Day 211 of 365 Days of Silver ~~ Grateful for the Midwest Men’s Festival


We are spinning – ahh – spinning all together
We are singing over the rainbow
This is harmony, this is community
This is celebration, this is sacred

We are circling, circling together
We are singing, singing our heart song
This is family, this is unity
This is celebration, this is sacred
~~ Buffy Sainte-Marie

I sit here writing this and it’s pretty early, especially considering how late I was up last night. Not until two or three like almost every morning in the last ten or twelve days, but late.

I am focused on love and peace, otherwise I’ll cry, and I just don’t want to do that.

Another Midwest Men’s Festival has come to a close…and I’m really not quite ready to enter the “real world.” On the other had I really do want to get out of here as early as possible, in the cool of the day, and home in plenty of time to rest rest rest rest because tomorrow I have to be at work at six in the morning for antoher 12-hour shift. An almost rude return to that so-called real world.



Is the real world a place filled with 12-hour shifts and men work-shift Team Leaders, and managers who care not one whit about his workers and that they are real people, not automatons? Is the real world a place with possible health issues and angry people who are concerned with meaningless trivia?

Or have a been living the real world this past almost two weeks? This world of MMF, an intended community with no hierarchy and no individual in charge, a world with morning and evening circles where we come together to express our needs and business, or love and concerns, our hearts and our minds, and so much more… This is a world that seems so much more real to me.

I can see the appeal of the sixties communes when I come to this event. I believe that lifestyle was part of the inspiration for this one.

What a time I’ve had—as well as over a hundred other gay men!

And I grateful for so much!

Meals planned ahead by the “Kitchen Queen” and then prepared by volunteers for each shift. Cornbread casserole and iced cucumber and lime soup, mushroom and cheddar frittata, onion short cake, fabulous “faux” lasagna, chicken friend tofu, corn on the cob (fresh from a very local farmer), garlic smashed potatoes, pizza and lemon meringue pie made from scratch—including real lemons!

For sarongs of endless colors and patterns and varieties. The rainbow banners set up on the dam. Swimming in the lake—skinny-dipping and being naked under the sun. To the No-Talent/Know Talent Show—with song and skits and music and humor and an ancient stripper who somehow shot ping-pong balls out of “her”…well, you know (it was a fabulous costume constructed with vast talent—thus proving the “know” talent part, even if it was an ancient old lady). To the charity auction and the fun act that got us in the mood to bid often and big high—even if I didn’t get the autographed copy of James Broughton’s poem Shaman’s Psalm (which begins my novel Summer Lover). The Disco Dance on Sunday night! Started with the documentary The Secret Disco Revolution—a movie that showed how a music style helped “liberate gays, blacks and woman.” And it convinced me! The dancing after proved as wonderful as ever and “R” actually asked me to dance! A first. To the incredible Mud Ritual where a group of us shed our sarongs and climbed down into a mud pond and slathered ourselves—I even made a mud headdress and ordered it with dozens of flowers—and then we walked the length of camp, down the infamous sixty steps, down and down to the dam, across and then bathed in the lake. Oh my skin tingled wonderfully all day and my skin is still so soft! The talking, talking, talking—the sharing of souls and our lives and our loves and our hurts and our fears and our expectations….

The sacred places like Old Way and Hern’s Hollow and the Dragon Tree.

Late night “salons” filled with talk and laughter and cocktails and love—and then early morning coffee and green smoothies and some more love and laughter included.

For “boy” kisses and cuddling and shared back rubs. For sarongs and broom skirts and sexy jockstraps and outrageous costumes and gold sequin cocktail dresses and bright yellow feather headdresses.

For endless surprises—some subtle and some over-the-top fabulous!

Old friends and newer friends strengthened and brand new friends (that I hope will return for their second festival next year) as well.

For sarongs! To look divine and to combat the heat.

For Main Hall where there is air-conditioning and a way to combat the heat.

For the last night and a late one of Truth or Dare—and boy!—did we have some truth or dares!

All of this and so much more that I am forgetting to write about this early morning—I will be posting this an hour or two after I write it—seems so much more real and wondrous to me.

And in my lack of desire to return to the real world I remember this….

The “Real World” is what I make of it. If it is a nasty place, then it is because I focus on that nastiness. Because it can be a world where I have a part-time job within the next six weeks before I head to Florida for a week with R and a friend who is celebrating her 60th birthday (along with her husband). The Real World can be the one where I am writing fulltime and loving it—a world where I am telling my stories and reaching the hearts of readers all over the world. The Real World can be whatever I make it—filled with inspiration from this past ten days.

But also this….

May the Circle be open, but unbroken
May the love of the Universe be forever in our hearts
Merry Meet and Merry Part
And Merry meet again….

Today and forever I am grateful for the Midwest Men’s Festival…and all future Festivals and friends unmet and waiting.

For the fact that I found Midwest Men’s Festival so thirteen or so years ago. When I did, it wasn’t what I was looking for—but it was the Universe giving me exactly what I needed.

Could there be a better life?

Gentle Ben

PS: Did I say sarongs?


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