Monday, June 30, 2014

The Authenticity Project

"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.)

"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..."  
"bi-not so-curious"  
"'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..."  
"Sex kitten!!"  
 "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" 
"Chronically depressed"   
"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." 
"an enigma"  
"an optimist"  
"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."  
"Forever changing"  
"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
Edited 8/20/14


  1. I'm officially flattered. Oh and Some these are priceless! "a math nerd...(it mostly involves a lot of really bad math jokes)" is my favorite, Ive given your comments a lot of thought lately and I realized a few things...

    I keep secrets for a living and maybe I've gotten to good at it, I feel like some times the skill carries over to more than just work. Part of it is getting good at bending reality to accept what you need to be the truth.

    I've spent the better part of my life trapped in my head. Similar to a room with four walls and some sunlight I bounce my thoughts off the wall like a ball and see how they come back to me, it's incredibly lonely but amazing what you can discover. Oddly ebough I spent better part of an hour doing this in an actual Raquette ball Cort, I was tuning up my return shot by myself. It's tricky finding opponents with those I work with. These things are always difficult for me because I've always identified myself as an extrovert stuck in an introverts life. Moments will go by on some days where I will say "I am so incredibly alone", I take comfort in the fact that I can say it to myself and reach out to some people.
    See deep down I think I joined the military for a plethora of complex reasons but not least of which is having people in my life. One of the many joys of the uniform is that your unit kinda is a second family and you really do hold connection that are stronger than just coworkers.

    So I thought about it and if I had to come out and expose something it would be this.

    "I am so incredibly alone and those people in my life feel at more than an arms reach, like I'm slipping blow the surface of the water reaching out. Some days I look down into the water and hold my breath as I free dive into the sea and explore. Other days I hold my arms out and look up trying to yell underwater. Most of the time I'm just trying to keep on swimming next to the boat with my head above water. What ever the case my be I always find someone on the sea to have fun with for a while and than float on, I've embraced this is my life and have learned to enjoy many things"

    Thinking back to joining the military I remember basic training, mostly a head game that works well on the young I'd still chalk it up in the brave category. What's the bravest thing you've ever done? (cliche question I know but hey anything to keep the writing mind swimming)

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    2. Taylor, we've known each other a hel of a long time. It's amazing how we now have the ability to reflect on our lives and share these thoughts in ways that we never could have as kids/teenagers/etc. I felt so alone as a kid, too. I zipped through our high school hallways so that if anyone was watching me (and I hoped someone cared enough to watch me) they would see a busy girl with purpose, and not the lonely little girl that lived just below the surface.

      Thank you for your authenticity story. I can connect to some of those feelings too. And upon reflection, I know that I've stayed in the theatre business for as long as I have because they offer me such an incredible family that I just don't want to let go of.

      Have you thought about writing all of these thoughts out? I think there's a communications gap between those in the armed forces and civilians. We revere the army, respect the army, sometimes pity or hate the army, and we almost certainly misunderstand soldiers. I, for one, would like to hear your about your experiences and thoughts on the matter, maybe close the gap a little. I dare you!

  2. LOVE this so much...and can relate to some of the other proclamations...
    I'm inspired, thanks Kelsey! xo

    1. Thank you, Miss M! Your support means a lot to me!

  3. Not that I've been dwelling on this but I just remembered that I wanted to participate in your pledge of coming out. So here goes.

    There's this girl. I only knew her for a short period of time but the moments we collided were magical. She inspired me in unprecedented ways, came closest to what I was looking for and was my kryptonite, all in one. When we decided to be friends one spring day overlooking a famous NYC circle, her head on my shoulder, a neat thing happened. The weirdness between us subsided and it was just her and just me. Now that was pretty cool.

    She doesn't know this but the last time I saw her was like a scene out of a musical. I Never Told You by Colbie Caillat came on the radio and despite the noise in the cafe, she and I were softly singing the same song, at the same time, in our own little universe. I'd like to think that the words in the song meant something deeper to her but the thing is that I don't care about all of that stuff anymore. Weirdness aside, when I think of all the amazing people in my life it bums me out that she isn't in my life anymore. When great things happen to me, I still think about what she'd think. I know she'd be stoked for me, give me huge hugs and high fives! She's that cool.

    It's selfish of me to want her to hear my story but I realize that she can walk away forever because she is fearless and brave. I admire that. I don't want anything from her but all I really wanna tell her is that I truly miss her friendship. I wish I could press rewind and take that first walk with her and begin as friends again, but I also accept that she's gone. When I see her life flash by in pictures on Facebook, I smile thinking that she was once a pal of mine and I'll always be proud of her.

    1. Hello, Anonymous! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!

      I don't think it is selfish to want to hear your own story told or see it published. We are social creatures, we need to connect with one another. I don't think there's any other way to connect unless we're willing to share our experiences, past, present, or future.

      Plus, it just feels great, doesn't it?

      Congratulations on coming out!

  4. But every day is a struggle, some harder than others, and I have to accept and respect that this is how I was made- I suffer from depression, like any disease, and need to take care of myself. It doesn't just go away.

    Right now my biggest fear is that I will never meet any woman, that my body fat % is still too high and that I will never make enough money to make any woman happy. Though I have some friends here, I still find feel pretty lonely as well. I think despite it all I still don't truly love myself, but am finding the courage to change this. I had a tough week last week mentally, beating myself up for no good reason.

    This weekend I reminded myself, however, that I need to just let go of my past, that I am headed towards a better place, and this has brought some comfort. I have come a long way and owe it to myself to be proud of how far I have come. I have lived through a lot of ups and downs, have learned a lot about life, I have an appreciation for other people's struggles and a unique sense of kindness towards others because I know how hard life can be. Mine has been a journey of over a decade, and to be honest I am exhausted- it's time to let go of the past and forgive myself.