Identity can be HELL!

The subject of identity is and has been a human made hell for people as being accepted is a basic human need. It was and remains a special kind of hell for those of us that are constantly being rejected for just being ourselves, and the continuous adjustments being made to fit in or be accepted is the foundation for a special hell populated with the misfits and outcast of society. A hell filled with hate fueled by ignorance, which is more often than not built on a foundation of misinterpreted understanding from a collection of writings whose authors had no concept of Same Gender Love. How could they when nation building was the goal of a nomadic people in search of their own identity as well as discovering who God was.

Those dynamics are lost and their recollections have somehow become law and the standard for all moral behavior. Nothing extracted from these ancient writings quite fit me and the more I tried to fit in the more uncomfortable I became, yet not uncomfortable enough to break away and just live. So I became a captive in that hell, trying to identify as others dictated. The battle was on and became an ongoing struggle trying to maintain what I felt was right, what I was comfortable with. I look around today and see the shift in the level of freedom my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community enjoy, yet notice that the labels within our community have only changed in name. Bottoms are what fem’s were referred to and tops are the new version of trade or husband (although two males marrying often refer to their mate as husband without role assignment), women have enjoyed that freedom more than men, yet terms being assigned based on sexual roles is not exclusive to the male SGL community. Identify then and now is a hell society created and we keep the fires burning by labeling each other. Sadly, those labels are often used to throw shade which adds to the shame and guilt so prevalent in the LGBT.

In the 70’s and 80’s we lived for the weekend and especially the night because under the cover of night, we were away from the probing eyes of judgement and condemnation. Shit even the children of the day found freedom under the cover of night. The Children of the Night lived large and out loud and even accepted the Children of the Day that often joined in their persecution. By night they were free to be, yet by day they joined the ranks of the self-imposed and self-righteous who passed judgment and condemned us to their imaginary yet believed place of torment and brimstone, many were just silent which hurt just as much. No one dared to defend those of us bold enough to defy the curfew of night and live out loud in the day, for fear of losing a job, or a career being put on hold and worst yet being ostracized by family and community. Families that clung to antiquated teaching of a theology of exclusion and not inclusion. Many families shunned their own out of fear that God would not love them if they loved us. We were a stain on the family tree and were not be accepted. It was a hell society created and the SGL community rebelled yet often in silence. Many kept the mask of believed acceptance in place until sunset and like the vampire rose up from their individual caskets, left the facades neatly tucked in the soil of believe acceptance and joined the parade of freedom.

Free to be Miss Thing, in drag or near drag which was often just an eye lash away from full drag. Free to polish our nails with clear lacquer, tie our shirts above the waste and head to the local bar where we gathered to hold open conversations with others like us, potential partners for the night or weekend (possible a lover, who also hid by day) and danced with the frenzy of a hurricane.

Yes, yes. Yes! Dance and drank with reckless abandon only to slip back into the coffins at day break, and those that refused to lay still in the coffin were shunned by the very people that drank with, danced and kiki’d with. We learn to accept that dual life except when the one that shunned you was the same person that fucked you or vice versa. I get that confused because it takes two to fuck so how does one get fucked and the other does not?

I defied the curfew and the alleged safety of hiding. Hell, I had heard the whispers so hiding was a waste besides I had reached a point of total discomfort from hiding, or so I thought.

I knew I was twin spirited long before I read that the Native Americans accepted Same Sex attractions as normal.

The masquerade continued in the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s because I never fit into any particular group. I was too feminine for the Queens and not masculine enough to those we considered trade. Not daring enough to go in full drag so my feminine flare was laughed, at by the Drag Queens. Being light skinned I was not totally accepted by my Ebony toned brothers and of course still too dark for acceptance in the White SGL community (a blessing). Smart yet not degreed so the self-appointed elite kept me at bay. The same treatment was received by the people that saw me as arrogant because I could hold a decent conversation and my entire life was not the club scene. I knew a few things and interacted with the world of entertainment. I laugh because some people only befriended me because of the people I knew only to push me away when the expected introductions and invitations did not come. I have always protected the privacy of my friends and always will.

I spent two whole decades’ paranoid as all fuck. My paranoia was not about the identity that others tried to box me in with because none of that ever fit me. My paranoia was trying to be accepted on my terms knowing the labels were only temporary and often situational. I accepted the feminine terms because for me it was not about being female rather homage to the source of support and strength I found in the feminine face of this expression/life. I saw a strength in sisterhood that was either absence or hidden in the brotherhood. The bond of males/brotherhood I believe was hidden from probing eyes because any sign of male affection was considered weak.

Thirty-five years ago, top and bottom did not exist yet fem or masculine did and more than likely defined a sexual role that again for me the misfit was situational. No label stuck so I did not identify as feminine or masculine, and gay was considered a White term. Sissy, punk and faggot were offensive therefore once inside the community there were seldom used except to read others (an art I perfected to protect myself). I was too butch to be accepted by the queens (a very stupid and meaningless term), to feminine to be part of the masculine crowd and living in drag was out of the question. I was not a sissy most of the time and never a faggot, punk was not accepted because it meant weak and I saw more strength within the SGL community than I observed in what was considered the world of heterosexuals. That may be because of their clandestine visits to our world. It’s ironic now that I think about it, that those occasional and sometimes frequent visits the alleged trade made, he would be the one who got penetrated.

Identifying with any label evaded me until I went into the ministry and found myself. I was indeed as the Creator created me. I embraced my Twin Spirit/Two Spirit, stopped blaming my molester for making me this way, stopped living an alleged double life, and busted out as a full human being that just happened to be Black and attracted to members of the same sex.

My attraction was not abnormal nor an abomination. My attraction had nothing to do with love as I love male and females equally in that agape spirit. I just express my physical love and lust with males. It’s not a preference it’s who I am.

I don’t identify wholly as gay simply because this journey is not always joyful, homosexual is too sterile, therefore to release myself from the hell of identity and labels I am simply connected to being human first, and what takes place behind closed doors is not anyone’s damn business if they are on the other side on the door.

Too much effort is put into fitting into what others claim is right. Being authentic requires the bravery of stepping outside all the boxes of society including those created by the LGBT community. I am all that I am, this is me, this is me and I don’t give a damn about approval as I validate me.

 

Is Anybody Listening?

Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. People often combine listening and hearing, yet while being related communication skills, they are not the same thing. We hear and respond to sounds with many responses being learned or automatic reflexes. 

Listening requires paying attention to what is being projected towards us. To listen requires focus on the person speaking and taking their words and evaluating the tone and delivery of the speaker. 

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Spiritual Masculinity

tanding in the doorway to the small sanctuary that was home to Unity Fellowship Church Riverside, I questioned all that I had been taught or told God was.  My anger, confusion and frustration would not allow me the space to think outside the box which in itself had me bound to an antiquated concept of what God was and why must I continuously call on this masculine entity that just did not respond. I could not and had not been able to wrap my head around the male God head.  God being masculine confused and baffled me, why must I live with that concept when it went again everything I felt.  At the very core of my being I knew it was all wrong yet society insisted it was so and many even challenged me for challenging the concept and here I was, ready to deliver yet another message that I knew would be embraced by a few, confuse the majority and piss the die hard believers off.

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Betrayal is an inside job

Betrayal is an inside job.

No one can betray another person without the participation of the person feeling betrayed.

Think about it!

What information was given away that you knew would hurt if it was ever uncovered or revealed?

Where did you place your trust?

Sure you were disappointed when that friend or family member spoke out of turn, about your personal business, yet other than being disappointed nothing else exists.

The betrayal came from you because your trust in who you are, was compromised when you told someone else something that you were ashamed of, and possibly had some level of guilt attached to it.

You betrayed you when you did not allow the authority that is greater than you, that forgives all, to bring comfort and understanding to a private matter.

Once something private takes on the composition of a secret the potential for disappointment becomes too great. Much too often the information you shred is too much for them to hold on to. It becomes a burden and while we all need or desire someone to confide in, that person must never become a receptacle for anything that can bring on pain.

If it is too heavy for you to keep, imagine the burden that is placed on someone else who may be dealing with their own heavy experiences.

Private is what is no one’s business and is absent of shame and guilt. Secrets are the opposite and the breeding ground for embarrassment and shame. When you tell a secret you are trying to remove your own shame and guilt. Betrayal is your own set up.

Be responsible and accountable for all of your own actions and reactions to life's experiences, learn from them all. A lesson learned eliminates repeating experiences that are painful and difficult to handle they also eliminate the need to confide stuff that is too heavy, for you to bear.

Remember a confidant is that person who listens without judgment and will speak to you in truth without prejudice not a co-conspirator or co-author of confusion.

Note to self: Betrayal-Facing a great deal of pain and blaming others added to what I was experiencing. I sat and reviewed not only the situation rather my participation, and in that frame of mind, I also evaluated what I saw and defined just what I thought other people had added to the situation that created ill feelings and discomfort . The residue of what I blamed on other people was mine because at this point, I owned my participation. I realized no one had done anything to me that I had not allowed, or given them permission to interfere, by giving them information that would cause hurt and harm.

The realization that betrayal is an inside job came while reading the life of Judas. Somewhere in reading about his life and the close relationship that he had with Jesus, I realized that Judas did not betray Jesus. Judas did as his friend and teacher asked him to do. When Jesus told him to do what he had to do quickly he was telling his friend that he knew it was hard for him, yet Jesus trusted Judas to do what the others possibly could not do. Jesus knew his life was in danger as he lived in the shadow of danger throughout his ministry and could have been arrested and tried for treason in any of the cities in which he appeared. He knew the Rabbi’s saw him as a threat to their power structure, and the Romans were beginning to wonder with his popularity if he was indeed going to lead the people in a rebellion against Roman tyranny.

The gospels writers each tell a different version of the incident so I went into the Gnostic text to get the words from the gospel of Judas and in it I found the following passage:

“You will become the apostle cursed by all others, Judas; you will sacrifice this body of man which clothes me.”

The "Gospel of Judas" http://www.beliefnet.com/story/189/story_18903_1.html is a document written on papyrus discovered in Egypt in the 1970’s, in fragmentary form. It claims that Jesus asked Judas to hand him over. According to Jesus, Judas would set Jesus’ spirit free from his earthly shell so he would ascend to heaven. This act would ensure that Judas was set apart from the other disciples and guarantee him a place above them in heaven. If this is indeed true then Judas was obedient. Why would I put more value on the account of the other writers when none of them agreed on what took place. How could they, if only Jesus and Judas knew what they talked about?

Another real human deduction that I made is, how is it that Peter who denied Jesus received Sainthood, and according to the gospels they all deserted him? In my thinking they should have all gone down in historical disgrace yet they did not, only Judas…Humans need a scapegoat.

I needed one and in that space, I allowed all sources of pain and disappointment land at my feet. I and I alone sorted out my mess, my feeling of disappointment, disillusionment, anger and alleged betrayal. I forgave me so that I could heal and released others from the bitter jaws of hate.

In doing so, I was able to see what and who was a healthy addition to my existence…Betrayal is indeed an inside job!

*For those that believe no proof is necessary for those that don't no proof is possible*

Mourning is freedom from the burden of Grief.

There is a major difference in grief and mourning. Mourning is the process that allows us to process the initial impact of the pain inflicted upon our emotional and mental wholeness. Some folk never process grief and therefore the pain lingers on and distorts the living process.  I sat yesterday and thought about Jimmy Scott, Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee-Davis and in a conversation that urban legend came up. They die in three's. I just looked at the person and asked...."so how do I count the three and what is the time span? Should I ignore the pain I felt late last year when Gloria Lynne made transition and what about my young friend Shawn Scott or the countless others that left at the same time and all in between? No response, rather an empty confused look. I had to ask myself if I spoke in the pain or frustration of grief and the understanding that mourning brings? Reflection from Now there You Have It: I mourn my losses and in the process realize I have a great deal to mourn. So I accept my loss and truly grieve and I admit mourning is painful. I mourn the loss of friends that have escaped the turmoil of this planet, relationships long or short that were masked as goodwill relationships, friends that have escaped the turmoil of relationships and also my escape from the shit of others.  I mourn the loss of love that was once great and fulfilling and the loss of love that was not destined to be.  I mourn the loss of my youth by embracing my maturity and accepting the independence that comes with living and learning.  I mourn the loss of impulsive decisions and behaviors that only brought disillusionment and embrace the right to choose wisely.  I rest in my maturity rather than curse aging.  I am in the space of speaking to the ancestors and know that it is my right and the manner in which I contact the Creator.  I accept all of my guides and mourn the loss of any particular school of thought that denied me access to this process because they felt it was blasphemy.  I mourn the loss of Old Time Religion (not so damn sure it was good enough for my Mother or Father, but definitely know it is not good enough for me) and embrace, and live in my Spirituality.  I mourn all of my yesterdays and live in the knowledge that if I had not experienced them I would not have today nor look forward to a tomorrow. In my grief I embrace all experiences and learn the lessons and know that earthly hands can do only so much; so I let them all go believing, that which is greater than me will continue to sustain me throughout my time here in this expression and meet me wherever I go when the time for transition is upon me.  I am resting in my time of grief and allowing all pain that is present be acknowledged and processed so that I can move into the next phase of my life.  I know today that if you have really mourned…with the passage of time you speak of it with fondness and not regret. I mourn so that I may live!

I am not a Christian because...

 People ask me why I don’t use the word Christian as the definition of my religion. One reason is I am not religious rather a believer that does not subscribe to a particular dogma or doctrine.

I believe in a Creator that is boundless and has no limitations. My spiritual journey keeps my faith or belief before me at all times.

I do not consider myself a Christian because:

• Christians often exclude people that do not believe as they do and this mindset is what makes me question the authority of Christian beliefs. I now read the bible as history and see Jesus as a great teacher, and like him I find God through my own personal experiences. Experiences that defy and go beyond what is written or being taught.

• All the lessons of Jesus pointed to his relationship with the God of his understanding and not to him. How did it get twisted and The Infinite Presence, become the afterthought?

• How can a book as conflicted as the bible is, be considered the inerrant word of the Creator? Its authorship is questionable and multiple interpretations into the language/s of its readers have certainly diluted original text along with being tainted by human understanding. I use the bible as a tool and understand that it has spiritual value yet also human understanding and therefore began to read what is not written between the lines. With this understanding I also understand that the bible is not the wherewithal or foundation for knowing or understanding my Creator.

I accept the teachings of Jesus and Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and my parents and all the teachers that have come and gone in my life as lessons from spiritual beings, that The Creator has placed in my life (some of my teachers are still here and some are yet to come).

The Creator is in all things and the foundation of all thought, therefore no word or school of thought can capture all that The Creator is.

Believing this I also believe no one teacher will ever represent all of what life is, has been or will be.

I am a believer which makes me a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, Gnostic, Atheists, Yorba and connected to the Tribal dances of the Bush and all other Indigenous beliefs yet not confined nor defined by any of these.

Transition


    I was reading “I wish you love” the autobiography of Gloria Lynne when I got the message that she had made transition.  Naturally I was stunned. I grew up on the music of Gloria Lynne and it was her voice that not only made me a major fan of female jazz vocalist, it was her music that had carried me through all of my ups and downs along this journey we call life.
    “I want to be free to fly away and sing to the world my Soul Serenade,” came to mind as I sat with the thought of my friend, sister and often source of refuge and peace and asked what now?  How do you celebrate a life that meant so much to you?
    Listening to her music and remembering all the great live performances and small talk in between shows (she always had time for her fans), looking at photos and reflecting on life and how she touched me I immediately knew that celebrating her meant to remember all the good and release her to join the ancestors.
    I also understood it was again time for me to remind those that I leave behind, that I had no desire for the traditional service that to me only creates more pain.  No I want to be celebrated like I live and view life in this expression.
    There will not be a funeral when I depart this expression.  My family and friends have been instructed to have a Life celebration by getting together and having a party, book reading, dinner, dancing, lively conversation good food and cocktails as they would if I was at the gathering.  No embalming to preserve what is no longer of use to me, no money wasted on a casket for me to rest in.  How could such a small space be considered a place of rest, I never slept in clothes so why waste a good set that I have no use for?
    I am going to live in the abundance that is life and when this expression is over, I will move on to whatever the next may be without reservation and regrets.
    Someone recently asked why I was not at the funeral of a friend.  Why?  I chose to celebrate life in my own way and a public display of my private grief and pain is no longer acceptable to me.  "There was a great turn out" I said nothing yet thought to myself, “was there a great turn out in my friend's life.  Did the people at the funeral rally for our friend while they were still present on this side of life?”  Turn out for me while I live!
    I know the funeral or memorial is designed to be a service that honors a person's life and allows surviving family and friends the space to release and say goodbye, yet somehow in time the funeral, final rites or memorial service has become a burden on families and friends.  People are driven into such a space of guilt that many families take on heavy debt providing a service that often cost more than anything they enjoyed in life.  How is that honoring anything and who would leave this planet wanting their families and friends to place such a strain on family and friends?  Is that what we are teaching?
    When we drive through our community and find the cemetery to be better kept than some of our neighborhoods it is time to stop and evaluate how we view life.  Honoring those that have gone on before us is wonderful and should be a part of our lives, yet when we have more reverence for the dead than the living, some wrong thinking is present.
    Honor and enjoy me while I live, respect my life when I'm gone by keeping me alive in your memories.  A grave is not a monument worth visiting, visit the photo albums, listen to music we enjoyed, watch an old favorite movie, read a book I suggested or we discussed together.  A mausoleum can't represent who I was, yet the memories you carry do.
    When I get on up out of here and my presence is no longer in the physical do the dance of life.  Give thanks that we shared some time.  Dance, dance, dance and live so that someone will dance when you take flight.
    Like Gloria I want to be free to fly away and sing to the world my soul serenade.
    

 

Blog

Reflection of? When you look in the mirror do you see defeat? The question knocked me off my feet. I could not honestly answer and was afraid of what the answer might be. I was also upset at the person who asked. Not because they asked rather because the question forced me to stand in the mirror and look into my own eyes.

The evaluation was painful as the memories that I had buried were not only painful and buried very deep in my long time memory, they were diluted by my own illusionary memory mechanism.

The long term memory that had adapted itself to dodging condemnation and judgment had done its job extremely well. Reconstructing the past would be a journey to a self imposed trip to hell and back and again something I had done before and along the way had mastered the ride.

I had learned to avoid the spaces I did not want to remember and how to distort the involuntary memories that seeped into my thinking at will. Healing would not take place until I visited every place I had ever been. I decided it was better to go on my own than allow life to force me there unwillingly. The road has been long with many winding turns and filled with a few rest stops that I treated as my final destination.

The process is ongoing yet today when I stand in the mirror; I see a new creature that has allowed the inner child to go back to God's original design and surface self assured and determined to live in my truth; which has a foundation of love and compassion that does not need human definition rather is open to human enhancement. I am clear today that The Infinite Presence knew what “IT” was doing when I was called into being. 

I have finally met me and that is what I present, my authentic self, defined by me based on my experiences and approved by the Infinite Presence. Never again will a diluted version of my truth ever be my presentation. And So It Is!  For those that believe no proof is necessary for those that don't no proof is possible!

Claude