Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's all connected - Part 1

As most everyone was aware June was “LGBT Pride month”. It was a time for gay people to feel acknowledged and accepted by our nation which is built on diversity. President Obama had the wisdom and respect enough to proclaim it as such after President Bush stopped that designation during his time in office. Pride month is a time when the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community can celebrate our successes and raise awareness of our struggle for acceptance and equal rights. It’s a time that we can focus on being proud of who we are and our ability to love.

I make no secret about the fact that I am a gay man. I live my life in a way that pleases me with honesty and integrity. I am out to everyone that I know including my loving birth family and my beloved partner’s family. I am proud of the fact that he and I have been together for 10 and ½ years in a loving, committed relationship. I am honored to be able to work with other men to help them love and respect themselves and their sexual expression whether they are gay, bi or straight. By fully accepting ourselves just as we are and sharing that we can offer others the choice to love and accept us and not a false personality that we have created in an attempt to be who we think they can accept.


As a child and small boy, I grew up during a time (the 60’s) when gayness was considered a psychological defect which needed to be treated and cured. I was born and raised in a small town in Alabama which was full of people with good hearts but misguided belief systems that said if you were not heterosexual and white you were not welcome. In fact if you were not straight AND white you ran a very real risk of being beaten or even killed. In an area of Alabama with a strong Klan presence, homophobia and racial discrimination were not only rampant but openly embraced.

I was a very soft natured and physically small boy who was quiet, effeminate and very introverted. The local religious environment taught me to view myself as a sinner because of my homosexual nature. The community taught me to hide who I was to avoid physical harm or verbal assaults. I grew up living every day in fear for my safety and well being because I could not hide who I was inside. I had very few friends outside my immediate family because I was so obviously different. Kids at school pretty much avoided being friends with me because they knew it could bring negative attention to them simply by our association.

Needless to say I really valued very highly the friends that I did make because they gave me a feeling of safety, love and acceptance and a sense of community. At that age, fitting in and being accepted was essential for good emotional health. Having a group of friends at school that I could feel safe around allowed me to relax and let down my guard a bit and experience a sense of belonging. I knew that no matter how cruel the verbal and physical assaults were from the other kids, I had a safe refuge somewhere with my friends.


Since I left that place back in 1981 I’ve made my peace with who I am, the painful experiences I had there and even reconnected with a few of my childhood friends thanks to Facebook. One of those people was a boy that I was very close to as a child. We were born 10 days apart and I always felt a close kinship to him until after graduation when I left town. We’ve since reconnected on Facebook and it’s been nice getting to know him again but as an adult. It seems that we both have developed a rather sharp sense of humor that can cut and entertain. We both can go so hard for a joke sometimes that other people can easily and unintentionally get hurt along the way.

This became very clear recently when I was the one who was hurt by his humor. He posted the image that you see here on his Facebook wall. He was actually posting it to another of his male friends but I saw it on his wall and was immediately triggered by it and let him know. His response was that I was being “too sensitive” and reading something into it that he didn’t mean. He said he considered himself an equal opportunity offender with his humor.

The more I thought about this, the angrier I got and the more hurt I felt. I considered the possibility that I was over-reacting and even posted the image on my Facebook wall asking my other gay friends if it offended them. Most who responded began reading into it and even defending it saying that gay’s “have a more refined taste and are classier” which is also in line with Mac’s marketing practices. I get where they were going with that but to me that was definitely reading more into it than was present and even showed how corporate marketing can affect us.


Finally I decided to sit and analyze why this bothered me so much rather than just saying that it hurt me because it was truly NOT directed at me personally. It was me that had the problem after all. I realized that it was because of the divisive nature of the message. To me this image says “the sole criteria that I will use to determine which group you are in is your sexual orientation. The thing that divides us will be your sexual identity.”  On the surface maybe there is some humor which can be had based upon our personal beliefs around gayness, Mac’s and PC’s but there is embedded homophobia within it. As someone who is trying to bring forth a message of Oneness, self-acceptance, peace, harmony, love and awareness, this flies directly in the face of that message. As a gay person, it stings. Coming from someone who I thought had my back, it hurts.

On many levels I was deeply hurt by this insensitivity and I let him know that I was both upset and offended by it. I explained to him why it offended me and let him know that I expected nothing from him because of it. The problem was with me and my response to the posting and so it was my issue to work. My life experience provided the fertile ground for this situation to bloom and so the healing needed to occur there as well. I made it clear to him that I wasn’t looking for an apology or for him to do anything other than be aware of the response his actions had triggered. What he chooses to do with that in the future is entirely up to him because now he knows the impact his actions had.

I didn’t know it at the time but this experience was getting me set up for a deeper awareness and a an opportunity to heal an old issue. I’ll share that in Part 2.


In a country which struggles with its treatment of gay people, homophobic remarks like this one get dismissed by society because it has always been okay to make gay jokes. The message that our government and religious organizations send is that it is okay to discriminate against gay people because they don’t deserve equal rights or equal treatment because of that one issue. When the culture holds a belief, it should come as no surprise that its members will act in alignment with that belief and not see a problem with their behavior.

On the one hand, it would be easy for me to say “Oh, he didn’t mean it THAT way” and just ignore it but then nothing will ever change. The truth however is that when you post (say, write, act, display) anything like the image above, not only do you get your particular message attached to it but you also have to own the deeper embedded energetics of that message. It doesn’t matter what joke you are trying to connect it to or why, you get it all and are responsible for it as if it were your own words. If that image had replaced “gay” with any racial designation, it would have caused an uproar but because it used “gay” it was seemingly okay.


Every subsection of our culture has had its struggles for acceptance and equality. It is challenging when you are in a minority to get the majority to treat you fairly because they hold the weight and power of the majority. The role of government is supposed to be to protect the minorities and ensure their equal rights and fair treatment. Unfortunately the majority seems to think the government is there to protect their fears relating to the minority wanting a piece of their pie. We’ve seen this happen with women, African Americans and now it’s time for equality for gay people.

When we know better, we can do better. Discrimination and separation will never move us in the direction that we need to go as a nation or as a species. They only further divide and weaken us. To survive and flourish we have to learn to think and act as one. “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice FOR ALL.”


We all deserve to feel safe, respected and heard. This is especially true when we are with our friends. At the same time each of us owes it to the world to be our own unique, authentic expression of the Divine. As we experience that which is different from ourselves, we learn and grow and see the value of the diversity of nature. Yet despite our differences, ultimately we are one planetary species and we have to learn to find ways to value those differences. When we can drop our judgments of others which drive us further apart, we can see that ultimately we have more in common than we think because we’re all human and we’re all in this together. We can choose to be a piece of the whole or we can choose to live in fear, separation and ultimately isolation.

Remember, energetically you get back what you send out. Will you choose to radiate love and acceptance or project your fears out into the world?