The discussion group Rainbow Spirit meets for a Pre-New Year's Dinner at Buffet City in St. Cloud on Dec. 30, 2012.

ST. CLOUD – Clicking on the site, Wes Tattinger noticed there was something missing. There were plenty of different groups looking for new members, but Tattinger felt they didn’t have what he was looking for.
So he started that group himself, last August. He called it Rainbow Spirit.
“I actually started it myself in Osceola County, in part inspired by,” the resident of St. Cloud said. “They have groups for different interests, and they have a spiritual group that meets in London. Having a similar interest, I thought that would be good for this area.”
What he started was a group for gays and lesbians who are also interested in exploring their spiritual side in a group setting.
“It’s a group that focuses on religion, and spirituality can come into it,” he said. “It doesn’t focus on any one religion per se, it’s open to any spiritual background and it’s an exchange of ideas and looking at life and our values, and different general themes. We have a discussion coming up on February 5 that has to do with the value of being cautious in the GLBT community and coping with that. We also send out to members daily affirmations and a weekly extra that relates to spirituality.”
His journey down this path started with a Valentine’s Day event at the Baptist Church he grew up attending.
“I was originally Christian, with a Methodist upbringing,” he said. “I went to a Bible Baptist school at one time in Haines City, and that was the first time I experienced homophobia. That was when I had a crush on another boy in my class, and that was something that wasn’t okay to acknowledge around Valentine’s Day, the special feelings I had for him. They wanted me to pick a girl, and that’s all well and good, but there was a boy I wanted to pick instead.”
That had an impact on his feelings about being a gay man, interested in religion, but not always feeling accepted or welcome by organized religions in the South.
“Over the years, I’ve been feeling a distancing from Christianity,” he said. “I’m also Native American, in part Cherokee, and basically through Native American spirituality and taking a step back and looking at my higher power through a Native American perspective, that helped me reconcile many of my feelings. It kind of gave me a peace with my maker, and I wrote about that in a short book of affirmations that I published in 2008 called A Gathering of Light, that can be found on Amazon.”
So the concept of the group was simple: an opportunity for others in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community to meet and talk about their feelings about religion and spirituality.
“The first meeting place we had was here in St. Cloud, at Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop,” he said. “It was an even balance of men and women who came to the group. We basically talked about our different spiritual values and backgrounds and what we were looking for as a group.”
The group, he said, allows people like himself who feel shunted aside by local churches to continue exploring their spiritual side with like-minded others.
“I think that it allows them to mix or compare their ideas with people of different backgrounds, especially people who have been wounded by their spirituality or feel alienated from it,” he said. “There is a lot of religious conservatism.”
Rainbow Spirit, he said, aims to offer every member of the gay community — and their family and friends — a safe and welcoming space to share collective insights and wisdom in a group setting. The group also collaborates on outside activities, including a recent trip to Lake Ridge Winery in Clermont.
For more information about the weekly spiritual discussions, call 772-342-4696 or visit the website at Their outside activities include pot luck dinners, marching in Pride parades, participating in meditations, holding candlelight vigils, and sponsoring speaking engagements.

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  1. Hi Michael,

    I am so pleased to read what is, in my opinion, a very accurate description of our little group. Wes was uplifted speaking with you and I feel you did us all justice. We have gained members slowly but steadily; getting them to show up has been the primary issue. Hopefully, your article will result in us garnering some new faces and perhaps light a fire under the ones who’ve yet to make an appearance. If time allows, please check our calendar as we aim to pursue new and different activities and topics for everyone while keeping costs low.

    In that vein, we have had our hands full – Ron and I, that is – with our 7 cats and 1 bunny. This past week, 2 of the cats lost huge amounts of fur from head to shoulders for no obvious reasons, while our rabbit closed his eye which then swelled. Vet bills are nearing $1,000 with results still pending and as many as half a dozen visits yet to come shortly. We just work for our “babies” and pray their problems will resolve soon. As with human illness, it’s the not knowing that’s the worst part. As Mariel Hemingway said to Woody Allen in “Manhattan” (paraphrased), “Ya gotta have a little faith.” Amen.

    Stay well and thanks again,

  2. Hi Michael,

    Like my friend April said, I was so pleased to read the article you published about our group. You gave a thoughtful description of our activities with a very personal touch. I found our conversation to be very “uplifting.” Your enthusiasm about Rainbow Spirit was obvious and appreciated. Our membership is growing slowly but steadily. This evening I spoke to a retired counselor from New York. She and her partner are both very excited about the group and are planning to attend one of our upcoming spiritual discussions. I feel that you have really helped raise the visibility of Rainbow Spirit and very likely this will broaden the circle of our membership. As April suggested, feel free to browse our website for events that you may want to attend (we welcome everybody of any background or persuasion) or cover for a future article.

    Even with all of April’s responsibilities her contributions to our group, as event organizer, are much appreciated and her friendship is a genuine comfort. I cannot thank her enough for introducing me to you and Freeline Media.


    Wes Tattinger,
    Organizer/Rainbow Spirit

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