Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6 Verse 29: “With the soul united to Spirit by yoga, with a vision of equality for all things, the yogi beholds his Self (Spirit-united) in all creatures and all creatures in the Spirit”
Growing up, I had a vague idea of what being “gay” meant. There were several people in my life who I later found out were gay, one a friend of my mom’s and the other a cousin of my dad’s. I don’t remember how or when I realized their sexual orientation, but I do remember that they were loved and treated equally by my parents and that was enough for me. As I got older and learned more about gay rights, equality, and the LGBTQ movement, I was immediately drawn to the cause. It just felt right that all people were treated well and given the same rights and opportunities, no matter who they loved. Then I found out one of my best friends was gay, which only solidified my stance. Later my sister came out and made the issue even more personal. And two years ago I fell in love with a beautiful soul who would bring it even closer to home, as close as you can get.
Charlie was still presenting and living as a male when we met. Our connection was deep and intense. We enjoyed each other’s company, had fun together, and connected on so many levels. Then after three months of the blissful early stages of dating, Charlie tried to break up with me, saying there was something that would prevent us from continuing our relationship. I was so shocked and confused and came up with a million crazy reasons in my head–a history of drug running, bodies buried in the desert, connections to the mob–none of which turned out to be the truth. Finally Charlie revealed the big secret: she had always felt like a woman and wanted to transition from male to female. After having worked myself up about what it could be, this actually came as a relief. We joke now that after she told me I said, “Oh is that all?” and continued to read my book. While it wasn’t quite that anti-climactic, I never once doubted that I would stay with her. Don’t get me wrong, I did think about it. I did some soul searching, read up on the topic. I had never had a relationship with a woman before and considered myself “straight,” although we know from Kinsey and others that it isn’t that simple. There’s a spectrum when it comes to sexual orientation, as well as gender. I feel that I was more to the middle of the scale, and had previously dated only men because it was easier, more socially acceptable, or maybe I just hadn’t met the right woman yet.
When the gay rights movement began to gain momentum, a big part of people learning to accept homosexuality was simply realizing that they did know gay people. As more individuals took the brave step of “coming out,” the issue was brought closer to home for many who had previously thought being gay was something strange and foreign. Suddenly the nameless “gay man” was your co-worker who always brings donuts on Friday. The faceless “lesbian” was your cousin who helped plan funeral arrangements when your grandfather passed away. When Ohio Senator Rob Portman found out his son was gay, he reversed his stance on marriage equality. He said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.” It’s much easier to discriminate against an unknown group of people, much harder to look someone in the eyes, especially someone you know and love, and tell them they don’t deserve the same rights that you do. Charlie told me a story about a job she had once working for a mold remediation/flood damage repair company. The boss asked Charlie to dump some chemical waste into a city sewer instead of going through the proper protocol to dispose of it. Charlie balked and questioned the ethics of doing that and the man replied, “Can’t see it from my house.” He didn’t care that he was hurting people who were nameless and faceless to him, but if he could see it from his house, it might be a different story.
Ash Beckham gave a great speech at TEDx Boulder about how everyone has a closet, and encouraged us all to “come out.” She said, “All a closet is, is a hard conversation.” Although I understand why many would avoid going public with their personal life, I also believe it is important to do so anyway. Whether it’s that you’re a person who is gay, transgender, struggles with depression, been abused, in recovery from drugs or alcohol, or anything else that we often hide out of fear of judgment, by being open about our human experience we begin to see that we aren’t alone. We begin to see that there are others like us. We begin to look past the differences and see the similarities. We begin to see the Spirit within, and that Spirit is pure love.