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Who Are We?

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon 

Who are you?

How do you answer that question? I've been to way too many trainings where one of the techniques they stress for success is to have an "elevator speech". You know, 45 seconds of look someone in the eye and tell them everything important about who you are. But, that's just spin. Reduced down to its bare bones, much of our communication consists of telling people what we want them to know in order to get something from them --- a sale or a vote, a date or even a relationship.

So, how do we really get to know each other? When we first meet someone, usually, right after our name comes what we do for a living. We define ourselves by what we do or who we work for. Trust me, I've had literally dozens of different jobs and not one of them defines who I am.

There is a seemingly relentless segment of the population that seeks to define our entire community in harsh and hurtful terms. Last week, Channel 8 in Grand Rapids chose not to air "Speechless: Silencing Christians", a one hour paid program supposedly on the "radical homosexual agenda", sponsored by the American Family Association. Just knowing that this was based on the book of the same name which includes a foreword by Ann Coulter should tell you everything you need to know. But I just can't pass up including at least one quote from Coulter:

"Employees of Fortune 500 companies fired for quoting the scriptures or forbidden to display family pictures in their office cubicles because they offend homosexual employees"

Okay, maybe just one more....

"Municipal workers forbidden by the city to say "family values" because those words constitute a hate crime."

I started to write that you can't make this stuff up, but obviously, you can.

One Grand Rapids resident, when asked her opinion about the decision not to air the program, is quoted as saying, "I am disappointed that it's not going to run, to air the other side of the homosexual agenda."

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I hate meetings. Given the choice, I avoid them like the plague. But I'm sure that if I'd gotten a memo about a meeting to discuss the goals and strategies for "the homosexual agenda", I would have penciled it in. So, who forgot to invite me?

Do you suppose anyone genuinely believes that wanting the same rights as everyone else constitutes a radical agenda? I don't know, but I find I'm losing interest. Yes, programs like "Tell 3" are important but I'm actually more concerned with how we define ourselves.

When we were younger, all baby boomers did a lot of soul searching. Lots of youthful angst spent in trying to find ourselves. Especially our generation! We looked everywhere --- drugs, sex, rock and roll, commune, kibbutz, Peace Corp, Woodstock. Then, for some reason, we just stopped.....oh wait, I remember. Flashback to a candlelight vigil on the campus of the small liberal arts college where I was a freshman. May 4, 1970. Richard Nixon was in the White House. The Ohio National Guard had opened fire on students that morning at Kent State. Four were killed.

So much for "flower power", "free love" and believing we could change the world. Maybe every generation has its Kent State --- a moment where collective dreams are put aside like children's toys and we assume the roles expected of us. We define ourselves by those roles and expend a tremendous amount of energy quieting that little voice within that keeps trying to tell us "there's got to be more!"

But we are more --- and finally, we get to the point where the expression of who we are takes precedence. That's why this time in our lives is so exciting! This is not the time to wind down and fade away --- now is when our real selves get to come out and play.

So....who are you? How do you define yourself?

My dad worked in a factory for more than thirty years. But that's not how I think of him. I remember his stories. Wonderful stories about being in the Marines or the CC Camps. His adventures riding a freight train from Illinois to California during the Depression. Or the time he tried out for a major league baseball team and was told they would sign him if he could gain 15 pounds. He told us who he was through those stories.

Someone I've known for 25 years, a very close friend, has just started to write. Never once, in all of those years, did she mention wanting to be a writer, but now she can't stop. She's writing story after story and, in doing so, is finding a way to express who she really is.

For the past couple of years, my stories have been about loss. That is how I have defined myself. But, sometimes, I remember that I have other stories to tell. I'm even starting to look forward to the ones that have yet to be written.

Never before has a generation of gays and lesbians had the opportunity that we do to write our own story as we move into this next part of our journey. We have the power to refuse any definitions but our own.

Are we ready to write this next chapter? The page is blank. It's our choice. Will we fill it with perceived obstacles and grievances or will we see only possibilities? How will our story read?

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Does your story include a new location?

We're the first "out" generation to be thinking about retirement years with absolutely no intention of going back into any closets. We've worked too hard and fought too many battles not to expect to reap the benefits during the next leg of our journey.  

We may have time for a couple more "do-overs" but why not make the effort to get it right? Reserve your copy of "Making the Next Move", a workbook to help gays and lesbians plan for what comes next --- whether it be to relocate or choose to stay where they are. The emphasis being on consciously making choices and not waking up one day to find it's too late and we're stuck somewhere we don't want to be. 

Take advantage of our pre-publication discount of 20% for OTGH subscribers. Email us at  admin@onthegayhorizon.com  and we will put you on this special list..   

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De-Stress - Get a Massage!

Fit in a Year - Week 8

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

This week's topic is massage. 
Get one.
The end.

Really, it's that simple.  Massage should be part of your regular body maintenance program.  How often?  Monthly is a good start.  Problem is, our upside-down health care system is designed for repair, not prevention, so massage is usually not covered by insurance.  But it should be.  It can be expensive.  A massage can cost anywhere from $50 -100/hour.  A good one, however, is worth much more.

It's expensive for a reason.  Good practitioners are certified massage therapists (C.M.T.), which means they have been through a training program that includes a practical --- hands-on --- exam, and a written one.  They may have also apprenticed with someone.  And they are required to keep their practice current by completing continuing education classes in order to renew their certification. 

A good massage does many things for your body.  First and foremost, it will de-stress you.  And that's more than a relaxed feeling.  De-stressing also means releasing toxins from the tissues in your body, which is why the good practitioners will recommend that you drink lots of water after you leave the office.  Some massage techniques can re-align your body.  Some masseuses use energy work to balance your physical structure with your emotional self.  Others will seek to reunite your soul with your body.  It's the ultimate mind/body practice.  How many people do you know who live entirely in their heads?  And some practitioners will not decide what you need until they assess you on the table.  Swedish?  Deep tissue?  Sports?  Myofacial release?  Your body will tell them.

You should come home not necessarily in a dreamy dream state, but ready to tackle your day with a renewed spirit and an aligned sense of purpose --- and no aches or pains.

So get out there and do some research.  Ask people.  Get some idea of what you'd like to accomplish.  But be open to the possibilities that a good masseuse can present to you.  And then go, and leave your tension on the table.

[Editor's Note: Ann-Marie Giglio, besides being a professional writer and the co-publisher of On the Gay Horizon, is the owner of a fitness studio focused on improving quality of life through the mind/body connection. She is a certified ChiRunning and ChiWalking instructor, AFAA certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor and SCW certified Pilates reformer instructor.

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Congratulations to the lesbian band, Wicked Jezabel! One of our younger subscribers from the DC area, wrote to tell us that her partner's band, Wicked Jezabel, won the prestigious "Fan Favorite" award for 2008 at the Washington Area Music Association awards show (known as the WAMMIES).

Hmm......Ann-Marie and I met in the Baltimore/Washington DC area last year for a meeting with our marketing mentor. Do you suppose if we reported on it here in the newsletter, the IRS would consider a  jaunt to hear Wicked Jezabel a legitimate business expense?


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