By: Karen J.
Co-Publisher, On the
After last week's
newsletter piece, "Who Are We?", we received the following
comment from one of our readers:
"Funny you should
write in your newsletter about "defining ourselves." Just
last night, I told a long time friend of mine that I don't want
to be defined by the business I'm in or the amount of money I
make. I am more than that." Alba
I couldn't agree more,
Alba. That's exactly what I was trying to say last week. We
are more than that. And, even
though we continue to struggle to be accorded equal
rights, gay baby boomers cannot be defined in the same way as
our straight counterparts are. Our stories have an extra
twist in them.
Do you realize how unique
our generation is? Our progression as individuals and as
a community is unlikely to ever be repeated. Born into a
society with zero acceptance of homosexuality, and often even
less compassion for, we now live in a world where a day rarely
goes by without the issue being written about or discussed
before a national audience.
Okay, so what? I'm not
telling you anything you don't already know. What does
this have to do with finding tools to aid us in our transition
into what comes next?
Well, a lot, I
think. Our lives have been shaped --- defined --- by a
shared history. A history of experiences that,
consciously or not, are influencing how we navigate toward our
future. For most of us, life is immeasurably better than
we ever dared hope when we were growing up. But there
were lots of potholes along the way and it's been a pretty
jarring ride. I guess all that talking about telling stories
last week made me think of storytelling as being a way to heal
some of that.
I know, I know --- living
with a therapist all those years has warped my thinking!
But journaling was one of her favorite things to
recommend. Writing your own story and sharing it in a
safe space gives you the opportunity to know that, in the midst
of our infinite diversity, we are all the same. And
that's what does the trick --- that's what dissolves the fear
and the shame and lightens the load so that we can move
Besides all of that,
telling your story is a way of connecting --- a way of letting
others know who you are. Remember last week I told you
about a friend who has recently started writing? This is an
excerpt from her "coming out" story which I'm hoping she will
let us post in its entirety one day:
"...I completed my
first drive by. Excitement mixed with anxiety and I knew that
was all I could handle for one day. One lousy drive by, but at
least it was a beginning.
I picked a Friday
late afternoon for my entrance because it seemed less traumatic
to go while it was still daylight. In preparation for my return
to the bar, I brushed up on my bar etiquette rules: Rule 1 ---
don't go home with anyone or bring anyone home. Rule 2 ---
dress androgynously - not too fem, not too butch, but wear cute
drawers just in case (but then scrap Rule 1). Rule 3 --- can't
scrap Rule 1. Rule 4 --- don't get drunk. Rule 5 --- wear
My stomach was a
wreck and I thought maybe I should add a Rule 6 --- don't throw
up. As I sat in the parking lot, my mind was racing.
‘Was it possible to meet someone from inside my
It's a wonderful telling
of an experience that we can all relate to. The excitement! The
terror! The sex! And we all have a story like this. Some funny.
Some incredibly touching. Some heartbreaking. But all part of
our shared history.
And there are lots of
other experiences unique to our community. Like today I had my
iPod playing and an old song by the Brooklyn Bridge came on.
And I'm willing to bet that many of you have the same reaction
to, "The Worst That Could Happen," that I do. Have any of
us not gone through the experience of falling in love with our
best friend? Our straight best friend?
"...if he (she) really loves you
more than me,
Maybe it's the best thing.
Maybe it's the best thing for you,
But it's the worst that could happen to me."
The stories I could
tell.... Not just watching them walk down the aisle but
agreeing to do it as a bridesmaid! Ah, talk about broken
hearts and angst! Not to mention those horrible
For so long we kept these
stories locked away. Isn't it time we shared them? I gotta tell
you, I'm having a pretty good time telling mine here in the
newsletter. It does create a bit of anxiety for me sometimes,
but for the most part, I love the opportunity to share my
So, now here's your
chance. Journaling, in and of itself, is helpful but the real
power comes in the sharing. We are offering you the forum to do
just that. Send us your stories --- whatever you wish to
share. We will respect your choice to include your name
or not. We will include some in the newsletter and
post them all in a special section on the website. If you have
a story to tell but hate to write, we'll even help you with the
writing or editing.
personally know quite a few of our subscribers so I
know there are stories out there just
begging to be told. Better you tell them before I do ---- don't
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Last Words on Journaling
right. Journaling is valuable for all those reasons. But
if she didn't convince you to give it a whirl, here's two more
First, when you write something down, it becomes real. I
won't bore you with the biomechanical link and effect on your
brain. Just know that writing brings validation.
For you. Your experience. Your feelings. It's
like goal-writing. All those goals in your head are just
dreams. Write them down and they come alive. Ink on
paper commands action. It creates steps to take.
Decisions to make. Stories are the same way. We
love to read stories to see ourselves. They reflect us,
our world, our hopes, fears, dreams.
But the second reason is, I think, most important. We
must bear witness. The record of this generation will
inform generations to come. Already, the younger ones do
not appreciate the struggles of those before them. They
don't understand why someone would want to live in an all-gay
community. They don't have quite the same expectations
for rejection and invisibility. They are more likely to
find sensitive health-care providers.
They need to know how they became so comfortable in their
skin. That people before them have enabled them to grow
more fully, expect more dignity, demand equality. They
need to read it. Right here. Next week.
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-Now it's your turn. Send us your
stories. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Time to set the record
anything but straight!
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"Whisper words of
Fit in a Year - Week
Are you having trouble quieting your mind during
your running or walking practice? Regarding meditation,
an old Chinese Zen Master once said, "Some of you are
taking me literally when I say, 'Don't think,' and you
are making your minds like a rock. This is a cause of
insentiency and an obstruction to the Way. When I say not
to think, I mean that if you have a thought, think
nothing of it."
You know. Let it be.
And then simultaneously turn your attention to
what you are doing. If you're running or walking, pay
attention. If you are meditating quietly, tune in to your
breathing and posture --- even if you're at your
Sitting at work or walking a trail, we can't
change the economy. We can't change the laws.
We can't change our lovers. We can't change the
past. Or the future. But we can pay attention
to the only thing we really have: the
present. When you do this, when you really zero in
on it, you open yourself up to everything.
So next time you're out, keep your core
centered, your intentions aligned --- and let it