In the indigenous culture of the Dagara in West Africa, gay and lesbian people are held in high esteem as gatekeepers. They are seen as those who can powerfully mediate the “gates” between the physical and spiritual worlds. They often hold very important roles in the village and tribe. In modern western culture, we known as gay or lesbian have been traditionally shamed as sexual minorities and are often shamed individually by our families and peers. This shame has exacted a terrible price psychologically on our community at large as well as on many of us as individuals.
Whether or not we are aware of it, there is nothing of which we are more ashamed than of not being ourselves, and there is nothing that gives us greater pride and happiness than to think, to feel, and to say what is ours.
The symptoms that come from being shamed and internalizing shame are quite powerful. Our community suffers from higher rates of substance abuse, addiction, and other self destructive behaviors than the general population. In mindful therapy, we can slow down and address ways in which we have taken on beliefs, attitudes, or limitations which at best may be holding us back, and at worst may be self destructive. Consciousness of how we hold ourselves back is the first step in creating some intent to have a more expansive and engaged experience of living.
The only obstacle is ignorance, the refusal to look.
Fully engaged aliveness is the birthright of all people to experience to our fullest capacity. To whatever extent we are cut off from that energy within ourselves, either as part of a minority or the mainstream, we are destined to feel less than satisfied with our lives. In mindful therapy, our objective is to reconnect to that which makes us feel truly and deeply alive. Only from this place of aliveness may be really connect to that uniqueness which is genuinely ours to bring forth in this world.
The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World,
by Alan Downs