#IndieGoGo Love: All Of Us Project Making Schools Safer for LGBT Students

#IndieGoGo Love: All Of Us Project Making Schools Safer for LGBT Students

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“Sadly today in Australia, school is the place where young people report the most homophobic abuse. Since 1998 levels of homophobic abuse reported by students, experienced in schools has risen from 69% in 1998 to 80% in 2010.”

- All of Us Read more

#SOFFAs in Transition: Resources for Partners and Family of Trans* Persons

Finding a kind and loving support network for all but the world’s luckiest folks is a lifelong project. Multiply that times…what…infinity?…and it’s that much more challenging for trans* persons of experience to cultivate and to find.

Times are changing…we have trans* prom kings and queens, and public shaming or dismissal of trans* folks is becoming the real taboo, as it should be. Unfortunately for every advancement, inexcusable ignorance becomes much more identifiable and still continues to proliferate.

So of course, we still have a long way to go—and the more resources, gatherings and health-related modalities and methodologies that come to light in order to support, help, uplift and empower trans* persons of experience and their loved ones, the better.

If you’re reading this, you aim to support or share supportive resources with trans* persons, friends, families members, peers or others in solidarity. Here’s hoping you find useful resources, places and spaces to share below.

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Matthew Shepard’s Legacy Is Not Celebrated By All

The Laramie Project Play Interrupted by Hecklers

On October 8th, 125 people attended The Laramie Project based on the 1978 murder of gay Wyoming student Matthew Shepard at the Meek Auditorium at “Ole Miss” (University of Mississippi). To commemorate the 15th anniversary of Shepard’s death and tying it in with October as anti-bullying month, schools around the country were performing this play.

Hecklers Disrupt Play

According to the play’s director and theatre faculty member Rory Ledbetter, some audience members use derogatory slurs like “fag” and heckled both cast members and characters they were portraying for their body types and sexual identities. It was reported that twenty football players from Ole Miss disrupted the performance as did other attendees, using catcalls, giggling, inappropriate coughing, and burping.

These rude outbursts began during the first act and escalated into the second act.
Said gay Junior Theatre Major Garrison Gibbons: “ I played a gay character in the show and to be ridiculed like that was something that really made me realize that some people at Ole Miss and in Mississippi still can’t accept who I am.”

Punishment for Team

When the Athletic Department got word of the incident, it forced players to sign a letter of apology and deliver it to the cast after the show. According to USA Today,
the University has referred the incident to committees that handle bias and LGBT discrimination on campus. The students’ disciplinary action could range from a public apology to expulsion.

Judy Shepard, mother of slain Matthew Shepard and President of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, had this to say about the incident: “ using hate-filled words to interrupt a play about anti-gay hate is a sad irony.”

No Reverence From Christian Conservative Groups For Shepard

Sandy Rios, talk show host, last week told a group of Christian Conservatives in Washington, including the American Family Association, that Shepard should not be revered. The Fox News contributor does not like society’s acceptance of LGBT people in general and the depiction of certain anti-gay organizations as hate groups.

Rios cites award-winning journalist Stephen Jimenez’s reporting on Matthew Shepard’s case, calling Shepard’s murder “a complete fraud.” Jimenez, the author of the recently-released The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, like Rios, believes that Shepard was a drug addict and dealer and that his murder was the result of “a drug deal gone bad.” They believe that Shepard was sexually involved with one of his killers, Aaron McKinney. (Two men have confessed guilt in Shepard’s murder).

Rios believes that the crime was not hate-motivated against gays. “A fairy tale has been built around Shepard’s death,” she said.

At the gathering, Rios read a letter from civil rights groups, including the Southern
Poverty Law Center and People For The American Way, which urged Republican officials to skip the Values Voter Summit. Rios used the letter as proof to her audience that “it is a dangerous time to be a Christian Conservative in America.”

#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

National Coming Out Day Is October 11

#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by the churches, by the government, by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.”― Dustin Lance Black

Every year in October during LGBT History Month National Coming Out Day is celebrated in tandem. Though The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is currently the largest or most well-known promoter of the event, it was founded in 1988 by activists Dr. Robert Eichberg, his partner William Gamble, and Jean O’Leary.

Though not an expected action, coming out is essentially necessitated by the human spirit for optimal health in all aspects of life—not just those related to the LGBTQ community.

Visibility, mental health, educational opportunities and encouragement for collective self-esteem are just a few reasons for the existence of the holiday, meant to raise consciousness and create dialogue regarding bisexual, gay, trans*, and lesbian issues, needs and achievements. Transparency in safe spaces regarding sexual and gender identity is a key component—however, there’s a special youth outreach contingent that has evolved in order to raise awareness about bullying and suicide prevention.

The co-founders of National Coming Out Day created the commemorative day in order to celebrate the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place in Washington, DC (with over 500,000 participants in attendance). As the campaign for civil rights and equality awareness continued to build momentum, more and more municipalities and institutions began to celebrate the event locally.

Organizations have embodied the spirit of National Coming Out Day in myriad ways—for example: via teach-ins, parades, rallies, parties and celebrations, multimedia presentations, movies, art projects and various offline events.

The Human Rights Campaign in particular has been instrumental in making sure National Coming Out Day is honored in every state in the United States. In spite of its name, this holiday has also been embraced by other countries including New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Each year, the HRC creates a new theme for this occasion. In 2013, which is the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, the theme is “Coming Out Still Matters.”

Why does coming out still matter to our community? The HRC explains:

“25 years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10. Coming out STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBT, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other. Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.”

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Coming out is a rite of passage–acknowledging Queer and Trans* identity in a meaningful way is essential to mental health, at the very least. Why does coming out still matter to you–or does it still matter to you?

Let us know.

Namaste!

Gay Agenda

For more information about NCOD, visit the HRC here.

#LGBTHistoryMonth – The #LGBTHM Come Unity Mix

#LGBTHistoryMonth – The #LGBTHM Come Unity Mix

“‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word/And love dares you to care for

The people on the edge of the Night/And love dares you to change our way of/Caring about ourselves”

– from “Under Pressure,” Queen and David Bowie

In the United States, October Is LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month fills the month of October with celebrations of those we love, those we have unfortunately lost, and those of us who are valued here, now and always. The month-long holiday commemorates LGBT persons of experience and is particularity related to civil rights and LGBT rights history and movements. Enveloped in LGBT History Month is its sister celebration, National Coming Out Day (October 11).

In the UK, LGBT History Month takes place during February, celebrating the 2005 abolition of Section 28, which previously forbade educators and schools from bringing LGBT topics or support to students or teaching it in schools.

Particularity in the United States, no one organization “owns or presides over” the holiday—rather, several groups worldwide recognize and celebrate it conjointly.

HRC  prepares its own events, campaigns and educational brochures to inform folks about LGBT History Month, though much of its efforts during the month focus on its own National Coming Out Day campaign.

Meanwhile, Equality Forum celebrates the day of recognition by designating and recognizing LGBT icons each year—one for each day of the month—voted in by the public and archived in an historical database. (Place your votes for LGBTHistoryMonth.com 2014 Icons here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFhoRjNZMjIyUzV1cVZGVnRBay16RXc6MQ)

Naturally, several other individual groups, publications, sites and services such as Outhistory.org, GLBTQ.com, Quistapp.com and more celebrate and educate in their own ways.

We’ll save the controversies about LGBT History Month Festivities and Teach-In’s for another day–if you’re reading this, we know it’s because you want to celebrate–not debate.

Icons, anthems and selections abound, which we love. This list of songs that we claim and exclaim are for us or by us is ever-expansive, and we welcome you to add to the mix in the comments box below.

Meanwhile, have fun with these cuts. While there aren’t any new ones, you might find a few that are “new to you.”

 

The LGBT History Month Come Unity Mix

* Namoli Brennet – We Belong http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zddc7IUtN3Q

* Queen Latifah – Unity – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8cHxydDb7o

* Cheryl Lynn – Got to Be Real – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoXvDleWJ5U

* Latrice Royale & Manila Luzon — The Chop (Official Music Video) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlHzdXFCJ-c

* Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-mjl63e0ms

* RuPaul – Free to Be – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eaah3_kDLEg

* Elton John – Philadelphia Freedom – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhJHL34DiBY

* Village People – Macho Man – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO43p2Wqc08

* Marilyn – Give It Up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t-LcPkoiDM

* Erasure – A Little Respect - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiKVjS3gR88

* David Bowie and Queen – Under Pressure - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gpn8MANhdLU

* Joe Jackson – Real Men – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA65lg1HWt4

* Billie Holiday – The Very Thought of You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPJuFxl0bxY

* Bessie Smith- I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meuwKhPGItk

* Melissa Etheridge – Come to My Window - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1QIuAJoS94

* Cole Porter – You’re The Top – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njzqv5gWt6k

* k.d. lang – Constant Craving - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SraGoEVxOwQ

* Jill Sobule – I Kissed A Girl – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FdwUGwasck

* Ani Difranco – Slide – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqwww-lLz74

* Garbage – Androgyny – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVs6Fekh0RY

* Velvet Underground – Candy Says – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPgGjUSEWss

* Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love feat. Mary Lambert – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

* Blur – Girls and Boys – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDswiT87oo8

* Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgzGwKwLmgM

* Cabaret – Liza Minnelli – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moOamKxW844

*C_nty – Kevin Aviance – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYTuzFNZftY

* The Origin Of Love – Hedwig And The Angry Inch Cast – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zU3U7E1Odc

* Rent-Seasons of Love - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsj15wPpjLY

* Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUgwM1Ky228

* Madonna What It Feels Like For A Girl – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQeOpTWPBfQ

* Lady Gaga – Born This Way – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw

* Culture Club – Love Is Love – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_5s3yRcohE

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To hear the entire playlist, click the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBRcoGrPV–ZxK3qVocF1q5cz_ovovKM2

 

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For more information about LGBT History Month, visit:

LGBT History Month – Equality Forum & Icon List for 2013

http://lgbthistorymonth.comhttp://www.equalityforum.com/lgbt-history-month-2013-icons-announced

Trans Oral History Project http://transoralhistory.com

The Lesbian Herstory Archives http://www.lesbianherstoryarchives.org

(Book) Transgender History – Susan Stryker http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Stryker

GLAAD: LGBT History Month Celebration Timeline http://www.glaad.org/blog/celebrate-lgbt-history-month

BiNet – A Brief History of the Bisexual Movement http://www.binetusa.org/bihistory.htm

June Mazer Lesbian Archives http://www.mazerlesbianarchives.org

GSA Network’s Class Syllabus and Event Ideas http://www.gsanetwork.org/lgbthistorymonth

Wikipedia’s LGBT Portal  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:LGBT

GLBT Historical Society http://www.glbthistory.org

ONEArchives.org  http://www.onearchives.org

HAPPY LGBT HISTORY MONTH, Y’ALL!

Just for You: Kind Reminders and Ideas for Trans* Youth

 

Just for You: Kind Reminders and Ideas for Trans* Youth

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Dear Lovely and Loved One:

Your parents, friends, family and community may or may not be supportive, however in life, one can never have enough resources.

We hope you know that you are loved and you never have to go through this life alone or feeling alone. Your safety, well-being, happiness and fulfillment are most important—let everything else fall by the wayside.

We send you all our support and good thoughts. There are a few helpful ideas and resources for you below—never be afraid to reach out, most especially of course to trans* inclusive groups and organizations. And always trust your most loving, self-sustaining instincts in all matters.

Develop Trust In Your Own Instincts: Ask yourself, “What does the most honest and most self-loving part of my soul think and feel about this idea, or this person, or this group?” That’s a healthy question to ask yourself at any age.

Block the Bullies: If you are being bulled or harassed, it can be challenging to know who you can talk to about it—who will help you. Find the most trusted adult you can and tell them about it, if you think you’ll be safe. Because harassment and bullying of any sort is inexcusable. If you don’t think you can find a safe person locally, call or email someone for professional advice about how to stop the bullying—there are a few resources below.

Coming Out: Have you come out to your own self and expressed that you are a transgender person of experience, or you think that you might be? This is an important thing to think about rather than taking that idea for granted. You don’t have to pressure yourself to share your feelings and knowingness with the whole wide world, however think about beginning to feel secure within yourself to share your own truth about absolutely everything.

Being Trans* Does Not Mean You Are Gay: Your gender (if you think you are male, female or don’t want to declare a gender) doesn’t have to do with the people you are attracted to. To some people this can go without saying—however, it is very important to remember this. You can never hear the truth enough.

Yes, You Can Ask For Support: Know that you can reach out for help. Again, even if there are no local resources where you live or you have some reservations about reaching out, there are many organizations and groups (with trans* leaders and representatives) who work day in day out to assist and protect trans* youth, adults and allies.

You Belong—Don’t Apologize for Being:You have every right to be who you are, right here and right now. Never apologize for being, and for being who you are. We are all equal at all times—PERIOD!

Mwah! Big hugs and much respect to you.

Sending you all of our love and light,

Gay Agenda

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Recommended Resources

I think I might be transgender…now what do I do?” Helpful information about trans* youth created by trans* youth: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/731-i-think-i-might-be-transgender-now-what-do-i-do

Gender Advocates: Gender Advocates works on behalf of transgender youth as well as allies, friends and family.

The Make It Better Project: They work specifically to help students and prevent harassment. http://www.makeitbetterproject.org

The Trevor Project: They are available online, via phone, and via text and chat and help kids specifically. If you’re located in the United States, you can call them 24 hours a day at:

866-4-U-TREVOR / 866-489-7386.

You can reach them no matter what country you live in. Visit: http://www.thetrevorproject.org

Advocates For Youth / Amplify Your Voice: http://amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource and AdvocatesforYouth.org.They have a large network of support, articles, FAQ and more, much of it fueled by LGBTQ youth who care about your well-being.

The Brown Boi Project: An organization for LGBTQ trans* guys of color, which regularly holds conventions and provides mentoring and training for masculine-of-center folks. http://www.brownboiproject.org/

GLSEN:

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network: advocates on behalf of youth, and also helps with outreach and mentoring opportunities. They can also help to mediate on your behalf at your school or to form an inclusive group at your school.

http://www.glsen.org

HRC: The HRC has so many great resources, Q and A’s about any questions you could think bout and then some. When you contact them, if they don’t know the answer they’ll definitely help you find it. http://www.hrc.org/issues/transgender

Books

Written by Trans* Guys:
Letters For My Brothers
- Edited by Zander Keig

From the cover:

“In today’s fast paced world, the internet can provide quick and easy answers to personal questions. But when an individual raised by society to live, breathe and look at the world through a female lens transitions to male, some of the most enlightening, helpful and profound advice can only come in retrospect. Letters for my Brothers features essays from respected trans men mentors who share the wisdom they wish they would have known at the beginning of their journey into manhood. You can find this book at the library, but if you do buy it, 20% of the proceeds are donated to the National Center for Transgender Equality.”

Reach out to Zander at: http://www.lettersformybrothers.com/

Written by Trans* Women:

Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws – by Kate Bornstein.

(You can read and download parts of this book for free at Kate’s website: http://katebornstein.typepad.com/kate_bornsteins_blog/hellocruelworld-litefree-download.html)

From the cover:

“Hello, Cruel World is a much-needed unconventional approach to life for those who want to stay on the edge, but alive. Hello, Cruel World features a catalog of 101 alternatives to suicide that range from the playful (moisturize!), to the irreverent (shatter some family values), to the highly controversial. Designed to encourage readers to give themselves permission to unleash their hearts’ harmless desires, the book has only one directive: “Don’t be mean.” It is this guiding principle that brings its reader on a self-validating journey, which forges wholly new paths toward a resounding decision to choose life. Tenderly intimate and unapologetically edgy.”

Reach out to Kate at:

http://katebornstein.typepad.com

<3

 

 

Campaign Launch for LGBT Rural Irish

Support for LGBT Youth in Isolated Areas of Ireland

“In rural areas, it can be harder for LGBT people to get to know other LGBT people or to find support, and sometimes LGBT people can experience discrimination or harassment or may feel isolated,” said Brian Sheehan, Director of GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. Sheehan has been involved in LGBT equality and rights for over twenty years.

GLBT Advances in Ireland Should be Enjoyed by All

Ireland has seen many successes with LGBT equality. Every county in Ireland now has civil partnerships. Last June, over 35,000 people marched in Dublin’s LGBT Pride Parade. In 1993, the five -year campaign by GLEN, the ICCL and trade union movement among others led to Justice Minister Maires Geoghan –Quinn bringing a bill to the Oireachtas in 1993 which decriminalized homosexuality on the basis of equality.

Nevertheless, Sheehan wanted to ensure that visibility and positive change are available to everyone in the rural areas. Garvan Hickey, Chairman of the Rural Youth Initiative committee of Macra na Feirme, a youth group composed of 17 to 35 year-olds interested in agriculture, sports, travel, public speaking, performing arts, and community service, said he was “delighted to be involved with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network to drive the campaign. It’s a natural partnership that facilitates the continued development of people in rural areas and raises important issues such as mental wellbeing.”

Booklet Aimed at Reducing Loneliness and Despair

Ireland’s suicide rate for young men is four times greater than in the UK, with over a quarter of young and gay men have attempted suicide. The new booklet, distributed by GLEN, targets the GLBT youth, especially in rural areas, to promote positive mental health and to highlight the support services available.

Campaign Plans Announced at National Ploughing Championshps

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Edna Kenny’s Coalition Government, since March 2011, Simon Coveney, unveiled the plans at the National Ploughing Championships held in Ratheniska, County Laois. For the first time in the Championship’s eighty-two –year history, a LGBT group attended the event.

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

As “tolerance” for out, queer persons of experience shapeshifts its way through to LGBTQ-friendliness and inclusion, “coming out” isn’t necessarily the simultaneous beginning and ending of a life story anymore. It doesn’t always have to end in tears. While it’s not necessarily an expectation or assumption that queer or questioning folks come out formally (rather than just “being out”), academicians, researchers and activists continue to inform us that closeted existence is unhealthy, to say the least….

A new LGBT-focused study seeks to make a substantive difference in achieving and enjoying an optimal life experience: doctoral researcher Katie Barrow is co-leading a research study and actively recruiting participants who are LGBT siblings. How might two siblings who are LGBTQ thrive within families and in our culture?

If you can help them out, you can also earn a bit of cash in the process. Please read and forward the call for participants below:

When A Second Sibling Comes Out – Call for Participants

Are you interested in talking about your experiences as being the second sibling in your family to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)?

If so, please consider participating in a 30-45 minute interview via telephone or face-to-face.

To be eligible:

*You must identify as a sexual minority/LGBT and be 18-35 years of age

* Have a sibling who also identifies as a sexual minority/LGBT

*You and your sibling must be out to at least one parent/caregiver in your family

*If possible, you must identify as the second sibling to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT

If this sounds like you, please consider participating! Eligible parties will receive a $20 Visa gift card for completing the 30-45 minute interview!

For more information, please contact K. Barrow at [email protected]

To see more, please check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EheXko63azs

Feel free to tweet your questions, concerns or interest at  Twitter to : @gaysiblingstudy

This study has been approved by the Virginia Tech IRB #13473.

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How The Study’s Results Will Help

Katie Barrow generously shared with us how she plans to use the study results. In an email sent earlier this month, Katie wrote:

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I’ll be happy to clarify how the results will be used.

This study serves a multitude of purposes, and they go hand-in-hand. Two purposes are listed below:

1.) Advancement of knowledge. This is the most basic, yet vital reason we are conducting this study. Beyond biological studies looking at when a family has more than one son…there have been no developmental, contextual, or familial investigations asking the question of, “What happens in a family when two children both identify as a sexual minority?” It’s a broad stroke, yes, but we are casting a wide net to see what kind of information we can get!

2.) And because there is no research that looks at how a family responds to two same-sex siblings, our second goal is to apply our knowledge. We would like to begin creating coming out models so that community professionals (e.g., therapists, PFLAG groups) who come in contact with someone who is LGBT and also has an LGBT sibling, or a parent/caregiver who has two same-sex children, can be more informed of this phenomena and therefore offer more comprehensive treatment and/or guidance.

Thank you so much!

Best,

Katie

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Again, please spread the word about this study—we trust it will help many LGBTQ persons of experience, families, allies and organizations out there, which is turn, helps our community and those who seek to understand us. If you qualify for the study as indicated above, please click here to begin the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7WLM5ZZ.

 

Contradictions

Life is full of contradictions and many times it lays within ourselves due to societal pressure to conform, or an unwillingness to admit a truth to oneself.  In the process we bury the truth and create a an alternative truth; one that is not representative of what we believe or who we truly are.  Such personal contradictions can cause immense, and often times irreparable harm to our psyche and when manifested outward, can hurt those around us and also create an impression within others that is not who we truly are.

According to Wikipedia, a contradiction “consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other. Illustrating a general tendency in applied logic, Aristotle’s law of noncontradiction states that “One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.”  Often times we ourselves become “something that is and that it is not in the same respect at the same time.”

When I look back upon my life as a closeted individual, it was full of so many contradictions because I was creating a façade to cover up my true essence; who I really was, due to my fears and insecurities related to my homosexuality.  This “covering up” process began way back in grade school.  I had always sensed something was different about me compared to my friends and classmates.  I could never really put my finger on it, as I was very young and didn’t know such things about gay and straight and all the other concepts that go along with it.  But inside I knew there was something inherently and profoundly different about me and it, even then, created some level of tension with myself.

As I got into Junior High School (now called Middle School), the “cover-up” really began in earnest since it was when puberty hits and feelings begin to stir inside and hormones start to flow.  I clearly knew then I was different as my hormonal urges were not being directed to the girls in my class, but to the boys.  This really frightened me and in the ‘70’s you just did not express such feelings outwardly, but then again, I was nowhere near the point of coming out so I just trudged along the way I was and buried feelings and created more contradictions within myself.

When I got to college, I felt a bit more liberated, as I was surrounded by new people, places and opportunities to explore my hidden orientation.  I began to “explore” my sexuality in clandestine settings, and obscure venues, with others of like mind.  At the same time I began to weave a conservative façade to cover up such “encounters” and present an image of myself that was not who I really was.  I began to espouse positions against abortion, homosexuality and generally embracing a somewhat hard line conservative political paradigm overall.  But inside I hated it.

I despised what I was outwardly expressing.  However, subconsciously, at times, I would espouse a much more liberal perspective on issues, my true perspective.  These contradictions did not go unnoticed, so much so that my roommate in college once told me, a number of times in fact, that he was my best friend, and that he knew me well but at the same time, he didn’t.  He would often tell me that I was a person of contradictions.

What really drove it home though was one night while we were partying, and we were quite drunk and high, he looked me and said, “you know, you are living in your own private Idaho.”  I looked at him and said, “what are you fucking talking about?”  Inside I KNEW what he meant.  He clearly had me pegged and was beginning to decipher and sift through the façade.

“Don’t let the chlorine in your eyes
Blind you to the awful surprise
That’s waitin’ for you at
The bottom of the blue blue blue pool.
You’re livin’ in your own Private Idaho.  Idaho.

Get out of that state
Get out of that state
You’re living in your own Private Idaho,
Livin’ in your own Private Idaho.”

I was in my own Private Idaho and I was beginning to jump into the pool.  I was awakening to the awful surprise of who I really was and became very aware of the contradictions I was living amongst, that I had created myself.  I lived in my own private Idaho for many years, but along the way I began to shed some of the contradictions, and began to align myself with who I was beginning in my late 20’s when I finally admitted to myself that I was gay.

I was not ready to take the complete jump off the cliff though and fully come out.  I continued living my life as a little conservative Nazi, espousing hateful positions and creating more inconsistencies within myself that drove me crazy.  My then sister-n-law, even told me once that she really didn’t like me at all.  That really hurt me and served to remove another tether of the life of contradiction that was tying me down.

Another example of my life of contradiction lays in the 80’s and early 90’s when the Amway business was the rage and I was duped into doing “the business.”  I was surrounded by ultra-conservative types and I felt it would be a good place to “cover up.”  However, with each function I went to and the more I hung around many of the people in “the business” I got more distressed and angry with myself that I was espousing such nonsense and cheering the admonitions of the evils of homosexuality by people on stage.  I continued this charade for many years, until a certain point when I said “enough” and just removed myself from such a blatant contradiction.

After this point, my life of contradictions and falsehoods continued for many more years until my late 30’s, when at 37, I took the plunge, jumped off the cliff and came out to friends, family, and work and professional associates.  It was the time when I cast off the life of contradictions I was living and began to realign myself with my true self, began espousing much more liberal perspectives politically, and socially, and rid myself of the repressive and oppressive Catholicism that was part of my contradictory existence.  Such a drastic realignment caused severe panic attacks and internal anguish, but I overcame it all, and have arrived at the person I am today.

When your life is a contradiction, the truth ultimately will prevail. Thank heavens I took control of my life and came out. Today, I have nothing to hide and will freely express and divulge anything about myself. One’s past is just that… the past… but you cannot deny it…. if you do, it will come back to bite you, such as the case with Federal Circuit Court Judge Bill Pryor, whose gay porn past has been uncovered and is a clear contradiction with his life today as a hateful, homophobic judge who is not cool with gays and lesbians walking the streets as free people. According to People for the American Way, Judge Pryor “would deny gay men and lesbians the equal protection of the laws. He believes that it is constitutional to imprison gay men and lesbians for expressing their sexuality in the privacy of their own homes and has voluntarily filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court urging the Court to uphold a Texas law that criminalizes such private consensual activity.”

Clearly his contradiction has caught up to him, as mine would have as well, if I had not come out and evolved into the person I am today.  I look forward to my continuing evolution forward to becoming the person I am supposed to be, aligned with the power of the universe, channeling its energy to my creativity and true essence.

Are  you living in your own private Idaho?  Are you interwoven amongst so many contradictions and falsehoods to the point that you do not differentiate what is truth and what is not?  Do your friends and family dislike you for who you are and what you espouse because of your façade?  Then take the step out into the light!  Muster the courage to cast off your contradictions, and be who you were meant to be.  Life is way too short to waste it on useless cover-up and falsehood.  Be true to yourselves and just be yourselves and not worry about what people think.  You will overcome it all and be a much better person for it

Clarity of Purpose

 

There are moments in our lives when we sometimes wonder about our future and what it holds. If you are like me, I am sure you have wished for the ability to see things clearly and know if the decisions we are making are the correct ones. More often than not, however, we are enmeshed in uncertainly and we make what we feel is the best choice given the information available to us at a particular point in time or in the worst case scenario, we simply make no decision. We often lack the clarity of mind to truly know if what we are doing is the right course of action.

Clarity is the “clearness of appearance” or “clearness of thought or style.” Another definition is “the state or quality of being clear; transparency; lucidity.” It is a natural desire to be able to arrive at a decision in a clear, concise and transparent fashion, without any hidden diversions or pitfalls that will sway us from making the decision. We all know that this is not generally the case.

There have also been times when I have had the clarity to make a decision and know in my heart that it would be the right one. However, I lacked the will to follow through on the decision that I knew in a clear, concise fashion, would be the best option for me. What is it that prevents us from seeing particular situations in a clear, precise manner? What prevents us from following through on a decision that we know is the best one? How do we achieve the clarity of purpose to overcome our obstacles in order to achieve the personal greatness we so desire?

The answer lays in the “why.” If we do not know why we want something, we generally will not achieve the desired end. If we do not have a sense of why we are doomed to failure and a life of mediocrity. The why is that which will define the clarity of purpose we seek to achieve a desired goal and overcome the obstacles to realize that goal. The why is the drive; it is the dream, the vision of where you want to be. You need to visualize it and live it each and every day in your mind. See it in your head so much that your subconscious begins to recognize it as the reality instead of what can be. You must also BELIEVE that you can have your why. The universe will not deliver your why if it knows you do not believe. Faith and belief are integral components in the realization of the why and ultimate clarity of purpose.

I can look back upon my young 53 years and see many instances where not knowing why I wanted something impeded my movement forward. The why must be something personal and meaningful, and not some innocuous desire such as to be “financially independent.” WHY do you want to be financially independent? What is it that you would do with the wealth you have amassed that would drive you to overcome your obstacles?

The same can be said of being in the closet. You know you want to come out, but the fear of the unknown and not having a clarity of purpose prevents you from actually coming out and casting off your facade that you carefully and meticulously constructed for so many years. The why needs to be much more than “I want to come out.” You must think of what you would DO as an out individual. Think about how many people you could help being out and the support you could give to someone who is struggling with the same issues. You need to figure out for yourself what it would mean to you to be out of that dreary closet, living the life you so richly deserve. Create the why that will make you burn with desire and envision a clarity of purpose that shines brightly in front of you, no matter what is thrown before you in an attempt to divert you.

Define your why! Once you do, the how, the resources and the people to help you achieve your why will appear. Your faith and belief in something greater than yourself will attract the means to the end. Clearly there will be times when there will be a disconnect between where you are and where you will be, but you can’t think about the in between! Focus and keep doing what you need to, and your desired end will arrive when you least expect it.