This week Boston is celebrating Gay Pride. A friend of mine told me of an encounter he had with a Polish couple visiting Boston years ago. They happened to be with him touring about on the weekend of Gay Pride. As they traipsed through the streets of downtown, they were suddenly presented with the start of the Pride Parade and a legion of Dykes on Bikes. The visitors were aghast and didn’t know what to make of it all. My friend, a therapist, explained the best he could that this was celebration by homosexuals affirming their place in American society. The Poles, still under communist rule at his time responded, “I can understand they want a parade, but what is there to be proud of?”
Therein lays the nub of the issue. Pride, self-respect, honesty, openness, transparency, and honoring one’s identity are central to a healthy spirituality. We can’t relate to a “higher power” if we can’t relate to ourselves. We cannot claim freely to “pray” or “meditate” if we are in conflict with our selves. If as individuals we were more advanced in this area alone, we would eliminate most of the codependence and dysfunction we witness in families today.
Gay Pride is one expression of about 10% of our population who have been and still are misunderstood and misjudged because of their primarily same-sex attraction. This percentage does not begin to represent the many people who are sexually attracted to varying degrees to both genders. Whatever the numbers, we find gays and lesbians in every culture, in every ethnic and racial group, and in every part of the world.
Incorporating one’s sexual identity with one’s spirituality is a life-long process, particularly when one experiences persecution or bigotry around this area. Self-acceptance and self-love are at the heart of most religions’ messages. They are at the core of building community coalitions that need to be concerned with more important issues than bedroom activities, such as homeless, poverty, hunger, education, and violence. All healthy spirituality leads to service, a deeper consciousness for the world, and a more profound mindfulness in our mutual relations. To that end, we ought to be proud.
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