Empowerment – The Fire Within (A 2013 Throwback)

The following piece was written back in 2013. While 4 years have passed, the underlying message is still quite relevant today.

As members of the LGBT community, it’s sad that we still live in a world that cannot see beyond our sexuality. How appalling is it that the masses fail to realize our worth or accept us wholly and completely? When faced with hatred, discrimination, and stereotypical imagery in media and entertainment, we can’t help but feel a bit of shame, guilt, and anger. So many misconceptions and stigmas continue to cloud judgment, perception, and understanding. But for what? Our sexuality is one of so many parts of who we are. While it doesn’t define us, we can’t ignore it. And it’s obvious that public officials, conservatives, and organizations (that shall remain nameless) are obsessed with our sexuality more than we are.

Did the powers that be, holy rollers, and haters forget that we’re human too? We desire, no, we deserve the same things as our heterosexual brothers and sisters – family, friends, love, happiness, success on our own terms, good health… I could go on, as the list is endless. But you wouldn’t know this reading or viewing some of the media and entertainment created daily. How hypocritical can a society be that prides itself on freedom, but shames, victimizes, vilifies, and silences those who don’t fit the preferred, traditional archetype? We’re well past the time to lift the veil on the alienation and isolation that comes as a result of living in such a heteronormative society. But let us not be defeated.

Validation from the outside world may not come in the time, manner, or fashion we desire it to. However, we shouldn’t let it hinder us from living or having what we want in this life. No matter what the outside world says we must remain steadfast in knowing ourselves and trusting what we believe in. No matter what the world says, we are beautiful in every way. We are not less than. We are warriors.

Sometimes we have to forego or question everything we’ve been taught or led to believe as truth to find out who we really are. There’s so much that we deny ourselves when we feed into to the B.S. aimed at refuting our existence. We have to shut ourselves off from the noise and the hysteria to make way for what’s real – to make way for peace, serenity, and truth. When we’re able to free ourselves individually and collectively – the change we see within and around us will be miraculous.

As Audre Lorde said, “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” We cannot wait. While we should celebrate the recent Supreme Court rulings in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases for being a step in the right direction for gay marriage, the movement doesn’t stop there. These rulings should only intensify our fight for justice, equality, and freedom for all. And everything we need for this fight lies within.

The key to finding what’s within, the power within, is loving ourselves. We talk a good game about loving ourselves, but how many of us actually do? How many of us can say we truly love ourselves? It’s impossible for us to love ourselves if we continue to allow internalized hatred to ruin our progress. It’s impossible for us to love ourselves if we continue to tolerate the abuse, ill-treatment, and foolishness we encounter daily.

We must not let fear run our authentic selves away. We must be brazen. Stand up for those who were/are not able to stand up for themselves. Realize that in doing so, we’re empowering ourselves and challenging everyone to (always) strive to be and do better.

When we find the love within, the power is never too far behind. When we find our power… When we realize our power… When we utilize our power, its intensity will inspire action and breed the change we need in our families, communities, and the world.

Ours is a power that not only changes lives, but also saves lives. As James Baldwin said, “The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.” So let’s find our power and wield it lovingly, strongly, boldly, and unapologetically. It’s our world. Now let the power within—that internal fire—lead the way!

From 2012 to 2013: Happy New Year!

The new year is here!  And with it comes the chance to start anew.  Time for reflection and introspection.  The opportunity to take inventory, evaluate, and re-evaluate where you are, where you’re going, where you’d like to be, and what you need to do to get there.  It’s goal-setting time or recognition time for goals you’ve achieved.

If it didn’t work in 2012, don’t bring it into 2013.  If it created a lot of drama in 2012, abolish it and look for ways to alleviate/avoid it altogether in 2013.  If you didn’t like it or wanted to change it in 2012, 2013 is the best time to get started.  Instead of making resolutions, commit to life or lifestyle changes.  But be realistic.  If you’re doing it because it sounds good or because you’re seeking approval from others, you probably won’t be committed to it beyond the first few weeks or months of the year.  Let it be something meaningful.  Let it be something you truly want to do.  If it’s something that benefits the community, environment, or larger societyall the more better.

Looking back on 2012, three of my biggest accomplishments were 1) successfully completing my MBA, 2) my partner and I celebrating our first year of marriage, and 3) publishing my first volume of poetry Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics.  2012 afforded me the opportunity to form deeper bonds with family and friends.  I was able to network, connect, and learn from so many people in various stages of their careers in the arts and other fields.  I was able to devote more time to my passions (the arts, cooking/baking, etc.).  I got back into my fitness regime and stuck with it for most of the year (at least until my academic life took over in the latter months of the year).  While I didn’t reach all of my fitness goals in 2012, I will continue on with them in 2013.  Another blessing was hearing the news that my mother, who is a three-time cancer survivor, is 100% cancer free.  How relieved we all were to receive this news.  We hope and pray mom’s cancer remission.

There were many struggles in 2012, but I’m not going to harp on them.  I’m leaving them behind but taking the lessons and wisdom forward.  I will be more patient.  Will place more trust in my intuition and the voice within.  I will continue to work to maintain my cool, my calm when situations are heated (approaching these situations with a level-head versus a hot-head is always preferred).  I will give myself more credit and kudos for my accomplishments, skills, talents, and abilities (leaving  self-doubt in the dust).  I will stop forsaking my well-being for the betterment of other things (institutions, organizations) and people (self-neglect doesn’t lead to progression or growth).

In 2013 my (general) goals are: 1) looking for, participating in, and/or creating opportunities to promote my work and myself as an artist (and aspiring renaissance man), prayerfully opportunities that will challenge and strengthen me creatively, socially, mentally, and personally, 2) being proactive and taking the necessary steps for optimal health, 3) doing more to give back to the community, 4) spending more time with family, friends, and godchildren, 5) building stronger connections with fans, followers, peers, and those I admire in the arts, and 6) and hopefully taking a real vacation.

Before closing out, I’d like to take this moment to say from the basement floor of my heart THANK YOU to the readers/followers/supporters/fans for your ongoing love, praise, constructive criticism, and support.  For this, I am extremely humbled, grateful, and blessed.

I wish you and your families an amazing 2013!  Let it be filled with love, joy, harmony, good health, and prosperity!

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings,