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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT’

May I Have This Dance?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

“You didn’t come all this way to sit on a couch, did you?” That was my pick up line at a dance in 1994. It was awkward and funny and eventually I danced with the woman who became my spouse.

It was almost 22 years ago that I went to a dance by myself to be part of the L.G.B.T. community, to meet new friends, and to dance. I remember feeling scared to go. It took every ounce of courage to get on the subway from the Bronx and travel to Webster Hall in Manhattan for a big dancing night. I didn’t know a soul there. I walked into the room wide-eyed and curious and anxious. I was searching for something I didn’t even know I was seeking – my inner freedom. The freedom to be myself, fully. The freedom to be with a woman. The freedom to love – all of me. The freedom to release worry of what “others” might think.

That night in Webster Hall gave me more than a life partner. It gave me my life back. A life that was no longer ashamed to be who I am in the world. A life where I was no longer inhibited by internal or external homophobia. A life where I was no longer inhibited by my body image.

Dance halls and clubs are where so many in the L.G.B.T. community gather for a sense of belonging, connection, and hope. Dance floors are places of refuge. In Buddhist terms, clubs and dance floors are often our sangha. It’s our community. It’s a place we can express ourselves, release inhibition, and be completely free – arms in the air (like we just don’t care).

The tragedy in Orlando was an attack on more than the L.G.B.T. community. It was an attack on expression and freedom. It opened up old shame wounds of our society about integration, diversity, sexuality, and our beliefs on how we define love. In many ways, it was an attack on love itself.

The mass shooting could have targeted any community and many have experienced this trauma before in other places and with other victims: movie theaters, schools, politicians, children, churches, and L.G.B.T. communities.

Our L.G.B.T. community has been vulnerable to hate, to slurs, to violence, to whispers, to looks, to shame, and more. Anyone who has ever come out knows these experiences deep in their cells. It’s the one where someone in our life feels disappointed, scared, angry and ashamed about who we are and who we love. At times, it triggers our own questioning of our identity and we begin to question — is this the life I want?

Then, on a random Saturday night, you ask someone to dance. And you dance and dance and dance.

And then you know, this sangha, this dance hall/club refuge is the very freedom that lives inside of you waiting to be expressed in the world.

Please remember – you are not alone. We are in this together.

Cry. Hug. Hold Hands. Sing. Be Seen. Be Heard. Love More. Dance. Keep Dancing.

Allow grief to surface. Reach out. And when you are ready, please keep dancing.

We Are Orlando.

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Yes, It Gets Better

Monday, October 4th, 2010

As Ellen DeGeneres said, “One life lost in this senseless way is tragic. Four lives lost is a crisis.” The tragic wave of suicides among young people who have been targeted because of their sexuality has prompted many news stories. “And these are just the stories we hear about. How many other teens have we lost? How many others are suffering in silence? Being a teenager and figuring out who you are is hard enough without someone attacking you.”

Many of us felt alone and isolated in high school as we tried to figure out who we were in the midst of so many physical and emotional changes. Hopefully, we had someone we could speak with to let us know we are perfect just the way we are.

For many youth struggling with their sexuality, reaching out can be a frightening idea. In his video, Dan Savage reminded young people, “It Gets Better.” It’s a YouTube project where he and his husband sat down in front of a camera and told their stories about their horrific high school experiences and, more importantly, how they both survived, thrived and have gone on to live happy, healthy, joyful lives. As Savage said about the project, “I felt it was really important that, as gay adults, we show them that our lives are good and happy and healthy and that there’s a life worth sticking around for after high school.”

This is no longer a gay issue; it’s an issue of saving our young people from suicide. Homophobia has consequences — we are losing too many young people everyday. We cannot afford to lose one more young person to suicide.

What will your message be to a gay youth?

Yes, it gets better.
Mary Anne

If you know of a young person struggling with their sexuality and/or in need or suicide prevention, please visit the Trevor Project.

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Friday, June 25th, 2010

Everywhere I look in NYC, there are rainbow flags. Everyone is gearing up for Pride weekend. It’s a time to celebrate diversity at its best. Most folks don’t even blink an eye when I tell them about my sexuality – in fact, they are happy for me (and my 16 year relationship).

I consider myself lucky to live in a place as “open” as New York City. So, when I am asked why I march, why I come out, why I speak so often and openly about being gay, it’s because many marched before me so I could hold my partner’s hand in public and many will come after me who I hope can do this in every place without retribution or violence.

For me, Pride weekend is a time I get to sing and dance in the streets while holding my partner’s hand. While this may seem like a small act, the truth is there are many places where it is not safe for gay couples to be open. And like many other gay people, I have been called derogatory names. I have been called “faggot”, “dyke”, “homo” among other things. And while all the names may be true, the venom with which they are spoken has been full of hate. I have been spit at, had glass bottles thrown at me, and told I have ruined civilization and I will be sent to hell.

I stand proud of who I am and invite you to stand with me. And this weekend, you might just hear me singing at the top of my lungs, “New York City, New York City, Loud and Proud, Loud and Proud!”

To celebrating the Pride in each of us,
Mary Anne

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