Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Pocono Eagle lands at GNI 2017

The Pocono Eagle lands at GNI 2017

In response to requests for more leather and fetish activities, The Pocono Eagle will land at GNI 2017.  The Pocono Eagle will take the fetish activities at GNI to a new level.  

There will be Leathermen's Barracks - designated cabins.  Basic and advanced sex education classes sponsored by LeatherWerks will be held in The Pocono Eagle Dungeon.  When classes are not being held, the Dungeon will be available exclusively for the men housed in the leathermen's barracks.  The Dungeon will be open at designated times to leather men who have passed the Dungeon Certification Class. These classes will be offered multiple times during GNI.  The setting for the Pocono Eagle will be in and around the I6, I7 and I8 cabins.  

Leather cocktails will be a time for all camp participants to enjoy the Pocono Eagle and see and enjoy the Mr GNI Leather and Mr. GNI Bare Bear contestants at the “Meet the Meat” party.  The second open party will be the Victory Party for all GNI contest winners will be sponsored by the Pocono Eagle. 

In addition to the above parties, you won't want to miss the EDC (Enforced "Dress" Code - Boots required) party and the "Boots, Bourbon and Cigars" party (bring your own "cigar") sponsored by Stompers Boots, Fort Lauderdale Florida.

Make sure you pack your leather boots for The Pocono Eagle 2017.  Stay tuned for announcements of the fun to be had at The Pocono Eagle. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

GNI Board of Elections Announced

Peter Karlovich, Jon Poupore, and Mark Bivings are reelected to the GNI Board of Directors!

Nominations for GNI Board elections closed on March 31, and four (4) candidates filed to contend for one (3) positions on the GNI Board of Directors. After a month of open voting, the polls closed on April 30 and we would like to announce the winners. Returning to the Board to fill a second 3-year term, GNI would like to welcome Peter Karlovich and Jon Poupore back to the Board of Directors. Also filling a one (1) year term, we welcome back Mark Bivings. The position that Mark has been elected to fill will be open for election next year (2018) and the winner will be seated for a three-year term at that time.

Let’s welcome Peter, Jon, and Mark with open arms and offer our full support as they begin to serve GNI for another term. Congratulations, guys!

GNI Board Updates Photo Policy

Taking Photos at The Gathering

GNI has a long and storied history and has seen much change in the past 31 years. Everything from the enactment of laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, decriminalization of homosexuality and even same-sex marriage are just a few of the stunning changes we have witnessed. Equally stunning are the changes brought about by technology and social media.

Good or bad, right or wrong, the world moves forward. As an organization, we need to move with it or be left behind. If you are a long-time member of GNI you have seen changes like our new (just released!) website, mobile apps to provide Gathering schedules and info, and new excursions, like white water rafting, incorporated into our events. We are also undergoing a review and revamp of our IT infrastructure which we believe will reduce our costs and streamline registration and check-in/out in the near future.

In the spirit of keeping our organization current, we've sometimes found the need to become more flexible as we look over policies that are at times over 20 years old. One such policy that has not kept up with the times is our Photo Policy. To that end, we have reviewed our policy and practices and have considered updates to these somewhat out-of-date rules.

The GNI Photo Policy was originally crafted when the only way to take a picture was with a bulky, chemical film camera and the only way to take video was with a shoebox-sized recorder. These were before the days of Facebook, Snapchat, “The Selfie,” etc. Today, anyone with a cell phone can easily take photos or hours of video. And at The Gathering, as we provide info and scheduling on a mobile app, it is not unusual to see someone using their phone, so it is virtually impossible to effectively police this. Therefore, we have revised the GNI Photo Policy as follows.

GNI Photo Policy

GNI recognizes that for various reasons certain individuals do not wish to be photographed in the nude or at GNI events. Therefore, the following policy has been adopted by the Board of Directors:

1.      Those wishing to not be photographed must indicate so on their registration form. They will be issued a GNI Name Badge that is red, contained in a red holder, or be affixed with a red dot or red stripe (a “Red Tagged Badge”).
2.      Photo or videographers must be mindful of members wearing Red Tagged Badges. You may not take their photo without their permission.
3.      Photo or videographers must also be mindful of “No Photo” zones that may be posted in certain areas or at certain activities. Taking photos or videos of people in that area is not permitted.
4.      Except during certain sanctioned photo opportunities, taking of photos or videos are prohibited at all times in the Dance Club.
5.      Red Tagged Badge wearers may not participate in any high-profile contests, shows or activities where the primary activity involves being seen by others in such a way that it is impossible to segregate themselves from non-red-tagged badge wearers (e.g., on stage). If a Red Tagged Badge wearer does participate in such a contest or show, they are giving tacit approval to be photographed.
6.      For smaller events and activities, especially those organized around photography, the organizer or facilitator may establish rules specific to that event or activity. Red Tagged Badge wearers should notify the organizer of their Red Tagged status so that they may inform the other participants and ensure that the rules are understood. In any case, it is strongly suggested that photographers proactively seek the consent of participants, regardless of Red Tagged Badge status.
7.      Anyone willfully and knowingly violating this policy may be expelled from the event without refund.

We believe this revised policy addresses the important issues of privacy as well as balances the realities of the current state of technology.

We would like to hear your thoughts. Please send any comments or suggestions to Peter at

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Call for Nominations for the Murray Kaufman Natural Man Award

Help us choose this years' Natural Man Award!

Every year during the Fall / Winter Board meeting, the Board of Directors take nominations of possible candidates for the Murray Kaufman Natural Man Award and votes for the individual that best fulfills the requirements for receiving the award. Nominations are suggested by board members only, but this year, we are desiring to change the nomination process up quite a bit. Rather than relying solely on board members who may or may not know of men who might be deserving of the award, we are asking for *your* help in nominating potential recipients.

The annual award is given for one’s “recognition of his outstanding long term contribution to the growth, achievement, and good fellowship of the gay naturist movement.”  Recipients do not have to be members of GNI, nor are they required to attend a Gathering, so keep that in mind if you have any thoughts on whom might be this years’ winner. We’ve have awarded this award to non-GNI members and to men who do not identify as gay, but who’ve still met the award requirements.

If you believe that you know someone who best fulfills the requirements, send an e-mail to the GNI Business Office with the following:

·         Name of your nominee.
·         Reason for why you are nominating him – what has he done to contribute to the growth, achievement, and fellowship of naturism?
·         Any additional details of why your nominee should be considered.

Please submit your e-mail before April 1, 2017 and the board will vote on all submissions after the deadline. Don’t tell your nominee that you’ve suggested he win the award – it’s a surprise! The award winner will be announced at The Gathering on Thursday, August 24, 2017 during the intermission of the Mr. GNI contest. Put some thought to this and let us know by the deadline, and we hope to see you at The Gathering – August 18 – 27, 2017!

Movie Nights at The Gathering

By Jon P.

It's happened to all of us at Camp: there's a lecture on the films of Jeanette MacDonald at the same time as a group of guys are getting together for some fun "across the lake" while the Drag Races are just starting. I know you don't always believe us, but we work very hard as we schedule dozens of events. Sometimes (often!) simultaneous events can't be avoided. 

What you may not know is that during evening shows in the Auditorium, movies are shown nearby in the Left Dining Hall. If you're looking for some variety in your evening entertainment, stop on over. And bring a pad and some popcorn. 

I've tried some interesting themes over the last 7 or 8 years, but for the last three years have been showing newer releases to good success. Each movie usually has a theme relevant to gay men, and if there is nudity involved, all the better. Sometimes there are musicals, oftentimes a foreign-language entry or two, occasionally a hilarious gay romp. But most features are dramas or mysteries culled from the recently burgeoning gay film industry. 

I am previewing films all year, looking for titles that will interest as many guys as possible. Two years ago, I showed the amazing Stranger By the Lake, which inspired me to show the profound Tom At the Farm the next year. One night for the last several years has been devoted to the silly, on-line series Where the Bears Are

This year may include the Korean entry Spa Night. I really loved Closet Monster because I strongly identified with the lead (Connor Jessup from American Crime, Season 2.) I was skeptical about Gerontophilia, but ended up loving it; and I think you will too. 

I am always looking for suggestions. Email me here with ideas for specific movies or even themes. Imagine beyond you're own favorites and bring me titles that you think would interest the widest group of men who love movies. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

White Water Rafting at the GNI Gathering

Whitewater Rafting Returns!

Last year, GNI introduced a new and exciting off-camp excursion – whitewater rafting down the Lehigh River. We didn’t know what kind of interest our members would have but were pleasantly surprised when about 25 men signed up for each of the two day events. And boy, did they have the time of their lives! Upon returning to camp in the afternoon, as the men came off the bus, sounds of laughter and acclimation filled the air. “That was the best $55 ever spent,” said one rafter. “I was a kid again, splashing in the water and getting wet,” said another. Stories of water wars on the river dominated the conversation of who lost and who won. Everyone I spoke to asked me to please offer this event in 2017. And so we are.

This year, we are expanding the rafting options to our group giving everyone three (3) types of trips to choose from. Last year, we scheduled two Family Style rafting trips. It’s an 8-mile run of class I and II rapids, and has a touch of class III rapids; it’s ideal for everyone – beginners, groups, and older adults. This year, we are going to offer one (1) Family Style rafting trip on Thursday, August 24 for the same cost of $55 each.

In addition to the Family Style rafting trip, we’re introducing two more options, and both of them are very different experiences. On opening Saturday on the evening of August 19, we will be hosting a Moonlight Rafting trip. Moonlight Rafting is a nighttime experience like no other. Travel down 8 miles of the Lehigh River with the help of one of our professional river guides. Glow sticks on your raft provide helpful light for your voyage! Come back after your expedition and enjoy a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers. It’s the perfection combination of romance and adventure. Since you’ll be rafting under the moon with an in-raft river guide (you won’t have to do any of the paddling work yourself), when you’re finished, we’ll have an après party waiting for you (including wine, cheese, crackers, marshmallows, etc.) with a roaring bonfire. I’m told that since this is an evening event, nudity is allowed on the river. You can sign up for this option on the GNI registration form and the cost will be $100 each.

The second, new exciting rafting trip we will be offering is the Dam Release WhitewaterYou’ll be surrounded by state park protected mountains while enjoying 12 miles and 4-5 hours of Class II, III whitewater rafting and breathtaking scenery. This is a fun, thrilling, and memorable whitewater rafting trip that everyone can do – no experience necessary! You’ll blast through over 17 rapids, laugh, get wet and have an amazing day outdoors. If you were on the river last year, imagine a longer route, more exciting rapids, and fun! Since the state park regulates water releases from which these trips can be scheduled, we’ll be offering this event on Saturday, August 26 for a cost of $75 per person.

These rates include all the necessary rafting equipment, life jackets, change rooms, shuttle service to/from the river and professional river guides, lunches, and moonlight party. There’s something for everyone and if your experience this year is like any of the guys who went last year, you’ll have the time of your life! We’ll have more information on the GNI Gathering registration form which we will be rolling out very soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Naturist: It’s who I am not what I do

By Kenn C. H. 

As with being gay, I have probably always been a naturist, even years before I knew any such thing existed. From those moments when I slipped out of my tighty-whities after sliding into bed in the darkened bedroom I shared with my older teen-aged brother to the day I reveled in the sunlight licking my exposed buttocks on my first steps onto a clothing-optional beach, I have been drawn to nudity.

These days, nudism accompanies me daily. Now I can unashamedly lounge naked on top of my bed without worries of discovery by my sibling. My spouse lies naked beside me reading and our nudity is a non-issue. And should my brother pay a visit, I would still go about nude with him in the house. In fact, if I am home and the temperature at all allows for it, I am unclothed. I can hardly imagine how strange it would feel to clean the house while wearing clothes. I normally put on some energetic music and set about my task nude. Likewise with cooking, gardening or doing laundry – a chore which naturism fortunately reduces.

Curtains for a house are similar to garments for the body: generally unnecessary and useful only as a restraint against the elements. And so, I have inadvertently – and intentionally on occasion quite honestly – exposed myself to the neighbors. Of course, I also go out into the yard, porch and terrace undressed thus giving my community even more opportunities to catch a glimpse of my goods.

Besides being a domestic nudist, I enjoy public nudity as often as possible. I currently live in a culture, Thailand, in which public nudity is both highly illegal and passionately discouraged. Still, there are times and places one can be clothes-free. These include a couple of gay saunas in the city where I live, each featuring an outdoor courtyard with swimming pool.  Before, I lived many years in Spain, a country with countless nudist or clothing-optional beaches. I’ve sunned my backside on many of them. But now my public nudity is generally reserved for vacation time. When possible I choose destinations that offer some possibility of naturism whether beaches, saunas or some other site. While I would like to be able to stay in clothes-free hotels or resorts, they are normally more expensive than other options and my budget rarely allows for such splurges. So I make do with a few minutes nude while losing myself among forested areas when hiking or on deserted beaches in off-hours.

A Trek in Nepal
I tend to practice my nudism alone or with my spouse. This is due more to practical reasons than to desire. Although I love doing nude yoga, I have yet to come across a local group where I can do this. So my naked downward-facing dogs are done in the privacy of my living room. And while I am a member of some naturist associations, my interactions with these are digital rather than in the flesh.

However, I do sometimes meet other nudist through hospitality services such as CouchSurfing, Be Welcome and CockSurfing. With these, I have hosted many guests in my house, and a few of them have been nudists. Even when they are not, I make it clear before they arrive that my house is clothing-optional and I will, at least, be nude. Most people who have hosted me, have been fine with my being nude in their homes whether or not they were nudist themselves. Of course, I would never go naked in someone else’s home without their express permission to do so.

My most public exposure to date has been in the World Naked Bike Ride. In three different years, I joined this ride in Madrid, Spain. A sense of liberation and camaraderie was generated by rolling through the heart of a large city while nude. And I loved it. I would gladly participate again if the opportunity presents itself. Memories of the bike ride stoke my dream of nakedly engaging in some other adventure activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping or SCUBA diving. Whether alone or with a group, I imagine that being nude would only enhance the adrenaline pump of those stunts.

Additionally, I would love to join a naturist event such as The GNI Gathering. And hopefully, time and finances will someday align to allow it. In the meantime, my spouse and neighbors will have to suffice as my fellowship and audience.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Worldwide History of the Nude - Paul LeValley

For twenty years, I wrote the art history column in Naturally magazine. It grew into the longest-running signed column in the history of the American nudist/naturist press. From the beginning, the plan had been to republish those columns in book form. My editor, Bern Loibl, laid out chapter 1 before he suddenly died. No major art history publisher would touch this project.

So after retiring to Cypress Cove, I laid it out myself. That way, I could have print big enough for me to read, and I could put pictures and their explanations on the same page (or facing page). I even thought it important to include a travel guide to the artworks, so vacationers could seek them out and view them in person.

I like to think this is a major publishing event—the first major book on nude art written from a naturist perspective. This is also the first comprehensive survey in full color. The whole world is included: Egypt, India, China and Japan, Greece and Rome, the Middle East, American Indians, Africa, the Pacific, plus Europe and America from medieval times to the present.

This book is expensive; art books are. But with 572 pages and more than 700 color illustrations, a price tag of $99.90 is reasonable. Look at it this way: You get seven pictures of great nude art for a dollar. Where else can you find a bargain like that? Only 500 signed and numbered hardcover copies have been printed in this limited edition.

For whatever it's worth, I am not gay. Yet the book does not shy away from mentioning gay issues, or featuring the work of several gay artists. Here are a few examples of artworks that may interest you. You can read sample pages (and order books) by going to my web site.

Zerge, Wrestling Boys—Private collection.

"As a youth I lay prone on sweet grasses, my nude body pressed tightly against the ground so that all my sense drew strength and stimulation from Demeter [or Mother Earth]. I swam and floated in waters that soothingly, sensuously caressed my form, then roughly, harshly battered me; the better to forge my body, mind and spirit into one invincible self. On the playing, field, I ran the hard race, hurled the discus far, spurred by vigor drawn from my gleaming body. I wrestled with others, forcing muscle against muscle, touching sweating flesh against flesh that invigorated our contest. I sat unclothed, listening and discoursing with great teachers as Helios [the sun] warmed my whole self. I was able to dart and parry, because my mind was as free as my physique. Had I been encumbered by cloth I would have been bound tightly, restrained and constricted. But nudity provided me freedom to soar where I would in my quest for understanding my inner self, and creating my whole being."

So wrote a Greek schoolboy. The name of Menalkes, a fifth-century pentathlon winner, has been attached to this fragment—though it was probably written a few centuries later. A clothed alternative would not even have occurred to an athlete of his time. Athletic nudity seemed like such common sense to the Greeks, that it took a thousand years for the question of "Why?" to even come up.
During all that time, the Olympic committee clung to some old-fashioned ideas. They never, for instance, adopted the age classifications common for athletic competitions in the rest of Greece: boys (without pubic hair), beardless youths (with pubic hair but unable to grow a beard), and men (able to grow a beard). Nevertheless, in 386 BCE, twelve­-year-old Damiscus of Messene beat all of the older boys in the stade race at Olympia.

For military, rather than athletic purposes, the first two years of transition into manhood (ages 18 to 20) were called the ephebe stage. Since the late nineteenth century, artists and writers have often misused that term for youths or boys—probably because the English language has no single word for the high school athletes so beloved by the Greeks. A twentieth-century artist, Owe Zerge of Sweden, painted the timeless "forcing of muscle against muscle" as Menalkes described it so long ago. Two modern fourteen-year-old boys, newly arrived at the beardless youth stage, test their growing strength.

Delville, The School of Plato—Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

The modern Olympics fall far short of the Greek experience in several ways. One is in nudity. Another is in honesty. Might a return to simple, honest, athletic nudity lessen some of the corruption? The link between nudity and honesty is a strong one. As Socrates put it, "Experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far better than to cover them up... then the man was perceived to be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight but that of folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the beautiful by any other standard but the good."

Socrates lived in Athens, where nudity also meant the association of a free body with a free mind, as the Menalkes fragment emphasizes. Like other boys from Athens, Menalkes would have studied the academics, music, morality, and athletics in the city's gymnasiums—a word which means "place of nudity." These were park-like areas where, as part of the boys' well­-rounded education, philosophers such as Socrates wandered in and out. In fact, during the next century, each of Athens' three main gymnasiums became the home base for a group of philosophers: Plato's followers at the Academy, Aristotle in the Lyceum. and the Cynics taking their name from the Cynosarges. (Plato, by the way, had been such an outstanding student-athlete that he once competed in wrestling in the Isthmian games at Corinth.)

Yet painters and sculptors seldom recorded the dullness of the morning lessons. They preferred the greater challenge of depicting active bodies practicing in the afternoon.

And so to see young men pausing from their exercise as they listen to a philosopher, we must turn to the imagination of a Belgian artist, Jean Delville, who in 1898 painted The School of Plato. The setting is accurate, though a little too spacious. And yes, homosexual affection was much more accepted in ancient Greece than in our own society. (In fact, military leaders at Athens' rival city of Sparta encouraged it, believing the soldiers would fight more fiercely to protect their companions.)
Many things differed at Sparta. Spartans took an ornery pride in the fact that they wasted no time on art, or literature, or philosophy. All they cared about was the military training of their young men. And the training was tough. From the age of twelve, boys spent most of their time nude, whatever the weather; one short cloak had to last all year. Trainers deliberately gave boys too lit­tle food, so that they would learn to steal, in preparation for foraging days in the army. One boy did wear his cloak when brought before a magistrate on the charge of stealing a neighbor's fox. He stood there calmly denying the charge until he fell over dead; the fox under his cloak had clawed out his stomach while the boy showed no emo­tion. Instead of seeing this as another example of the evil that results from covering things up, Spartans retold this story to their sons as an example of courage. With such tough-mindedness, Sparta dominated the first century-and-a­-half of the Olympics; nearly 60 percent of known winners came from that one city.

Lidbury, David and Jonathan.

It's inevitable. Any discussion of the nude in art must eventually come around to the David statues. Unfortunately, a great deal of balderdash has been written about them, as modern critics try to project their own hang-ups about nudity and sexuality into the minds of Renaissance artists. To get at the truth, we must begin by slaying a few demons of our own:
No, there is no evidence strong enough to support a charge of homosexuality in Donatello. On the other hand, the existing evidence on Michelangelo seems pretty clear, though it points only to his later life, some twenty years after he finished the David.

How was David really dressed? The Bible only says that he took off the military helmet and armor offered to him because they felt too big. It does not say he took off everything, though it does add that right after the battle, Saul's son Jonathan took off every stitch of his own clothes and gave them to David. So the new hero could cover up to greet the admiring crowds? We can't be sure. Nudity is not required in the David story; rather it comes from the Greek art tradition.

Though critics have sometimes questioned the sexual orientation of sculptors who carved nude Davids, few have closely examined the hero's own life. David's lament over the death of his boyhood friend, Jonathan, contains such memorable lines as "They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions," and "How the mighty are fallen!" Yet homosexual men have for centuries also taken comfort from the line, "Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." Religious leaders have usually interpreted this as simple male friendship. Then as the Gay Rights movement gained momentum, Joe Phillips at the beginning of the twenty-first century chose to paint an erotic parting of the two friends. [The painting is lost, but the artist provided his preliminary sketch for the book.] The Bible says they parted at the edge of an archery field, while a servant searched for stray arrows; any athletic nudity in those pre-Greek years seems to be yet another of the artistic liberties in the David tradition. Still, it is rare to find David depicted nude away from the Goliath adventure.

A few years later, Malcolm Lidbury stood on firmer biblical ground when he showed Jonathan lending his clothes to David for the victory parade. This is the beginning of their friendship. Yet, like Phillips, the artist preferred a bearded Jonathan—moving beyond the teenage David tradition, to young adults capable of making their own life choices.

Caravaggio, St. John the Baptist—Capitoline Museum, Rome.

"Scandalous!" people say, when looking at erotic temple sculptures in India. "Such goings-on could never happen among devout Christians." Yet there was a time when the church, indeed, turned to sex as one method of getting its message across. It was the Catholic Counter-Reformation of the 1600s.

On some points, Catholic leaders conceded that their Protestant critics were right, and they proceeded to clean house. Among the abuses thrown out, cardinals had to give up their mistresses. Just as men do in prison, some turned to homosexuality. Relieved church officials chose not to look into these matters too closely.

On other points, Catholic leaders believed they had been right all along, and determined to intensify their efforts. Protestants had criticized lavish church art; Catholic leaders determined to make their churches even more ornate. Protestants had attacked them with logic; the Catholic Church would fight back with even greater emotional appeal. They sought any emotional hook—even such a powerful emotional force as sex—if it would bring people back into the arms of the church.  Officials called on artists to find bold new ways of snaring people's emotions in the religious cause.

A curious and not wholly welcomed result of these two trends was the controversial artwork of Caravaggio. A disreputable ruffian, he lived with an openly gay cardinal who bought up pictures of pretty boys as fast as the artist could paint them. But they did have emotional power. Caravaggio's painting of a nude John the Baptist is open to widely differing interpretations. The viewer has clearly intruded into some kind of intense relationship between the boy and the sheep. Is John really beholding the Lamb of God? Or is this some more earthy youthful experiment we don't talk about? This painting has bothered the critics. Some have insisted that it could not be a religious subject—just some anonymous loutish shepherd boy. But Caravaggio did more than forty paintings of the young John the Baptist—most of them scantily clad, but much more wistful than this painting. Their deliberate sex appeal is hard to deny.

Papow, Aphrodite and the Erotes II.

Cupid began in Greek art as an adolescent, then after 350 BCE was demoted to a swarm of winged babies. That remained the case pretty much until the mid-1700s. Then, Neoclassic artists, reading the ancient texts, restored Cupid to adolescence, and emphasized his love affair with Psyche. But after a little too much of that, the trend reversed again, and Cupid shrank back down into safer babyhood.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, O. Henry wrote "Mammon and the Archer." In his story, a wealthy businessman argues that money can buy anything. But not love, his family members insist. He arranges a traffic jam that gives his son time to propose marriage and be accepted. As he pays off the head of the taxi-drivers' union, he asks, "You didn't notice, anywhere in that tie-up, a kind of fat boy without any clothes on shooting arrows around with a bow, did you?" When told no, he reflects, "I thought the little rascal wouldn't be on hand." No, we haven't seen Cupid much in the last hundred years, but he probably hasn't aged during that time. [Written in 1992.]

Postscript: Early in the twenty-first century, a flock of Cupids were sighted after a hundred-year absence. They first appeared in Aphrodite and the Erotes, a February calendar frame by Dustin Papow. Aphrodite remains eternally young, as is fitting for a goddess of love and beauty. But she has a bunch of teenage boys hanging around. In a note, the artist carefully identifies each of the erotes (clockwise from upper left) as blind Himeros, god of sexual desire who has accompanied Aphrodite since the moment of her birth; Eros (or Cupid), Aphrodite’s teenage son; Anteros, god of mutual love and avenger of unreturned love; and Pothos, god of unattainable longing. On close examination, they do each have wings, and two of them carry a bow and arrows. Yet they are definitely older than traditional erotes. Does that mean that, in these less prudish times, Cupid is starting to grow up again? It will be interesting to watch.

Stradling, Omphalos—private collection, New York City.

Some of the most interesting art today is coming from gay men, who have moved beyond lust, beyond anger, beyond politics, to give us new perspective on universal themes. English painter Matthew Stradling named his painting Omphalos after the famed "navel of the world" in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. There, nude young men competed in athletics and music. But far more is involved. The artist also works in the tradition of Baroque ceiling paintings that fooled the eye into seeing a dome with an open skylight above it. And he is aware of the Buddhist concept of everyone whirling around the calm center of the wheel of life. We are seeing familiar things in new ways—and that, after all, is one of any artist's most important jobs.

People sure of themselves can live comfortably in a world of ambiguities. They don't need to know the answer to everything. They can stand on their own feet, without the props of conventional ideologies. Even John Steinbeck, that ultimate realist, saw that the nuclear age called for a new type of thinking. In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he warned, "Having taken God-like power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility and the wisdom we once prayed some deity might have. Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope."

What we make of our world depends on our choices and our actions. We must begin by finding peace and unity within ourselves—with no distinction between mind and body. We have no dirty parts. We are whole. All of life is sacred. Only when we begin to understand the oneness within ourselves can we begin to find peace and unity with the world around us. Our understanding and our choices ripple outward. By our every act and at every moment, we are creating the Existential age.