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Relief, revelation, revolution. The countless blessings of coming out.

In a recent Boston Herald interview MIT baseball player Sean Karson talked about the experience of coming out to his teammates. He said,

I have never been myself up until very recently,” he said. “Everything’s been just sort of cold and calculated. I’ve been in this fortress, I guess, and haven’t let my emotions out at all.“I worried that I had no emotions, that I didn’t feel much about anything. It was really weird.”


In my mind, what Sean describes is the difference between being alive and being the walking dead.


We all protect ourselves in the world, we all cover up some of our vulnerabilities. We have to. We can't go emotionally naked through the world any more than we survive in a blizzard or in the desert without clothes. What Sean Karson illuminates is the irreplaceable blessing of self-revelation, though. When we closet ourselves, when we “cover” our identities too drastically, we build fortresses around our hearts and our souls.


These fortresses keep us from our fellow human beings and from God. Because if we have no emotions, neither human nor Divine love will register with us.


Sean Karson mostly received immensely positive feedback from his teammates. “They came up and gave me high fives and said they’d have my back and everything,” he said. “It was so supportive, it was ridiculous.” Others said "how much they respected [him], but that they needed to collect their thoughts first."


The trade-off, though, is so clear, and our world is changing. Even in a context like male, competitive team sports, where coming out is still revolutionary, the blessings of courage outweigh the risks. The revolution of revelation brings on more revelation. Sean's revelation of self sparked the revelation of his teammates' compassion and love. Think what this will mean for the next athlete who hasn't dared to speak out, and the next, and the next.


Blessed is God who blessed humanity with life and with the capacity to love.


Growth and Grace -- Godly Revolution in the New Year

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992

I heard this at midnight on New Year's Eve in a community of men who love men. I appreciated it first for its immediate message and second for what I see as the subsequent spiritual challenge it presents to us. Williamson is right, all of us, Queer people especially, have a need to recognize the Godly in ourselves. We need to shine our authentic light and claim our deserved place in the world.

To do this is an act of both evolution and revolution. Our individual selves and our community require this evolution. Our new presence in the world will cause or constitute revolution, an unmistakable shake-up of the established, conforming order of society. When we become our full selves and proclaim God's blessing of our true selves, we will shake up our own souls and shake up the world.

Our growth presents a challenge to the world around us. Then it tosses another challenge back onto our shoulders: How do we grow with grace?

I think of how children learn to inhabit and maneuver in their new bodies? Adolescents are clumsy, clutzy, of necessity as they grow. It's hard to learn to be big with grace.

That's our challenge as we grow in spiritual and individual stature. We're going to be personally and individually clutzy. Initially we won't see the boundaries we cross, the toes we step on, the way to be full and large without being unkind and uncoordinated. I personally want to keep this challenge in mind as the new year begins. The world in 2013 profoundly needs our evolution and revolution. It also needs our generosity and our consideration. Godly revolution requires prayer for our own good and for the good of the world.

My prayer for us all: May we grow with courage and grow with grace as this new year begins.


The New York Times on Loving Your Body....

I recommend Frank Bruni's op-ed piece in today's New York Times, "These Wretched Vessels."

"We’re so much more than these wretched vessels that we sprint or swagger or lurch or limp around in, some of them sturdy, some of them not, some of them objects of ardor, some of them magnets for pity. We should make peace with them and remain conscious of that, especially at this particular hinge of the calendar, when we compose a litany of promises about the better selves ahead, foolishly defining those selves in terms of what’s measurable from the outside, instead of what glimmers within."



A perfect prayer for every body




It is so obvious and has probably been said before, but I heard from a counseling client today wisdom that floored me, took my breath away in its simplicity and strength. His words: 

"Dear God, please help me listen to, and not look at, my body." 
- John D.


I think everything I might ever want to teach the world is contained in that perfect prayer.


Why is it perfect?


It addresses God personally and with affection. God is not distant, God is near and dear.


It is rooted in the sensual experience of being human, the senses of sight and hearing.


It reflects the essential importance of imagination and metaphor in understanding the world we live in and the lives we live. “Listening to the body” is both real and impossible. We must grasp and lift the burdens that limit our imaginations so that we may free that truth from our cynicism. It is possible to listen to our bodies.


The prayer acknowledges how looking can impede listening. It doesn't disparage vision, but it teaches that vision is often the short circuit, the path of easiest access and least resistance, that deprives us of the self-knowledge that sensitive listening provides.


Implied also is how looking at bodies is a common experience and, as a result, problematic. I look at my body, I look at other bodies, I look at other people looking at me, and I get lost in the house of mirrors. All that looking, and I stop seeing me, I see only what I think other people see.


Listening, on the other hand, is personal, individual, tells us so much more. As a yogi, as a body healer, I've learned (even if I forget sometimes!) that I gain much more wisdom about my body by listening to it than I do by looking at it. Great body workers don't succeed by looking at bodies, they listen with their hands.


Finally the prayer makes clear, this isn't easy. We need God's help in this, because there is so much in our lives – good and bad – that makes this a challenge. Ignoring irrelevant issues of telescopes and microphones, This is true: Looking is easy, and we can do it from a distance. Listening is hard, and we need to be up close to accomplish it.


To listen to our bodies we must inhabit them. God, please make that possible today.


Coming out is a life-long process. My story.

I started to write this as a one-line status update on Facebook for National Coming Out Day (October 11). As I should have expected, a lot more 'came out' than one line. This is my story. Leave a comment. Tell me yours.

Coming out has been a lifelong process from being "outed" abusively at middle school, to coming out to my parents in middle school, to going to college with the vow never again to tell anyone I was straight, to picking up a guy at the Halloween dance at my brother's college and having to let my brother know the next day so he heard it from me first, to staying out all night on dates when home on vacation from college, to bringing home boyfriends from college, to being still too nervous at college to interview Quentin Crisp for the Yale Daily News because my father would read it and disapprove, to co-leading the first Gay-Straight dialogue at Yale, to living with boyfriends, to holding hands with men in public, to being intimidated by drunken homophobes then learning to not be intimidated by them, to being a hotline and outreach volunteer for GMHC, to being arrested in an Act Up protest, to applying to rabbinical school with tons of "Gay" and zero "Jewish" on my resume, to coming out to residents at the nursing home where I interned as a chaplain, to being an intern at NYC's LGBTQ synagogue, to using the word Queer from the pulpit at my non-LGBTQ congregations, to leading Body Electric retreats, to teaching sacred sexuality at Nehirim and Easton Mountain retreats and finally letting Easton put my face and name on the website, to earning my certificate in Sexuality and Religion at Pacific School of Religion, to creating a profession and a practice called Queer Spiritual Counseling, to falling in love with amazing men and trusting my heart, to seeing the last few important things about which I am not "out" and knowing that I will take care of them eventually, to believing that God created me as I am, so Queer, so non-conforming, to knowing that living out my identity is the best thing I can offer to the world, to being in love with a truly breathtaking man and being grateful for this moment.