"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."
Khalil Gilbran 'On Joy and Sorrow'
Earlier last week a friend of mine - a straight friend - told me that he was jealous of gays. Your journey is one of authenticity, he said. You have moments of vulnerability and moments of bravery. You celebrate these qualities in each other. He was envious and said that he continually searches for a community like this for himself.
I was stunned and saddened to learn that my friend hadn’t found himself a place to be authentic. I don't believe that those qualities and those opportunities are given solely to the gay community. Can you imagine? What a heartbreak, what a waste that would be! Is this was true, I'd encourage all heterosexuals to dig as deep as they could, as if their lives depended on it (because they do), to find their inner homosexual so they could feel their own authenticity for just a moment! What I do believe is that we’re connected by our identical experiences: we are human, we have this one life before us, we are made to create beauty, and this beauty is only born when we connect with ourselves, with other people, and with nature. None of this can be done without the courage to "come out" as ourselves.
In celebration of Gay Pride Week here in New York City, I've chosen to look at the ways we all come out in our lives - not as gay per se - but as authentic human beings.
I issued the following statement every day for the last week, sometimes multiple times a day, on the Facebook pages of every group that I belong to, my college organizations, my theatre groups, etc. I posted on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Here is what I wrote:
"In celebration of Pride Week here in New York City, I'm examining all the various ways we come out - not as gay necessarily - but as authentic.
I would like to help you all come out as authentic beings. I challenge you to share with me a few words of authenticity. They could be about your sexual preference, or about anything else that makes you unique, good or bad, that's up to you. They will be ANONYMOUSLY incorporated into next week’s blog.
Contact me however you'd like..."
...and I included a link to last week's entry. I didn’t know what sort of answers to expect, or if anyone would answer at all! I only hoped for enough responses to stitch together a pretty good piece.
Then the stories came pouring in. I was so giddy. People of all shapes and sizes were coming out to me: family members, close friends, people I'd never met, everyone with something to say. If I asked, people were happy - even eager - to talk about their experiences and share fairly intimate details with me. We connected on new levels.
Thank you to everyone who helped me with this project. To those brave souls who came out, I am so grateful to you for sharing yourselves with me. Look how amazing we are! We are so different in so many ways, but we are connected by our vulnerability, our bravery, and now this shared experience.
When I came out as lesbian ten years ago a friend of mine hugged me and congratulated me. We stood in the atrium of my college theatre and just giggled.
It is an accomplishment to let yourself be seen. So congratulations to all of you on your greater authenticity.
(If you missed the chance to come out to me before I published this blog and would still like to share, or are only now moved to share, please leave your comments below. You'll be able to leave them anonymously if you'd prefer.)
THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT
"Okay! So no one in my family knows this... Not even my kids... But I am bisexual... Have been for as long as I can remember..."
"'gay,' 'straight,' and 'bi' all fail to accurately describe what my orientation really is, and I am okay with that"
"I want to fall in love and be with someone for who they are as a person, NOT for what gender they are. I've been accused of either 'going through a phase' and that I'm just 'straight' and also that I'm just 'afraid to come out' as a lesbian. The truth is that I am 'unabashedly' though 'imperfectly' bisexual...if that makes any kind of sense. It just is what it is..."
"the other woman and I don't know how to stop"
"Hi my name is Abby, and I'm an alcoholic"
"I'm a food addict. I eat to feel better. Supposed I do that because when shit is hitting the proverbial fan, putting something in my mouth that tastes good is a way to make me feel pleasure"
"Impulsive internet shopper!"
"A worrier...a projector..."
"a control freak"
"a math nerd...(it mostly involves a lot of really bad math jokes)"
"ok. I'll come out. Sometimes I fucking hate economics."
"It's my age! So many people comment that I look so young! I use to say 'Thank you'! I've started just saying how old I am! Feels weird, but authentic!"
"I don't like thinking about how old I am because then I can only see how little I've accomplished."
"I am coming out as being dependent on others for strength and support. I try to dub myself as independent and strong enough to tackle life's hurdles, but in the end I recognize my need of a friend's shoulder."
"I am a really good person"
"can I come out as a bad person?"
"I'm never satisfied - ever"
"I am lazy and I want everyone else to pick up my mess"
"Being 'authentic' is truly the hardest thing anyone can be. If I was I would rap against this modern society...the way we treat the planet...the way we treat each other. I would stand in front of religious institutions and tell them how false they really are. I would voice my opinion every day. Tell people how the way we recycle doesn't really matter. How we need to end our dependency on oil and plastic today. But I don't. At times it eats at my soul. But I know that all the ranting would be ignored, people don't want to change."
"I am whole: both masculine and feminine, strong and realized, direct and flow. I need no 'one' to complete me. I am that on my own. My energy, my love, my vulnerability may be shared if I permit. No 'one' can take it. It is my choice to give, my choice to receive. I am not gay, nor am I straight. I'm not 'turned on' by physical anatomy. Energies arouse me, excite me, intrigue me. I am a sexual being, craving eccentric connection, not because I need anyone else to fulfill me, but because I am human (whole and complete)--and with that comes a beautiful curiosity to learn and express and explore."
~ Kelsey Crouch