A week from tomorrow, on Tuesday, Sept 24, 2019, I will relaunch my yoga classes, so I thought it would be a good time to repost my vision for Evoco Center.
Right now, I am renting space by the hour, but eventually, if all goes well, I will open my own venue. This post outlines who these offerings are for and why the project is so important to me.
After the venue I was previously using suddenly shut down at the end of May 2019, I took some time off to do “men’s work” with the Man Kind Project in New York and LA, spoke with Joel Benjamin and participated in his Powers of Man – Tantric Workshops for men and his gay men’s yoga offerings at Yoga Smith in Seattle Washington. I also took a very deep dive with Eben Oroz (a modern guru for sure) into meditation and breath work during a four-day phoneless, vegan, and often silent intensive in Topanga Canyon here in the Los Angeles area.
The new location for my yoga classes is Plyo Fitness on La Brea just south of Santa Monica Blvd., 815 N La Brea Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028. It’s bigger than our previous venue, in a better location, and already home to many queer individuals seeking to better themselves through fitness. As I said, my first class in the new location is a week from tomorrow, on Sept 24, 2019 at 8:30 PM.
EVCO CENTER – What? Who? Why?
Evoco (Latin); to call forth, summon, evoke
The current offering is yoga, but this is not yoga for the masses; this is a yoga experience built specifically with you, the gay man, in mind. Evoco Center is a place where your gay male authenticity is celebrated.
Most gay men spend much of our day to day life existing in a world that is built for someone else. This is so pervasive that many of us are comfortably numb to the fact that we are so isolated. The world, especially in the United States, is built around rituals of hetero-normative culture, of opposite sex dating, pairing, and parenting. Leaders in media, government, and religion make decisions prioritizing those issues. As a result, we as gay men do what we can to fit in.
Let me repeat that; we as gay men do what we can to fit in. The problem is, fitting in has a profound negative affect on human beings. The psychological and spiritual effect of fitting in diminishes us. It makes us psycho-spiritual (psycho, as in, loony, head case, crazy…); most often the effect is mild, but sometimes the effect overtly warps our mind and spirit.
Yes, that’s heavy.
Brené Brown researches shame and illustrates the profound difference between fitting in and belonging. In her book Braving the Wilderness Brown outlines, in elegant, humorous, and scientific detail, the cost of fitting in. The bottom line is that shame diminishes our authenticity. When we are denied our authentic expression, we experience the toxicity of shame.
Shame leads to loneliness, which, according to Brown, is more toxic than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. It can, and does, kill us.
So, who are we authentically? Well, all of us are truly unique, but gay men do have a number of distinct gifts for humanity. According to Raymond L. Rigoglioso and his book Gay Men and The New Way Forward, we have 14 specific gifts. They include Serving & Healing, Reinventing Manhood, and Freeing and Enriching the Human Spirit. The good news is that one of our gifts is being models of authenticity. It’s in our DNA.
According to my own life experience, the joys of belonging can only be accessed through authentic self-expression.
In 2007, when I won the title of International Mister Leather, I chose to participate in the competition being as honest as possible. Several of the answers I gave to questions put to me during the competition caused many raised eyebrows on faces of the 9-member judging panel.
I choose to stand in what Brené Brown calls the “wilderness” by speaking my truth, as opposed to giving answers I thought would make me fit in. So, when I won, and the waves of applause rushed over me in the Chicago Theater auditorium of 2,000 people who apparently agreed with the decisions of the judging panel, it felt real.
I felt loved because I was being applauded for my authentic, honest, and open communication.
When I received a text from my straight boss, a man literally managing the City of West Hollywood, I felt a human connection with him I didn’t think possible. He had seen the real me and congratulated me for it.
As gay men, we spend so much of our lives existing in a world that is not built for us, we forget that there is an option to finding ways of “fitting in”. Once we do some self-reflection we will know where we belong. Many of us have never experienced what it’s like to participate in an occasion that is built specifically for us and our particular expression of humanity on the planet.
That is the primary reason I have created Evoco. Its manifesto is a very specific set of ideals for a very specific set of human beings.
Not every gay man will belong at Evoco, but those who do will find joy.
Eventually we will have our own physical space with offering that include not only yoga, but also meditation, discussion groups, celebrations, silent areas, food, phone-free hangouts and a spa. Until that happens, I will continue to welcome those who resonate with Evoco Center’s mission and vision at Plyo Fitness on Tuesday evenings. It is the venue for my current yoga offering; it is a space where the owner embraces us as we are.
When the doors close, for two short hours, it becomes Evoco Center, a place for gay men to revel in our legacy and intrinsic nature.
It’s a place where you will be offered opportunity for heartfelt connection with other men.
It’s a place where you will be challenged to be authentic.
It’s a place where you belong.
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