A workshop to be held Jan. 21, 2 p.m., at the Utah Pride Center will explore the connections between spirituality and sexuality and is hosted by Salvatore Sapienza, author of Gay is a Gift. Sapienza, who also wrote Seventy Times Seven, will examine and discuss the idea that queer people have been used as spiritual guides and examples throughout history.
The workshop will offer participants a step-by-step guide toward getting in touch with their inherent spiritual giftedness, he said. It’s a free event, but a love offering is suggested.
“The purpose of the workshop is two-fold. I hope that participants will be both educated and inspired. Many are unaware of the history of gay people as spiritual seers, so I will be sharing the stories of the great gay mystics, from the Native American “Two Spirits” to contemporaries like Ram Dass,” Salvatore said. “The second half of the workshop will help participants get in touch with their own gay giftedness as spiritual teachers and leaders.”
Salvatore had a very positive experience growing up as a member of the Catholic Church and even came out at the age of 17 and entered a monastery as an openly-gay man. After tensions between the Catholic Church and the gay community began to become even more strained, he left the ministry.
“Growing up, many in the gay community were so deeply wounded by organized religion. So, after coming out, many of us abandoned anything having to do with spirituality, equating it with religion, when, in fact, they are two different things,” he said. “That’s why I am working so tirelessly to remind gay people of our role as spiritual mystics and to assist us in getting back in touch with our spiritual gifts.”
The workshop is sponsored by The Utah Gay Men’s Book Club, which has been meeting regularly for several months.
Each Friday night the men gather at a home of the founding member to read and discuss a book.
“Our whole goal is to cover two topics; gayness and spirituality. When my religion kicked me out for being gay, I equated that with spirituality and losing my spirituality,” said Dwight Lindsay, founding member of the club. “I see a lot of people in the gay community that have done the same thing, but since I’ve been on a spiritual path, I’ve been so much happier. It’s something that’s really lacking in our gay community.”
While the club is open to everyone, it is primarily gay men who attend. The members read from the books during the gatherings. They then discuss the themes and lessons, and end the session with meditation. After the book club, a potluck dinner is usually shared.
“The book club was started for a safe place for gay men to gather and discuss sexuality and spirituality. There’s no specific religious agenda here and everyone is welcome, regardless of their religious views,” Lindsay said.
For more information about how to join the book club or about the guest workshop, email [email protected]