Your Safety & Wellbeing at Tantra4GayMen
At Tantra4GayMen we are passionately dedicated to providing safe spaces for men who love men. Our community has faced many historical challenges (through the HIV/AIDS crisis, STI’s, and more recently Covid and Monkeypox). As an organisation that works with spirituality and sexuality, ethical practice and safety are incredibly important to us.
One of our Code of Ethics is "do no harm.” Providing safe spaces within Tantra is a very fine line to balance between providing spaces of safe consensual challenge to help you grow, relearn, and to heal versus a practice that is so sanitised that nobody is growing or learning from its practices and teachings. There are several safety precautions that we take into account when planning our work, primarily to look after your well-being.
Ethics - Supervision - Consent - Mental Health - Sexual Safety - Physical Safety - Covid - Monkeypox
Ethics: We operate under a code of Ethics: click here to read our ethics statement. We are committed to principles that all facilitators, all team members and all participants must abide by. Essentially we will not exploit you sexually or financially. As facilitators, we have a rule of “no sexual contact” with students. Also, we will never ask/or seek to coerce any money other than the Course Fees you have paid. Our goal is that you will want you to be a part of all of the training we offer and the training we will actively promote to you. Why? Because we know it works and is life-transforming. Our primary intention is not only to do that which serves your higher purpose but also to have absolute respect for any decisions you make.
Supervision: All facilitators attend to the supervision of the workshops and events they provide. This is a safety mechanism to ensure we as facilitators are working on our blind spots. We talk about our participants, we talk about what is happening for us personally, we talk about what happened at our events, and what we were feeling. This is all in the spirit of us being accountable for the workshops and events that we hold. We are accountable to uphold and maintain our ethics in the workshops and events we host.
Consent: We are passionate and are committed to honouring the boundaries that you create that serve you best in our workshops and events. Depending on the event, we will spend varying amounts of time helping you determine and express your consent of the actions in which you are choosing to partake. In our events we talk about what “safe practice” means and we talk about your consent. We give you affirmation to confirm your understanding and we create exercises for you to practise feeling a “yes”, a “no”, or a “I don’t know”, and how to verbalise that. We help you discover how to negotiate with other participants in this process. As per our Ethics we are passionate about you only doing what you feel a “yes” to, and sometimes that yes may be a “challenging but its a yes”, and other times it may be a “hell yes”. We look at “I don’t know” and “No” and talk and practicing the sometimes uncomfortable place of saying “No”. Our aim is that you will ONLY ever do what is within the realm of your “Yes”. We continually look at many practices, e.g. Betty Martin’s Wheel of Consent, and we look to continually develop our events and practices to ensure your safety and peace of mind.
Mental Health: When you sign up for one of our Workshops, we ask you to tell us anything about you that would help us support your growth. This includes any mental health considerations. For longer retreats, it is mandatory to give us a pre-workshop introduction to yourself and answer the question: “what is bringing you to this training?”
This is a form of screening for us to check if you are suitable to attend our intense programming. During all events, facilitators and their assistants are there to support you. Often in Tantra “things will come up” and the growth and evolution of you is acknowledging and being with what comes up and processing / talking about that growth. In addition, in weekend workshops, we have sharing circles to talk through what is happening. In our residential retreats we have developed “Spiritual Enquiry”, where for 2 hours per day you are in a group sharing to process all that has happened. In our Diploma and Festivals, you have small groups called “families” to help you talk through what is happening for you. Our facilitators are also available to you for some days after each event to support your integration into the day to day world. For Diploma and Teacher Coach Training events we offer ongoing 6 weekly group zoom calls. It might be that at an event you have more experiences than the space can hold. For example, sometimes someone has become aware of abuse that happened in their childhood for the first time and they might require a lot of support. In those instances, we will make recommendations (and signposting if you need) to ensure you can obtain the support that you need.
Sexual Safety: As a Tantra School, we need “whiter than white” safe-sex credentials. We have a responsibility, (and encourage you to as well), to ensure we maintain a safe environment for all participants. We respect your personalsexual practices decisions outside of the event you are attending. Generally safe sex to us means making sure there are no exchanges of bodily fluids, therefore making sure you use gloves and condoms for any potential cross of fluids. By “exchanges of bodily fluids” we mean fluids crossing from one part of you (e.g. your mouth, your cock, your arse) to another person's body (e.g. their mouth, their arse, their cock). As a participant, when you sign up for one of our events you are agreeing to ensure that you do not have any STI’s (e.g. Herpes) that can be transmitted to another person. If you suspect that you have any symptoms before an event, it is your responsibility to be cleared by a medical physician who can certify that you are non-transmissible to others. If you notice that you or another participant has any STI symptoms, it is your responsibility to alert the facilitator immediately. Even with our abundance of care in our safe-sex guidelines and in the availability of protective items (i.e. gloves and anti-bacterial gel), we (T4GM) cannot be responsible of liable for any transmission of STI’s or any other STI or virus that is transmissible to others. No practices taught by us require the use of condoms. At all of our residential events we make vinyl gloves and condoms readily available (on the workshop supplies table). For all events we have antibacterial gel and at this time of MP vinyl gloves for use between partners.
Physical Safety: We want you to be comfortable and we do not want you to cause yourself any physical harm. We cannot know what is within your limitations so please do tell us and we will find an accommodation for you. Please make us aware of anything that we can do to make you more comfortable during our events. Please look after your physical limitations. If sitting on the floor is uncomfortable during an exercise, stand up. If standing up is uncomfortable, please sit down. Please do whatever you need to do to stay well and within your physical boundaries.
Covid: This has changed many times during the pandemic. When developing Covid Protocols for events we take notice of the health advice (NHS for the UK, and CDC for the USA). At this time, for events in the UK, we do not perform any on-site Covid testing or require any vaccination checks. This is in line with current protocols nation-wide. For the USA (and Mexico), we do require proof of vaccination and a Covid test on-arrival. This is in line with protocols of similar events in this sector. These protocols may change at any time depending on the nature of the Covid Pandemic.
Monkeypox: This is still an emerging issue. In the UK and USA cases seem to be on the decline. There is variable access to the MP vaccine. We are predicting based on news articles that the vaccine will be more readily available for everyone in early 2023.
At our events we have develop the following safety protocols
Before The Event:
- Personal Declaration & Self-Symptom Check - At our residential and weekend events we will ask you to sign a Personal Declaration that you have no Monkeypox symptoms & a waiver.
- Get Vaccinated as soon as you can (which may be after the event).
- Minimise “High Risk” activity 2 weeks before attending any Tantra event.
- Check for Symptoms: As per our terms and conditions; you have a responsibility to be vigilant and NOT ATTEND our event if you have any symptoms or you suspect you have been in close contact with someone. Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org if either of these circumstances happen. All information will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.
During The Event:
- ON ARRIVAL we will ask you to complete a self-declaration form that states you have no Monkeypox Symptoms. It will also include a waiver form for you to sign.
- (Always) Use Antibacterial Gel between partners.
- (Always) Check Your Symptoms before attending any event and each day during your stay.
- (Always) Wear A Band!* We are instituting a colour-coded band system at our residential and weekend events so you can quickly and visually share with others your preference on touch and intimacy. (This band protocol does not apply to our shorter Facilitator events.)
Red - Highly Cautious - Please Do Not Touch
Amber - Cautious - Please Ask Before Touching Me
Green - Please Touch Me Freely
- (Always) Be Alert to the Symptoms of Others - As per our already existing terms and conditions; you have a responsibility to alert Jason or Ingo immediately if you think a person attending our event may have sexual health symptoms or concerns.
- (Optional) Wear Vinyl Gloves in touch based workshops. This is optional. Each workshop room will have boxes of these.
- (Optional) limit Body-to-Body Contact.
You are responsible for your own actions and intimate interactions with others. Everything you do, you agree is of your own freewill and your own free choice.
* Protocols for our three-hour events hosted by our facilitators: these events will not use the colour bands and will adapt the written personal declaration statement.