Response to allegations by Seeds of Solidarity

11th June 2021

On 8th June at 18:00, I received this email from Solidarity & Rage/Seeds of Solidarity:

From: solidarityandrage <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2021 at 18:00
Subject: Right of Reply
To: [email protected] <[email protected]>

Dear Stephen,

As you may or may not already be aware, we are intending to publish allegations concerning you from a number of people spanning several years. Many of these matters have been previously brought to your attention privately by the individuals concerned. We are writing to you to give you a chance to respond to the allegations (set out below) before publication on Thursday 10th of June. Your response will be published alongside the allegations.

On 9th June at 12:17, I responded:

From: Stephen Reid <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2021 at 12:17
Subject: Re: Right of Reply
To: solidarityandrage <[email protected]>

Dear Solidarity & Rage,

Thank you for giving me a chance to respond to the allegations.

Whilst I am willing to prepare a public response, I want to make it clear I am also open to participating in a mediation/accountability process with any or all of the people involved.

Would you be able to make those involved aware of this and see if they would prefer such a process?

Best,
Stephen

On 9th June at 18:25, having received no reply, I sent a link to this document.

On 10th June at 19:30, a friend sent me a link to the site whoisstephenreid.com. The site does not include any mention of the responses below.

On 10th June at 20:00, I shared this document on my Facebook profile. After digesting the testimonials, I expect I will release a further response (edit: released 18th June, read it here). I will not be engaging in discussion on social media.


The allegations are published in bold below with my responses in regular text.

A number of people have alleged that from 2014 onwards you distributed psychedelic drugs to the people in your orbit with little or no care for their psychological wellbeing.

I have been part of communities who use psychedelic substances since 2012. I acknowledge that I did not always fully understand how to use these substances in the most safe and effective manner, yet the psychological wellbeing of anyone using psychedelic substances has always mattered greatly to me.

Further to this, when people had challenging or traumatic experiences as a result of taking the drugs you gave them, you showed little or no interest in supporting them.

Over the years, I have offered significant support to a number people who have had challenging psychedelic experiences. With hindsight there are times I wish I had offered a greater level of support to certain people, and I apologise for not offering more support to these people.

A number of people have alleged that between the years of 2014-2016 they witnessed you behaving in erratic, distressing, and unpredictable ways while intoxicated, in some cases leaving the witness traumatised. When approached about these incidents you often denied they had happened, leaving people doubting themselves, compounding the harm done.

[reordered] At Nowhere 2015 in Spain, you approached a woman whilst naked and high on hallucinogens, and behaved in a manner that disturbed her and her partner enough to seek support from a volunteer, who later checked in on you.

It has been alleged that the fallout from the previous points was often left to the women in your life to sort out. This has been experienced as part of a wider pattern of patriarchal behaviour on your part, in direct contradiction to the values of compassion you claim to live and organise by.

I acknowledge during this period that I sometimes took psychedelics in an irresponsible fashion which at times led to me behaving in erratic, distressing, and unpredictable ways, for which I apologise. I have never denied these episodes, though sometimes I have sought to minimise/make light of them. I apologise to anyone who was caused distress by this.

I did have a challenging psychedelic experience at Nowhere 2015, after which I was cared for by a close male friend. I received challenging reflections from a number of close friends around my use of psychedelics at this time which resulted in me choosing to use no substances at all at some subsequent gatherings.

I have learnt a lot about patriarchy and the ways I am complicit over the past years. I do have a track record of empowering and supporting women.

In October 2015, you were the workshop organiser and facilitator at the first Psychedelic Experience Weekend in the Netherlands. You provided hallucinogenics to paying participants in your capacity as workshop leader. After the workshop, you and one participant had sex in the room where the workshop took place.

The first Psychedelic Experience Weekend, which took place in March 2016, was an invite-only trial for close friends with participants only making a small financial contribution.

After the workshop, I did have consensual sex with a friend, Stefana Bosse, who was no longer under the influence of any substances and with whom I subsequently had a relationship with for several months. This took place in a private space, not where the workshop took place.

Stefana herself does not allege any wrongdoing. We remain friends and she was not even made aware of this 'allegation' before I sent it to her.

A number of people have alleged that there were multiple attempts made between the years 2015-2018 to reach out to you through private meetings and mediations etc. None of these people left these interactions feeling satisfied that you understood what you had done, or that you were going to take steps to meaningfully address your behaviour or take responsibility for your actions.

During those years I was only invited to take part in one formal mediation process, with a friend K. This was sparked by a disagreement over the invitation process for a specific event and also included broader reflections, similar to those mentioned in this document, on my behaviour in relation to inclusion, leadership and patriarchy. I participated in this process with a mediator fully to its conclusion.

I know that K was deeply hurt by my behaviour at this time, both by not being invited to this specific event and its relevance to inclusion, power and privilege in the community we were both a part of. I believe she still has feelings of resentment towards me, which may be a driving force behind this process.

Since this time, I have completed a foundation training in Core Process Psychotherapy and had six months of one-on-one psychotherapy with a UKCP-accredited psychotherapist (ongoing) where I have had an opportunity to reflect upon ways I could have behaved differently during this period of my life.

A number of people have alleged that since 2015 you have refused to take responsibility for the culture within the Find The Others community despite being its founder, main source of funding, the key organiser of most of its events, and creator of the processes by which people gain access to the events. While many experienced these spaces as liberatory, many more experienced a great deal of oppression and harm at these events, including but not limited to racism, sexism, ableism, harassment, and rape. It is alleged that you have never meaningfully acknowledged your position of authority and leadership in the community, and have been opposed to attempts to create structures to address the harms people experience in these spaces.

I spent a huge amount of time and energy curating co-created events that were advertised via the Find The Others Facebook group from 2015 onwards. I believe the vast majority of people who attended these events had positive experiences. I was often part of teams of people supporting those who did not.

I acknowledge that throughout this time I held a lot of soft power and social capital through my role initiating various co-created events. Understanding that some people were unhappy with the process by which people were applying/being accepted to these hugely oversubscribed events, I put significant efforts into helping to design a more democratic system.

I made several attempts to encourage others to take the lead on initiating similar events. This was successful to a degree, but ultimately a lot of work is required to make these events happen which often falls on a small number of people with certain skills, availability and privileges.

I have never opposed the creation of structures to address harm people may have experienced at the events.

In 2019 I decided to stop using Facebook and thus left the Find The Others Facebook group. I do not know what has unfolded there since that time and cannot take responsibility for it.

It has been alleged that you approached women and people of colour to work with you in the Psychedelic Society and other places in tokenistic ways – e.g. to gain funding reserved for POC-led projects – and then dropped them once they had served their purpose or pushed back against you.

I have enthusiastically sought to offer a platform to women and people of colour in organisations and events I have been involved with. This came from a genuine desire to involve and give a platform to people whose work and/or friendships I value and respect and I did not view this as being tokenistic at the time. That said, I accept the statement made here that some people I interacted with found my approaches and behaviour to be tokenistic, and I apologise to anyone who has found interactions with me to be tokenistic. I am sure I have more to learn and unlearn in regard to how I work with women and people of colour and I am actively working on this journey personally and professionally.

I do not know what is being referred to by 'funding reserved for POC-led projects' – I do not recall applying or considering applying to such a scheme. Leadership and decision making in The Psychedelic Society, which is now a not-for-profit worker co-operative including women and people of colour, is shared across the organisation, and The Psychedelic Society continues to feature many events led by women and people of colour.

NB states that you employed them as Co-Founder of the Psychedelic Society in 2014. When they did not respond to your sexual advances and entered into a new relationship, you demoted them and replaced them with a person who you had a sexual relationship with and excluded them from the society’s activities. They also allege that you continued to try to engage with them despite being explicitly told to leave them alone, including attending their talk at Breaking Convention in 2017 and attempting to speak to them afterwards.

I never made sexual advances towards NB. I believe NB was unhappy with Stefana Bosse's increasing involvement with the Psychedelic Society. NB chose to leave the organisation, they were not excluded or asked to leave.

I did attend NB's talk at Breaking Convention and exchanged a few words of congratulations at the end. I did not anticipate this causing distress to NB and I apologise that it did.

LB alleges that you raped them at the 2016/17 New Years Eve gathering in Treguddick, Cornwall. They allege that you have shown little understanding of what happened and do not feel that you have taken steps to meaningfully address your behaviour or take responsibility for what you did. When you sent a letter of apology regarding your ‘intimate interaction’ to them in April 2021, you made an unsolicited donation of £2500 to Womankind Worldwide and £2500 to Fumble, a sex education charity.

LB and I were friends throughout 2016 and the first half of 2017. We had consensual sex once at a 2016/17 New Year's gathering. LB and I have had several rounds of communication on this topic and never have they used the word 'rape'. I believe this choice of language constitutes defamation.

LB asked to meet me in 2018 at which time they explained they were unhappy with how our interaction had unfolded. The main point LB communicated to me was that at some point during our intimacy they had a freeze response and stopped being able to properly communicate their needs and desires. I explained that I had not noticed this happening and apologised, whilst also making a point to check our common understanding that there had been verbal consent at several stages of our interaction.

In October 2019, upon discovering we were both planning to attend the same small festival (Apple Land), LB wrote to me (as part of a longer email): "I am still upset about what happened between us, and feel that you don't seem to grasp how I felt about it and how it is now."

In April 2021, understanding that LB still held this sentiment, I sent LB a hand-written letter with the knowledge of my therapist and my partner:

Dear [LB],

This is a letter of apology.

I'm sorry I didn't communicate more clearly the pain of rejection I was still feeling as you and I got to know one another.

I'm sorry that I encouraged our connection as a way of dealing with that pain.

I'm sorry I didn't propose a proper check-in on our motivations, desires and expectations before our intimate interaction.

I'm sorry I wasn't more attentive to your sparsity of communication during our intimacy.

I'm sorry I wasn't more caring and communicative in the hours and days afterwards.

I'm sorry that I was late to our meeting at Friends House.

I'm sorry for rushing to invite you to another new year gathering when we were just at the earliest stages of healing.

I'm sorry that I didn't immediately agree to not come to Apple Land.

Please know that I have reflected upon this journey deeply, including in two intimacy trainings, a psychotherapy training and six months of one-on-one psychotherapy.

As a way of showing how important the issues raised through this journey are to me, I have donated the proceeds from the upcoming online course I'm running to a women's charity (Womankind) and a relationship & sex education charity (Fumble), total £5000.

With deepest desires for your peace and wellbeing,

Stephen

I have a record of the text messages between LB and me between Oct 2016 and May 2017 from an app I had on my phone that synced messages to the cloud. The messages are friendly and give no indication that LB was unhappy with our interaction. Some examples:

LB, 3 Jan 2017, 08:34
Phenomenabean! Happy happy sunrise from a train to pastures lands and seas new wheeeee! If you find my scarf and hat keep a hold pls. I'll see you at th party! 😜😎😜😎😜 what's your address hon?xoxo

LB, 14 Jan 2017, 20:08
Happy Saturday Stephen! Send you the tilt for Treguddick, apologies for wait and many thanks for your time and effort. I'm with [redacted] and we've been having a great time remembering it :)Are you around at lunchtime in London on Tuesday? I am passing through and would be lush to meet up :) xox

LB, 26 Feb 2017, 23:31
I'd really like and appreciate fullsome constructive criticism and nods to areas of development for my public speaking please, useful feedback would be a gift to me xox

LB, 6 Mar 2017, 16:13
Thank you for coming yeaterday wonderdream :) I just saw this message! Yay! Happy Monday :! Xox

LB, 8 Mar 2017, 15:29
Heya hon, my friend [redacted] is sick today so I'm stayin in Brighton to nurse her, so I'm afraid I will miss dinner. Let's run around London soon :) xox

I believe there was a mismatch in LB's and my expectations of our friendship/relationship which resulted in LB experiencing feelings of hurt and resentment. I believe I have already taken steps to 'meaningfully address [my] behaviour'. I am open to hearing more on what further steps I could take.


Overall:

I know huge numbers of people have been positively impacted by my work and are grateful for my efforts in the world.

I acknowledge I have been on a massive learning journey around psychedelics, power and intimacy over the past decade.

I have gone to great lengths to learn and grow in these areas. Since the last of the allegations in 2017 I have undertaken six months of one-on-one psychotherapy with a UKCP-accredited psychotherapist (ongoing), completed a Foundation training in Core Process Psychotherapy, attended two intimacy trainings, sat an extended meditation retreat and participated in several plant medicine retreats facilitated by elders.

I am committed to continuing this learning journey. I sincerely apologise to anyone who has been hurt by my past actions in connection with these topics.

Whilst at times in the past I did hold some key positions of ownership/leadership, I have put huge efforts into decentralising power and ownership in the organisations I am involved with (for example, stepping down as an admin of the Find The Others group before leaving it completely, and transforming the Psychedelic Society into a not-for-profit worker co-operative). I am passionate about continuing this process of decentralisation.

With thanks to everyone who continues to help me to learn and grow,
Stephen

An independent group of friends and supporters have published an open letter at thisisstephenreid.com. I invite you to read the open letter (which links to this response) and consider signing and/or leaving a testimonial.

Dandelion Collective/The Psychedelic Society has also published a response.

On 18th June 2021, I published a follow-up to this post responding to the Seeds of Solidarity transformative justice requests

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