Friday, June 10, 2011

Change or Stay the Same

And so, here I am, nearly six months after I repurposed my blog from "Yes, Gay Relationships Really Do Exist," to "Together, Taking Being Gay to the Next Level," to "Together, Lifting the Experience of Being Gay."

I fear I've gotten off track lately.  Sure, it's fun to write posts about books I've read, the positive influence Oprah's had on me, and what the gay agenda is, and I will continue to do that, because they are all a part of me as a gay man.  But these posts don't address the task at hand, which is to help you, a gay or lesbian person, to recognize how your feelings of self-loathing prevent you from achieving everything you most want--from finding that elusive relationship, to feeling fulfilled in your job, to making peace with yourself.

Antonio Augusto, a reader from Brazil, recently made me aware of a video by Robert Happe.  Happe is a student of religions and philosophies, the founder of the Spiritual Education Centre in Aracoiaba da Serra in Sao Paulo, and, according to his website, devoted to discovering the meaning of life.  No small aspiration, that.

The titles of one of the articles on his website, "Time to Decide: Change or Stay the Same," is about how the earth is changing, evolving, including climate change and natural disasters--all, to some degree, the result of man's impact--and whether or not we too will change or perish.  In other words, the choice is ours to continue our materialistic road to annihilation or to become more spiritual beings, in tune with the earth and its needs.

But, as I see it, "Time to Decide: Change or Stay the Same" relates to us as gay and lesbian people as well.  How so, you ask?

In the video AA sent me to watch, Happe talks repeatedly about awakening. Awakening is the first critical step in fixing any problem or challenge.  Without awakening, we continue to do things as we always have, whether they're the best way or not.  That's because most of us live unconsciously.  We get caught up in our lives and our daily routines, and we don't sit up and take note of what's going on around us until we have to, until we're forced to.  Hopefully, it's not too late by then.

So it is with gay and lesbian people.  Until we awaken--that is, until we become aware of what we're doing to ourselves--we'll continue to do it.  We'll go along our merry way, keep doing what we've always done, and hit a brick wall at some point, wondering why life's turned out the way it has.  Why we're still single.  Why we're not fully engaged in our lives.  Why we're not happy in our jobs or careers.   Why we're still friends with people who aren't good for us.  Why we put up with so much negativity and drama around us.  Why we're not getting what we really want.  Why we feel empty inside.  Why we continue to make the same choices, the same mistakes.  The list is endless.      

And the answer?  Because we don't believe we deserve better.

Why don't we believe we deserve better?  Because we don't think we're worthy, that's why.  Because we don't like ourselves.  Because, as gay and lesbian people, we're filled with self-loathing.  Because we've bought into all the negativity directed at us since we were children--by what our parents may have said about gay people, what our church said, our peers at school, our teachers, our colleagues at work, our elected officials, our society in general, the media--wherever the message came from that we're less than everyone else because of our sexual orientation.

So we have a choice:  Change or Stay the Same.  That's the message for today. And I'm here to help, because I've been there (I'm still there sometimes, depending on what happens to me, and how quickly I awaken), and I've written extensively on this subject since January of this year.

I know the posts not connected to raising self-esteem and learning to love oneself are more fun to read.  I realize they're less taxing because you don't have to do much thinking, and because they don't ask you to take a hard look at yourself.

But when are we going to awaken?  When are we going to invest in our internal wellbeing, to the extent that we do in many things, from getting fit, to pursuing our careers, to whatever the case may be?  When are we going to realize our spiritual wellbeing (I'm not talking religion here) is more important than all the rest, because, without it, nothing else matters, and nothing else comes together?    

Some of you may see yourself in what I write and wonder, what can I do?  How do I learn to improve the feelings I have for myself?  More to the point, how do I learn to love myself?

I have that covered.  I invite you to take a look at the posts I've included under the theme of "self-esteem."  You'll find the list on the left side of my blog, under the title "Themes," below "being gay" and "gay relationship."  So far, there are fifty-five posts, which some readers have been kind enough to tell me belong in a book, to support gay and lesbian people on their roads to recovery.

Specifically, I draw your attention to the five posts titled "How to Love Yourself When You're Gay", Step One to Step Five.  (And even if you're not gay and have problems with your self-esteem, you'll find the advice helpful, because you don't have to be gay to be filled with self-loathing, believe me.)  Plus, I'm sure you'll find any number of the other posts to be helpful as well.

It's your choice.  If your life is working for you right now, you're happy with everything that's going on, and you don't need to change to get what you want, great.  I'm happy for you.  I really am.  But if you have the least inkling something isn't right, and, when you give it some thought, you realize it might just be rooted in negative feelings you have toward yourself, please make a commitment to investigate it further.  You owe yourself that much, don't you?

Just because we're gay and lesbian doesn't mean we shouldn't love ourselves; doesn't mean we shouldn't expect the best for us and our lives.  Don't use your sexual orientation as an excuse any longer.  You deserve the very best, make no mistake about that.  And I'm sure I've written something on my blog that will help you to become more the person you want to be and to have more of what you want out of your life.

If we do this work together, I'm confident that, collectively, we can be so much more than we are right now.  We can make so much more of a positive impact in our lives and in the world.  That is my vision for us, and I sincerely hope you share that vision.  We may be a minority, but we've only begun to show everyone what we're capable of doing.  Imagine how much more we could be, how much more we could accomplish in our lives and in the world, if we no longer hated ourselves because we're gay, if we loved ourselves because we're gay.    

Send me a comment about what's not working for you, what you'd like to change, and what vision you have for yourself, your life, and gay people in general.  Or just send me a comment.  I'd appreciate hearing from you.  I really would.      

(Link to Robert Happe's video.)

(Link to Robert Happe's website.)

(Many thanks to AA in Brazil for sharing Robert Happe's video with me, and, through it, for helping to inspire me to write this post.  I appreciate your interest in what I'm trying to do here.)


  1. Hi Rick,
    Personally, I like the gardening/book/etc. essays mixed in with the more serious ones, it gives people a sense of who you are in every day life, and I think that helps people to identify with what you're saying. Of course, that may not be the direction you want the blog to take, but I've enjoyed it. Also, maybe it's hard to come up with the more inspirational posts on a daily basis, and by just telling us about what you're up to, it keeps the blog current. Just some thoughts...

  2. PS I really, really like the new template!

  3. I appreciate knowing what appeals to readers, Sarah. So what you've written here means a lot to me.

    To some degree, I think many of my posts don't have anything to do with helping to build up gay people, so they can be everything I know they're capable of. On the other hand, no, I can't keep coming up with fresh ways to say the same thing.

    I suppose in the case of this post, I simply wanted to provide a reminder of what's available to readers under the theme of self-esteem, because I think many of them only read what was written most recently.

    I think you're right about how all of the essays I write help readers to get to know me, for better or for worse, and that helps them to identify with me. I assure you, I will continue to write on any and every subject because, in the end, I like the variety, and you never know what I might say that will make a difference in someone's life.

    And thanks for the compliment on the template. I liked the color scheme, but I also liked the flying birds, which I thought symbolized lifting the experience of being gay skyward, which I hope to do, in some respect, with each post I write.

    Many thanks, Sarah. Your comments always inspire me to keep doing the best I can here.