I completely agree with Rick Mercer’s recent rant with respect to the need for more gay adults to be role models for gay kids. This, so that gay kids can feel safe, comfortable and contented in their skin. In order for that to happen, the gay adults that Rick calls out to, first have to feel safe, comfortable and contented in their own skin. Anything short of that presupposes that the adults Rick appeals to already feel that way about themselves and most don’t for the risks they still perceive to be associated with having their sexual orientation known. It’s all relative and where it may feel safe for me, for another it doesn’t. Therein lies the challenge in the call-out to adults.
A Conversation About the Adults
If we assume for a moment that the majority of kids grow up and get a job, start a career, become professionals, regrettably for many of them, and not just in the context of “being gay and coming out”, the workplace takes on the likeness of an “adult” schoolyard. Why because by virtue of our upbringing we’ve all become very adept at being externally referenced. In some cases external referencing is good. If I wasn’t externally referenced I wouldn’t pay mind to the oncoming car as I’m trying to cross the road. I’m not speaking to external referencing in that context however. I’m talking about the kind that sees us being other than our authentic selves based on the risks associated with that.
Very much like in the schoolyard, the internal conversations for the adults in the workplace may sound like, “what will my colleagues, boss(other kids, teachers) say/think, will I be taunted, will I be teased, will I be bullied, will I be excluded? As a former police officer of twenty years who happens to be gay, the first ten years of my career (1st three years as a Military Police Officer) were spent willingly and knowingly in the proverbial closet for all of the concerns I’ve just stated. My stories to colleagues about my weekend outings with my partner, now of 22 years were rarely shared and when they were, my partner was referred to in two ways as my “friend” or “they”; exhausting to say the least. I was not only carrying the lie, living an “other” life at work, in fact I’d been carrying the lie from the moment with and in mySelf I knew that I was gay. And though I could not put language to it, looking back, I was aware of my sexuaility at a very young age and I was also aware of how “bad” it was to be gay.
The shift for me did not come because suddenly it became safe outside of me and in my workplace and in my world to be gay. The shift came for me because it was safe inside of me to be gay. Not safe at an intellectual level where our perceptual filters such as distorting, deleting, generalizing, judging, analyzing, and rationalizing drives the bus, rather at the level of the body, because the body unlike the intellect does not have the ability to lie to us. So, in that, our body, our energetic being knows our brilliance and beauty. It’s the intellect that actually calls what we instinctively know into question by gauging and measuring worth based on what others think of us and at a very young age we are taught to listen to our intellect creating the ultimate betrayal of ourselves and that was to not trust our bodies and to look outside of us for the approval no matter how “unlike us” it felt inside.
The stories that others have of us are run through our respective perceptual filters and for many who are unaware of themselves beyond their intellect, the truths of others become the truth that they hold of and for themselves. For years as a gay person, I held myself as abnormal, sinful and dirty because the external world that I came to know as the marker, kept reinforcing that for me. You see in my upbringing, in my home, in the media, in my school, homosexuality was seen as disgusting, revolting, dirty, even criminal behaviour with it being equated to pedophilia. I’m not suggesting that it is exactly like that for teenagers today and clearly there is still something going on out there that they are having these feelings about themselves that in some cases has them dismissing themselves to the extent of ending the very breath that it takes to save them.
By virtue of my willingness to explore and discover that I was much more than I was taught to believe I was, my life changed. But I had to be willing to be with and in myself, resourceful breath to resourceful breath. When I chose that, the internal shift saw me no longer riding or carrying the dead horses of disgust, embarrassment, shame, guilt, fear, or hating myself as part of my being. Not only that, I discovered that they were not my dead horses, they were owned by those who held me as that. They were their beliefs, not mine. In that discovery a remarkable thing happened when I got off of all those dead horses and stopped dragging them around ; my life changed. The conversations about sexuality changed, rather than calling into and seeing in my life those who held homosexuality as disgusting, where I couldn’t see them before based on how I held myself, I could now see other human beings who knew my sexual orientation was a natural aspect of a human being, being human in their world. The other thing that happened because I felt safe and comfortable in my body, it became safe as well for those who would otherwise not reveal their support for homosexuality to now do so absent of the fears of riducule and guilt by association that otherwise kept them in their own little closet. You could say my experience was in keeping with the concepts of the laws of attraction.
By honoring mySelf, my life changed. One day a colleague of mine with the Gloucester Police Service who I’d been partnered up with and
befriended asked me outright if I was gay, and for the first time in my body, because I was safe in there, I knew it was safe for me to be authentic outside of me. I answered him authentically, truthfully with, “yes I am.” No waving flags, no marching bands entering the scene to usher in my answer, no bells and whistles, no front page news, just him and I being ourSelves, each of us knowing it was safe to be ourSelves. That reinforced the safety that I held in and of myself. It doesn’t mean that everyone I’ve encountered in my life agrees with my sexual orientation it just means that when such people present I still feel safe in me in spite of that. And that’s powerful and empowering as a thought contagion.
Back to the Children
And so that brings me to this question/consideration; where do our children get the opportunity to explore and discover their brilliance, their beauty, their magic, where even if it doesn’t match an adult’s perception of what brilliant, beautiful, magic looks like for them, they still know they are all of that? Whether in the context of sexual orientation or anything else, how many places and spaces are we silencing the voices of our children because theirs doesn’t match our expectations, desires of them? Where do they go to know that being the full expression of who they know themselves to be is ok?
I can tell you with certainty that it is not for the most part available in their homes, and most certainly not in their schools. Outside of the context of school curriculum that I promise to lend my thoughts to in my next blog, here’s why I know that. The living, breathing entities, in our children’s respective family systems and surrounding communities, including schools have yet to make the discovery for themselves of their own innate brilliance, beauty and magic. Here’s my evidence for that. The perpetuation of workplace harassment, discrimination, bullying and violence continues to rear its ugly head and at phenomenal rates. So you have teenagers who are taking their cue from entities who have not made the shift from external to internal referencing for themselves because they too are experiencing their workplace as the “adult” schoolyard that it is for them. They continue to perceive their world as dangerous…and you can only convey to others how it is you perceive your own world.
In the province of Ontario, we are sixteen months into new legislation that addresses harassment and violence in the workplace. Why do you
think that legislation was introduced? It’s because people are dying all kinds of deaths in all kinds of ways in their workplace at the hands of colleague to colleague, harassing, bullying, and yes violent behaviour. So it is, quite likely, these children / teenagers, will, like me, only realize that they are more than they’ve been taught to believe they are when they become older, wiser, and more attuned to themSelves as opposed to tuned into what everyone else thinks or expects of them. And when that happens, like me, they’ll become seekers for what they know instinctively is available to them and that is taking/getting their life back!!! Because their life belongs to no one but themselves.
And we all know for far too many, that knowing is way too late. For the beautiful, brilliant, magical Jason it is and for my beautiful, brilliant, magical childhood friend Brian it is too late. School is the boot-camp for life and when I look back on my school days and then into my adulthood, until I chose to acknowledge the amazing human being that I am and trust that and love mySELF unflinchingly, unwaveringly, I behaved and responded to my workplace exactly as I had in school, experiencing my workplace for many years as very unsafe. Here’s the
kicker, the bullies of the schoolyard and the workplace are also responding to their world as dangerous and if they never discover that it is actually safe, that they are safe in their bodies, they will continue to operate from that reality. Regrettably for Jason and Brian, in the abence of knowing and trusting their own more, they could not see or appreciate the turmoil that their own tormenters were in that would see them responding to their unsafe world by making others feel as they did; unsafe.
And so I could not agree with you more Rick Mercer and I know that the adults that you seek to be role models for the younger generation have to be that for themselves first before they can be that for anyone else. They cannot be/give to others what they have yet to become/give to themselves. And here’s the good news, I think what your are calling for is possible Rick.
The only difference between what Rick is saying and what I think is possible is that while I am all for providing a forum for adults to make this discovery, we need to make opportunities for children, teenagers and young adults to never lose sight of their brilliance and beauty in the first place. Not one of us was born with the thought that we were ugly, disgusting, stupid, dumb, or the opposite of those things. These were things that we were taught, because the people teaching us were taught the same thing about themselves. For me it was thirty five years of undoing the lies and mistruths that I was taught about myself. And with no ill will towards my family or society in general. It was about discovering it was my life and I was responsible for it. It was possible to make the shift and what I know is if we can offer the educational forum for children, teens, young adults to live from their brilliance and beauty, they won’t have to undo 35, 45 or even 55 years of the untruths that became their truth of themselves because they had no other reference point. Further we will not have to depend on the large population of unempowered adults who have no sense of their own beauty and brilliance to instill empowerment in our children. We can’t give what we haven’t got!
In the work I do with organizations and corporations, large and small what I know is that it shouldn’t hurt to go to work. I also know that it shouldn’t hurt to go to school. In either context, it isn’t just about making the victims of bullying feel safe with and in themselves, it is about creating the space for the tormenters, the bullies as well to feel safe in and with themselves. We will not achieve that by telling them they are safe, they have to have the experience of being / feeling safe in their bodies. That means they have to be in there. In addition to the intellectual beings that we are, it is time to start acknowledging ourselves as the sensing beings that we are. Because one way or the other we are sensing something.