GSV 2022 State of the Tribe Report

2022 State of the Tribe Report

December 2022

Greetings GSV Siblings!

After another trip around the sun, we’d like to take this time to reflect on some of the activities our organization has helped put together over the last year, as well as point to some of the things coming down the pipe for next year. COVID-19 caused us to have another aberrant year, but we still held our three regular gatherings. Our winter gathering was virtual, and our spring and fall gatherings were in-person, complete with hugs, camaraderie, and the joys of being together. As a gift of appreciation to our community, the Council voted to waive the program fee for all three of our gatherings in 2022. Regular program fees will resume in 2023. The past two years have served to highlight all the ways in which our resourcefulness and indomitable spirit outshined our obstacles. Additionally, I want you to know about the Council’s ongoing discussions regarding diversity and language, along with the desire and need for future input from the greater GSV community. We are beginning our work with a consultant, H.G. Stovall, to help the Council clarify how we can best address these topics and create a living dialogue around them. The Council has a strong commitment to listening to your feedback. One way we do this is through the surveys we send to participants after each gathering. I want our GSV community to know that we do read all surveys and we act on your feedback when and where we can. We are listening!

Before I go any further, I want to say how much of an honor it has been to serve as your Presiding Elder in 2021 and 2022. The Council worked together very well to create rich and rewarding gatherings as we navigated what seemed to be ever-changing conditions due to COVID-19. As some of you know, this is my third and final year serving on the Council, and I will be rolling off along with John Rivest, Robert McDonald, and David Cable, to make room for other siblings to take up the mantle of service and leadership in our community. Jeff Beacham/Timber will also roll off the Council due to new restrictions associated with his new job. I have learned so much about this wonderful community and myself, and I will always remain grateful to have had this opportunity. Thank you all.

I am excited to share with you that David Berger/Badger has taken the role of the new Presiding Elder in 2023. Joining the Council this coming year will be Jason Buchanan, Greg Fields/Puck, Wade Jones/Sister Sarong, and Ben Lewis. I have had the pleasure of serving with David for the past two years, and I feel that he, our new Council members, and the rest of our Council members will do a terrific job leading this community into the future. Thank you all for taking care of yourselves, each other, and this place.

Neil Burns
2022 GSV Presiding Elder

Looking Back

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned quickly how much work it is to facilitate a virtual gathering, and how the skill sets of a convener and the skill sets of a Zoom room facilitator are not the same. Our conveners during that uncertain time did a wonderful job taking the lessons we learned from our virtual gatherings and incorporating them into the subsequent gatherings. That resulted in all kinds of new lessons to learn from, as our knowledge built upon itself and our experiences.

This year, Winter Meditation was a virtual event due to following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidance. Connection happens on an internal level, not an external level. So, we chose to preserve what made GSV what it is: authentic relations, safe spaces to be ourselves, and a welcoming community that cares for one another. We knew how important it was to keep doing the work of GSV.

Winter Meditation
“Working with Your Locus of Control”
GSV Council, Convener

Throughout 2021 we focused on resilience and hope. The 2022 Winter Meditation focused on working with our locus of control, connecting more deeply in our relationship with self, our perception of self, and the sacred cosmos. A locus of control orientation delves into our beliefs about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on events outside our control (external control orientation).

Our Winter Meditation, where our minds were thinking about far different things from COVID-19, featured keynote speaker Darren Main. Even though we all ached to be together in-person again, we were able to share through Zoom a powerful, sacred, and heart-connected experience. Winter Meditation was well attended by people from all over the U.S. as well as other countries—many of whom could not attend were it an in-person gathering. This gathering was designed to help us explore our community’s relationship with each other as individuals and as part of a collective organism. Breathwork, poetry, and dialogue were utilized to help us embody and live in these relationships. Thank you to all who attended or helped to produce a variety of presentations and ways of connecting at the Winter Meditation.

Spring Retreat
“From Dirt to Dynamic”
Pete “Angel Pete” Cossaboon, Convener

After much isolation and longing to gather in-person, we gathered together at The Mountain for the Spring Retreat. We embraced the energies and entities conspiring for our continued joy, breathed in deeply, and took in the idea that we are worthy and loved in grace. We have been told in the past that there are certain requirements for one to be loved. Those requirements simply are not real. You are loved simply because you exist. You are a part of all that is, so, to not accept love for yourself is the same as not loving everything. It feels bad to love one thing and not another because that is not the truth about love.

We learned during our time together how we can take our past and reframe it to bring us new life. We have wisdom because of our past. What we have come through has given us the strength and knowledge to truly soar in the present and into the future. It was wonderful to gather in-person. Thank you to all who helped produce the Spring Retreat as well as those who participated and followed our COVID-19 policy to help ensure the safety and health of all involved.

Fall Conference
“Who Do You Think You Are”
Bill Harris/Cupcake, Convener

We gathered in-person once again, surrounded by loving siblings, to rekindle long-term relationships or spark new ones. During our time together we explored who we are, identified what restrains us, and chose what we can unload to enhance our life journey. Who we are and what we become are based on our thoughts! They include perspectives we bring to any situation or experience that color our point of view. Through two sessions of Story Slams, we explored some stories and perspectives in our individual lives and shared our stories with other GSV siblings. Thoughts can be reactive, situational, or grounded in willful awareness. If we are aware of the thoughts that have formed our character and attitudes, we can choose to change them and our experience of life’s events. We explored ways to change the tenor of our story and thereby enrich the quality of our journey.

Our keynote speaker was David Ault who is an award-winning author, leadership coach, and global education advocate. He loves leading through example and abides by the motto that people would rather “see a lesson than hear one.” Thank you to all who helped to produce the Fall Conference as well as those who attended the Conference and delved into this inquiry.

Technology Working Circle
We have since created a technology working circle to manage Zoom hosting, virtual room preparations, and other platform-based needs so that our future virtual conveners can focus on what they do best: convene. The Technology Working Circle currently has five individuals who have volunteered their services to the greater cause. They also help out with the audio portions of our in-person events.

Shauna Pleas Boutique
In 2021, the Council passed a budget item to obtain new clothing racks to replace many of the racks that were broken. The new racks are working very well and are much more durable. Thank you to Mackie Obando for sorting and organizing the abundant clothing and accessories. It is now much easier for the Gender Freedom and Expression Working Circle to set up and take down the boutique!

GSV/Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections and Archives Update
As many of you know, we have been collecting oral histories from our members and housing them at the Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections and Archives. There are now more available in the database for viewing and reading at Gay Spirit Visions Oral History Project. Consider reaching out to our Culture, Traditions, and Archives Working Circle if you would like to share your story with the greater public.

Raven Wolfdancer Financial Assistance Fund and Donations, etc.
The Council decided to waive all 2022 program fees. Not only was the cost of the gatherings for participants less, but the total disbursement from the Raven Wolfdancer Financial Assistance Fund was also less.

The Financial Assistance Working Circle received and processed 13 applications for financial assistance (scholarships) in 2022. All 13 applications were approved. The total amount approved was $2,425.00. Three applicants were granted full scholarships, and ten applicants stated they could pay a portion ($25+) of the gathering cost.

Due to scholarship recipient cancellations because of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for other reasons, nine individuals received financial assistance in 2022. The total amount distributed for financial assistance was $1,725.00.

Over the course of the year, a total of $930.00 was donated to the Raven Wolfdancer Financial Assistance Fund. Thank you all so much for your continued support as we continue to support one another over the years.

Several years ago, GSV raised and donated $25,000 to The Mountain and restricted the funds for the construction of an addition to the Lodge. As often happens, priorities change, and critical needs arise. Late this year, the Council was approached by The Mountain’s Director of Development, Beverley Cree, with a request that the Council consider redesignating the donation to The Mountain’s Staff Housing Repair Project. At present, staff housing repairs are an extremely critical need at The Mountain. Please know that over the course of three Council meetings, the Council thoroughly discussed, questioned, gathered information, and thoughtfully considered The Mountain’s request. On November 7, 2022, and with a unanimous vote, the GSV Council approved The Mountain’s request to redesignate the $25,000 donation to The Mountain’s Staff Housing Repair Project.

Feed the Kitty!
If you would like to contribute to GSV, but find yourself with more money than spare time, donations can be made via the GSV website or by mailing a check to GSV, PO Box 339, Decatur, GA 30031. GSV is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to GSV are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Facing Forward – Words from the New Presiding Elder, David Berger

Hello! I’m looking forward to the magnificence we will manifest together! And thank you, Neil Burns, for your gracious service on the Council and as Presiding Elder in 2021 and 2022. Neil did a magnificent job leading our Council and organization with great power and grace through many challenges. For this, I am truly grateful.

It’s an honor and a privilege to step up to Presiding Elder for 2023. I’ve been coming to GSV for over 30 years and feel this is an integral part of my spiritual journey. I remember distinctly having the thought at my first gathering: “This is what Gay Pride is.” I made the 10-hour journey from Ohio over 30 times and recently moved to South Carolina, where I now have just a 2-hour drive to The Mountain. I’m now a mostly retired music teacher and have more time to give to GSV. We have some important decisions and concepts to grapple with in the coming year, and I hope to be able to steer this fine Council with leadership, courage, and love.

David Berger/Badger
2023 GSV Presiding Elder

Schedule of Gatherings in 2023
We have a Winter Meditation coming up in a few weeks and two other gatherings are currently in the planning process with their conveners!

Schedule of Gatherings in 2023
Winter Meditation: January 13–15, 2023
Spring Retreat: May 12–14, 2023
Fall Conference: September 28–October 1, 2023

As you may already know from the announcement made at the end of November, the theme for the upcoming Winter Meditation is “A Serene Weekend of Kindness.” (Register here) Winter at The Mountain is a magical experience. The air is crisp, the atmosphere is serene, and all of nature is in repose. Long dark hours in retreat from life’s commitments create space for reflection. The Mountain beckons you to come, let go, and be in the moment. There is bound to be a lot to learn about ourselves and our place in our worlds. I can hardly imagine what is to follow such a heartwarming winter, in the spring and fall! So, relax and know that we on the Council, the Working Circles, and our future conveners are all working diligently to put together the best gatherings we can for you. The 2023 Spring Retreat is currently being developed with its convener.

Currently, all 2023 GSV gatherings will be in-person events. The Council is working with The Mountain and their new leadership team to plan our 2023 in-person gatherings. This is where we are now, and we will keep you updated if changes have to be made. We all want to gather together in-person and as safely as we can.

An Introduction to New Council Members in Their Own Words
As you can see, the new members of the GSV Council live in different cities which helps to widen the geographic scope of our leadership. I am looking forward to seeing how they will work with all of the Council to serve our GSV community.

Jason Buchanan—I currently reside in Minneapolis, MN, and first entered the GSV community in 2014. I have been a Small Group Leader for many years, a workshop leader on multiple occasions, a Spring Retreat Convener, served on the Welcoming & Hospitality Working Circle, served on the GSV Council previously, and held the offices of Elder of Records (Secretary) and Presiding Elder (President). I mostly hope to bring a youthful perspective of intersectionality and inclusion into the Council dialogue.

Greg Fields/Puck—I am originally from Houston, TX, and now reside in Scottsdale, GA. For several Fall Conferences, I served as a Small Group Leader. I served on the Entertainment Working Circle and over the past several years served on the Altared Spaces Working Circle. Additionally, I’ve played various roles in several Opening and Closing Rituals. What I will bring to the Council is a willing spirit, patience, creativity, a desire to learn more about the organization, and a commitment to support others both within the Council and the larger tribe. I join the Council because it gives me joy and a sense of balance to contribute to GSV for GSV has offered me so much—not only on The Mountain but also in my daily life through fellowship and love with many tribal siblings.

Wade Jones/Sister Sarong—AKA Sister Right Sarong, a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence and Sassi in the Faerie community. I currently live in Atlanta, GA, and attended my first Winter Meditation in 2004. I have organized the last two GSV Silent Auctions, performed a few live GSV Auctions, and emceed the Talent Show twice. Fundraising and providing access to anyone called to gather is a core of my belief system.

I am known as an organizer and doer that facilitates consensus for action. What I hope to bring of value to the Council is the opportunity to reflect on how we use bureaucracy, policy, and procedures to organize and execute. Reflection is an iterative process and encourages the building of faith and trust. Another area I would like to explore is how technology intersects with sacred space.

Ben Lewis—I live in Roswell, GA, and first came to GSV in 2021, attending the Winter Meditation online in January, and eventually met everyone in person for the first time at the Fall Conference that year. So far, I’ve been involved mainly as an individual participant, volunteering where needed to help lighten the work for others as I can. For the Council, I hope to bring a willingness to serve my siblings and the organization by facilitating for others the kind of fulfilling experience that GSV has provided for me.

Resource List
In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted much of our daily life due to the isolation resulting from sheltering in place. Responding to this, the Council is compiling a list of virtual resources that will provide ways of connecting with other individuals. Our intention is to provide resources to deal with the isolation in ways that we hope you will find helpful.

You are GSV
The strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf. And so it is with Gay Spirit Visions. All that we do is the result of the magic of community and teamwork. As we move forward, consider ways you’d like to take your relationship with GSV a step further. Maybe that means coming back after a long hiatus. Maybe it means attending all three gatherings this year. Maybe you just want to share a few ideas or feelings with us. Or maybe you feel it’s time to lend your hand to one of our invaluable Working Circles, lead a workshop at one of our gatherings, or spearhead the community as a future convener or Council member! Trust us, there is a place for you here. Meet us wherever you are. We’d love to have you.

Let’s keep this an open dialogue. You are warmly invited to communicate with GSV, send us feedback, ask us for what you need from GSV, and tell us about your sweet dreams of community and how our gatherings might make those dreams come true. You have a voice. You have desires. We are listening. Our number one goal as a Council is to keep our gatherings going, but we can’t do it without you. We are a living organization. Every year several Council members roll off so that new ones can roll on.

You all have the right to be heard, heeded, and held. We encourage our GSV brothers and siblings to feel free to contact GSV by email if you have any comments, questions, concerns, recommendations, ideas, etc. You can always send an email to one of the email addresses below.

For general information: [email protected]
To contact the Presiding Elder (President): [email protected]
To contact the GSV Council: [email protected]

Working Circles—Come Play With Us!
The primary purpose of the “Council of Trusted Elders of Gay Spirit Visions” is to ensure that GSV produces the gatherings that are the core and the crossroads of this community. Without the support and hard work of our dedicated Working Circles, the GSV Council would be powerless to put on the amazing events that, as of this year, we will have been doing for 32 YEARS!

Volunteering with a GSV Working Circle is a fantastic way to build community, meet new friends, help create GSV magic, and ensure the continuation of our magnificent, open-hearted tribe. The liaisons are the coordinators of their respective Working Circles, and we encourage you to reach out to them if you feel called to dive into GSV for more than the occasional gathering. Being in a GSV Working Circle is one of the best ways to keep that GSV magic going all year long!

Working Circle names, liaisons, and email addresses:

Altared Spaces: Randy Taylor
[email protected]

Communications: Ralph Fruchtman
[email protected]

Culture, Traditions, & Archives:
[email protected]

Entertainment: David Berger
[email protected]

Silent Auction: Wade Jones
[email protected]

Financial Assistance: Brian Schroeder
[email protected]

Gender Freedom & Expression:
[email protected]

Ritual & Fire Kraig Blackwelder
[email protected]

Sacred Touch: Mahan Kalpa Khalsa
[email protected]

Small Groups: Bill Harris
[email protected]

Welcome & Hospitality:
[email protected]

Technology: Dom Ruggerio
[email protected]

Come join us. We’d love to have you. GSV is very much a living community, and we are ever looking forward to our next opportunity to gather and explore a variety of spiritual paths. So, thank you for being a member of our amazing community. We hope you like where we’re going.

Gourmet hugs to you from the Gay Spirit Visions Council