On the latest episode of Queer Spirituality: The Podcast I was joined by Norman J. Liverpool IV, spiritual coach and author Over the Top Living: Walking in Next Level Confidence Every Damn Day. We talked about the process of coming out and living as our most authentic selves. One of the themes that came up repeatedly was around the many pressures queer men face to live as anything but their most authentic self.
For many, the first experience of this happens as part of the coming out process. They might struggle to come out to certain people for fear of being rejected. Some young people even move to completely new cities to come out. Sometimes, the people they love express fear around them coming out. When I was coming out, the AIDS epidemic was still raging and many people expressed fear of both AIDS and gay bashing. Interestingly, both of these were common themes being portrayed in the media. The media often shapes our ideas about what being queer is like and it definitely influences the attitudes and beliefs of the people around us.
Once they come out, they face a whole new set of pressures. There’s a lot of pressure from fashion, media, marketing, even other queer people to conform. This could include body shape and size, wearing the right clothes, being “masculine enough” and more. As queer people struggle to fit the various molds, they begin to lose sight of their true spiritual gifts and the power they possess as a group and a community.
When we can truly love ourselves as we are, we can really start to embody our spiritual gifts and power. Finding this self-love can be a process but a fulfilling spiritual path certainly helps. When we find divine love through a spiritual path, it becomes easier to connect to our own self-love.
Unfortunately, a lot of queer people get turned off of spirituality early in life. Many grow up in religious households that follow paths that are not queer affirming. Once they come out and exit that religion, there can be tendency to look at all forms of spirituality through the lens of those negative and unloving experiences. Norman describes a gentle process of dismantling that allows one to undo the negative programming instilled by religion and various social pressures. This dismantling allows one to start over and develop their own authentic expression of who they are.
Listen to the full episode below.