Workshop Number: P-53
Leaders: Cai Quirk
Who May Register?: Intergenerational (50% high school and young adults, 50% older)
Worship/Worship-Sharing: 20%
Lecture: 15%
Discussion: 30%
Experiential Activities: 35%

Who May Attend?
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)
part-time attenders welcome (can come any session)

Together we’ll explore meaning, metaphor, and spirituality through the power of LGBTQIA+ stories, including creating some of our own. What can we learn from ancient and modern queer stories of and how can these connect us more deeply to each other and Divine? Objectives: This workshop will center queer storytelling, enhancing the power of stories…

Workshop Description

Together we’ll explore meaning, metaphor, and spirituality through the power of LGBTQIA+ stories, including creating some of our own. What can we learn from ancient and modern queer stories of and how can these connect us more deeply to each other and Divine?

Objectives: This workshop will center queer storytelling, enhancing the power of stories in our lives, especially in connection with the Divine and community. Participants will leave feeling stronger connections to the world around them, including to other queer people and to queerness inherent in nature. They will find new tools to explore meaning, metaphor and spiritual resonance in their lives, and hopefully some of these will be helpful long after the workshop ends. Though writing/music/art/storytelling are tools we will explore, participants are not required to be good writers/musicians/artists/storytellers; transferring words/drawings to paper or retelling stories are used here as a way of encouraging our brains to think in different ways.
Format: 15-20 minutes in daily worship, grounding our sessions in Spirit. Exercises include guided/prompted writing/art, guided (re)storytelling, collective storybuilding, and more. Lectures will be introductions to and expansions of topics, some will include short stories and readings; these will then be catalysts for discussions and exercises. There will be some time in small groups each day (formats for these times include worship sharing, discussion, and exercises).
Readings: Excerpts of books and articles will supplement the workshop. These will be provided and may be read ahead of time.
Materials: Readings (provided in advance), something to write with/on, art materials or musical instruments (if you prefer to express yourself visually/musically rather than in writing)
Costs: free PDF of readings, $10 for physical or audio copies if requested

Stories, myths, and legends aren’t just tales created long ago, but ones created more recently as well. In a world that tries to erase the presences of LGBTQIA+ folks, it is even more vital that we continue to tell our stories, whether they are the everyday realities of our lives, or mythic tales of realities deeper than ordinary truths. Binary ways of seeing the world will not simply disappear, they must be replaced by ways of seeing and honoring fluidity and change as natural and necessary. What do we lose when modern American culture centers more on fact and reason, often dismissing metaphors, spirituality, and storytelling? This workshop is an act of restoryation, engaging with (and creating new) stories, myths, and legends, ones that walk the many paths beyond supposed binaries: male and female, night and day, land and sea, earth and sky, life and death, self and other, self and earth.
In this workshop, we’ll explore how myths and fables (written, oral, musical, visual, etc.) relate to our lives today. What pieces of the world around us feel intrinsically bound to our identities, perhaps even our origins? When so many stories of many people’s ancestry are lost and appropriating such stories from other cultures isn’t the way to go either, what else is possible? ‘Restoryation’ invites us to create new queer stories where old ones have been erased, to extend beyond literal facts to deeper meanings and connections. The powerful act of restoryation creates new stories and myths to fill the gaps where others once were. These tales have great power to inspire, create meaning, connect us to one another, and create a sense of belonging and identity.
There are many ways of knowing. Some of them interact well with others and some are more like oil and water, coexisting but separate, not mixing as easily. Myths invite knowledge that is deeper than the brain, reaching into the heart, emotions, body, soul. They encourage connections that span across distances, time, even to other realms or layers of the spirit world. Science and history in a modern American sense use primarily evidence-based and linear ways of thinking. Some call this ‘objective’ and value it more than storytelling and myths. Neither stories nor science, nor other ways of understanding, are inherently more valid. Value comes from matching a particular set of criteria; take oil and water for example, if one is thirsty, oil will not quench one’s thirst and therefore water is more valuable than oil in that situation. Although representations of LGBTQ+ people in art and media are increasing, many depictions are limited to very narrow stories of queerness, such as ‘physical transition’ and ‘coming out.’ Queerness is much more nuanced than this, and the media stories rarely satiate the thirst many queer folks have for connection and stories that touch the deeper and sacred aspects of our identities.
Looking at myths and stories, and writing our own, offers ways to find deeper insight into our own lives and ways of interacting with the world around us. The stories can act as mirrors, the metaphors reflecting our lives so our inner teacher can learn through a new lens. These new lessons and knowledge will likely be different for each person or when someone hears the same story many times throughout their life. Like listening for Divine in Quaker worship, when we can take a moment to pause from the frantic pace of the world and listen more deeply, hearing meanings and messages behind the words, we make space for not only these lessons, but also the inner teacher to further guide us. These learnings, leanings, leadings, and guidance show up less often in facts, figures, and linearity like science and history teach us to think, and more often in abstracted forms, senses, and other ways often hard to put directly into words. By opening up further to myth, story, and metaphor, to guidance that isn’t always immediately clear, we practice listening in ways that also open us further to hearing the Divine. Many queer folks intimately know the feeling of this seeking because we live in a world that doesn’t always encourage us finding our truest selves. Let’s gather together and nourish each other’s seeking, uplifting and celebrating the queerly divine within.
This workshop is intended primarily for folks who identify somewhere on the LGBTQIA2S+ spectrum or are questioning/seeking their identities. Allies are also welcome, acknowledging that this workshop will very much center queerness.

Leader Experience

I have been part of leading workshops/conferences since age 15 when I went through Junior Counselor training for Powell House and subsequently was a JC, Adult Presence, and eventually co-facilitator for weekend youth retreats there as well as developing and leading several weekend retreats for youth and young adults in western New York. In November I will be led a Powell House titled Beyond Pink and Blue that focuses on identity and self-discovery, with particular focus on gender and sexuality. While in university I led several workshops and talks related to gender, nonviolence, activism, and/or spirituality, and at that Quaker meeting led several workshops, including one on Quaker Native American Boarding Schools with mentorship from Paula Palmer. I later took her training for the Seeds of Change workshop and have co-led that several times. Since graduating from school four years ago, I have led or co-led several hundred talks, workshops, and conferences at FGC (2 workshops in previous years), Powell House, PhYM, NYYM, Beacon Hill Friends House, numerous Friends meetings or worship groups, and several art and LGBTQIA+ organizations. Most are interactive and I am well versed in leading events in person, hybrid, and online.

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