The Effects of Participation in Ayahuasca Rituals on Gay’s and Lesbian’s Self Perception

Clancy Cavnar, PsyD

Abstract: The practice of drinking the psychoactive drink ayahuasca has been shown in several studies to have positive long-term effects on mental states, and several studies have suggested it has a particularly strong positive effect on perceptions of identity. This research sought to discover if and in what way, these previous findings would be seen in gay people, who are often taught by their culture and religion that their lifestyles, values, and sexual orientation are unacceptable. This qualitative study examined the interview responses of 17 gay and lesbian-identified participants who had used ayahuasca in a group in the past three years regarding their self-perceptions. The results indicated that all participants reported positive effects on their lives from ayahuasca rituals, including affirmation of their sexual orientation, and no participants reported negative effects on perception of identity. Findings will be reported and the implications of psychedelic research with gay and lesbian people will be discussed.

Clancy Cavnar has an undergraduate degree in liberal arts from the New College of the University of South Florida (1982), a Master of Fine Art in painting the San Francisco Art Institute from the San Francisco Art Institute (1985), a certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling from the extension program of the University of California, Berkeley (1993), and a Master's in Counseling from San Francisco State University (1997). IN 1997, she got in touch with the Santo Daime in the USA and has traveled several times to Brazil since then. She received a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (PsyD) from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California (2011) with a dissertation on gay and lesbian people's experiences with ayahuasca. She is co-editor with Bia Labate of The Expansion and Reinvention of Ayahuasca Shamanism (Oxford University Press, in press). She is also a researcher with the Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre Psicoativos (NEIP,

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