My name is Luis Alvarez and I am happy to introduce myself as convener for the 2015 Spring Retreat, co-created with Terry Allen. Having attended Gay Spirit Visions since the 2010 Fall Conference, I have come to love my times of connection at The Mountain. I started and fostered meaningful relationships with many of you throughout the past four years, and I am honored and humbled by the love and support you have shared with me. Now it is time for me to give back by holding sacred and safe space for us to connect and ask for what we need from ourselves, one another, and the community.
This Spring, we will engage in many different activities that will encourage us to grow spiritually through connectedness and communication. The purpose of communication is both to reach out to another and to express what the speaker is thinking, feeling, and needing. The conference will allow participants to expand their abilities in both reaching out and expressing their needs.
Connection and communication is vital to human relationships and community. Brandon Kazen-Maddox practices connection and communication using an original art form he’s created called ASLAD, or American Sign Language (ASL) Acrobatic Dance. He says, “I want to spread its breath, lift, flips and sweeps far and wide across our world, in hopes that one day we humans might communicate through gestures that are so emotive, so communicative, that we won’t even have to look twice.”
A gymnast since the age of four and a grandchild of deaf adults (or GODA), Brandon maintains a professional career as a freelance American Sign Language Interpreter for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and has worked in the television and entertainment industry through shows involving deaf performers. He has also trained Chinese Acrobats in a Professional Training Program in San Francisco, CA.
Brandon’s unique perspective as a biracial, gay artist that has fused communication with movement can help us discover ways to expand how we connect. When asked if he saw his work as a spiritual practice, he said, “Oh definitely!”
Brandon Kazen-Maddox, Acrobat
Brandon Kazen-Maddox is a freelance American Sign Language interpreter in the Bay Area who focuses the bulk of his artistic efforts on blending the linguistics of American Sign Language (ASL), the explosive inverted qualities of acrobatics and the technique of various styles of dance to cultivate a new form of performance art he has named American Sign Language Acrobatic Dance, or ASLAD. Brandon has performed works of ASLAD in both live performance and video through his performance company, Body.Language.Productions. Recent works from B.L.P. include a video performance project for the 2013 Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival, an ASL dance duet choreographed by dancer and choreographer Antoine Hunter for the 2014 Black Choreographer’s Festival and an upcoming ASL project with Rosa Lee Timm, a notable Deaf performer whose passion is rooted in signing poems and songs in American Sign Language.
Brandon’s Mission: To meld the intricate emotions of American Sign Language, the kinesthetic dynamics of rhythm and dance and the percussive qualities of high-energy acrobatics together in order to create a brand-new medium of art that resounds within the souls of hearing and deaf people alike.
Brandon’s Motivation: His deaf family members, friends, and fellow dancers who have the ability to feel as far as the sky.
Brandon’s Muse: Rhythm, music, and dance that evokes the body to feel compelled to physically and emotionally express itself in a manner all its own.
Watch Brandon’s American Sign Language performance:
Terry and I would like to hear about workshops you would like to offer or participate in during the 2015 Spring Retreat. We have already heard some fantastic ideas through Facebook, but we want to take it a step further. We would like you, our brothers and community, to help us develop your ideas into workshops.
Workshops will be held on Saturday morning and will last one hour and forty-five minutes. Your proposal should include the following information:
Name of workshop
Summary of the workshop (including goals and sample activities or outcomes)
Description of how the workshop enhances the Spring Retreat’s theme of connections and communication
Send us your proposals soon so we can determine how best to integrate your workshop into the retreat and ensure it’s fully supported.
“To understand how Gay Spirit Visions came to be, it is helpful to look at what came before, and especially what happened in gay consciousness between about 1970 and 1990.” – Bob Strain (Palindrome)
Thus begins the prologue to this special 25th year edition of the Visionary, the Journal of Gay Spirit Visions. Tremendous gratitude is due Bob Strain, Gary Kaupman, and Tony James for the passion and vision each of them brought to this issue of Visionary, which would not have been published without their dedication. There are also many other voices in this issue, and gratitude is extended to each of the men who shared their words and wisdom.
“The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy! Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy … Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!” —Allan Ginsberg
We are beings of living energy in an ocean of infinite bliss.
We are beings of blood and bone, breathing spirit.
Join us for a playful and profound bodymind meditation retreat, devoted to gently and safely nurturing our experience of spirit in the body. With awareness, compassion, and curiosity, we will explore the spirit in the body through bodymind meditations, including:
Touching The Spirit in Our Own Body
Standing in Spirit, Sitting in Spirit
Ecstatic Breathing Meditation
Touching Each Other’s Spirits
Discovering the I Am through Touch and the Surrendered Breath
Touching Each Other: Intimate Sacred Touch with Partners
Touching Each Other: Sexual Sacred Touch with Partners
Touching The Spirit in the World
Touching the World with Our Whole Being
Cultivating Sacred Self-Touch
Cultivating a Sacred Self-Touch Practice
This weekend is designed to cultivate a mindful atmosphere of awareness, compassion, respect, and curiosity. Meditations will be offered at all levels of intimacy. Participation is always optional, and we will support every person’s participation at a level that feels safe and sacred for them. We’ve also included unscheduled time for self-reflection, and for brothers to offer their own safe and sacred workshops and ceremonies.