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What's Your Story?

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon 
    

After last week's newsletter piece, "Who Are We?", we received the following comment from one of our readers:

"Funny you should write in your newsletter about "defining ourselves."  Just last night, I told a long time friend of mine that I don't want to be defined by the business I'm in or the amount of money I make.  I am more than that."  Alba Leone

I couldn't agree more, Alba. That's exactly what I was trying to say last week. We are more than that. And, even though we continue to struggle to be accorded equal rights, gay baby boomers cannot be defined in the same way as our straight counterparts are.  Our stories have an extra twist in them.

Do you realize how unique our generation is?  Our progression as individuals and as a community is unlikely to ever be repeated.  Born into a society with zero acceptance of homosexuality, and often even less compassion for, we now live in a world where a day rarely goes by without the issue being written about or discussed before a national audience.

Okay, so what? I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  What does this have to do with finding tools to aid us in our transition into what comes next?

Well, a lot, I think.  Our lives have been shaped --- defined --- by a shared history.  A history of experiences that, consciously or not, are influencing how we navigate toward our future.  For most of us, life is immeasurably better than we ever dared hope when we were growing up.  But there were lots of potholes along the way and it's been a pretty jarring ride. I guess all that talking about telling stories last week made me think of storytelling as being a way to heal some of that.

I know, I know --- living with a therapist all those years has warped my thinking!  But journaling was one of her favorite things to recommend.  Writing your own story and sharing it in a safe space gives you the opportunity to know that, in the midst of our infinite diversity, we are all the same.  And that's what does the trick --- that's what dissolves the fear and the shame and lightens the load so that we can move forward.

Besides all of that, telling your story is a way of connecting --- a way of letting others know who you are.  Remember last week I told you about a friend who has recently started writing? This is an excerpt from her "coming out" story which I'm hoping she will let us post in its entirety one day:

"...I completed my first drive by. Excitement mixed with anxiety and I knew that was all I could handle for one day. One lousy drive by, but at least it was a beginning.

I picked a Friday late afternoon for my entrance because it seemed less traumatic to go while it was still daylight. In preparation for my return to the bar, I brushed up on my bar etiquette rules: Rule 1 --- don't go home with anyone or bring anyone home. Rule 2 --- dress androgynously - not too fem, not too butch, but wear cute drawers just in case (but then scrap Rule 1). Rule 3 --- can't scrap Rule 1. Rule 4 --- don't get drunk. Rule 5 --- wear comfortable shoes.

My stomach was a wreck and I thought maybe I should add a Rule 6 --- don't throw up. As I sat in the parking lot, my mind was racing.  ‘Was it possible to meet someone from inside my car?' "

It's a wonderful telling of an experience that we can all relate to. The excitement! The terror! The sex! And we all have a story like this. Some funny. Some incredibly touching. Some heartbreaking. But all part of our shared history.

And there are lots of other experiences unique to our community. Like today I had my iPod playing and an old song by the Brooklyn Bridge came on. And I'm willing to bet that many of you have the same reaction to, "The Worst That Could Happen," that I do.  Have any of us not gone through the experience of falling in love with our best friend? Our straight best friend?

"...if he (she) really loves you more than me,
Maybe it's the best thing.
Maybe it's the best thing for you,
But it's the worst that could happen to me."

The stories I could tell.... Not just watching them walk down the aisle but agreeing to do it as a bridesmaid!  Ah, talk about broken hearts and angst! Not to mention those horrible outfits!

For so long we kept these stories locked away. Isn't it time we shared them? I gotta tell you, I'm having a pretty good time telling mine here in the newsletter. It does create a bit of anxiety for me sometimes, but for the most part, I love the opportunity to share my stories.

So, now here's your chance. Journaling, in and of itself, is helpful but the real power comes in the sharing. We are offering you the forum to do just that. Send us your stories --- whatever you wish to share.  We will respect your choice to include your name or not.  We will include some in the newsletter and post them all in a special section on the website. If you have a story to tell but hate to write, we'll even help you with the writing or editing.

I personally know quite a few of our subscribers so I know there are stories out there just begging to be told. Better you tell them before I do ---- don't you think? 

 

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Last Words on Journaling

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

Karen is right.  Journaling is valuable for all those reasons. But if she didn't convince you to give it a whirl, here's two more reasons. 

First, when you write something down, it becomes real.  I won't bore you with the biomechanical link and effect on your brain.  Just know that writing brings validation.  For you.  Your experience.  Your feelings.  It's like goal-writing.  All those goals in your head are just dreams.  Write them down and they come alive.  Ink on paper commands action.  It creates steps to take.  Decisions to make.  Stories are the same way.  We love to read stories to see ourselves.  They reflect us, our world, our hopes, fears, dreams. 

But the second reason is, I think, most important.  We must bear witness.  The record of this generation will inform generations to come.  Already, the younger ones do not appreciate the struggles of those before them.  They don't understand why someone would want to live in an all-gay community.  They don't have quite the same expectations for rejection and invisibility.  They are more likely to find sensitive health-care providers.

They need to know how they became so comfortable in their skin.  That people before them have enabled them to grow more fully, expect more dignity, demand equality.  They need to read it.  Right here.  Next week.

 

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Now it's your turn. Send us your stories. Email them to admin@onthegayhorizon.com .   Time to set the record anything but straight!

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"Whisper words of wisdom...."

Fit in a Year - Week 9

By: Ann-Marie Giglio

Are you having trouble quieting your mind during your running or walking practice? Regarding meditation, an old Chinese Zen Master once said, "Some of you are taking me literally when I say, 'Don't think,' and you are making your minds like a rock. This is a cause of insentiency and an obstruction to the Way. When I say not to think, I mean that if you have a thought, think nothing of it."

You know.  Let it be.

And then simultaneously turn your attention to what you are doing. If you're running or walking, pay attention. If you are meditating quietly, tune in to your breathing and posture --- even if you're at your desk.

Sitting at work or walking a trail, we can't change the economy.  We can't change the laws.  We can't change our lovers.  We can't change the past.  Or the future.  But we can pay attention to the only thing we really have:  the present.  When you do this, when you really zero in on it, you open yourself up to everything.  Everything.

So next time you're out, keep your core centered, your intentions aligned --- and let it be.

 

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