Gay Spiritual Travel…Gay Retreats with Spirit Journeys

SPIRIT JOURNEYS  began nearly 20 years ago. They wanted to offer opportunities for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities (and our friends) to travel together exploring the world or to gather together in retreat environments, with the intention of adventuring into the frontiers of self-awareness, personal growth, and spirituality.

Some people may ask, “why do gays need seperate vacations? ” – EVERYTHING in the world is geared towards heterosexual people. Thanks to many heterosexuals, gay people can feel guilt, depression, anxiety, stress, sadness…

Being gay or bisexual does not make you mentally or physically ill. However, a lifetime of feeling ‘different’ or being treated differently can not only affect your mental wellbeing it can also have an impact on your physical health with increased risk of stress related conditions such as ulcers. The discrimination gay and bisexual men face can be so difficult for some men that it can also lead to them physically harming themselves.



While stigma and discrimination against gay and bisexual men has significantly reduced over the years, it is still an ongoing issue for many people. Discrimination and harassment can come from neighbours, work colleagues, and/or family and can also occur from random people we do not know. Ongoing harassment whether it is verbal or physical can cause minor to severe anxiety and stress and in some cases physical injuries.


Gay vacations or gay travel with men and women, provides a wonderfully amplified experience of the places visited and the people encountered. “Our goal is to “dive below the surface” and really connect with the places and people we visit.”

Howie Holben is current  owner and caretaker of Spirit Journeys. Since early childhood, he has been drawn to indigenous peoples and their spiritual teachings, traditions and practices.  This attraction has taken him on many adventures, exploring the countless ways of “being in the world”. His personal journey through addiction and recovery has spawned in him a genuine interest in assisting others on their own spiritual path and he takes great pleasure in introducing people to practices, sacred ways and cultures to help them “step outside their box”. A Reiki/Karuna Ki Master and Quantum Touch Practioner, his desire is to help others uncover their potential and set their hearts and minds free. He currently lives in northern New Jersey with his husband, Chris Caramelli.


On typical gay vacations or gay travel, the goal is to “get away”. The retreats or pilgrimages planned by Howie are much more than just a get away. A pilgrimage involves conscious travel or movement to a specific place (often sacred in nature) and with a specific spiritual intention. Typically a pilgrimage includes making a conscious exchange or connection with the place visited either physically or energetically. Most participants leave with more than they came with, having gained some sort of personal gift by making contact with the mystic beauty and magic of these places.

“The opportunities we offer are frequently unavailable to the general public. For example, during our Egypt pilgrimage, just two of the things we arrange for are a private visit inside the Great Pyramid and a chance to stand between the paws of the Sphinx.  Both of these opportunities have been unavailable to tourists for many years. During our journeys to Peru, we engage local shamans to oversee and administer the use of plant spirit medicine. In Southeast Asia, we work with local tribes to build schools and sink water wells. All of our journeys become extraordinary due to the unique and very special opportunities we offer a Spirit Journeyer.”



  Hundreds of people have been on their tours over the years, aged 25-75. “We enjoy a diverse range of participants with regard to both age and background. Participants come from all over the United States and sometimes from abroad.  Some of our journeys are oriented for gay men, others for gay men and lesbian women, and some are open to everyone.”


“It was the most awe-inspiring thing I’ve ever done in my life. It took me deep inside myself to find the true “me” and the joy that can come from being that person without fear. ”
– Michael, Seattle, WA







“I would recommend this retreat. Especially for anyone seeking greater meaning in their life.”
– Jeff, San Jose, CA

“The retreat was just what I needed at the time that I needed it. It was a great opportunity to look at the past year of my life, and the next year of my life; and realign my perspective of the past and my outlook for the future.”
– Jerry, Minneapolis MN

Spirit Journeys has about a dozen events scheduled over the next year, and more in the works.  Stop by their site for more information. Explore the world….explore yourself!


For more information on gay mens health go to GPS & Gay Men





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