As a gay man, what would it mean to live out the best of you?
For me it’s about understanding if I’ve left the best parts of me in the closet, and which of those parts I want to bring out and enjoy living.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
When I was a teenager growing up in the early 80s, I loved watching figure skating, gymnastics, and contemporary dance. I never got to practice any of those athletic activities, but I watched — in silence and in secret.
My memories are in black-and-white (because we had a black-and-white TV when I was a teenager). All joking aside, I made sure I didn’t seem too interested if I was watching with my parents or friends. I didn’t want to give away the attraction I had for the beautiful bodies of the male figure skaters, dancers, or gymnasts moving so artfully on the ice, across the floor, and on the rings.
I could never express what I was feeling to family or my friends. At high school those athletics were considered gay. Anyone who expressed interest was immediately called a faggot. I longed to enrol in a program, to at least discover what it would be like to express myself through that kind of movement.
If only I had a queer mentor, or someone who could’ve seen the struggles I was facing as a closeted adolescent.
It wasn’t until my early 30s when I decided to become a personal trainer that I re-discovered one of the best parts of myself — forgotten in the darkness of my adolescent closet. One evening at the end of a yoga class the instructor said to me, “You are so flexible and move with grace. Were you a gymnast when you were younger?”
It was a bittersweet question, because it hurt a little but made me smile at the same time. I had unconsciously prided myself on taking care of how well my body moved. All those year I was trying to get in touch with that part of myself that was locked away.
Wow, that was a bit of a long personal story, wasn’t it?
A story like this doesn’t have to be true for every gay man. I know many of us, especially those closer to my age at 52, grew up at a time when we didn’t have the Internet to find others who might be like us. If we felt threatened and unsafe, we kept our identity as closely guarded as possible. We had no public role models, and it’s not as if someone was handing out flyers to the local LGBTQ community group.
As we grew up and became adult gay men, we may have faced our demons, talked things through, went to therapy, or self-studied personal development to better understand ourselves.
But it’s amazing how great we can feel, how successful we can become, yet still feel empty. We can still wonder, “Is that all there is?”
If you’ve ever had a feeling like that, think about my story, and ask yourself,
“Have I left the best parts of me in the closet?”
This is the starting point of “Living OUT the Best of Me.”
I’m creating a virtual space for gay men to evolve together, to get in touch with their unique gifts, to discover if they’ve left the best parts of themselves in the closet, and how to bring out and live those exceptional gifts.
As gay men we have something unique to teach others.
We have many different insights than straight people. Hence the word queer, meaning difference.
If you grew up in the closet, you most likely had more than one coming out experience. You came out to different people at different times. As you discovered more about yourself and your sexual identity, you might have come out in another way to explore new parts of that identity. You may act one way around certain people (family or colleagues) and another around others.
We can’t simply point to someone and label them as gay.
There’s no unique visible identifier. We are all born with a mask that’s a social contract to keep us quiet so we can fit into the status quo.
Simply fitting into the status quo (and disappearing) is not enough for out and proud gay men. We deserve more. We are different than everyone else in ways that make us unique. I believe we should explore together how to use our gifts as gay men to make the world a better place.
If this resonates with you, then I invite you to…
Live OUT the Best of You.
The Live OUT the Best Of Me Project will be starting some time in April, 2018. I’ll share more information about how the project will unfold over the next few weeks.
Watch a short video I made for you about the Project:
If you’d like to learn more, add your first name and email below so I can send you updates and to take part in the project.