A Man
Overboard

 

 

An interview with Gordon Clay


Meeting Gordon Clay for the first time is like finding one's long lost brother. He's a genuinely nice man. And a very busy man as he single-handedly manages a website for men that gets more than 1.5 million visits a month. Yes, we're talking some 50,000 hits a day! In regards to men's issues - this visionary man is King of the Internet!

In 1982 Clay created The National Men's Resource Center, a not-for-profit educational clearinghouse for men's organizations, events, publications, books, and more - all to "end men's isolation." Thirteen years later he converted his efforts into a website http://www.menstuff.org Even with a huge stack of work piling up, Clay was willing one day recently to pick up the phone and return a call from a man he didn't know. He talked freely and openly about his life.

It all began in 1976 when Clay began in a grassroots movement around fathering issues. Since then he has organized and appeared at many forums, written in numerous publications, and been on television shows including Oprah. For many years he sponsored and drove a Browser's Bookmobile, a mobile library of more than 1,000 books on men's issues, to rural communities too small to support their own library. He is also a long-time initiated man in the ManKind Project. (Editor's note: he was on staff at my own initiation in 1995.)

How does a one-time successful San Fransisco (& Chicago) advertising executive sustain years of dedication to serving in the men's movement? It ain't easy.

Because his organization has the word "MEN" in the title, Clay said it has been difficult to find funding for the resource center. "There are thousands of women's organizations that get funded, but it's pretty stacked against us," he lamented. "And men, individually, don't want to pay for growth until there's a crisis.

Then when the crisis goes away they revert to the same behavior." Because 13 years of financial support has just ended from the California Milk Advisory Board, Clay has been forced to look for new sources to help continue this meaningful work.

When it comes to "mens work," Clay practices what he preaches. A few years ago he initiated a self-imposed retreat in the mountains of California. He expressed his thinking in a personal journal. "I have done much personal work over the years and have learned much from others. As some of you know, I did what I had asked you to do. Take the year 2000 to eliminate the things I don't like about myself, to replace them with new patterns, belief systems, and ways of being that really suit who I am at my core so that I can start the new millennium. "

Clay abstained from "outside" influences, including television, radio, newspapers and direct human contact.

"The big thing I got out of that whole time alone was the sense of being in the moment," he explained. "Being in the moment is being with distraction."

He told a story of a time he was at his retreat in Cazadero, California (about three miles east of the Ocean near Jenner). "I was boiling eggs," he began, "because I like hard-boiled eggs on my salad. I stood there cooking and all of a sudden I was listening to the drumming sound the eggs do on the bottom of the pan. It was magical. I just kept putting them in ... and ended up cooking over a dozen and a half eggs that morning. I kept asking myself 'why were they drumming?'"

When Clay returned to the "real world," he continued asking questions he thought relevant to men's lives - including issues around shame. "If I am labeled 'abuser' and that's the name for me and my soul, it doesn't matter what I do to improve because I'm still an 'abuser.'" The abusive action is unacceptable - not the person.

"It is the behavior that is wrong, not me," he added. "I am a clean spirit." Many say the definition of the majority is "one man with courage." Gordon Clay offers the world's greatest collection of men's resources on the Internet. That makes him a mighty courageous man.

Do yourself a favor and browse through the free website and check out the very valuable information included in Fatherstuff, Healthstuff, Kidstuff, Men's Health, Relationships, Book of the Week, and The Interview of the Week (from yours truly). Go directly to: www.menstuff.org
Other web sites he manages are: www.menatrisk.org
www.mencare.org
www.tcaw.org (Testicular Cancer Awareness Week)
www.pcaw.org (Prostate Cancer Awareness Week)
www.healingthefatherwound.com

"The Wildwood Hermitage) will eventually be a place for men to come for a day, weekend or week without human contact," Clay announced. (See www.wildwoodhimitage.com ) Sounds like a great place to read a book. Speaking of which, Clay may very well have the largest men's issues library in the U.S. (more than 3,000 books). "Every book listed on the web site, I have," he said.

And so the adventure continues.

As a closing note, Clay said he is offering the use of his RV (the Browsers' Bookmobile) to any graduate student interested in a work exchange program (thesis, study, etc.) or "any one else, for that matter."

Any takers?

He can be reached at menstuff@aol.com

© 2005 Reid Baer

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The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.



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