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Archive for June, 2011

My Normal Heart and Marriage Equality

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

I was obsessed last week listening to the live feed of the New York State Senate as they spent days passing various Bills. I anxiously waited to hear if the Senate would bring the Marriage Equality Act to the floor for a vote. Late Friday, I read Facebook posts and tweets that there would indeed be a vote and the Marriage Equality Act was likely to pass. The vote was going to take place while I was sitting in a Broadway show, The Normal Heart.

The Normal Heart is mostly an autobiographical play by Larry Kramer. It focuses on the early years of the AIDS crisis in New York City from 1981 through 1984, as seen through the eyes of writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay founder of a major AIDS advocacy group. Ned prefers loud, often angry, public confrontations to the calmer, more private strategies favored by his friends and closeted lover, Felix Turner. Towards the end of the play, there is a poignant scene where the doctor, Emma Brookner, who was a strong advocate for medical research and public awareness, marries Ned Weeks and the dying Felix Turner in the hospital.

While I was watching the scene of Ned and Felix exchanging vows, the New York State Senate had passed the Marriage Equality Act in Albany. A few moments later the play ended and the producer came out on center stage to thank the audience for coming. He went on to say, “And I would like to thank everyone for turning their cell phones off during the performance and as you turn them back on, you will find out that the Marriage Equality Act was just passed.” The audience erupted with shouts and some were overcome with tears. The applause was deafening and as confused tourists were asking those around them what had happened, folks from around the country celebrated this historic moment.

I couldn’t get over how this life-changing experience was happening as I was sitting in the play, The Normal Heart – during a scene of two gay men exchanging vows in a hospital. As I stood applauding, shouting, and crying, I felt an overwhelming feeling of awe and gratitude. It was the 17th anniversary from the day I met my life partner and after all this time, our love and right to be married felt acknowledged and accepted.

I walked out of the play, my eyes swollen with tears, and turned to my partner and said, “My normal heart and marriage equality. I love you.”

Thank you Governor Cuomo, the New York State Senate, and to the four Republican Senators for your courage to honor love and equality – and for passing the Marriage Equality Act!

Mary Anne

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A Mother’s Love for Her Gay Daughter

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

After listening to the recent heated debate of whether or not to allow the Marriage Equality Act to come to the New York Senate floor for a vote, I started thinking about how acceptance is easy if we allow it. This sparked a long-ago memory of how my mom came to accept my sexuality. [While this story may not be verbatim, the essence of it is absolutely true.]

My mom was quite distraught (along with other family and friends) about my coming out back in 1996. She was devastated and decided to speak with our local Catholic Pastor, Fr. Davis, whom she had known for a long time. My mom explained just how upset, disappointed, and even scared she was that she had a gay daughter.

The Pastor asked three questions:

“Do you love your daughter?” My mother said of course she loved her daughter.

“Is she kind?” My mother said her daughter was kind and generous and very giving.

“Is she living the Gospel and doing the work of Jesus in the Bronx?” My mother said I was caring for children in the South Bronx and was doing service for others just as Jesus had.

Fr. Davis then asked my mother if anything else mattered other than love and living the Gospels.

Soon after that meeting, my mother called to invite my partner (whom earlier was not allowed to come over) and me to the house for dinner. My mother and father quickly came to love and accept my partner as a part of my life.

Yes, acceptance is that easy if we allow it.

Mary Anne

This is dedicated to my mom who had the courage to question her beliefs and to Fr. Davis – both of whom are now in heaven still telling stories.

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From Praying to Staying Gay

Monday, June 20th, 2011

It’s been more than 15 years since I came out to my family and friends. I had no idea how my family or friends would respond to me telling them I was gay. I just knew I didn’t want to hide anymore and it was too painful to hold in my true self. I was living with so much fear back then – the fear of being ‘disowned’ by my family and being shunned by my friends; the fear of feeling (more) isolated; even the fear of being hated by my God.

I remember many conversations with God – ones that included a bargaining and a begging to please not make me gay in high school. I thought God, family, and friends would be disappointed and make me feel like an outcast. I believed those thoughts so strongly I spent my high school years feeling depressed. I made myself an outcast to myself. I told myself I was unworthy and believed that too.

So, I understand people when they say hateful things about gays and believe them – I believed those thoughts too and found ways to make it true 20 years ago. The mind will find proof with thoughts we put out into the world. If you tell yourself you are unworthy, you will find all the ways this is true and the mind will confirm it. And if you tell yourself you are a loving being of God, the mind will find proof for that too. As Byron Katie says, “The mind’s job is to validate what it thinks.”

Today, I choose thoughts of love and watch how love flows into my life. I am blessed to have a life-partner for 17 years. And the love from my family and friends is beyond words. All of this has only brought forth more love and acceptance. It started with me loving myself. My fearful thoughts led me to pray not to be gay. My loving thoughts allow me to be grateful to be gay and for all the expansive love.

Mary Anne

This is dedicated to all those who are scared to come out and the NY State Senate to put forth a vote in favor of the Marriage Equality Act.

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Are You Waiting?

Friday, June 17th, 2011

And are you waiting, awaiting the one thing,

that increases your life infinitely,

the powerful, the enormous,

the awakening of the stones,

depths, turned torward you.

Rainer Maria Rilke, poet (1875-1926)

Are you still waiting?

Mary Anne

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Have You Noticed?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

“Meditation is a word for being still and taking some time to notice the kindness and support of reality.” ~Byron Katie

Have you noticed all the support sytems that exist?

Have you noticed how kindness shows up in your life?

Have you noticed that reality is so kind?

Have you noticed?

Breathe yourself full of kindness and support. Watch how that naturally flows back to you. Breathe yourself full of love. Thank yourself.

Mary Anne

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You Are the Beloved – Always.

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Snatam Kaur came to New York City last week as part of her Spirit Voyage kirtan concert series. I arrived early for the concert and waited for her to come on stage. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay for the whole show as I was teaching a shamanic workshop the following day and needed to get up early. The thoughts starting running through my head about not being able to stay for the concert, how late I would get home, and early I had to get up.

I was starting to feel really anxious and then Snatam Kaur came on stage, bowed and sang:

Oh my beloved
Kindness of the heart
Breath of life
I bow to you
And I’m coming home
And I’m coming home

I started to sing the words and couldn’t get them out because I was moved to tears. With all my anxiety, all I could hear was the beginning line of the song, “Oh my beloved.” Then as I whispered the words to the song, I heard inside my heart, “Breathe, beloved. Chant, beloved. Sing, beloved. Come home, beloved.”

As I sat, I imagined the whole room as if it were the beloved.

You Are the Beloved – always.

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Reflecting Beauty

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Recently, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City. Normally, I am not a big museum person as I often feel overstimulated and anxious seeing all the artwork and I don’t like big crowds. But I was missing Egypt and my partner suggested we go see the Egyptian collection. I was overwhelmed by the collection and so we decided to go to the Rooftop Garden and walk around. There were big metal structures on the Rooftop Garden. We had a lot of fun walking around and taking pictures from every angle.

At one point, I looked at the blue sky line reflecting in the windows. It was beauty reflecting back at me. I thought about various meditations about light, beauty, and reflections.

Light will guide you home. Love will welcome you in.

Love resides in you as you.

I am as perfect as you.

The light in me is a reflection of you.

I am infinite love.

The miracle of me sees the miracle of you.

In the end it is the beauty that we already are that welcomes us home.

Peace~ Mary Anne

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35 Years Later – Traveling Leads to Children’s Book

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

I was recently on a 3-week spiritual travel adventure to Egypt with a small group. Upon meeting my new roommate, we started talking about books and he mentioned he had finished reading this fantastic book, Tales of a Female Nomad, by Rita Golden Gelman. He thought I would like the book since I love to travel and I was the only woman on this group trip to Egypt. Upon returning home, I purchased the book and started reading it.

After looking at the back cover, I noticed that Gelman also wrote some children’s books. I saw one of the titles, Why Can’t I Fly?, and my jaw dropped. As soon as I went home, I went to my bookcase and on the bottom shelf are three books I had as a child. My favorite one was Why Can’t I Fly? The book tells the story of birds trying to help Minnie the Monkey fly. Minnie keeps falling when she tries to fly, but she doesn’t give up. Minnie tries one more time and the birds quickly got a blanket so Minnie could land in it. An elated Minnie says, “I can fly. I can fly.”

I have had this book since 1977 and when I moved to NYC, my mom gave me my three favorite children’s books. I can’t believe that 35 years later I am reading a book by the same author. Tales of a Female Nomad is Gelman’s story of self-discovery as she travels the world with no permanent address and no possessions except those she can carry. Reading this book about courage is bringing me as much joy and enthusiasm as the children’s book did when I was little.

Unfortunately, my mom passed away in 2000 and she is probably the only person who would remember how often I read Gelman’s book and how much I loved it. It is one of my most treasured childhood memories.  I am grateful that my journey to Egypt led me back to my childhood and to books that remind me to never give up.

I am grateful for Gelman’s writing and for inspiring me – for 35 years! “I can fly. I can fly.”

Mary Anne

This is dedicated to my friend Don and to my mom.

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