Evolvefest Community Flips Out Over Founder’s Transphobic Comments

| February 9, 2015 | 13 Comments

Evolvefest Founder David Bryson Calls Transgender People “Unnatural” and “Mentally Ill.” Has He Lost His Marbles?

Evolvefest is one of the biggest annual yoga and music festivals in the U.S. It started 9 years ago and has most recently taken place on a working farm in Pennsylvania. Hundreds of yogis, modern-day hippies and spiritual people gather together for classes, workshops, concerts, and more.

We’ve attended (and wrote a review), and the organizer even let us do a Naked City one year. Isis Phoenix did nude yoga classes there as well. We thought it was a pretty cool event run by open-minded, accepting people.

Until now that is.

evolvefest david bryson transphobia transgender comments yna

On January 31, Evolvefest founder David Bryson posted a kind of rant about sex change operations and linked to a short Time article about how Bruce Jenner is transitioning into a woman.

Older generations know Bruce Jenner as the Olympic athlete whose face was everywhere in the 70’s. My own generation (people in their 20’s) are more likely to know him as Kim Kardashian’s stepfather. (I guess? I don’t really know who keeps up with the Kardashians on reality TV.)

It seems the tabloids have been obsessively speculating about Jenner’s changing appearance over the last few months, with the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for female celebrities. They’ve been picking on him for his long hair and “well-manicured” nails.

Recently unnamed sources close to the family have said he is transitioning and that he is filming his journey for a docu-series to come out later this year. His family has expressed support and said that they want him to be able to tell his story on his own time. Jenner himself has not confirmed the rumors about his gender nor any sex operation. Until we hear from him directly, we actually don’t know for sure if he is really “transitioning” or just enjoys an alternative gender expression.

The mainstream media has been reporting on the story with much derision, ridicule and transphobia. Russell Brand does a nice job of shaming the media for their bullying (video).

Evolvefest didn’t do much better and perhaps did worse. Instead of pledging support and acceptance, Bryson essentially said that people who undergo a sex reassignment operation to match their gender are mentally ill. He also said it’s “unnatural” and a violation of God’s creation, in so many words. He ended it with a plea for people to stand up and speak out against this spreading mental illness.

Here is Bryon’s full rant:

“It is certainly indicative of Mental Illness when men, who should be standing up for all that is Right and True and Good and Beautiful and being Protectors of Children and Families and Healthy and Wholesome Spiritual Culture and Defenders of Liberty and Rebels against Tyranny (meaning we can count on them to do what is RIGHT) become so self-immersed in their own narcissistic and bizarre inner life that spend all their days and hours obsessing over un-natural medical procedures designed to vandalize their own bodies and corrupt the line of ordering and design bestowed upon them as a gift by Nature.
This is radically un-natural and rebellious against the Creator, who does NOT make make mistakes and gave us the gift of WHO WE ARE. Keep in mind, the Spirit of God is intending to indwell Human Temples for all of Eternity, so before you go for that “sex-change operation”, you may want to consult with the God within you, because you are not alone. It would be tragic to grieve the Spirit of God by desecrating the Body Temple.
The mental illness is seriously on the rise in this country- unless people get fearless, step up, stand up, speak out and proclaim the STANDARD OF NATURE over the puerile and self-destructive whims of people lacking real reason and sense, expect to see more and more fall to the dark side as they stupidly emulate clearly mentally unstable individuals like the celebrity-addicted and psychological train-wreck that is Bruce Jenner.
This should help explain things to those who are still confused:
“New” Age Bullshit And The Suppression Of The Sacred Masculine
http://youtu.be/umaHY7XGDUc”

I know what you’re thinking—WTF? That was our response, too. This was all posted, NOT to Bryson’s personal profile, but on and by the Evolvefest Facebook page itself. This means that we can only take it as the official stance of Evolvefest (an event that really has been pushed as a new age, accepting and open-minded gathering).

It was clear from the ensuing comments that Evolvefest followers were horrified and upset by such judgmental, uninformed and transphobic remarks. The page saw a drop in “likes.”

A few of the comments:

– “Wow. So disappointed with the bigotry, rigid close-mindedness and hatefulness of this post. Not at all what I expected to see from this page. Who are you to know the mind of God? Who are you to judge someone’s path or choices as mentally ill? Do you know Bruce Jenner personally? How would you feel if your life and choices were on display for millions and everything you did was judged like this? This thing you posted is not the words of someone who is spiritually connected or evolved. Very sad to read this post and many of the comments.”

– “WE ALL are the creator and creation. I am sorry it doesn’t fit within your perspective of the way the world works, but some people want to get even more creative with their own bodies… If you want freedom, then you must allow for others’ freedom as well. It is a shame to see you setting Evolvefest, and yourself out to be limiting others’ freedoms… I am disappointed in your stance and attitude with which you defend it. I have defended you and agreed with you on a great many things… But I cannot stand by you on this one, brother.”

– “Unfollowing this page due to this post. How can you claim to be any level of conscious and judge like this. THIS is the kind of new age pretentious attitude that is simply ugly and lacking in any kind of evolved thinking, compassion, and understanding. How dare you.”

– “So much hate masked as concern. Dude wants to be a woman. Let him. Don’t pretend you know about him or his reasons or the implications. Let him be. Be loving. That is the evolve-fest we need. Unconditional love. Not judgment.”

– “This is awful. Who are you tell people they were meant to be? No one can interpret the will of God/Creator/Whoever someone believes in, because we’re human, and prone to mistakes. The only thing a person can do, is try to live their own truth, in a way that makes them happiest. And for fucks sake, if I hear that transgender is against nature one more time, I’m throwing away my cell phone and moving into a cave. There are animals that are biologically programmed to switch between genders. That is as natural as it gets.”

– “‘Unnatural.’ What, you mean like airplanes and medicine and living past 30? Who the fuck cares about what’s ‘natural’? And what kind of hubris does it take to assume not only that you know that there is a creator, but also that you know said creator’s will?”

– “Just pure silliness, mixed with a pinch of fear-hate.”

– “This post makes me weep for humanity. Let the woman be a woman if she wants. It has no bearing on your own life, yet posts like this one make it that much harder for people struggling with gender identity issues to be or become themselves. Let’s spread love, not pointless hate.”

– “And you call your page Evolvefest?? What a farse. Gender identity (look it up) is not a mental illness. People’s gender identity (which they are BORN with) does not always match their biological gender (which they are also born with). There is every combination of biological gender, gender identity, and on top of that, sexual preference, under the sun (which each of us are born with) it is not a choice nor is it a mental problem. It is the kalideoscope of nature. Unlike.”

Those in agreement with Bryson were few and far between, but here are two of those comments:

– “Courageous to speak, Evolvefest. Homosexuality, transgender etc… These are perversions of the laws of nature and a degradation to the dignity of the human being.”

– “We have traveled so far off coarse and people shove their perverse feelings off on the rest of the world to make their lifestyles acceptable..they know its wrong.. Seems to me that it would be cheaper to see a Doctor to find out WHY they are feeling the way they do than to change their bodies the way God made them. Our food is laden with chemicals, something is genetically wrong..”

On February 2, Bryson made a post to defend Evolvefest against those who accused him of being “anti-semetic and homophobic, among other things.” He talks about some of their recent conspiracy-driven posts and repeatedly says they support freedom of speech and religious expression. He states they believe that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Then he says that all are welcome to Evolvefest regardless of gender identity. And then comes an apology:

I would like to extend a personal apology to anyone or any groups that have been hurt by any recent posts on the Evolvefest page. For the sake of peace and unity, we will be going back to delete the posts that have been tagged by individuals as offensive and going forward we will be refraining from commenting on certain controversial matters on a community page, which obviously involves more divergent opinions and perspectives than those of the admins. We will be posting more content in the future that will help towards establishing greater harmony and concord in a community that is committing to growing in love, forgiveness and acceptance.

As if the transgender thing wasn’t controversial enough, the other weird recent posts have been about “transhumanism,” pedophilia, homosexuality and Zionist conspiracy theories. Here’s an excerpt of one post: “The next move of the Radical Gay Mainstream Media Zionist-run Agenda is to ‘normalize’ Pedophilia – now that anyone who dissents from agreeing with the ‘kosherness’ of Homosexuality is immediately crucified.” You can read more in this article.

Has Bryson lost his marbles? I just don’t even know what to make of that. In the apology post, nothing is said about the Bruce Jenner post or about transgender people in particular. The transphobic rant is still on their page, despite some Facebook users reporting it to FB as hate speech.

These gender comments are as left-field as they would be for any regular music festival. The sad thing is they are using their big platform to spread ignorance, hate and fear because they’ve concluded that their “Creator” doesn’t approve.

They’ve basically said, ‘We don’t know you, transgender person but we’re going to call you mentally ill. Oh but by the way, if you pay the entry fee then you can still come to our events!’ You call that love and acceptance?

As a fact, being transgender is not a mental illness, as determined by decades of research. This is a common, but hurtful and damaging misconception. A transgender person is one whose gender does not match their sex. This would be like someone who is born with female sex characteristics, so they are labeled a “girl” at birth, but later realize they identify as a boy. (Many will start to express another gender at a very young age and by or before adolescence they’ll realize their gender does not match their body.)

Not identifying with the gender you were assigned at birth is now known as “gender dysphoria.”

Though transgender people are more understood and accepted now than they have ever been, they still face a lot of hate, bullying, and discrimination. It’s upsetting to see an organization purportedly all about love, kindness and respectfulness contribute to this hate. This is what they claim to be about on their website:

Evolvefest is the primary annual fundraiser for a non-profit, non-denominational organization, Fellowship of the Beloved. The specific purposes for which this Fellowship is organized is to provide a safe, healing and spiritually-informed gathering place for individuals of like-mind to assemble for the purpose of fellowship, learning, healing, sharing and outreach to the needs of our community.Fellowship of the Beloved exists to help co-create a global culture marked by kindness, nurture, respectfulness, co-creation and life-affirming actions. The primary spiritual teaching of the Fellowship of the Beloved is that The Beloved manifests in our midst through the Practice and Power of Love.

We expected more from Evolvefest and will not be attending future festivals. We encourage others to read and take these posts into serious consideration before offering this festival any further support.

UPDATE: It just has come to our attention that Fellowship Farm, the latest festival venue, announced that they have cut ties with Evolvefest because of this! They said:

We are both saddened and outraged that in 2015, there are still individuals and organizations that feel justified in making self-righteous comments that deliberately harm and hurt other people.

At Fellowship Farm and at Child Guidance, we will absolutely not tolerate, support, endorse, or align ourselves with any organization that fails to see the value in diversity and equality.

Read the rest of their statement on their Facebook page.

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Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!
  • SophiaShapira

    Oh sorry —- you answered my question in your article with the following paragraph >>>> Recently unnamed sources close to the family have said he is transitioning and that he is filming his journey for a docu-series to come out later this year. His family has expressed support and said that they want him to be able to tell his story on his own time. Jenner himself has not confirmed the rumors about his gender nor any sex operation. Until we hear from him directly, we actually don’t know for sure if he is really “transitioning” or just enjoys an alternative gender expression. <<<<

    Yes — that’s a good reason to have used male pronouns at the time you wrote the article (back in February).

  • SophiaShapira

    Why are you over and over and over referring to Jenner as “he” rather than “she”?

  • Jambit

    Felicity, Thank you.  As a 65 yr old Transgender MTF Woman who is an AANR member, I have experienced some discrimination at various resorts. I hope that the AANR would speak out about the discrimination at the resorts.  
    You have hopefully seen the message I also sent about young transgender MTF and FTM individuals.
    I look forward to hearing your comments.

  • He is still at it..
    The zealot comments are out of control, inciting violence, death to the sodomites..!!
    He blocked me.. And I have know David for thirty plus years and spent thanksgiving at his mothers home in northern NJ. With my young son and a number of other people .. He did not like that I pointed out he his flaws and his touting of the Old Testement laws he justified and that he had no right to insight violence, nor condone it for legal reasons was irresponsible for such a site that was to promote the opposite.
    He now believes New Agers are evil and promote evil for thier neutral stance on various topic; because they wish to love all and such.
    He is hiding between nice new age memes to the promote his hate and bigotry. He is encouraging ‘Warriors’ to the fight.!!! This is extremely dangerous. Many people have reported him/site to Face Book yet they tell everyone it does not violate their terms. Yet they never once read into the comment sections.!! And there is not away to couple and send along such proof.
    He is editing and erasing responses he does not like to keep it Biblical and Christian viewed for the most part. Yet another post claims; ‘people claim this is Christian site, it is not, it is a warrior for God site’…
    He is claiming agnostic belief, numerology, DMT awareness, divine feminine Et al… He seems confused as not everyone ever gets to see all his postings…. They are distributed randomly and so some see the nice memes and others get the bigotry and hate inciting posts.
    Wish someone could really force the site to be removed… It is misleading and masks David Bryson’s true intent.
    He is proud that his numbers have increased …
    Yet he does not have a yoga festival any longer.
    And he does not promote love, except he says he loves everyone. Sounds like a very confused and wreckless individual….
    Seems like he feeds off the zealots. I imagine him sitting in his little trailer alone bursting with joy as to his deep thoughts and beliefs as if God is instructing him to Call those into Battle. He actually responded to a comment ” who is going to stop them?” His response was, ” me”.
    If any one can assist.. This matter/issue is still not resolved.
    Thank you,
    Timothy Kelley

  • 89jim6o

    I wonder what Mr. Bryson would say about a little child who try’s to cut off his/her penis with a pair of scissors, if he’s even heard of this kind of thing happening. I’m sorry but it should be obvious to anyone, in touch with reality, that God every once in a while, makes a boy with a vagina and a girl with a penis. I’m sure that Mr. Bryson would say that God doesn’t make mistakes; so maybe s/he just does it for her/his reasons, which we don’t understand.

  • 89jim6o

    I have to wonder what Mr. Bryson would say about a little child who tries to cut his/her penis off with a pair of scissors. Or does he even know about these happenings. I’m sorry, but it should be obvious to anyone in touch with reality, that God makes some boys with vaginas and some girls with penises.

  • There is a Boycott Evolvefest facebook page! Check them out for news & updates about these upsetting issues. https://www.facebook.com/devolvefest

  • Didn’t see this before…(it was probably deleted?). Here’s a taste of Evolvefest’s super homophobia.

  • j238 Wow..that’s the first time I’m seeing that homophobic “male copulation” comment. Here I thought he was just against the ‘gay zionists.’
    I guess it’s technically “cancelled” until they find a new venue, if they ever do.

  • j238

    This page says the event is cancelled.  Couldn’t find a confirmation on that.  http://www.edmtunes.com/2015/02/evolvefest-cancelled-light-ceo-hate-speech/

  • IsisPhoenix

    The most disturbing part of this for me was David’s need to go back and delete posts of comments from the Evolvefest feed as if it never happened. There’s not accountability as the center holder of a community to staying present in an open dialogue when rage is being expressed. The peace and love vibe and commitment to global harmony now feel like a farce and a cover up for larger issues. A sort of sweeping everything under the rug. The essential action of turning a hugely controversial discussion into a “Just Kidding, can’t we all be friends still?” comment. I’m saddened more than anything else particularly by the opening claims in David’s statement to encourage the role of the divine masculine as “protectors and defenders” and then to become so spineless in the face of a storm his community is facing. It would be healing for me if David could repost the comments rather than deleting them and essentially silencing the self-expression of others around a clearly very raw issue for the whole community. I would also like for those who attended my naked yoga class and shamanic workshops at Evolvefest to note that I also don’t condone throwing David to the wolves through silencing or ostracizing him but encourage that an open conversation continue to be held around this for the good of our community and theirs.

  • j238 Thanks. I wasn’t born yet, missed that whole thing haha.

  • j238

    Correction.  Bruce Jenner’s face was everywhere in the late 70’s.  Having won the Olympic Decathlon with a record-breaking score in 1976, he established himself as one of the greatest athletes in the world.