Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Freedom From the Inside Out

I know many of my posts are long.  I'll make this a quick hit today.

I dedicate this to anyone who can't come out because to do so might put him or her at risk.

Many gay people still live and work in places where they cannot be themselves. Where coming out isn't an option.  Where they have to live in hiding because it's safer for them.

If you're one of these people, building your self-esteem is just as important to you as it is to anyone who can come out, who is already out.

Well, you might ask, what good will feeling good about myself do when I can't be myself, when I have to live in fear?  How can I feel good about myself when I know people hate me because I'm gay?

Many of the posts I wrote here last month will help you with the second question. In short, despite what anyone might think of you, how they might make you feel, you always have control over how you feel about yourself.  You can always love yourself, just as you are, regardless of other people's opinions, because, deep down, you know you're a good and worthwhile human being.  

You know that, don't you?  I'm telling you.  You are a good and worthwhile human being, and you must not allow anyone to make you feel otherwise.

To answer the first question--what good will feeling good about myself do when I can't be myself, when I have to live in fear?--I'll answer this way.  Feeling good about yourself--that is, having high self-esteem, or loving yourself--will give you strength.  It will give you the strength you need to put the negativity directed at you in its rightful place.  It will give you the strength to resist what other people do to you--the things they say, the looks they give, how they judge you.    

You may feel imprisoned in your external world, because you can't be open about what you are, because you're not free to be yourself, but there's no reason why you should feel imprisoned in your internal world.

In your internal world, you can truly be anything you want to be.  You can fly as free as a bird.  You can walk down the street with the knowledge you're all right just the way you are.  You're a worthwhile, and good, and respectable human being, and you don't have to change for anyone.  And the reason other people don't know that is because they haven't given themselves a chance to get to know you.  

Freedom comes from the knowledge of your self-worth.  The world may not accept you as you are, but you don't have to stop yourself from accepting who you are.  And, to those of us who know, that is freedom.

(This post was inspired by a comment from Aries Boy in Indonesia.  Thank you.)


  1. I love the image of freedom as something that begins inside of us. It is always the quiet revolution that has the deepest impact.

    There's a catchy old German song they sing in my aunt's Mennonite church. Here's a translation of one of the verse's:

    "So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
    and never again will torture myself with some fancy ideas.
    In one's heart, one can always laugh and joke
    and think at the same time: Thoughts are free!"

    While freedom of thought, and self esteem are not exactly the same thing, it does remind me of the power of our inner world.

  2. I don't know how I could be so fortunate to attract such a great group of generous readers, always quick with wonderful and insightful comments, but something is going on.
    Doug, I'm so grateful for what you wrote here. The verse you shared with us is beautiful and spot on.
    If you think about it, each of us is utterly free in our thoughts to love ourselves, or not. Literally, no one can take that freedom away from us, unless we allow it to happen. So freedom of thought and self-esteem are certainly connected.
    I've been thinking a lot about my younger self lately, formulating another post I want to write. Do you think when I was twenty years old and in the middle of my misery I could have seen I still had the freedom to love myself despite everything I was going through? Not a chance.
    But with the perspective I have now, having lived an additional thirty-one years, it's clear to me. Sometimes, getting older really is a cool thing.
    What made you think of this verse I don't know, but you hit it, buddy. You really did.
    Thank you so much for that.

  3. Your comment that you can "fly as free as a bird" just made the song come into my mind. When I first sang the song with my aunt in church, it didn't really mean anything to me. Then a couple years ago I saw a film about Russian Mennonite history and they were singing the song, which actually made me think about it, then Google it. I thought, that's radical, yet so traditional! And then you reminded me again in another context.

    The "misery" of being gay in a straight world is what gives us insights and the strength to change over time. A person with a happy comfy life does not learn very much.

  4. In the first place I never thought that this correspondence would go this far. Thanks to you, Rick, and your fabulous readers too who welcome me here as a friend. :)

    Uhm, I don't know what to say about this post. But, in this early morning, I prayed for my future. And I prayed for all of gay people future as well. May we all be blessed with strength to pass through our days ahead. It's not gonna be easy, but It's gonna be better.

    Salute to us. :)

  5. My thanks, Doug and Aries Boy, for your comments above.

    @Doug: Thanks for letting us know how you remembered the beautiful verse you shared with us above.
    And, yes, your comment about misery is so true. I read somewhere that the other thing that's great about being gay is each of us is a trailblazer in terms of what our lives can be. Since most of us don't have great examples of gay people to follow, or to be forced to live up to, we can truly make our lives our own. The canvas is wide open, so to speak.
    And, of course, adversity does lead to strength. I think sometimes we forget just how much we've been through, and how strong we truly are. This has been good reminder.

    @Aries Boy: This correspondence, as you put it, is here whenever you want to use it. I hope you will return to my blog often, keep up to date on what we're talking about, and always know we're available here to support you.
    I could be wrong, but I sense you are more hopeful about your future than you were when you wrote your first post. Then, you mentioned the suicide word, which concerned all of us. Now, you're praying, not only for yourself but for all of us. I take this as a good sign, a sign you'll stick around for the future to see what it holds for you.
    No, things may not be easy (are they ever?), but, as long as we're still here to fight the fight, and to continue working on improving ourselves, including finding love for the most important person in our lives, we can and will make it.

    Thanks again to both of you.

  6. @Rick:
    Uhm, I already decided to believe that I do have a future too, just like another human beings. College time was the darkest time in my life. I went into free sex. I felt into a dark bottomless pit. But, I realize now that everyone deserves to get a second chance. I hope that you guys will help me to keep optimistic, even in the toughest times of my days ahead.

  7. Aries Boy, despite everything you're going through, you really do have a future. Don't ever forget that, even when things are dark and difficult. And, yes, everyone deserves a second chance.
    Count on us to help you remain optimistic. We are here for you.
    All the very best.

  8. Rick's readers have plenty of optimism to share with you Aries Boy, so this site is the best place to visit. People can only learn by making mistakes. You survived your college days, and are here to share with us. How wonderful is that! The more you live, the more you learn, and the better life gets.

  9. What wonderful and encouraging words, Doug. I appreciate you sharing them with Aries Boy and with my other readers.

  10. Aries Boy, I grew up hating who I was, for many reasons, but one of them because I was gay, even though I didn't know it then, what it was called, or why it was different, I hated me. As I grew up, I hated that I couldn't be the real me. About four years ago, I realized that if I couldn't love me, who would and how could I love anyone else?

    Coming from a religious background, I threw even more hate on myself, and absorbed the hate by others until I was filled with anger, rage, hate and sorrow. Deep, unpentrable sorrow. So, when, in 2007, I realized and admitted my homosexuality, I embraced it, along with the attitude of positivity, knowing that my happiness in embracing the WHOLE me, meant that I wasn't going to hate myself anymore, and I couldn't apologize to anyone for who I was. And why should I? No one apologized to me for being straight. They didn't have to. And neither did I. And you don't either.

    Being gay is like having brown eyes. It just is. And you deserve love as much, if not more than anyone else. We love you here, and I'm hoping that you can find a true, deep love for yourself. :)

  11. What encouraging and supportive advice, Heather.
    Thanks for your honesty and for your willingness to share. I know Aries Boy and others will be comforted by your words.
    And thanks for the comments about the connection between loving yourself and being able to love others. No truer words were ever written.
    I really appreciate your interest in my blog.