not the best model for gay life.

These days, 30 years after Coming Out, my energy goes into creating community spaces where queers can commune socially, sexually and spiritually all at the same time.  I lived with full blown AIDS for 4 years in the 1990s – I prepared myself to die, opening my mind to questions of spirituality for the first time.  When my mind opened the light came flooding in, taking me to places in myself that I had already met while flying high on lsd in our gay temple Heaven or on the dance floor at the Market Tavern, but this time they felt much more ‘real’.  AIDS woke me up to a multi-dimensional reality, brought me to an Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self, and now I work to create spaces that facilitate others reaching that place of spiritual revelation, or to deepen the awakening already going on.

When I came out in 1986 the Edward Carpenter Community was already running retreats for gay men far away from the commercial scene in wonderful places in nature.  Similarly to the Radical Faerie gatherings that were emerging in the USA (but rather more formal and structured, being British), these community spaces were set up by men who could see there was more to us than being good capitalists and consumers.  As AIDS took its toll these community spaces became vital healing zones offering support to many.  Also in the cities, the AIDS crisis brought out a spirit of compassion and community, it brought us together, eg lesbians helping out gay men – the vile efforts of the Conservative government to prevent the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools via Clause 28 also adding to the vital need to be strong as a community.

Since the successful medication to treat AIDS arrived in the late 1990s I have witnessed a massive explosion in the hedonistic side of gay life.  Where drug use was a relatively minority pursuit amongst queers when I came out, in the first decades of the 21st century it has become normal amongst all ages and slices of society.  We hear horror stories of professional men losing their livelihoods and their sanity through drug dependency, of young guys full of innocence and hope being drawn into dark drug scenes where abusive behaviours and nasty diseases abound.  Rates of HIV infection have not dropped amongst gay men, in contrast to rates among other groups.  A well known London clinic recently celebrated a fall in HIV+ diagnoses for the first time, but I notice this coming in the year that home testing kits for HIV became available, so wonder if their data means anything.

Home testing kits for HIV!  When I received my diagnosis we were handled with care – this diagnosis was a death sentence, which it may no longer be thanks to medical advances, but the impact of a positive diagnosis is still a life changing one, and I wonder how people react when alone at home they find out they are positive.  For me, HIV came to mean Healing Is Vital, because it was a catalyst for my growth as a spiritual being, and this is how it could be approached today.  But the capitalist system we live in wants us all to be productive consumers, not liberated souls aware of their eternal nature and their independent, perhaps rebellious, impulses.


In the 2000s the Labour government gave gay men an equal age of consent, plus adoption rights and civil partnerships for all queers.  Bizarrely it was under the Conservatives that this became the right to equal marriage.  The Tories have come a long way since the evil of Clause 28, but having failed to repress us out of existence they now seek to buy us off, to persuade us to buy into and support the crumbling edifice of western capitalist imperialism.  But we are a global people.  We exist in every race, religion, class etc. And we are still subject to persecution around the globe.  I believe the calling is to shift our focus to a bigger picture of our place in the world, to find our true nature and purpose.   In the UK the liberty we now enjoy is spoiled by the self-destructiveness and abuse going on in our, largely invisible, sex scenes.  As someone whose gay journey led him to face death and experience an awakening to the spiritual dimensions of life I observe that it is a shortage of spiritual awareness in gay life that leads us into the darkness.

Part of that lacking spiritual awareness is a simple appreciation that sex is about the soul as well as the mind and body, that sex itself is the doorway to ecstasy, bliss and release – drugs can help but when they become the path we have relinquished control of our own lives.  Harry Hay, one of the founders of the Radical Faerie tribal exploration of gay community, said that gay men have a natural affinity towards treating each other as equals, adopting the term subject-SUBJECT to describe this ability to see the other as another self.  This seems to be the exact opposite of what gay men are up to via cruising apps – where a consumerist approach encourages us to use each other as objects for our own satisfaction.

As we start to discuss 50 years of partially decriminalised sex between men, it will become clear that while much has been achieved socially, legally, politically, to make our lives safer and easier, spiritually, as a community, as a portion of the human race, we are still in the early stages of self awareness.   The second part of the spiritual truth that we need to collectively embrace is that the genderbenders have served as spiritual functionaries in every part of the world throughout human history, and work out what this means for us today.  The Christian church spent a thousand years wiping out the old pagan religion in which same sex love was honoured, then when the Europeans arrived in the Americas they set about doing the same thing there.  Also in Africa, Asia Christian Europeans imported a homophobia that still has shockingly horrific consequences today.


A big shift since the 1980s has been in the visibility of Trans people.  At Trans Pride in Brighton i have experienced a movement of peaceful, but determined, people making their way forward and feel it must have a similar spirit to early Gay Pride events in the 1970s.  The big lesson that gay men and women can take from the Trans community is that gender is ultimately a non-binary, fluid phenomenon.  Tendencies amongst gay men to denigrate the feminine side of our nature are anti-progressive, and apart from a few pumped up macho types, i think we mostly get this.  The LGBTQ community is here shaking up the world’s understanding of many things, including gender, sex and spirit.


The Two-Spirits of the American tribes are finding their way back into the picture, however, and so are queer pagans in Europe.  In less mystical quarters, in a very down to earth sense also, queers are becoming more self-aware, more confident about the positive contribution we make to society.  We were defined by scientific minds in relation to our sexual practices, but we are much more than our sexual acts.  Radical Faeries are an example of queers redefining ourselves from the inside and telling the world who we are, not accepting the limiting and prejudiced definitions of others.  Queer Spirit Festival in Wiltshire, UK (July 26-30) is a new venture (having its second outing in 2017) where up to 500 queers of all genders and sexualities will come together to celebrate our magical qualities and talents, to discover more about who we really are.

Also in the UK in August 2017, at an enchanted castle location in Northumberland, a gathering of 120 radical queers from all over the world will take place – the second Global Gathering of Radical Faeries, offered in the spirit of creating a global consciousness amongst queers that acknowledges our roles as agents of change in tumultuous times, as healers and artists, as peace bringers and awakeners for the whole planet.   A team of British and American faeries are calling together queers who have a sense of our tribal power,  and we are fundraising to bring in activists from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  30 years into my gay journey I am proud to be part of a rapidly growing network of conscious queers who seek to change the story on this planet of what it means to be gay, lesbian, bi or trans.

From Smalltown Boy to Global Faerie, I have learnt that being gay is a catalyst for personal evolution, but also learnt the hard way that if we do not embrace our evolution, nature will force it on us.  A lot of men are stuck at this stage right now, with few elders to show them an alternative route – because the most radical, adventurous men of the 70s and 80s mostly died.  As one who survived the plague, but only just, I long to tell the young gay people coming out today that there is much more to who we are than sex, marriage, fashion, glamour and good parties.  Our capacity for joy and heart centredness makes us revolutionaries; our love of ecstatic states makes us scouts of consciousness for the species; our liberation after centuries of repression has only just begun, there are many more things to discover about us.  In 30 years of being Out I am happy to have discovered some of those things in myself and to have found other queers also aware that we are on a quest of self-discovery and that our queer nature has a purpose, a function – to improve life on earth.


Let us consider and articulate the gifts we possess and the crucial role we play in contributing to all cultures around the globe. Where are we respected and honoured? Where and why are we misunderstood and oppressed? What strategies can we create to connect our queer spirits and form a world-wide network of loving companions? What support would we appreciate and what support can we offer to each other?

Through sharing our stories and celebrating our strengths, let’s co-create a planetary wave of love and consciousness and of recognition for all LGBTIQA+ people. Come and add your voice!

Chemsex Conundrum


They were the men who were shiny and buff

Had the right friends and had the best drugs

Danced through their 20s on podiums  and bars

Always chased but rarely loved

The mashed up, beautiful men have scars

Now they sit at home with lovers

Grateful for comfort and finding sex with others

Or live alone, after all these years

With a need to escape the regrets, the tears

The party starts and stays at home these days

Men on the phone, instant delivery

Breeding an over-dependence

On the wrong kind of chemistry.


Why do men take (so many nasty) drugs to have sex with each other?

When sex itself is the hottest drug on earth, after love

The studies tell us it’s because we’re lonely

In the atomised nuclear society

Guys declare it’s to release inhibition

And set the inner pig free

I say these are things

That could be fixed so easily

At the core drugs are a substitute for intimacy.

Men need more spaces to meet

Not sex clubs closing down

The bedroom is becoming the new closet

There’s more to the game of sex than dial-a-mate

Is it getting harder than ever for men to relate?

Shame is at the root of our sexual  crises

That doesn’t get healed by our mobile devices.

It’s up to US to cultivate brotherhood, to open our hearts and minds…

To face our own demons, our wounds and our fears

To discover our spiritual destiny as queers:

In our sex  games  we play with divine energies of creation

We open gates to spirit in our chase for elation.


Sex connects us soul to soul

As well as body to body

Good sex lifts us into the realms of Bliss

To the feeling that life doesn’t get any better than This

That feeling does not come from a needle or a pipe

It comes from our own inner source of Light

We raid that source like highwaymen


Raiding the lost ark of consciousness

Unaware we are, and have always been

The witches, the warlocks, the shamans, the fools

Who use sex, herbs and love as our tools

To enchant the world and heal the sick

To open the gates and conduct the magick.

Seems more and more men getting lost in the darkness

But if they make it back from the fight

They  come back as warriors, wounded but wiser

With maybe an urge to help others avoid the plight

Of chemsex induced insanity and subsequent emotional collapse

But change may not be coming overnight –

The dark path calls many of us who are shamanic souls

Who need to face darkness, energy, crisis

As part of the journey to becoming Whole.


The chase for bliss, for connection, for ecstatic, expansive feelings of freedom

Is the GodSelf inside us bursting to get out

So that we and he might get on with the work

Of revealing to the rest of the world

What life’s really all about.

Liberation of the body, mind and soul

Is what many have come here to seek

Remember THAT and life will present its own peaks.

The men who were shiny and buff

Seem to act like they’ve just had enough

Seems they heading to oblivion one way or another

AIDS didn’t get us but the death wish, the shame

That all gay men carry, for which I guess we have straight men to blame,

Hasn’t left us, it’s manifesting still

In our behaviours, in our addictions, in how many are ill

Perhaps AIDS is still around, but now functioning

On emotional, mental  and spiritual planes.

The men who were shiny and buff

And everyone who’s caught in the pain

NEED LOVE and the chance to discover

Their inner warrior, child and lover

In order to release the binding and recover.


There’s a consciousness r-evolution happening on planet earth.

Gay men are amongst those who are here to be its midwives


Raiding the lost ark of consciousness

Unaware they are, and have always been

The witches, the warlocks, the shamans, the fools

Who use sex, herbs and love as our tools

To enchant the world and heal the sick

To open the gates and conduct the magick


are missing the trick.

Auf Wiedersehen Hoist London


11th December 2016: Closing party of the Hoist in Vauxhall, after 21 years serving the gay male community of London.  A place of community and brotherhood, of tenderness and safety, as  well  as of fetish play, naked parties and uninhibited sexual contact, is disappearing, apparently (according  to the Attitude interview with Hoist entrepreneur Guy) not due to failing business, or rising rents, but because he wants to retire with his man and dogs to Norfolk, for a quieter life.

One hour into the party there was a queue along the street waiting for admittance.  Inside an even longer snaking queue of naked men carrying bin liners or rucksacks containing their clothes, the room’s circular furniture creating a figure of eight spiral movement of quiet, observant men waiting to pay their entry.  As I stood in the  queue  the house music track was incanting “It’s about love, unity and fun”, the scenario was very ritualistic as we lined up to enter the temple of naked delights.

Some of the parties held at the Hoist are moving to another, bigger, nearby venue, but south London is losing its leather bar.  Vauxhall is losing another sex venue. (The Eagle on Kennington Lane no longer holds cruise nights with porn screens and dark room – instead its focus now is to be a community pub, rather than a specialist men’s play space).

The thing is, men need play spaces.  Maybe even more so now that mobile phone apps are so prevalent.  The dynamics of public interaction, chance meetings, group energy are powerful.  They teach us about ourselves, they provide opportunities for physical expression that are not found anywhere else – and  they can be places of love as well as lust, of community as well as commodity.  Cruising apps do not help us build community and trust in the same way.  Apps have a place, but the disheartening effects they can have on men’s mental health shows the crucial need for real time, real life experiences.

The men turned out in droves for the Hoist’s closing party.  I was number 200 through the door, just an hour after opening.  The music pumped from 2pm and by 4 any ice (of nervousness, fear) had melted – the sweaty, sultry, orgasmic affair was in full swing.

Vauxhall has a rich history as a centre of play and pleasure going back to the  mid-17th century.  The Royal Vauxhall  Tavern , built in 1863, was originally a Victorian music hall and has been a home to drag shows since World War 2..  Its sister bar, the Market Tavern, was a den where anything and everything might happen.  It was dark, sweaty, cruisey and the best place to dance in south London until its closure in 1995 .  The Market died but the gay spirit of Vauxhall was reborn in the form of the Hoist and new, large, dance clubs Fire, Union, Area (this one now gone), a great community spirit and dance nights such as Horse Meat Disco at the Eagle, the acreage of Chariots sauna  and  the pumped up antics of Bar Code (also gone).  There was a gay gym, also recently closed.  So much for the south London gay ‘village’.

The Vauxhall Tavern holds the spirit flame of gay Vauxhall and is indeed thriving.  Unfortunately the sauna has a reputation for being unfriendly,  soulless and sometimes full of drugged zombies.  The Hoist was never that.  A bit of Vauxhall’s queer soul disappears – is this really not in any way related to the arrival of thousands of high  class, high price, high rise flats and the American Embassy to the area?  Vauxhall’s spirit belongs to the people, but it seems the rich would change that.  The appalling, shallow atmosphere of new style bar Back Counter gives us a clue what  could be  coming to Vauxhall. 

I hope that Fire, the RVT, the Eagle hold their ground and continue to offer dynamic, cutting edge queer nights.  And that the spirit of the Hoist return in some new and amazingly sexy form.  Our public play spaces are important, for although we about to celebrate 50 years in the UK since the partial decriminalisation of sex between men, there is a still long way to go until men’s attraction to men is properly accepted and understood.  In our sexual play spaces we discover our personal and tribal rituals, through our rituals we discover ourselves.  Through meeting in public spaces we find the magic of tribal connection, the reality of gay brotherhood, the generosity accessible in our souls.  The Hoist has provided a vital community space, been a significant slice of gay history, and been the scene of so much play and pleasure. The spirit of Vauxhall is in mourning.


Auf Wiedersehen Hoist London.