As a new arrival to Seattle last year, public speaker and business coach Frank Macri accepted an acquaintance’s invitation to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race over brunch with a few other gay men. Soon after arriving, he realized that the Saturday morning meal wasn’t what he had in mind. Not only was Macri the only one to bring food to the event, but the kitchen counter was drowning in champagne bottles. He looked on in wonderment as the group rose to attend another party after the show ended. Then the friend who invited him announced in a casual tone that they were going to have an orgy.
The proposition shocked Macri, who in his nearly decade as an out gay man had never encountered such an invitation. He declined and returned home to ponder the opportunities for people like him in the LGBTQ community to connect. “I noticed that a lot of people feel like they need to have drugs in order to open up to someone and be vulnerable, or they need to have sex in order to feel connected to someone,” Macri said. “And I thought, what if there is a community out there of others who are mindful, compassionate, and wanting to have deeper connections with themselves and other people.”
So shortly thereafter, Macri founded Namasgay, a group for spiritually-minded LGBTQ people who are tired of only connecting with others in clubs or on dating apps. Since its creation last October, the Seattle-based group has expanded to include thousands of members in Oakland, New York, and Chicago. Members meet through a couple of events each month, including meditations, dinners, single mixers, hikes, and yoga sessions.
The inaugural Namasgay Summit runs April 20–22. Held at the W Seattle hotel in downtown, the event will feature LGBTQ leaders, such as trans activist and actress Jazzmun Crayton, along with best selling author Kitty Chambliss, international speakers, and life coaches who will talk about attracting “purpose, joy, love and abundance into our lives,” according to Macri.
Although seven in ten Americans now say that homosexuality should be accepted in society, according to a 2017 Pew Research report, Macri noted that spiritual LGBTQ folks still may feel excluded in churches, temples, or other spiritual settings where they might be the only openly queer person in attendance. “That’s why I was so passionate to start Namasgay to bring people who might not be totally religious, but they’re just curious to explore who they are and why they’re here,” he said.
Macri came to his own journey of self-discovery after several painful teenage years of critiquing what he considered his high and effeminate voice. Some of his Long Island, N.Y. classmates would ridicule his speech and mannerisms behind his back, he says. As a result, he wallowed in self-hatred and remained in the closet. He believes this self-loathing manifested itself physically when he was diagnosed with a thyroid disease that doctors told him would never disappear. “And then I realized that my mind, body, and soul were all basically telling me the same thing, and that was to stop being invisible,” Macri said. So he decided to start “boldly showing up as his authentic self” by coming out of the closet at 18 years old, moving abroad and receiving life-coach training. Then, suddenly, his thyroid healed and his life started to fall into place.
Now the man who once hated his voice as a young boy has built a successful career as a public speaker and business coach. Yet, he recognizes that many in LGBTQ community don’t have the tools to discover their calling or surround themselves with an inspiring community. In response, Macri has devoted his life to bringing together “those wanting to connect to themselves and others on a deeper level.”
Seattle-native Anita Smith is one Namasgay member who wanted to tap into a more spiritually-minded community and to eventually find a partner. After two-decades of isolating herself, the 71-year-old recently emerged from her debilitating depression and anxiety through the help of a spiritual healer.
But when Smith attempted to reenter the local queer scene, she found that most of the lesbian bars she once frequented had closed. Many of the patrons at new ones she found were much younger than her. But her social life started to shift in late November, when a friend invited her to a Namasgay meetup at Capitol Hill’s Excelsior Apartments.
There she met several other spiritually-minded people with whom she’s since formed deeps connections. Over the past few months, she’s attended a couple of Namasgay events where she has meditated, participated in games that helped her identify her values, completed self-awareness worksheets, and done homework that’s deepened her consciousness. Smith felt so inspired that she signed up to attend the Namasgay Summit during her first meet-up. Smith said she hopes that Namasgay will help her achieve her goal of “bringing upliftment, joy, and bliss to the planet.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Macri as a “life coach,” when his more accurate title is “business coach.”