A Note about the Groups' Cisgender
Gay Male Focus
We live at a time when the LGBTQ+ community strives to include as many people and allies as possible under the queer umbrella. This worthwhile impulse demonstrates respect and solidarity, and fosters political power and community.
At the same time, the growing queer umbrella contains within it tremendous variation in lived experience. The Gay Men of Wisdom methodology, by necessity, limits participation to cisgender gay men. We do so for several reasons:
- An honest read of the literature on the nature and meaning of what it means to be gay shows that gay men have written most of it, and it pertains mostly to gay men. This literature extends back to Harry Hay and even Edward Carpenter. The framework of the 14 Distinct Gay Male Gifts represents a conversation that gay men have had for several generations about what it means to be a gay man.
- Apart from Judy Grahn through her book, Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds, no other lesbian has contributed a book to this genre. And that work itself does not directly address lesbians' difference or explore how those differences are gifts.
- Lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer people have not yet developed narratives that describe their differences and how those differences present gifts to humanity.
- The Gay Men of Wisdom methodology bases itself on the existing literature, which the founder has field tested with gay men in many groups.
- There simply is too little qualitative data about what it means to be lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer to construct a meaningful narrative that includes these groups. We simply don't have enough information yet.
- If we included lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer people in this exploration, we would need to pretend that this narrative pertained to them. That would be disingenuous and would ultimately dishonor them.
- It would be disrespectful for gay men to create a narrative describing the lived experiences of those who have other gender or sexual identities. It's just not our place.
- This work invites participants to examine lifelong patterns, beginning in early childhood. We begin to notice differences in gay boys at an early age. Those differences carry through to adulthood. Trans gay men would not see themselves reflected, as a good portion of their lives will have been spent presenting as a gender that conflicted with how they felt inside. There is simply too great a difference in these two lived experiences to make a meaningful bridge between them.
The Gay Men of Wisdom experience is thus very specific. It is a model for how to value human difference, and it requires a single identity to do so. We hope the work will inspire other groups to gather together and answer the same questions that Harry Hay posed to the Mattachine Society in 1950: Who are we? Where do we come from? What are we for?
While we limit participation in the groups to a single identity, we welcome a diversity of lived experiences to the board. Please contact us for more information.
All contents copyright © 2019 Raymond L. Rigoglioso.
What Participants Are Saying about the Experience
"There has been a collective tone of understanding in our group. We have grown to appreciate each other for who we are. We've come to see the need for each of us to express our inherent wisdom and not let it go to waste. I think we are all a bit more ambitious because we have shared this experience. "
"It has been several years since I've sat in a room with my fellow gay men, sharing openly about matters of the heart, body, mind, soul, and spirit, while consistently saying to myself, "Yes! I feel that way too!" This program has helped me recognize and awaken the gifts I have had all along."