Adrian Ravarour, Ph.D., is a priest, spiritual artist, and social activist who co-founded Vanguard in San Francisco with Billy Garrison in the fall of 1965. His early ministries were with Bishop Mikhail Itkin and the Reverend Ray Broshears in San Francisco. He founded the Energy Flow System of the Arts in 1968 and has created spiritual art forms as his life work and ministry for forty years.
Ravarour was born in 1943 in southern California of European parents during World War II. He spent eight years in religious study in a church that typically ordains all of its male members in their youth in preparation for missionary work. He was ordained as a deacon (March 4, 1956), and as a priest (December 29, 1959). But he declined a call to further priesthood advancement and missionary work, and left that church due to its anti-gay bias. Ravarour had "come out" in high school in 1958 and was subjected to harassment--food thrown at him and being spit upon--by other students. His father also beat on him regularly. Ravarour persevered through this tumultuous time.
Ravarour moved to San Francisco in 1963 where he trained three years at the San Francisco Ballet School under Harold Christensen. In 1965 a teacher tried to humiliate him in front of the class for being gay; but Ravarour asserted and defended that ‘being gay was as natural as being straight’ and was applauded by many of the students. Miscommunication about a possible Ford Foundation Scholarship led to Ravarour dropping out of school for lack of tuition. He was directed to Intersection: Center for Religion and the Arts at 150 Ellis Street in the Tenderloin neighborhood. There a gay doorman, Juan Elorreaga, befriended him and showed him gay life in San Francisco.
Intersection was a coffeehouse and art center that presented arts as sacramental. The Reverend Laird Sutton, graduate of Pacific School of Religion and Methodist clergy, was its director. Here Ravarour was inspired by the concept of a spiritual premise inherent in all art and this provided direction for his life work as an artist. Ravarour joined the staff of Intersection. There he met Joel Williams who became his mate. They lived together at the El Rosa Hotel on Turk Street. There they also encountered several other youth living in the Tenderloin including Billy Garrison and "Dixie."
Billy Garrison self-identified as a "hair-fairy" who wore makeup, ratted hair, earrings, a unisex top and jeans. He was in his twenties and had moved to San Francisco from Seattle to escape homosexual oppression. Garrison observed the harassment that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans youth in the Tenderloin faced from businesses, neighbors, and police. He shared his concern with Ravarour and they began planning a response. Garrison proposed a model he had seen in Seattle in which gang members and neighbors were invited to a town-hall meeting mediated by a clergy. Garrison wanted Ravarour to lead such a meeting at Intersection. Ravarour preferred Glide Church as the meeting venue since Glide funded Intersection and had more resources. Garrison went to Glide and to explain the issues and request support so that it could be held at Glide.
Ravarour and Garrison led the first town hall meeting which was a failure because the community members were disrespectful of the youth--calling them names, demanding they be arrested and removed from the community. One merchant even threw a chair at one of the youth. At the second attempted meeting the Reverend Ed Hansen, Glide’s intern, began his supportive and advisory role. However, community members continued to express their distress and dislike of the youth so little was accomplished. At a third meeting, only the youth attended. So the focus shifted to organizing the youth to identify the problems they were facing and determining solutions they could work toward. Ravarour proposed an organizational model based upon Rousseau’s direct democracy and the teachings of the Dr. Martin Luther King that called for equality, unity and acceptance.
Within a few weeks Vanguard was founded. The gay youth of Vanguard refused to be castigated as worthless or bound by the times; and, they joined together to demanded an end of discrimination and equal rights. They picketed and demonstrated for acceptance. Ravarour with his mate, Williams, were interviewed on the radio and they humanized the face of homosexuality as a romantic relationship and contextualized it as within normal human emotions motivated by love.This helped their goal to eliminate discrimination and further acceptance. Glide was most supportive and offered full sponsorship to Vanguard, Inc. The Glide Foundation was a perfect venue and generous sponsor, as it funded all of Vanguard’s meetings, dinners, same-sex dances, and provided ministerial support. When the Reverend Ed Hansen completed his internship as Glide’s youth minister, he was succeeded by the Reverend Larry Mamiya as Glide’s youth minister.
In August 1966, Dixie, a male in makeup and partial feminine attire, was refused service at the Doggie Diner. Dixie preserved in demanding service and was joined by Ravarour, Williams and a few other Vanguard youth in a sit-in demonstration. Shortly thereafter a similar incident at the Compton’s Cafeteria led to another demonstration and uprising. The underlying theme being that the Vanguard youth were calling for an end of discrimination, equal treatment and "acceptance as we are."
When the members of Vanguard decided to move away from the Glide venue, they established the Gay and Lesbian Center that met at a theatre and then relocated to 330 Grove Street. The Glide Foundation continued some Vanguard programs such as their Hospitality House. Ravarour vowed with his new mate Keith--who continued the Vanguard Magazine for a dozen years--that they would effect social change though their arts and publications.
On December 21, 1966, Bishop Mikhail Itkin ordained Ravarour as a priest in a dual ordination: to the Holy Catholic Synod of the Syro-Chaldean Rite, and to his Eucharistic Catholic Orders that was an off-shoot from Bishop George A. Hyde’s 1948 gay church, The Eucharistic Catholic Church. Itkin consecrated Ravarour to the episcopate in the winter of 1967 to help with the founding and administration of San Francisco mission ministries. Itkin’s apostolic succession descended from Stanley.
The Reverend Ray Broshears’ early history was mostly in Pentecostal and charismatic communities in Tennessee and nearby states. In the 1950s he had been a licensed youth preacher who was defrocked when his homosexuality became known. Several times he tried beginning religious work in other communities and each time was exposed. While enrolled in a seminary in his twenties he developed a relationship with another student. When the other student confessed the affair to his father, Broshears was arrested, and tried. Subsequently he retreated to Louisiana and his Cajun grandmother where he changed his name to Raymond Charles Broshears.
By 1966, Broshears had moved to San Francisco and began to establish new religious credentials for himself and to develop a new church, The Orthodox Episcopal Church of God. Broshears connected with Bishop Itkin who consecrated him as a bishop in spring 1967.
Broshears recognized and accepted Ravarour’s consecration and previous ordinations. Ravarour became a part of the experimental Gay Seminary program of the Orthodox Episcopal Church of God. This program trained and ordained ministers, similar to chaplains or lay ministers, who were already in coupled-monogamous relationships who could set up churches and neighborhood services together as ministries to serve the gay community needs. Despite minimal coursework, the areas of concentration were ecumenical and interfaith including Old and New Testament, and Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, and Sufi major writings. Broshears presented all spiritual paths as being inspired by God. On October 15, 1967, Bishop Broshears ordained Ravarour as a priest in the Orthodox Episcopal Church of God, and subsequently charged that Ravarour’s spiritual ministry should be that of an independent priest with a special dispensation to create spiritual art as his life’s work and spiritual ministry.
Synchronistically, the Reverend Laird Sutton of Intersection laid hands upon Ravarour and charged him to be a minister of the sacraments of art and dance. As a result of being charged and directed to do this on two separate occasions, Ravarour recognized that this call might have significance, so he went into retreat where he practiced his Energy Meditation exercises for a year. That culminated in the formulation of his Energy Flow System of the Arts in 1968. He theorized that the intuition was somehow an expression of, or related to the soul. Ravarour hypothesized that one could focus spiritual energy upon itself and magnify it, thereby making one’s spiritual energy more predominant. He posited that an infusion of spiritual energy could begin internal dialogues, and the transformative process of spiritualizing the individual. His original form of Energy Meditation is the expression of this concept, and he utilized his theoretical constructs to create energy thematic templates applicable to different art forms. During the 1970’s he taught Energy Meditation, Energy Flow Dance, and he choreographed and performed his spiritual Energy Flow Dances. He published poetry as clues to higher consciousness, and, he undertook independent studies of Eastern spiritual traditions and practices.
In 1979, Ravarour entered the Union Graduate School under Dr. José Argüelles [a.k.a. Valum Votan] where he studied Buddhism, Taoism, Ch’i and the application of biopsychic energy to his Energy Meditation, spiritual dance and art work. These studies added philosophical dimensions and ideological spiritual underpinnings, deepening and explicating his work. After the conferral of the Ph.D. degree on October 12, 1985, Dr. Ravarour taught his Energy Meditation exercises, and employed his energy thematic templates to create flowing video camerawork that gained national recognition; and in following years he applied his template to the genre of Energy Flow Photography.
In the 2000's Ravarour served several years as the rector and associate bishop at the American Catholic Church in Los Angeles. Archbishop Robert M. Clement regularized his Orders via sub-conditione ordination as a priest on June 4, 2006, and sub-conditione consecration as a bishop on September 17, 2006 assisted by Archbishop Mark S. Shirilau.
Since 2006, Ravarour has served as provincial ordinary of the last Order of Thomasines that Itkin had founded; and, Ravarour received official training to celebrate the Cosmic Mass of Matthew Fox. His independent readings focused upon The Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi, Aramaic Jesus, the findings of The Jesus Seminars, and Matthew Fox’s Creation Spirituality. He holds Buddhist papers; and, for several years was a member of the Los Angeles Interfaith LGBTQI Clergy Association.
Ravarour has collaborated with New Age composer Christopher A. Flores for the last decade, and they created numerous musical and visual works centered on spiritual themes. Ravarour published his 1960’s biopsychic energy exercises as a book entitled Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises, two books of Energy Flow Photography, Lightforms and Portals; plus a book of collected poems, Epiphanies. Ravarour believes in Divine Presence which is presence of the divine; and, that we should live at the soul level.
(This biographical information provided by Adrian Ravarour; edited by Mark Bowman.)