“Home” can mean more than one thing. Home might be where you grew up. It might be the place you go once you get off work. Home might be a house, an apartment, a condo, a trailer, or some other dwelling. Home doesn’t even have to be a dwelling. It can be a time or a place or a people. Some folks find home in annual events and gatherings like Between the Worlds, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Witch Camp, Gay Pride, and other such events. Some folks find home in groups and communities—the LGBTQ community, the Pagan community, the Poly community, and various Fet communities. Groups, communities, and events are especially important to those who are marginalized and for those folks who aren’t on good terms with their birth families. For many, finding home means finding your family of choice. The most important part of home and family is a feeling of belonging, and a feeling that those there have your back. Home is where the heart is. To quote Robert Frost, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
For me, home is the place I grew up and that was in my family for over three decades. It’s the house near the lake where I ran through the woods in my youth, and where I first camped just inside the woods at my first adolescent signs of growing independence. Home is were I learned to drive up and down the dirt road driveway, where I played in the creeks catching crawfish and newts, and where I fished in the lake with my best friend, Mark, and my neighbor, Shane. Home is where I first learned to work on cars with my Dad as I became enthused with the TV show Knight Rider. It’s where I ran around pretending to be Doctor Who while wearing a long scarf. And it’s where I pretended to be a Jedi from Star Wars using a tree branch as a lightsaber. Home is where I learned to love animals. We had dogs and cats and hamsters and parakeets and ducks and so many more pets. Home is where my family lived for over 30 years. Home is the place my Dad always said would pass down to me and my sister. Home is the place I knew I could always go back to—no matter what — until it wasn’t. Family were the people I knew I could always count on to have my back— no matter what — until they weren’t. My Dad passed away in 2009 and my Mom remarried two years later. A few years after she remarried, she sold our home despite protests from me and my sister, and even after requests to buy at least the lot adjacent to home, if not the home itself, because that’s all me and my sister would have been able to afford at the time.
I have other “homes”—the place I live now, my local Pagan and LGBTQ communities, and I even felt like I found home at some gatherings I’ve gone to like the now ended Coph Nia gathering for Gay and Bi Pagan men. None of these make up for the feeling of loss at losing my childhood home. I’m determined to get it back someday—hopefully someday soon. I’d like to retire there and I’d also like to ensure it gets passed down to my sister’s kids, as I know my Dad would have liked. In the meantime, I’m hoping to create new homes for myself and for others. I’m still hoping to found my campground though that might take a few more years and my quest to regain my childhood home might have to take precedence. I’m also trying to create “homes” for the “alternative” communities to which I belong. These homes include my local annual “Alternative Pride Picnic” for LGBTQ folks, Pagans, Poly folks, and others. It includes the Brotherhood by the Bog Retreat for Pagan men. Soon it will also include the Arcadia Gathering for Queer Pagan and Hellenist Men.
To quote Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor, “My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going, where I’ve always been going. Home—the long way ‘round.”
You can find out more about Mel including his podcast and blog at: http://www.melmystery.com
“Arcadia” has been adopted as the name of a new gathering for Queer Pagan Men in the East Coast / Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. While there have been such gatherings before, such as the Mid-Atlantic Men’s Gathering and Coph Nia, we are not aware of any current camping gatherings specifically for gay and bi Pagan or Hellenist men in the region. The closest gathering is “Between the Worlds” in Ohio, and there are many more gatherings on the West coast.
Arcadia will be held October 9-12, 2019 at a state campground in Cumberland, Virginia. The gathering is open to Queer men of Pagan, Hellenist, and other Earth-based spiritualities. All respectful seekers over the age of 18 who feel they would gain something from attending are welcome including trans folks, women, and our straight and non-Pagan friends – though all should be aware that most of our workshops, rituals, and activities will be primarily aimed toward Queer Pagan Men.
The theme of the first gathering is “Discovering Arcadia: Empowering Queer Men’s Spirituality.” The patron deity for our first event is the Greek god Pan.
Because this is a first-time event and because our planning committee is small, we are asking folks attending the event to help us co-create the space and to help us spread the word. We are specifically looking for folks to help with planning and running the event. We are looking for workshop, ritual, and activity presenters. We also have a contest going on to help design our event logo. If you’re artistic, please consider participating (see website for details). We want this event to succeed, not because it is the idea of any one person or group, but because the Queer Pagan community sees it as something valuable and because individuals within the community are willing to step up and do their part to make it a success.
For more information and to register: http://www.olympuscampgroundresort.com/index.php/events/arcadia