Thursday, March 3, 2011


I had a flash, a vision so clear and definite, of a world in which no gay man or woman is imprisoned any longer in a closet, in which all are out and authentic and thriving.  And you know what I saw, what I hadn't considered before?  I saw not only how gay people themselves would benefit from such a reality--which I've commented on before--but also how the entire world would benefit, too.  The bigger picture.  I liked my glimpse of the bigger picture.  It felt real and possible.

Think about it.  What happens when an entire segment of our population--if we are to believe gay people make up 10% of our population, then we're talking 3.3 million gay people in Canada alone--is no longer suppressed, is no longer prevented, because of attitudes and religious prejudices and discrimination, from being themselves, from being the full human beings they were intended to be, from fully taking advantage of the special and unique talents and abilities they have?  How would that benefit the individual gay man or woman on a personal level?  How would that benefit our towns and cities, our country, our world?        

At this very moment, a young gay man, not yet out, is at a crossroads, much as I was in 1977, when I graduated from high school; when I had the option of pursuing whatever line of work made my spirit soar, my heart sing; and when I consciously made the decision not to pursue anything that drew more attention to me for being gay than I'd already had.  Hair styling was out.  Interior design was out.  Travel consultant was out.  Fashion design was out.  Pretty much anything creative was out, because these were lines of work women entered, not men, not real men, not self-respecting men, anyway.  

Instead, I entered the banking profession, where I remained for twenty-eight years.  Where, although I hit some awesome highs in my career, my spirit died a little every day because I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do.  Because I didn't have a creative outlet.  Because I couldn't work with hair or fabrics or color or paint or furniture or exotic locations or whatever.  I chose comfort and safety and tradition.  I chose what would fall under the radar.  Back in the day, men had to.  It was either that or face the possibility of odd stares, ridicule, insults, or worse.

Today, that young gay man at a crossroads wants to be a dancer more than anything in the world. Dance is his passion.  It's what makes him feel alive.  His spirit flies when he's on the dance floor.  His whole being overflows with joy.  He knows people appreciate his talent, experience magic when he performs.  He loves bringing his passion and joy to them. It makes him feel good about himself. It makes him feel like he's making a contribution.  He knows his life is on the right course.  

But he also knows the reputation of men who enter the field of dance.  He knows the uphill battle to be seen as a talented male dancer, and not as a talented gay male dancer.  He knows how other men will look at him, judge him, think less of him.  He wonders why sexual orientation plays a role in anything beyond who one loves, who one spends his life with, who one grows old with--and why anyone cares, anyway.

How many young, closeted, questioning or gay people, even today, make decisions they'll have to live with for the rest of their lives, based on needing to live up to their family's, friends's, church's, culture's, and country's expectations? How many of them don't have the courage to follow their hearts, their dreams, because they've heard the message they cannot be who they are?  How many of them have the strength to battle everything that says you're not good enough as you are, you must be something else, and win?

How has everyone else, the rest of the population, lost out on what these fine young people have to offer when countless numbers turn their backs on who they are, who they were meant to be, what they are most passionate about, and decide it's simply easier to give in, not to fight the uphill battle, to make everyone else happy, not to upset the apple cart?  How much dance goes undanced, how much design goes undesigned, how much beauty and innovation and creativity goes unrealized?  How much worse off is our world as a result?      

In my vision, not one gay man or woman is closeted, held back in any way because of sexual orientation.  In my vision, every gay man and woman is exactly who he or she most passionately wants to be.  In my vision, the entire world is transformed through accepting people for who they are, by encouraging one and all to live up to their fullest potential, by taking advantage of the energy and talent and creativity that remains undiscovered, ready to be shared at any moment.      

This is only one small part of what I mean by, taking gay to the next level.


  1. Living from one's heart is the greatest experience. It means loving everything. It means trying to find some place where you can be a person. Someone who is respected. A person who lives at the highest level possible. Who is the best one living one's best life. It means understanding your worth even when everything goes wrong, when you feel that there is no real possibility that you would make something new. One needs to understand that it is about the emotion. The possibility of being among people who are talented. They can teach you a lot. But you need to understand your importance of being the gray one in this group. The one who is not as talented, not as smart, not as funny. But you are the only one who can be smart, funny and talented in your own world. And this makes you feel that you have the inner right to be happy. For example, my mother, she has been the strongest and most successful at everything she has tried. And lately I have realized that the reason why she is successful is that she has always had only herself to count on and her sense of worth has made her do things that no-one ever thought she could do. She has always known that when you want something you are the only one who can make it come to life. You are the only one who limits yourself and also you are the only one who can make yourself love every second that you live. Even the painful, full of hate moments can be lived threw if you have an opened heart and remember to see the beauty of living.

  2. Good reminder Elevencats, attitude is such an important part of how we view the world, and conduct our lives. And those who believe in themselves often make things happen, long before the person who may be more "talented," but lacks the self-esteem and drive to follow through.

    Rick, I really loved this one. I know it's unfair for someone like me to say, "C'mon, everybody out!" when I'm not personally dealing with the hurtful attitudes out there, but what you wrote just breaks my heart. And while this happens to straight people too (the artist whose father wants him to be an engineer, or whatever), I'd imagine the "passing," the flying under the radar, leads to so many missed opportunities. This is probably similar to the gay kid growing up in a evangelical Christian household, where the pressure to marry (a girl), have kids, a white picket fence life is overwhelming. We ask kids to have so much strength, when growing up and figuring out what you want to do is hard enough. If revealing one's sexuality weren't a big deal, if it were a "some people have brown hair, some people have blond hair, I wonder what colour hair our kids will have?" issue, and parents sat around waiting to see whether their kids would be gay or straight, much like they look to see if they got dad's nose or mum's eyes...I would very much like to see that world.

  3. This is a great vision Rick! It's true, cultural expectations can be so limiting on individuals. I took business and accounting (ugh) in university, probably much for the same reasons you went into banking. After the first year, I added French as a minor. My French classes ended up being the only enjoyable part of my university studies, and where I met all my friends! If I was entering university today, I might pick something like writing or art history. Going to Japan to teach English was probably also a reflection of my lack of interest in a corporate career.

  4. @elevencats: Sounds like your mother is a great role model for you. That's commendable. Young people don't often speak highly of their parents, let alone set them as examples. I'm sure she'd appreciate the recognition you've given her.

    As I see it, there's just one potential concern about role models. As long as they remain inspiring, they're helpful for drawing the best out of oneself. But, if they are put on a pedestal and made to look as if no one could ever reach their heights, they can have the opposite effect. Does that make sense?

    I hope your mother inspires you to be the best you can be. If she does, so much the better.

    @Sarah: Great comment directed to elevencats. Thanks for that.

    Man, would I like to tell everyone to come out already, too, because I know from personal experience how freeing it is--how life can be measured pre-coming out and post-coming out, and how the latter is light years better.

    Plus, as I've written here, there's strength in numbers. Just imagine if all gay people came out at the same time, which I encouraged in my post "Living Fearlessly." Every family would know they had one or more gay people in it. This would rock the straight world, I'm telling you. I think the straight world needs a little rocking, don't you?

    @Doug: Speaking of writing, in my comment to your most recent post about Japan, I meant to say how well I thought it was written. I'd encourage you to keep writing, both on your blog and elsewhere.

    My thanks to all of you for your comments and contributions. I really appreciate how everything you write helps to illuminate my posts.

  5. Oh yeah, bring it on, Rick, as long as our straight world is rocking to Donna Summer! I LOVED what you said in your previous response to me--that those vocal haters need to be discredited rather than converted, perfect! You're right, for those who are so far to the right, we'll never change minds, but showing them clearly as the nutjobs they are...a worthy goal.

  6. Sounds good to me, Sarah, with Donna Summer anthems playing, propelling us forward toward our vision. Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talking about.

    Thanks for your comment.