The Completion of my Book

What was originally called The Discomfortable Person’s Guide to Self-Acceptance is now out of my hands. It has transformed into Journey to the Ecstatic Self—and is at the mercy of an editor, designer, and typesetter. It is getting dressed for its debutant ball—all gussied and bedazzled and tiara-ed. Soon it will be an entity unto itself—my job in creating it is complete.

Sure, I still have to shepherd it into the world—but I am now but its escort, no longer its maker. And it’s time to let it go.

Surrendering a piece of art into the world is always a strange and harrowing experience. With it goes a piece of ourselves. We, the creators of art, invest our life force, consciousness, and will into the making of a piece. But then, it leaves us—like a child off to university. Where it will have experiences, make new friends, binge drink at frat parties—create new tales of which we will know not. Have we taught it well enough? Have we reminded it to only drink from beer bottles because it’s less likely someone will roofie such a small opening?

I hope the world will be kind to JTTES—I hope they will make it feel loved. But, like an empty-nesting parent, I am a little sad. For the past many months, my focus has been honed in on the cultivation of this manuscript. Now, life-force given, I am empty. I will have to turn my abilities to something new. In time, I shall create again. But in this moment—I simply must sit and just marvel. Something has been given new life at my fingertips. I, like the Heavenly Mother, has spawned something into creation. What a marvelous act!

I will likely not have children this lifetime—so this is my sole means of creating progeny. It is the only way I will know how to create new life.

It is awe inspiring, harrowing, and daunting.  I hope I have created well.

The Frustrating Limits of Sexual Identities

We’ve all had it happen. We are at a social event, we strike up a conversation with someone dynamic, and—before long—we notice ourselves feeling tingles of attraction. The trouble is, this person is outside the bounds of who we normally feel chemistry with. Perhaps they’re a different gender—or an atypical presentation of the gender with whom we ordinarily connect. Maybe they’re a different “type” than to which we are accustomed.

We notice ourselves leaning in and touching their elbow. Our pheromones are pushing us onward, but our brain is spinning to pull us back. This experience is incongruous with our identified orientation. We shouldn’t be doing this, we chide ourselves. This is wrong—this isn’t who we are. Because this flirtation is beyond the scope of our sexuality labels, our personal identity feels compromised.

No matter what label you have chosen to define your orientation, there will be unanticipated moments that defy it. You usually only hook up with women—but, damn, there’s that stubbly man over there in the corner with those rolled-up sleeves, and he is really doing it for you. Maybe you normally only find hyper-masculine men attractive, but that gender-fluid person sipping coffee is calling out to you in a provocative way.

When these moments of unexpected attraction arise, we can feel discombobulated. Our sense of selfhood might even feel endangered. Each of us has worked hard to present a confident, consistent persona to the outside world—and when cracks in our curated identity erupt, it can be immensely unnerving.

The truth is—a shift in your orientation is completely normal and healthy.

Identity is a complex and layered thing. We have many years of accumulated experiences, traumas, and experimentations that have formed the person who we know ourselves to be. But our present identity is merely a momentary appraisal of an ever-evolving phenomenon. We are like onions. We peel away one layer to reveal a fresher one beneath—a new identity that feels more cohesive and encompassing of our truth. New layers come and go—and our sense of self shifts.

We’ve seen it happen—a discovery that changes who we think we are. An untimely death of a loved one, an unanticipated change in career or social status, a spiritual awakening. Events that trigger a reconfiguration of personhood. A layer of identity gets stripped away, and suddenly we are not what we supposed.

It is foolhardy, therefore, to assume that our orientation label will forever remain static. I have encountered countless stories of self-identified straight men saying, “I’ve never been attracted to another guy before, but suddenly…” and they go on to reveal a burgeoning longing that they’d never previously named. In a recent poll by YouGov, a staggering 48% of millennials and Gen Zers (who, being younger, are generally more open to exploring their orientation) say that they identify as something “other than exclusively opposite-sex attracted.” Sexuality atypicality is far more common than many might guess.

Even for myself, my assigned orientation labels have shifted dramatically over time. In college, I thought I was straight—but that assumption was purely theoretical. I had asked out a few women—nearly all turned me down. One even laughed in my face. I never made it to first base.

After graduating, I adopted the label of asexual. I wasn’t really finding anyone attractive in real life. In images—sure. But those same appreciations didn’t transfer over to flesh and blood persons.

In truth, I was ashamed of my longings and repressed my sexuality. That all came to a head, however, around my twenty-fifth birthday when a roommate set me up with an online dating profile and flirted on my behalf. Suddenly finding myself with a plethora of first dates—with people of every gender expression—I came to identify as bisexual. After several months—and a deepening appreciation of my predominate same-sex attraction—that shifted to an identifying as gay.

There—I solved my orientation riddle, I thought. I can now proudly proclaim who I am. Well, that badge of identification lasted for only so long. Shortly after my marriage—to a man—I ended up traveling abroad with the lady-friend who officiated our wedding ceremony. Alone in a hotel room on the opposite side of the globe, I suddenly found myself feeling opposite-sex attracted in an obvious and notable way. My identity as gay no longer seemed to fit.

Since then, I’ve explored using the label of omnisexual—which feels rather inclusive—but it still doesn’t capture the shifting nuance of what I experience. I am happily married to a man—I am far and away predominately attracted to men. But, still, there are some times when I experience desire that feels foreign.

So, here’s my encouragement: allow yourself to be where you are. Trust that whatever you’re feeling is alright. No, it may not be what you expected. But it is what your experiencing. 

Let go of labels—open to possibility. You may just discover something wonderful and beautiful about yourself that you never anticipated. By peeling back another layer of the onion, you may uncover beautiful truths that you would have never known had you stuck too rigidly to your prescribed identifications.

Maybe each of us is a bit more mysterious than we always supposed ourselves to be.

Queer Spirituality

Being queer is an inherently spiritual experience.

I hear so many people claim that being non-heteronormative is sinful or disqualifies you from being a yogi/tantric practitioner. There is a tremendous bias to view opposite-sex pairing as being more holy or sacred then same-sex.

This viewpoint is limited and flat-out wrong.

Being born queer is an incredibly powerful spiritual attunement. Why? Because you are immediately an outsider. A queer person exists outside the norms and boundaries of regular life—we live in an in-between world that defies traditional societal conventions. By being a natural outsider, we are easily able to attain an awareness of alternative states of being. We are the wilders, the boundary-pushers, the shamans, the healers, the sages. We are the ones who break out of the mold that society creates and sees another way.

Throughout history, it has been the outsiders who have forged the spiritual paths—those who have bucked the system. By having a vantage that is not focused on how things are, but how they could be, we are able to envision something greater. We are able to see a world of possibilities—more aligned and harmonious than this current one. We are able to see conventions in a way that those immeshed in a culture cannot. 

We are dangerous and deviant. But, so too, have been all the greatest spiritual teachers throughout history. They are the ones who recognize that this world is a dream—and most people are sleeping. Most people don’t realize how ridiculous this life is. We queer folk, do. We realize that it is all a game. We are all playing “dress up,” pretend, and make-believe. We see the facades that everyone is creating—and we choose to participate if/how/when we choose.

We exist outside of societal norms—we break the rules. We know what it feels like to be rejected, divorced from the safety of our family units, to risk being outcast. That sorrow is our strength. By knowing the depths of possible despair of the human experience, we are unflappable. When you risk losing everything for being who you are—you become unbreakable. You become something so much more than a regular person—you know your worth. When you know the highs and lows of human existence—you gain a clearer vantage of this game.

We queers are energetically balanced within ourselves. Non-queer, heteronormative people require their polar opposite to come into balance. Man needs woman as day needs night, summer needs winter, or high tide needs low. But we queers do not. We have polarity existing within us—we inhabit both the world of the masculine and the feminine, the sacred and the profane, the hellish and the holy. We walk between worlds but exist in neither. We can shift our balance to compliment partners and people with whom we interact—if we wish to pull more on our masculine energy, we can. If we need our feminine, we can do that too.

This is why those who say that only straight practitioners can truly practice yoga are misguided. Shiva and Shakti already unite within us—we are already whole, balanced, and connected. Yes, I can choose to have sex with a woman—and find energetic balance there. But I can also have sex with a man—and we each hold that balance together. It doesn’t matter. Divinity exists within us all—all are holy.

Further, it is my spiritual tradition to believe that everything is sacred. The sky, the earth, animals, humans, food, water, excrement…it doesn’t matter. Everything is made by god, is god, comes back to god. There is nothing that can be inherently unholy—when everything is perfect, what could be wrong? You were made the way you were made—and it is exactly as it should be. How could anything be wrong about that? You are perfect just as you are—as is everyone else.

Yes, we can take actions that pull us away from that holiness. Yes, some things are closer to that innate state of divinity than others—but we are all pure consciousness manifest in flesh. No one is bad, sinful, dirty, or less-than. We are all radiant, beautiful creatures of spirit currently taking molecular form. You are perfect just the way you are.

There is no need to be anything other than you are. You are made as a reflection of god; you are beautiful. You are perfect.

Part of the reason there is so much suffering and self-abuse in the queer community is because we’ve lost touch with this knowledge. We think we are broken—we don’t know the secret: our uniqueness is our strength. By straddling two worlds, we are closer to the Almighty. We are missing our natural connection to the divine. We are missing our calling to be the natural healers, wise-people, and spiritual guides. We are the ones meant to be exploring the frontiers of the soul. This is why we party, drink, and fuck so much…it’s to numb that ache inside. We know that we are destined for something so much greater…but we cannot find what it is.

We queers are healers without sick patients. We are spirit guides without anyone to lead. We are shamans without anyone to transform. By missing our innate calling, we are falling into depression, sickness, and suicide. We need to recognize our spiritual roots and seek that fulfillment within.

We queers are an immensely sexual lot. We all have a tremendous amount of sexual energy. Instead of letting it dominate us, make us act out—we should harness it. Use that powerful life-force within us to manifest positive change in the world. Explode your sexual energy—let it fill you from your toes to your hair follicles. Let it transform into ambrosia. You crave sex and connection so much because that is what you were born to do—make love to the world. Your sexual energy can raise your vibration and the environments around you. You could erect cities with your lust, your passion. You just need to use it rather than fritter it away.

We are all sacred, beautiful beings. Heteronormative people are also sacred and beautiful—they are just different. Use what you’ve been given—grow into your potential. You are destined for so much more—live life fully. Embrace the discord. Dance in your oddities. Ecstatically celebrate what makes you unique.

Yogis have always been the outsiders—living on the fringes, shocking people. Some yogins would carry around human skulls as begging bowls, cover themselves with human ashes, howl from cremation grounds—all to scare those who were “normal.” To shock them and wake them up. We are supposed to be beyond the norms. When we are seeking the ecstatic divine—what is normal about that? We are wild, we are radiant. We are who we are. Celebrate what makes you, you.