How to touch & be touched

Gay Men’s Intimacy Workshop (in English)

Intimacy is a cornerstone for relationships with others as well as one’s personal happiness. At the same time, none of us are ‘taught’ skills for intimacy; it is learned through life experience. Understandably, many gay men have had their understanding of intimacy impacted by negative experiences in youth, years spent in the closet, a conservative upbringing, all of which affects our relationships as adults.


In this two day intensive workshop, a small group of gay men will gather for support, sharing, and learning tools that will aid in a better self-knowledge of the needs, expectations and boundaries that make up healthy intimacy. If you want to improve intimacy with others, as well as yourself, find out what happens when you open up to new experiences and join us!

Dates 2022

17 & 18 September, 10 am till 5 pm

6 - 12 participants

Location Marlot Estate

Leidsestraatweg 77

The Hague

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'The different exercises and the stories of the other participants were very valuable.' - Michael

How the body can feel locked

You function well in daily life, but there’s a loneliness you wish you could solve. There are now more options than ever for meeting other gay men, but once things start to get more intimate, more physical, more vulnerable, things seem to fall apart. It feels like there is a block between you and your feelings. Maybe a numbness takes over. Maybe you’re so overwhelmed you panic and freeze. Maybe you feel a compulsion to get inebriated.  


Instead of enjoying the moment, you’re trying to self-soothe. You get frustrated or angry at yourself. Your body locks up and your head takes over, and it’s now about just getting through it and hoping you don’t come across poorly. Know that you are not the only gay man experiencing this. As gay men, our early perceptions of feeling different from others - coupled with how our difference is reacted to by family and society - affect how we trust and relate to others. Shame, fear, and/or negative experiences have the power to cause the brain to lose contact with the body.

Let yourself be touched again

To be touched you have to be brave. Intimacy is about being touched on the border of your being. Sometimes with words and sometimes on the skin. Every touch is different and may bring out different feelings and emotions. 


In this workshop you explore what intimacy is to you and how you can open yourself up to others. You do this in a safe environment with two counselors and a group of gay men, who each have their own questions in the field of intimacy.


With experiential exercises and sharing experiences, you explore your own body. And remember you always set the limit for how much of yourself you show.


What to expect?

Joining such a workshop can be quite exciting. The activities are simple, non-invasive, scientifically-based somatic touch exercises that participants will perform in pairs. They are a personal exploration of what intimacy means to you, and are meant to ask both basic & complex questions. What thoughts arise when holding hands with another man?  When having your scalp caressed? Intentional touches along your back? For those of us who have a difficult history with intimacy, or are simply feeling touch-starved, these “simple” exercises beget a multitude of ideas and emotions. This is why our workshop follows each exercise with group discussion for unpacking and processing feelings that come up. What feels pleasant to one man may trigger sadness or longing in another, or discomfort, or nothing at all. What does your response say about you, and what can you learn from it?


One exercise might feel calming to you, as you caress someone's arm, while you might feel tension in allowing someone to touch you in the same way. It's perfectly normal for your body to react to being touched by another man; but it is in our personal histories that we have formed our responses to intimacy - for better and for worse. For this reason, be prepared to share, listen, and learn. 


Exercises around intimacy can be exciting and sometimes make you feel nervous or uncomfortable. You know there is something to learn and at the same time you may experience resistance. That is why we as a group make an agreement on the first day about how we will work together. We often work in alternating pairs and after each exercise we invite you to share your experiences in the group. We build up the exercises slowly and deliberately, working with non-erotic parts of the body (hands, head, back, etc). You always have the opportunity to feel out and set your own limits.

Book your spot


Do you want to feel more comfortable around intimacy and sexuality? Are you willing to open up to body-oriented work for two days? With the aim of improving the relationship with yourself and others? Than please join our Gay Men's Intimacy Workshop. 

Two day entrance, incl. lunch, coffee and tea:

  • 17 & 18 September, 10 am till 5 pm

  • 6 - 12 participants

  • Ticket price 450 euros 

Fill in the form to reserve your spot

You will receive the invoice by email. Once your payment has been received you will receive a confirmation of your registration. If you have any specific questions you can contact us at

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Gay Men's Intimacy Workshop

Thank you for your booking!

Cancellation policy

Do you have to cancel unexpectedly? Then this can be done free of charge by e-mail up to 7 days prior to the workshop. If you cancel within 7 days, the costs will not be reimbursed.

About the location: Marlot estate


At less than 10 minutes from The Hague Central, you will find Marlot estate in an oasis of peace and nature. 

The address is:


772594 BB Den Haag

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How to get there?

By car: Marlot estate is located on the N44/N14 and is therefore very easily accessible from cities such as The Hague, Utrecht, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Parking is free.


By public transport: From The Hague Central it is about 10 minutes by bus or bike to Marlot estate. Several buses run 5 times an hour.


By feet: From The Hague Central you walk in 40 minutes through forest and polder to the location. 

Meet the organizers

About Michael Federic Donatich
Professional Surrogate Partner

Michael was raised outside New York City, where he earned his degree at Sarah Lawrence College, one of the few universities in the US to offer Queer Studies as a concentration. He completed training as a Surrogate Partner in California, which offered him the opportunity of a direct ongoing mentorship from the head of IPSA (the International Professional Surrogate Association.) He is one of the few gay men trained in this specialty, worldwide.

He recently relocated from the US to The Netherlands for the explicit purpose of working with - and bringing together - queer people on an international scale. His approach to his work is largely community-based: identifying the common issues that plague gay men and uncovering solutions within our shared experiences and unity. ‘Alone, we survived. Together, we thrive.’ is a sentiment close to his heart. He currently resides in Scheveningen with his partner and their very handsome dog.



René Luisman

Professional trainer and coach

René is the founder of Gay Men Coaching. As a certified trainer and coach, he creates a safe environment for gay men to work on their authenticity.


René's favorite credo is: 'You do need to do it yourself, but you don’t need to do it alone.' Like many gay men he learned to be independent in the absence of a role model. And that can sometimes be very lonely. Sharing experiences with like-minded men make you realize that you’re not alone in what you feel and experience. 


His working method was recognized by the Dutch Association of Professional Trainers by proclaiming him Trainer of the Year 2017/2018. René lives in The Hague and if the weather is good you will find him on the beach.