Body Shame, Toxic Masculinity, & American Waistlines

(an excerpt from the upcoming book, Journey to the Ecstatic Self)

My husband and I were traveling in Germany and wanted to experience some local culture. There, nudity is a social pastime—the Germans enjoy getting naked at beaches, in the woods, and at government-run bathing complexes. We were advised to patron one of Munich’s state-sponsored bathhouses—and when we arrived, we were greeted by fully-nude men and women lounging in saunas, sweating in steam rooms, and wading through thermal pools. 

Neither he nor I had ever been in a coed nude environment. Seeing men and women socializing together in the buff was shocking in a few ways. First, the more obvious surprise was, being gay men, neither of us had spent much time around disrobed women. It was strange and foreign for us to see uncovered lady-parts. But the second and more remarkable takeaway was that we were seeing bodies that looked unaltered—as if they were the way that nature intended them. 

In America, our bodies reflect our culture and social mores. We are a nation of excess, of consumerism. We do nothing half-heartedly—everything is either the “best” or the “worst.” And this psychological tendency is reflected in people’s physiques. At one end of the spectrum, we have people who struggle with obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly forty-three percent of Americans in 2018 are considered obese—and almost ten percent are morbidly obese. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the fanatical fitness junkies—those who are unhealthfully pumped, plumped, injected, or sculpted.

Having scoped out the views at spas and locker rooms at home, I can report that it is rare to find someone who looks naturally fit, unaltered, and with an appropriate height to weight ratio. It is rare to see a body that reflects the way nature would have designed it to be with no artificial intervention.

At this spa in Germany, by contrast, there was hardly anyone who appeared overly worked-out, unnaturally thin, or notably overweight. There were none with artificial tans, fake boobs, or obvious cosmetic procedures. No one seemed to be surgically-altered in the slightest—heck, only one person out of the dozens even had tattoos. There was a range of body types and shapes, but exceedingly few would have fallen into the category of obesity. It was such a consciousness-altering experience to see bodies that accurately reflected human potential—and it was a stark contrast to my domestic experiences.

Growing up, I was fascinated by fitness models. I thought their curves and bulges were beautiful and hypnotic. I would have given anything to look like them. When I was fourteen, my parents got me my first personal trainer. Despite how much effort I put in at the gym, I was dismayed to find that my body wasn’t sculpting itself into the shapes I saw in glossy magazines. 

It wasn’t until my early thirties that I realized the extent to which steroids and growth hormones are utilized by the fitness and beauty industry. I was shocked to consult with individuals who made the study of this topic their life’s work, to learn that almost everyone was using something to attain those physiques. We have developed a warped notion of what is natural and what is attainable. It’s not what we think it is.

When was the last time that you encountered someone who appeared to take the middle-road regarding their appearance? So many individuals are obsessed with their bodies—they aren’t thin-enough, young-enough, buff-enough. We exist in a culture where “wellness” and “fitness” personalities sell us products we don’t need and prey on our insecurities—and meanwhile they’re discreetly taking illegal supplements. I cannot name a single friend who hasn’t dieted at some point, had cosmetic work done, or gone to some lengths to attain more “idealized” proportions. While working for greater health, wellbeing, and longevity are absolutely worthy goals and admirable—we have taken the pursuit of perfection to unhealthy extremes. 

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.”

—Mary Schmich, journalist and writer

It is surprising that, for as much energy as we put into thinking about our bodies, America is a remarkably prudish culture. We no longer swim naked or even undress comfortably in front of our friends. I have watched countless men in locker rooms doing the “towel dance”—awkwardly shimmying out of their undergarments while wrapped in an undersized scrap of terry-cloth—so as never to be fully exposed. The absurdity of actively choosing to dress in such an uncomfortable manner highlights the immense shame we actually feel about our bodies and our selves. 

Too many of us treat our physical forms as if they were disgraceful, something to hide or control. A dangerous force that must be protected and kept in check at all times. In order for us to supposedly feel body-positive, we are expected to attain unimaginable standards that do not reflect physiology. Men are not biologically meant to constantly live at eight-percent body fat with pectorals plumped to the size of twenty-ounce steaks. Women are not meant to have twig-thin arms and bowling ball butts and bosoms.

Since most of the naked bodies we see now come from advertisements—which are notoriously skewed—we get a perverted idea of what a human body is actually like. For a time, I lived with a lingerie designer in Los Angeles—and she would show me how editors photoshopped the (already stunning) models to make them even more appealing. They elongated their legs by several inches, cinched their waists, and doubled the size of their eyes. By the time the editors were done, many of the women were no longer recognizable—yet, a consumer would look at the packaging and not be able to discern how dishonest their depictions actually were. Their mind would remember and compare the advertisements to their own self-images—and they would walk away feeling less-positive about themself. 

Without other, real, naked bodies to compare ourselves to in casual social interactions (like public bathing facilities), we are left to study the highly surgicalized, makeuped, steroided, and photoshopped figures in media. In consequence, we feel diminished. We chastise ourselves for not being good enough—when in reality, we might be exactly as we are meant to be. No other creature on the planet shames themself for their God-given appearance—no cheetah longs for spots that are darker or spaced further apart. No elephant wishes that their trunk were longer and slimmer. 

You can witness this shift toward relishing unrealistic extremes by how children’s play figurines have changed dimensions over the decades. Much has been written about how Barbie attained impossible proportions in the latter part of the twentieth century—legs, waists, and busts that could not structurally support themselves—inspiring a generation of girls into believing that they were never good enough. Less reported, but similar, has been the unrealistic expectations being sold to boys. When the original Star Wars movies came out, the play figurines closely matched the physiques of the actors on screen. A little over a decade later, by the late nineteen-eighties, the same figurines had suddenly bulked up with dozens of pounds of muscle. The dolls now looked more like Hulk Hogan than Han Solo.

Growing up, I learned that the ideal male body-type was that of the Ninja Turtles and G.I. Joe figurines. I understood that a man’s upper arms were supposed to be bigger than his waist; his pecs were supposed to be meatier than his thighs. Combined with the fitness magazine covers showing steroided men, I felt horribly deficient and too thin. I learned to be ashamed of my normal body proportions. I couldn’t understand that these Schwarzenegger-like attributes were thoroughly artificial and unattainable. 

We so often talk about body dysmorphia in women—and for a good reason. The societal pressure for women to appear perpetually twenty-three, a size two, doe-eyed, and still somehow buxom, is crushing. We have equated the achievement of a thigh-gap with the bliss of nirvana. Americans have come to recognize the persistent and damaging health-effects of advertising on girls and women—and also persons of color. For much of the Westernized world, pale skin and European proportions have been held as an ideal over duskier skin hues and non-Western shapes. 

Thankfully, work is being done to combat this bias—but there is still much room to change. Campaigns by Dove USA have opened up awareness and frank conversations—hiring models of color and untraditional beauty or gender identity has been helpful—but there is still a great deal work to be done. We need to embrace beauty in all its forms.

An equally important, but not as well-recognized, issue is the parallel struggle underway for men. Many men feel immense pressure to conform to physiological standards that are likewise unachievable. Self-reported studies conducted with high school students found that up to five percent (of all students, including women) admit to using steroids. If we look at gay men specifically, one in seven admit to using them in just the past yearalone.

The ads and movies have convinced men that their worth is in the thickness of their arms. We are told that if you are insufficiently beefy, then you are insufficiently manly. This is one of the puzzle pieces in the rise of toxic masculinity over the past decades (amongst many other stressors, like the loss of the ability to support a household on a single income, well-paid blue- and white-collar jobs, etc.)—men have been repeatedly told that they aren’t man-enough for being the way they are. We are supposed to attain impossible standards to be considered sufficient. 

Many young men use the performance of hyper-masculinity as a way to survive in a world that does not hold space for men to express affection, tenderness, or empathy. Many communities in America demand that men present as being extraordinarily masculine and women demonstrably feminine. In doing so, people are forced to deny any parts of themselves that do not fit within these narrow and constraining stereotypes. Forcing men to subjugate aspects of themselves can inspire anger, confusion, and emotional repression. It then becomes a short trip from demonstrating hyper-masculinity to the dangerous land of enacting toxic masculinity. 

Toxic masculinity is the performance of maleness to such a degree that one viciously attacks anyone or anything that challenges or doubts a man’s credentials. It is infused with rage—a fear of being found out or for lacking requisite power—and it often shows its nastiest sides when the man interacts with those who can be easily dominated. If a woman isn’t deferring enough—shut her down. If a man shows any form of vulnerability—break him down. Perform macho-ness, perform entitlement—hide anything that reveals weakness or perceived femininity.

The reality is that all humans possess both masculine and feminine aspects. In fact, some of the most well-adjusted, masculine-presenting men I’ve known have been immensely kind, compassionate, and tender. Instead of teaching boys that masculinity means titanium-like strength, we need to teach them that it also means flexibility and a willingness to listen and learn. Instead of teaching that being a man means rugged individualism, we need to prove that it can also mean connection to community, artistic expression, and empathy. Enacting maleness can require breaking, smashing, and destroying—but it can also demand times of building, cultivating, and caregiving. Our goal needs to be the attainment of wholeness—a coming into acceptance with all of our attributes, not just one side.

In the Western world, men have to defend their maleness in a way than women do not—they have to show that they are “man enough,” tough, and rugged—and disavow any actions that might discredit those labels. I will argue that anyone living in a state of self-protection will not be at home in themselves. Any man or woman who has to be “on guard” will subsequently be ill-at-ease. They will likely make an insufficient lover, spouse, or parent because they will be afraid to express themselves in their entirety.

We have to let go of the notion that some external goal will fulfill us. You could be one of the most beautiful and fittest people on your block, but you could still feel ugly enough to be afraid of leaving your house. No amount of external striving will provide you with a lasting sensation of sufficiency. If you are reliant on an arbitrary tape measurement or scale reading to give you permission to accept yourself—you will forever be in terror of relapsing.

The advertising of the modern world barrages us with unrealistic body expectations. There are the scantily-clad and anorexically-thin models on billboards, the chemically-chiseled actors on television with their impossible abs, and the artfully lounging influencers with their skin-tone buffed out in Photoshop. None of them reflect what humans actually look like. Each of us has to cultivate genuine gratitude for the bodies we have been given—for they are the only ones we are going to get in this lifetime.

…If you enjoyed this, please check out Journey to the Ecstatic Self today!

Seven Life-Hacks for Happiness

Ah — happiness! That elusive, golden ring that so many of us seek. Day in and day out, we strive for the perfect circumstances that will finally make us feel those blissful few seconds of radiant joy. Happiness!

And nearly as suddenly as it arrives — it fades away. We are back in the murky existence of everyday living. We gradually return to seeking the next high that will provide us with that burst of elation. For some, that high comes in a bottle. For others, a credit card swipe. Others yet, a daring activity, an award, a number on a bathroom scale.

Happiness is fleeting, as the old adage says. But there are certain things that we can actively undertake in order to entice happiness to linger a little longer.

1. Learn to be present

When we are children, we spend relatively little time reflecting on the past or daydreaming about what lies ahead. We are more present to the flow of events around us — and by being so, we relish more about our lives. We are aware of the tread of the hundreds of diminutive feet of the caterpillar. We drink in the shape of clouds. We taste ice cream in its rich fullness. We are here for the experiences.

As adults, we spend much time in states of regret, longing, or fantasizing. We rehash the past, plan for the future, and forget to live. We neglect the present as the gift that it is. By taking time to regularly let go of our machinations (and return to the here-and-now), we can heighten our experience of joy.

Spiritual traditions throughout time have lauded the benefits of being present to the moment at hand — a.k.a. mindfulness. From Taoists to Buddhists to Hindus, they have said that true wellbeing exists in the now. So, are you taking time every day to train your brain and come back to the space your body occupies? Are you working to be here and simultaneously nowhere else? Can you sit still with your thoughts and witness the passing of the hands of the clock?

2. Express Gratitude

Gratitude is a marvelous thing. The more you strive to cultivate it, the more that unbidden wells up. When we choose to dwell in gratitude, we naturally find more things in our life for which we can be thankful.

I realize that there is always hardship — but there is also always joy. They are two sides of the same coin. We can choose to see experiences as a let-down, or we can see them as something worth celebrating. There is ultimately nothing good nor bad, but thinking makes them seem so (or, at least, Hamlet said something similar).

So, how can you choose to see the bright side of a cloudy situation? This isn’t being a Pollyanna — forgetting the genuine strife that exists — it’s about knowing that happiness is a choice. We get to choose whether to celebrate or mourn. We are all rowing through these troubled waters of 2020 together — so we might as well choose to see that which is worth cherishing? There is still so much for which to be grateful — we are living in one of the most abundant times in human history.

3. Cultivate a Sense of Awe

Have you taken time recently to stop and admire a tree? Or a smell a rose bush? When we are young, we are in awe of everything. The world is new, fresh, and exuberant. As we age, however, we acquire a jadedness about things we have seen before. We become blasé about the remarkable wonders of the world.

In reality, our planet is an endlessly fascinating place. The trillions of little synchronicities that have to align in order for a flower to bloom, a blade of grass to grow, a muscle contract, or a ladybug to poop…is mind-boggling.

recent study has shown that people who actively try to cultivate a sense of awe as they walk outside are happier, less depressed, and develop a healthier sense of selfhood (even beyond those who already spend time outside — a brain boost in and of itself!). So take some time to step into the outdoors and purposefully marvel in awe at the tremendous sights surrounding you.

4. Surround Yourself with Love

Who are the people closest to you in your life? Do you spend enough time with them? Do you genuinely celebrate one another? Do you cheer on each other’s accomplishments? Do you bandage each other’s wounds when you fall and get scraped up by the rough edges of living?

Who is your tribe? Are they there for you? Are they people with whom you’d genuinely want to be associated? Are they individuals who inspire you and serve as role models for the type of person you’d like to grow into being? If no, perhaps it’s time for trimming the friendship tree.

In 1938, Harvard began a study that continues to this day. They followed and studied students over the course of their lives and tracked their levels of happiness. What was the biggest finding? It wasn’t degrees earned, income, genes, or heritage that correlated with a joyful life — it was positive primary relationships. According to Harvard, “Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. […] People’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels.”

5. Play More

Be silly. Make art. Enact games. Express yourself. Dance like no one is watching. If you’re serious all the time — it will be hard to connect with joy. If you wildly create in a way that is meaningfully self-expressive, it’ll be much easier to be happy. Paint. Dance. Walk on your hands. Each of us are artists — but most of us were told in childhood that we weren’t very good at it. Forget those critics! Create because you want to. Create because you are alive — and being silly and playful is an active demonstration of the joy in living.

6. Forgive Yourself and Others

It’s hard to fly when you’ve got weights holding you down. Regret, feelings of betrayal and anger…these are all leaden tethers. Until you can forgive yourself and others for the shortcomings you experience, you’ll struggle. So…truly let go. Move on. It was never really about you anyways — whoever harmed you was caught up in their own stuff. And, if you need to forgive yourself, remind yourself that (at that time) you probably did the best you could. Hindsight is much clearer — and if you knew then what you know now, you’d probably have chosen differently.

7. Be Absurd

Those people striving to fit in, to be normal — are never happy. They are too concerned with what others think. Be ridiculously you — be fabulous. You can only live your own life — no one else’s. So don’t worry about their opinions. Be authentic, radiant, and wild.

Don’t strive to keep up with the Joneses…or the Kardashians. Be unique. Be kooky. Be the crazy lady with fifteen cats. “If you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you could be,” says poet Maya Angelou. Do the absurd thing by being remarkably you.

With those seven tools, you will find a happier, more full version of life waiting around the corner. 2020 is challenging — but it’s also an impetus to evolve. Be present — express gratitude — cultivate awe — surround yourself with love — play — forgive — be unique. And through these things, we will together thrive.

If you enjoyed this article, please check out my upcoming book: Journey to the Ecstatic Self today.

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.