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Behind the Rainbow: Calling on my Spiritual Community

Jun 29, 2022

Behind the Rainbow: Calling on my Spiritual Community 

 (Disclaimer and trigger warning)

 I want to give upfront a disclaimer and a trigger warning about this talk. I am not perfect. I am still learning. That is my disclaimer, but we in the spiritual community, we need to talk about “the tough stuff”. So please know that I'm speaking to you from a place of love from my heart in a very vulnerable way. 


With everything that has been going on the last week at this snapshot in time, in the United States anyway, we are 10 days past Juneteenth, which has become a formal holiday, thank God, finally. We are at the very end tail end of Pride Month, our LGBTQ pride month, here in the States. And just last week, Roe vs. Wade was overturned with the understanding of this ripple effect that things like the right to birth control and interracial marriage and LGBTQ+ rights, that they will all soon be under siege. 


I know you are probably flooded with these issues on all of your threads and all of your social media, and are having thoughts and feelings of your own. So first, I just want to say it is okay for you to feel your feelings and take some time to process this is a 50 year old, standing law, you know, Constitutional right, that has been upheld for 50 years now. And a lot of us it's the first time we're really having to look at it in our lifetimes because you know, 50 years, I'm 44. So this has been in place for all of my life. So it's okay to feel the feelings that you're feeling even though there was a leak and we knew this was coming, I want to say for most of us the feelings around it have still been incredibly potent, incredibly powerful. For some of us, this is the first time we are looking at having some of our rights removed or not having access to some rights. For lots of people, in even in our country in the US, this hasn't always been the case, you know, for them having -even today, not everyone has equal rights and privilege under the law in the way that it's enacted. 


So that brings us to our next thing next I want to talk about, privilege and what that means. I'm going to give a definition: defines privilege as 

 A. a right to immunity or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or restricted group of people  beyond the advantages of most 

 B.  the unearned, mostly unacknowledged societal advantage that restricts a group of people that they have restrictions over another group of people. 


Typically, when we're talking about privilege, the like the most privileged group would be considered typically male, white cisgender, straight, aka heteronormative, able bodied, economically advantaged. They are considered just the most highly privileged groups. So the more you step away from those labels, the more the change in your privilege. Now privileges is a thing that is emotion invoking for a lot of people if you are feeling squirmy, or screaming, squeamish or uncomfortable talking about privilege, that is okay. Looking at our own privilege, does not make it exist any more, or any less. The privileges that you have, as a human being, based on whatever form you have come in, in this lifetime, whether you're looking at it or not, you have those privileges. 


In this safe space, I just want to encourage you, to take a look at the privilege that you do have. It's important to be honest about our own areas of privilege within ourself. And something I want to just acknowledge, please note, privilege, the idea of privilege does not mean that you have not had your own struggles and your own challenges that you've had to overcome as a part of your human life in this existence. So it's not taking away whatever you have personally been through, achieved, accomplished. This idea of privilege amongst you know, different groups can can feel very threatening or challenging. It's not meant to challenge you in a sense of, you know, making you defensive, but if you're feeling defensive that's something to know. Do you know if you're being triggered just by talking about a word, that's something to know and something to just evaluate within ourselves, you know? We talk a lot about evaluating within ourselves in the spiritual community. And remember, we all have different areas where we have more privilege or less privilege based on those categories. You know, color of skin is one, gender is another, whether you are cisgender, meaning like, the gender you were assigned at birth is the gender that you assume as an as an adult or as a human, your sexuality. So that would be, you know, straight LGBTQ spectrum, whatever that is for you, you're physical able-ness, (you may have heard of something called ableism. That's how able bodied you are, where you are in the health spectrum) and your economic advantages. And again, remember my disclaimer, I'm not perfect. So I'm sure that I am missing some groups based on my own privilege. So we all have different areas of privilege. And I just want to encourage, encourage you to just take a look at what areas of privilege you might have in your own life. 


 Hopefully, I haven't lost all of you just by mentioning this word. In the spiritual community, our tendency is to want things to be "love and light"and Kumbaya, where everyone gets along, and we are all equal. And in a perfect world, that would be the case. Of course, that's what we all (hopefully) want in this spiritual community. But we are souls having a human experience. And that experience is messy, you guys, and in our, in our privilege, let's say, that's our desire, really, to avoid the discomfort of having these conversations. And if you let the discomfort kind of “win” over the idea of facing these issues head on, even within our own community, that's privileged because some people don't have the privilege to turn away from these issues. For some people, you know, they are getting pulled over on the just driving on a regular day not doing anything wrong, because of the color of their skin. So they don't have the privilege of turning away from some of these, you know, any of these issues and things that go on these injustices. So I encourage you to not avert your eyes or your hearts, because when we're not willing to look at something, it means we're also not willing to feel it to feel about it. And as spiritual people, as a spiritual community, it's one of the things that we, you know, that I'm going to be inviting you to do today. So I encourage you not to avert your eyes or your hearts, you know, we do have these challenges even within our spiritual communities. 


So where do we start? If you are here, you are most likely an empath if this is finding you, you know live or on the replay or on YouTube or in an email, you know, that means that you are most likely an Empath, which means that you can feel and understand the emotions of others that resonate with an emotion in you. So I'm challenging you, if you feel and empathize with an emotion and someone that your privilege has allowed you to turn away from, is there any area that we've just been talking about where because of privilege in your own life, you've enjoyed the ability to turn away from some of these issues. I just want to encourage us to have room for that in our hearts in our conversations. This may be true for each of us in different ways and to different degrees depending on our own life, circumstances and situations and privilege that we may have been born into the world with or that may have been afforded us along the way. After all, how can we possibly understand someone else's heart if we haven't truly walked a mile in their shoes if we haven't listened to their story and empathically shared that emotional space with them and allowed ourselves to, you know, feel their emotions, let their situation their experience, touch our hearts. 


Many of you do not know this about me. I grew up inside the LGBTQ community in Boston in the 80s and 90s. If this wasn't your life experience, you might not remember a time when LGBTQ rights did not exist. My mom's partner, her name was Judy, died suddenly when I was six years old. She was sweet and soft spoken and a nurse who had only been in our lives a short time, but was such a breath of fresh air to me.

You know, fresh air and possibility after a few years of a lot of significant capital T trauma in my life at that time. I have a very clear memory of being at Judy's funeral. The memories actually of me sobbing in little white tights and shiny shoes just dangling and trying to process my feelings of grief. While the searing glares and scathing comments are coming at me and my mom, from many of Judy's family members who had not accepted her as a gay woman, there were no partner rights at all. 


In fact, we were not recognized legally or culturally as a family outside of the gay community. Being in the closet was not just something we did out of convenience, it was out of survival. And at that time, it wasn't just my mom who was in the closet, I stood in there alongside of her needing to protect the secret at all costs, it was very common for other kids to no longer be allowed to play with me or even be my friend once their parents found out about my mom. And this continued all the way through high school for me, which sounds crazy isn't even as I say it now. And as you know, even back then you not very long ago in the 80s and 90s, an LGBTQ plus person could lose their home, you could be evicted or thrown out, you could be not rented to you could lose their your job. I had family members and friends who, you know, lost their job just for being LGBTQ, even mentioning it to someone else could get you fired. And it was totally acceptable at that time. Or even worse. 


My Godfather’s partner was murdered in cold blood in the Boston subway in a gay hate crime. No real investigation was ever done. No one was ever held responsible. And this story is the story of so many people who are LGBTQ, who are black, indigenous, people of color as well. Maybe some version of this is a part of your story too, or maybe the story of someone that you love. 


What I'm asking you to do today is to evaluate your own privilege, your own perspective, really the things you might not have considered as someone else's experience because of the way that you were born or the family you were born in to even evaluate your friend groups. Are you in conversation with LGBTQ people? Do you know anyone who's trans for example? Are you in conversation with black, brown, indigenous or other people of color? Hopefully you are, people who are differently abled? Are you in conversation with them? Are you actively hearing their stories so that you can feel and understand the emotions? And then are you taking action? As a part of a spiritual community? We are called to be an empath but we are also called to be in action. How are you in conversation? And how are you in action? 


Just a few suggestions. Like I said, I have no answers about this, but some suggestions you can we know social media we can use as a tool to our advantage. So through social through podcasts, you know, Facebook, Instagram, anywhere you get podcasts, follow, you know black indigenous people of color, bipoc, Follow LGBTQ, women, activists. You know, any of these people you can follow, you can hear you can be part of organizations, you can follow the leaders, people that have already been doing this work and forging their way forward for so many years. For me, this just feels like a huge setback when we know that there are so many other problems as far as discrimination and rights and racism, and all the things that exist in a very real way in our world, other people's stories of experience, because of course, we can't fully understand someone's experience if it's not our experience. So how do we understand, we engage with people who are in these experiences other marginalized people, hear their stories. And it is not anyone else's job to educate us. It's our own job to educate ourselves. People are so gracious to put their experiences out on their platforms, there are organizations that you can follow who will educate you. 


So are you actively hearing the stories and understanding and feeling the emotions, continue listening, continue learning share the messages and support by donating resources which could look like money. It could look like time it could look like donating, you know, socks and toiletries to a homeless shelter. There's lots of ways that donating can look. And we can lift marginalized voices through our own platforms through sharing through retweeting through having discussions about the other platforms that they are on that they are working for, by all means exercise your privilege, which in this country, we all still have the right to vote, most of us. So if that is part of your privilege be exercising those rights on more than just, you know, financial platforms, for example, be looking at where people stand on these issues, because the the thing I guess that is so tough, of course, we know that there is so much involved in this Roe versus Wade being overturned with other you know, even even just this in and of itself is devastating for the rights of anyone with a uterus, and anyone who loves anyone with a uterus, which should hopefully be all of us. This is not just a woman's fight anymore, this is everyone's fight. This is the right to bodily autonomy, this is the right to medical care. This is so much more. And the same fields, the same playing grounds or battlefields where the Roe vs. Wade conversation was one as a constitutional right. These are the same decisions, this Roe versus Wade, all of these other decisions of rights rights to birth control rights to interracial marriage, and LGBTQ rights, were one based on the precedent, a lot of it of the precedent of Roe versus Wade. So that is why this is such a huge issue. And it is not just an ‘out there’ issue. It is an issue for us in spiritual communities to be talking about to be sharing our emotions and our hearts and not just wanting to smooth everything over. So we can go back to normal because the truth is, for many groups of marginalized people, normal already wasn't right enough. 


I know I don't normally talk about things here with our group that are political in nature, I just can't help myself on this. I have been processing my feelings over the last days. And I just needed to speak on this to say that as spiritual people, as people who believe in higher power of any kind of people who you know, have a light within us that we're wanting to shine in the world, which we talk a lot about basic empathy. basic human rights for other people is a part of our charge is a part of our calling as spiritual people. So I just really quick, what can we do, and we can continue to listen, we can continue to learn, we can be in conversation. And if you notice that you are not in conversation with anyone who's black with anyone who's trans, with anyone who's anywhere in that LGBTQ umbrella with anyone who is indigenous with any people of color with anyone who is differently abled broaden your sphere, that's where you can start welcoming in other friends, having conversations with people learning, following other people on social media and getting involved with causes and organizations who are already doing the work. There are people doing it and they would gladly have your help, they gladly would like you to feel their story and be in conversation. So let's not just let this wave wash over us. Let's stand together. Let's listen to each other. And you know, really, right now most of us in the United States still have the privilege of the right to vote if that is one of your privileges. Please exercise it. It is not just enough to spread love and light, we need to be an action activism looks different to everyone I honor and respect that. But it's just an opportunity. I'm inviting you, I'm begging you. Look at your own privilege. What that means how you have privilege over another in any area. Maybe it's a lot of areas. Maybe it's one area in any area. Where is your privilege? And remember, it doesn't negate your struggle, honor your own struggle as well. But where can you be in conversation with other people so we can really start moving forward. 


Every time I see the incredible symbol of the rainbow you know, it's why I wanted to call this talk behind the rainbow, the rainbow is not just a flag to me. The rainbow symbolizes so much more than just a happy gay rights you know LGBTQ Pride Month flag. So I just am inviting you, let's just keep this conversation going. Like I said, I don't have any real solutions to this other than we need to be talking about it. We need To be using our, this is where being an empath is important. This is where feeling how someone else feels in their story, in their struggle in their tears and rights that are being stripped away from them, or rights that they've been supposed to have this whole damn time and didn't just like Juneteenth. So that is my rant for today. I hope you guys are still with me. I hope that even if you were triggered and felt uncomfortable, I hope that you know that I'm greeting you from this place of love from this place of broken heartedness for all of our brothers and sisters. And I love you guys and I hope you will stand with me and I hope you will listen and learn and activate with so much love for you guys today. I hope this resonated with you drop a heart if you are still with me and if you're ready to be a real Empath for real and in conversation and in community. Thank you guys for joining me with so much love. Let me know let me know how you are going to be more active because no matter how active we are, there's always more active to be so if you're hearing this on a replay let me know in the comments. What's your plan for learning or for activism? Big hugs you guys. Thanks for being with me on this one.

Lots of love and bye for now.

For those open to suggestions of who’s work to follow, here are just a few of those I currently follow (not an exhaustive list, just a place to start) but please explore as you learn and share new resources!

@iyanlavanzant Iyanla Vanzant

@michaelbbeckwith Michael B Beckwith

@ijeomaoluo Ijeoma Oluo

@pinkmantaray Schuyler Bailer

@Rachel.cargle Rachel Elizabeth Cargle

@Ibramxk Ibram X. Kendi 


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