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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

FREE SPIRITS

Some queer people have swapped mainstream life for spirituality, foregoing standardised religion and rejecting accepted beliefs about life and living. Photographer Mike Kear shares his experience and introduces us to others on similar consciousness-raising journeys

My spiritual journey, beyond a deep connection to nature, has been through various valleys and mountain tops, including many searches within Christianity. Church of England Christianity in my school years was followed by Christian spirituality in my late teens, and at unfiversity I found evangelical Christianity.

This journey culminated in a yearlong 12-step programme to “cure” my homosexuality which had the opposite of the intended effect: rather than turning me strafight, it helped me clarify that my sexuality was not something that society or religion could dictate to me — despite the American leader at the final retreat telling me that I was playing with ire and would go to hell for reaching this conclusion.

From then on, I wanted nothing more to do with organised religion and explored Quakerism briefly before I became involved with [gay men’s network] The Edward Carpenter Community. In my early twenties, I helped organise gay men’s weeks with ECC before “settling down” with a boyfriend, buying a house and pretty much living a regular gay life and eventually declaring myself a born-again atheist.

I’d been to Glastonbury many times and really enjoyed the hippier side of it, and wanted to explore the smaller festivals but felt inhibited as they seemed very family-oriented and not at all queer.

In 2016, I recefived an email telling me about Queer Spirit Festival and was very excited: was this the event that would nourish my spirituality in all its glory?

When I arrfived that August, I found I was one of the first few people to book. I met so many beautiful, authentic people of all persuasions and genders. It wasn’t Utopia but there was a real sense of love in the air that I hadn’t experienced on this scale elsewhere. I was inspired to come out of my spiritual desert and consider the huge range of ways to relate to the unfiverse. It was refreshing to meet such genuine people.

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About Attitude

On the cover: Taron Egerton on bringing Elton John to the big screen in Rocketman. Plus: Queen Zee, BenDeLaCreme, and what next for Parkfield School?