I wonder what our world would look like if each individual could see all others with compassionate curiosity instead of brutal judgment. I grew up an agnostic Unitarian, and this religious foundation offered me the freedom to explore all religions and spiritual paths with a sense of mindful awareness. I could go to church with a friend and ‘try on’ being Lutheran, Baptist, or Catholic (that was the basic diversity of where I grew up). When all those things felt itchy and too tight, I chose to look into Wicca / Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Metaphysics, and Native American beliefs.
Being curious opened doors that were previously blocked by my fears or disinterest. I glory in the freedom to choose the spiritual path that best suits the truth of my soul and in allowing that truth to evolve. I walk through the world with a view that has been crafted and curated with the courage not to settle for the dictates of others. I understand my privilege in doing so.
Being curious rather than judgmental also guides me to a deeper understanding of people and cultures who may be experiencing the world in ways that are different from my own experience.
I live in a State that has recently passed legislation that harms and brutalizes the safe existence of multitudes of its residents. I find it impossible to put myself in the shoes of those who have enacted such psychic, emotional, and horrifically, physical abuse upon others. I can imagine that they feel threatened for some reason, but I fail to understand. Maybe they see their lack of understanding for the individuality of others as a reflection of stupidity (for which they must stand and fight), instead of an opportunity to learn, love, and grow.
June is Pride Month, and also a painful anniversary for our beloved community. Seven years ago, on June 12, 49 sacred souls were taken from us by a single gunman. They were celebrating within a safe space. They should have felt safe anywhere, but right-wing rhetoric destroyed that possibility. So, they went where they felt wanted, appreciated, valued, and invited to be joyfully authentic. A single being, cloaked in self-loathing chose to massacre those who felt the freedom that he denied himself.
I am curious about what those who support this harmful legislation are denying themselves. Who would they be if they refused to be put inside a tiny box of someone else’s construction. Maybe their parents, their peers, or their church communities told them that they could not belong if they dressed in a way that made them feel more alive or spoke their truth about how they were feeling. I wonder if they imagine who they might become if they would choose to toss away the banner of hateful righteousness and find belonging in their authenticity. They might be surprised to realize that they can be loved for being real.
So much of today’s animosity is pointed at the LGBTQ+ Community. Transgender humans and Drag entertainers are being especially terrorized, and those who support them are being targeted, as well. I’d like to imagine a world where the haters could consider compassionate curiosity, rather than close-minded disrespect.
I am a middle-aged, white, cisgender, straight woman. Full disclosure: if I could choose, I would be a lesbian. I prefer the company of women, and I have deeply loved a specific woman, but my sexuality has a mind of its own, unfortunately. Regarding the middle-aged part of my self-definition, I did not grow up with access to the identity terms that our youth are claiming today, as are those who felt they never had the choice before. I understand the resistance that some people feel to allowing individuals the freedom to be recognized, acknowledged, and validated for the declaration of their own truth. It’s hard to learn to use childhood grammar lessons differently. It’s hard to imagine a child, an adolescent, or an adult who has never felt right or safe in their bodies. Or is it?
Compassionate curiosity led me to spend time getting to know the stories of people I’ve grown up with, in the popular culture setting. Chaz Bono and more recently Elliot Page, have courageously, and also necessarily, stepped into the bodies and lives that make them feel safe, authentic, and joyful. My ‘aha’ moment with Chaz was when his mother stated that she found understanding by considering how she would feel if she woke up tomorrow with a penis. She knew that it would feel wrong and that she would want to have it removed. But even more deeply, I felt the truth of something Elliot spoke to Oprah in an AppleTV interview.
Elliot shared the overwhelm he felt at the thought of simply leaving his house. If you think about it, the world expected him to always be seen in drag. But also, just sitting down in a chair, he was painfully aware and deeply self-conscious of all that felt wrong in his body. One’s first thought might be outrage… as ‘this’ body is considered by society to be enviable and perfect. Any young woman should delight in a body that is healthy, fit, and petite. Unless, of course, your soul does not resonate with being a woman.
But what I felt instead was affirming recognition. Not because my private parts don’t resonate with my soul, but because for most of my life, every time I sit down in a chair, I am painfully aware and deeply self-conscious of all that feels wrong in my body. I believed I was fat when I was a size 10, and as my body grew with metabolic disorder, there was no room for a sense of belonging, acceptance, or especially confidence in the body I was born with. I have fantasized for most of my life about having a different body. I have dwelled in the pit of despair with visions of hacking away the flesh of my hips, belly, and thighs. And I have literally had 80% of my stomach cut away for the dream of possibly transforming the body that would make me feel safe, accepted, and loved. Not to mention the truth of having a female body automatically deems one a higher likelihood of being sexually harassed or assaulted. It is rather confusing to want to be seen and loved, while also hoping to be invisible to those who would deliver harm.
Of course, my compassionate curiosity is still limited by my time and ability to get to know the stories of others, and Chaz and Elliot are just two sacred beings among many who are either longing for, seeking, or moving through transformation. What I know for sure is that they each deserve to feel safe and to be nurtured and celebrated for the exploration and work they’ve endured and the truth they’ve declared. There is nothing more beautiful than witnessing the joy of an individual who walks through the world unflinchingly as themselves.
My longing has always been to be loved and accepted for who I am, whether I am seen as flawed or perfect in the eyes of others. Though I cannot relate to an identity other than cisgender, I can imagine that every human longs to be loved and accepted for who they are… not who others expect them to be.
Until those who fight to limit the freedom of authenticity love themselves enough to love others, it is up to the rest of us to be the fierce allies and protectors of those whose lives fall under their hateful aim.
I know a lot is going on astrologically right now, and that a shift is happening. I have been feeling the evolution of my soul in big and small ways. This Pride season, I am flying an all-inclusive flag in my garden (well, it would be a garden if I didn’t have a brown thumb). I had not done so before because I felt it was not my own, it was not within my identity to claim that rainbow pride. But now, I realize that every one of us is represented in these vibrant stripes. Those who see a rainbow and feel outrage must be carrying so much self-hatred, to be unable to see and celebrate their own true colors. May they find peace and comfort in their own divine beauty and no longer feel the need to persecute those who have already found it for themselves.
I’m also feeling led to share a Unitarian tradition of non-violent defiance regarding the pink triangle. I’m attaching a link that tells the story, but I’ll simply acknowledge that flying my pride flag is more than informing others that I care, I am letting them know that I am standing with them. I am enormously proud of who they are, and of who I’ve allowed myself to become.
You are loved exactly as you are. You are worthy of safety, freedom, and authenticity and I celebrate your divine truth with gratitude for your presence in this world which is made more colorful and vibrant with you in it. So, please… stay!
Thank you for walking this path with me. I love knowing you are here.
HAPPY PRIDE, YA’LL!