I'm back from this year's Between the Worlds Queer Pagan Men's gathering and still getting acclimated to my normal life at home in California. We were delayed a day getting back because the remnants of hurricane Ike shut down the Columbus airport a few minutes after we got there. After waiting in the airport for a couple-few hours they scheduled us for an early morning flight the next day, and so we stayed at what was probably the skankiest hotel I've ever stayed at. It was fine, though... I just needed a roof and a bed anyway. I was appreciative for the shelter.
This was my 2nd time attending BTW. Last year was such a life-changing event for me and while this year was more subtle, it certainly provided me with good opportunities to grow, to celebrate, and to open up.
I was grateful to be able to spend some more time with queerpaganquill (to whom Chas took a particular liking!) ;) Quill, you are a very special spirit and I am glad to know you. I also had an opportunity to connect a little bit more with world famous author Christopher Penczak (torcboy). (Sorry... but I figured I can get away with poking you from a few thousand miles away, Christopher, without fear of impalement.) ;) It was also nice to talk a bit more deeply with garan_du, even if I probably was making a drunken fool of myself, but at least I hope I was entertaining. It's always a pleasure to see lonespiritwolf2 and technocowboy, even if we didn't get much time to spend together due to everyone's duties, and such. It was also good to connect a bit more with gillshallows, dewinblaidd, drakematrix (even though we didn't get much time chatting), illious, devinswords,grey_twolf & jrtheotter, and the adorable jeffinthebox (thank you for serenading us at the campsite). There are others, but my brain is preventing me from finding LiveJournal names right now, so perhaps I should just stop there.
This was Chas' and my "official-pseudo honeymoon", having been legally married just over a week before the start of the event. I was also teaching a couple of classes along with the keynote speech, which was a new experience for me. (For those that know me in person you might note that I generally am comfortable speaking with large groups of people while we are all together... me being up on a huge stage with a sound system and spot lights was a little... disconcerting, at first. To the extent that when I realized that I couldn't easily see my notes --and was blanking out on how I was to begin!-- I just started talking, which I'm hopeful didn't sound like babbling. ;) I think I caught my stride, though, and am grateful to have had the experience to hone my skills a bit more.
I talked a bit about life passages for the queer practitioner, and drew from the Amethyst Pentacle that Chas and I wrote some time ago. Of particular interest (to me) is the concept of resonance (i.e. like attracts like; I see myself in you) as an alternative to polarity (i.e. opposites attract; I see other in you), as well as the idea of finding ones personal godhood and living from that, as opposed to unconsciously adopting traditional roles. I decided that instead of just another talk, that I would include some meditative elements as well, since that's what I think I do best. Included was a brief journey into the Faery realm, and then a Three Souls alignment, with an emphasis on love and sexual longing being a catalyst for the three drawing together in union. Hopefully this inspired some hot spirituality later on. ;)
Upon arriving, it was great to see some familiar faces. And during my stay it was wonderful to make some new friends. I feel such a connection to this community, unlike anything that I have felt before. While I do feel deep connections to certain individuals within my various Craft and spiritual communities, this is really the first time that I have felt connected to a community as a whole. Why? I think it might be because this is an intentional community and not one that is based on automatic inclusion due to markers such as initiatory status or who's famous. BTW and the Green Faerie Grove are genuinely interested in creating a space for individuals to come together to celebrate, to laugh, to share, and to grow. While other communities have tried to market themselves as a "family" (sometimes to the extent that if you do not feel the same way then you are sometimes told you are not really a true member!) this is the first time that I would feel comfortable using that word for a group overall. It is a common queer experience that we create "families of intention", seeing as how we are often strangers in our own homes; likely the only one in our biological family unit who is queer, thus left with feelings of separateness or isolation. To fulfill the need of familial intimacy, we often choose others who are like ourselves to whom we feel a special bond. This even goes so far as to find its way into our slang, referring to other queer people as "family", to highlight this intentional communion.
So this was a family reunion for me. And I was even more excited to be able to share this with Chas, who was unable to attend last year due to care issues for his mother. I was a bit concerned about how we would react to all of this, as this is unlike anything that he had experienced before. I think it was all summed up upon returning home when he turned to me and said, "Once a year is not enough!"
A big thank you to everyone who participated in making this event successful. Your kindness, your generosity, your conversations (and your kisses!) were all an important part of the exquisite tapestry that is BTW. I already can't wait for next year!