Us gay folk...

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
Pink womble
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Us gay folk...

Postby Pink womble » Sat Mar 05, 2005 11:45 am

I don't know if this has been discussed elsewhere but I'd be interested in other people's views and experiences on SES and the day schools' approach to homosexuality. :Fade-color

I left SES last year primarily because, while I agree with some of its principles, I was fed up with having to hide my sexuality. I wanted to be open about who and what I am but wasn't prepared to go down the route of being interogated into why I'm gay, you do know you'll go to hell etc.

What did make me laugh is the fact not only tutors but a lot of younger people (including some good friends) just didn't see it as I'm fairly open with it. Although I guess a lot of straight men are like that!

In a way what makes me most sad that SES is preaching a gospel of intolerance that even if people are in loving stable relationships they must be wrong simply because the gender is the same. The problem is people believe it. The whole culture of 'marriage is the only way' is completely discriminatory. It's one way, I wish the schools could learn to accept others.

PS I can't check this site too often so apols if I don't reply for a while having started the thread.

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erikdr
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Postby erikdr » Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:27 pm

I don't know if this has been discussed elsewhere but I'd be interested in other people's views and experiences on SES and the day schools' approach to homosexuality


Well I can not offer VERY much as I
a) Had not much contact with the day school over here (Plato school), although most of our Youth Group members came from its sibling the sunday school (Ficino school).
b) Am straigt myself. Excuse: 2 out of my 4 siblings are gay/lesbian :-)

But yes, the doctrine in our men's group was very clear. 'Gays are men who can not express their sexuality in a normal way towards women, are deeply unhappy, and hide that by projecting the sexuality in an un-natural way'. Nature of course being their narrowminded view, which in this part seems to be aligned quite well with modern-day Indian (Victorian...) attitudes and what is seen in quite a few weird new-age doctrines.

I did not encounter any cases nearby of boys/men with gay tendencies and hence confrontations with School tutors, so cannot comment on that...

Hope this helps a bit at least,
With folded palms,

<Erik>

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Free Thinker
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Postby Free Thinker » Sun Mar 06, 2005 9:08 pm

The school's view on homosexuality is just one of the MANY reasons why I left. I am mostly straight but a friend of mine in the school was gay. There were also other obviously-gay (to me) members but at least in NYC, there was obviously a don't-ask, don't-tell rule. How anyone could be that open in their life and yet still be part of a school that said that they were "unnatural" is beyond me.

That one belief alone is enough to render everything the school says about equality, and us being one, and part of the Atman, and all the same self, etc. completely wrong and hypocritical. It's like Animal Farm. Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others. Yuck!
Last edited by Free Thinker on Wed Jul 27, 2005 2:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:51 am

I read somwhere that Queen Victoria (or was it Queen Elizabeth I?) made MALE homosexuality a crime but NOT female homosexuality as she couldn't image women "doing it".

Does the SES hold the same views to lesbianism as it does to male homosexuality?

sugarloaf
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Postby sugarloaf » Tue Mar 08, 2005 12:31 am

From my memory, (as a pupil at st James boys school from ?75 onwards), homosexuality was not directly mentioned much. But then again anything to do with sex was pretty much off the agenda for discussion.

It was pretty clear to me though, that homosexuality was completely contrary to the SES ideology. I remember my father, who was fairly high up in the SES hierarchy, and certainly had considered opinions, once on hearing me use the word ?gay? call me over and demand that I never say that word again as it was ?filth?.

I also remember a rather unsavoury episode, when the boys school moved to W11. There happened to be a gay shop called ?man to man? nearby. For some reason it became the normal thing for students to spit on the windows as we walked by. I?m ashamed to say I also took part. At the worst time whole classes would pass by on their way to games, topped and tailed by teachers, and not very surreptitiously spit on the windows. At times it got as bad as verbal abuse, and even letting off a fire extinguisher through the door after school.

I find it inconceivable that, even if the teachers with us at the time couldn?t see what was going on, that the school didn?t know about it. I can?t believe that shopowners, subject to this kind of behaviour - having to wash spit off their windows almost daily didn?t go to the school to complain. 45 kids in bright blue uniforms from a school one street away are fairly visible.

Never once was anything said to us by any teacher about it ? and I think I can guess the reason why.

Janneke
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Postby Janneke » Tue Mar 08, 2005 8:36 pm

Hello, I think I can add some of my personal experience here, I'm glad this subject has come up (thank you my lovely brother Piet, for sending me the link for this forum).

I grew up in the Dutch school, went to Sunday school from age 6, when it was first introduced there. The Govinda School. At age 10 was the transition to the 'big children's school', first named Plato School, later Ficino school when the day school was given afore mentioned name. I stayed on after age 16 to join the youth groups.

Following my teachers training (I studied to be a teacher of the English language in The Netherlands) I taught at the Plato School for a few years, and when the section of the school I taught at discontinued through lack of new pupils (this was the secondary school, the primary was still alive at that time), took the opportunity to move away, to London. This was in 1997.

With the help of the international connections between the Dutch school and SES I was able to find a room at an SES family's house in St Margarets, and I started attending a group night at Queen's Gate, joined the choir, did a duty, the whole hog, as you do.

I don't know why it's taking me so long to get to the point (sorry about that), but to those of you interested in the 'homosexuality and school' issue it will be obvious: it took me a very long time to figure myself out. More so to accept and understand the feelings I had had for a very long time. Let me illustrate by saying that when Mr van Oyen asked all my friends in my group to make a vow not to date boys, go out after 12 in the evening, sleep with or even kiss boys, it was very easy for me to swear I wouldn't. As a matter of fact, this to me was something to hide behind, and to tell you the truth, I felt quite superior to some of my friends, because I felt holier than holy for not even feeling that way inclined. And the subject of the 'introductions' that happened to some of my friends (men and young women being introduced to one another for the sole purpose of getting married), I thought that really this would suit me fine, seeing as to me it wouldn't really matter which man I'd marry, as I didn't fancy any one in particular anyway.

To this day I am grateful that I was able to move away. You will understand that moving to London and landing in SES didn't necessarily make it a lot easier at first, but this move allowed me to look at myself from more of a distance, and gradually I allowed myself to accept it. And then I took the biggest step ever (for me), I told my tutor.

Well...

It was at Nanpantan, during a tutorial talk (you know what they're like), and I told her I didn't feel much for men, and all the more for women. I had always had crushes on women that I had now come to realise were more than just 'really liking them'. She told me not to 'look at it', not to 'give it thought', and to see it as something I'd have to deal with by ignoring it, or something. As if that hadn't been the thing I had been doing all my life! By this time it was as clear as crystal that there was no way I could do this.

A little while after this weekend I called her to say I was leaving school. Shame I wasn't brave enough to tell her it was because of the homosexuality issue, but at the time I was so enraged I felt it was none of her business why I was leaving.

The only person in SES I did explain my motives to was a lady in the choir (dear Anthea, talk about crushes!), and she said that she was very sorry, but that she didn't think I'd been the only person to leave for that reason.

Funny: my coming out to my parents. On a holiday in The Netherlands (I couldn't tell them over the phone) I told my mum I had left school. She asked why. I said because I am gay. She said 'But surely that's no reason to leave school?'

Anyway, not long after this whole episode I met my current partner, and fell head over heels. After a very rocky start with lots of hurdles we have now been happily together for 4 years, and have even bought a house together (still in London).

I think I'll leave it at this for now. There is a lot to be said about how sorry I am that the SES is so aggressively negative about gays and lesbians, as I think that in principle my mum was right when she said being gay shouldn't be a reason to leave.

But on the other hand, I'm actually happy not to be part of the system any more.

Oh and on a humorous note: It was great visiting Waterperry for Art in Action with my girlfriend a year or so ago, especially when I ran into my former tutor, the one who had told me not to look at my feelings. Too bad my girlfriend isn't too keen on public displays of sexuality, because I would have loved to have snogged her well and good right in front of her. We did talk briefly, but no more than 'how are you', 'very well thanks, and you?' I made a point of reaching for my partner's hand at the time :-)

I am proud of myself, and have completely accepted the way I am. I am sorry to have disappointed my parents, but realise that I cannot change myself to make them happy. They are great, though, and show total acceptation of my relationship.

Thankfully.
Last edited by Janneke on Fri Apr 08, 2005 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
JvdW

T.S
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Postby T.S » Thu Mar 10, 2005 11:13 pm

Thanks for that inspiring story Janecke the waterperry incident sounds fun.
At St james Girls school we were told by the infamous Janet Murray that a lesbian was a woman who is hardened by sleeping with too many men and as men wouldnt want such a woman these women start to sleep with each other.
This was on finding my notebook which friends had written in for a laugh sill fancying messages which we harldly understood ourselves as we were about 11.
She dragged 2 girls out of the shower for sharing a shower and hit them both- whislt still naked- clearly she believed their action was deserving of such humiliation.
Yes,
lesbianism was considered to be a supreme evil in our upbringing.
Just part of the intolerant and ignorant 'philosophy'.
T.S

daska
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Postby daska » Thu Mar 10, 2005 11:25 pm

I had forgotten that particular gem. But I'm sure I heard it from someone else. It's mind-boggling - where did this rubbish come from!?

T.S
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Postby T.S » Thu Mar 10, 2005 11:39 pm

Yes, along with the other gem- that people starving in Ethiopia was due to their greediness in a past life!!!

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:48 am

a lesbian was a woman who is hardened by sleeping with too many men and as men wouldnt want such a woman these women start to sleep with each other.


people starving in Ethiopia was due to their greediness in a past life!!!


These beleifs are so outragous I thought I was in the "ses joke" thread. :(

Anyone know what the SES stance on the tsunami is? You know, over 200,000 dead, millions homeless - surely those smartarses have a good reason for it all.

Janneke
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Postby Janneke » Fri Mar 11, 2005 8:47 am

Well, I can assure you that I have never slept with a man in my life, so Mrs Murray's explanation doesn't quite work in my case :-)
Or am I missing the point, is that supposed to have happened in a previous incarnation? Oh whatever, it's all rubbish...
It's just odd how I look back on having spent so many years amongst this community, and even having been on numerous Teachers' Conferences at Nanpantan and Waterperry with the people mentioned in these discussions. Just goes to show how much 'in the closet' I was... To myself!
JvdW

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xgaytutor
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lack of accountability

Postby xgaytutor » Thu Apr 07, 2005 10:39 pm

really glad i found this site and was blown away to finally discover that other gays acknowledge similar experiences.
as a devoted student/tutor to the school at the time i can only say it has been one of the most hurtful experiences of my life, and i've had a few!
the legacy it has left is still impossible to shake off after 6 years. repeated attempts to make peace with the experience through contact with school leader and other tutors has left me cold. they're acknowledgement and willingness to accept an appropriate degree of responsibility is quite astonishing as they hide behind the teachings of past life and individual choice. ie. its all your own fault.
nonetheless they are more than happy for me to return as long as i stop all this nonsense and put the past behind me. this naturally allows them to feel like they are open and inclusive. like hell!
anyway if any one wishes to hear more about my experiences or would like to share theirs with me please feel free to contact me.
5 years on and still hurting.

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erikdr
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SES teachings and gays

Postby erikdr » Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:28 am

the legacy it has left is still impossible to shake off after 6 years. repeated attempts to make peace with the experience through contact with school leader and other tutors has left me cold. they're acknowledgement and willingness to accept an appropriate degree of responsibility is quite astonishing as they hide behind the teachings of past life and individual choice. ie. its all your own fault.


Hi xtutor,

Understandable. Interesting thing in my discussion with Paul van Oyen, ex-head of and for 30 years strongly linked to Dutch SES, is that

a) He still fully backs the Vedanta/Gurdjieff teachings on which the SES is based (although now having a much smaller organisation which as far as I can see is much less cultish)
b) But he is NOT into condemning gays/lesbians anymore.

So in a sense he also apologises indirectly to people like Janneke who were hurt strongly by the SES policy that he has backed for so long.

So at least some people do have different interpretations of past life while still defending Vedanta, though it probably takes for them to leave SES first before getting these interpretations...

All the best,
With folded palms,



<Erik>

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xgaytutor
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Postby xgaytutor » Fri Apr 08, 2005 7:07 am

So at least some people do have different interpretations of past life while still defending Vedanta, though it probably takes for them to leave SES first before getting these interpretations...


this is true. i also do not think it the fault of vedenta. it does seem that most of the ses problems arise pre shankaracharya.
never the less i have found it all but impossible to re connect with any kind of spiritual source since my association with ses.
i can find neither hope, faith or joy. it seems the wound is deep and the stain of experience bleeds into every experience.

cheers...michael
5 years on and still hurting.

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Free Thinker
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Postby Free Thinker » Sat Apr 09, 2005 12:45 am

Hi Michael,

Welcome to the site. I'm sorry to hear how much your experiences in the SES have hurt you, and I certainly can't blame you. The school's take on homosexuality is one of the main points I brought up with my mother when trying to explain why I left and why she should too. (She did, BTW, two years ago!) It's like Animal Farm - all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. That's nonsense. If we are all part of the Atman, than it doesn't matter what sexual orientation we have, we're all the same self. So an organization that preaches that while saying that homosexuality is unnatural and to be condemned is completely hypocritical.

I'm truly sorry that you have been unable to find a spiritual link since leaving the school. I live in the States but do you have any Unitarian Universalist churches in AU? Here, they are accepting of all faiths as part of God and are leaders in gay-friendly churches and gay, as well as female, pastors. I went to one recently for a concert and was touched by the statement they had on their sign, I can't exactly remember it, but it was something about nuturing the spirituality in everyone.

While I have not joined a spiritual group since leave the SoPP, I believe the experience made me even firmer in what I DID believe in, and has left me with a conviction to really treat everyone (including animals) as part of God, and that no matter what happens (if anything) once I die, my job here is to be the best person I can be while I'm alive.


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