A Call to Serviceby Raymond Rigoglioso on 01/05/17
As we celebrated the turn of the New Year earlier this week, I had two powerful and concurrent feelings: dread in the pit of my stomach about what we are getting ready to experience in this country, and an imperative to act.
This is no time to be a spectator.
For progressives, the 2016 election presented a wake-up call. Already, I see mobilization: new groups are forming and organizations are planning their agendas.
In the fall, I made a decision to turn Gay Men of Wisdom's signature program, Powerful U, into a community-based drop-in group and replicate it around the country. I wanted to create a national movement where gay men gather with a sense of purpose and service to humanity.
I could not foresee how timely this decision would be. In my conversations with the facilitators of the Living Out Your Gifts groups in Orlando, Seattle, and Austin, I continue to hear the same refrain: gay men want to gather for support and to formulate their response to the new political climate.
Because the LGBT movement has such a history of political activism, political action can almost seem a default response. But that's not the only way to create change.
Our movement has succeeded to such an extent because we created cultural change. We came out, told our stories, and helped others see our humanity. We may have done so to free ourselves, but in the process, we performed an invaluable service to others: We expanded limited notions of what it means to be human.
The shock our country has just experienced issues another call to service--to engage in action that will move humanity to a greater level of consciousness. Service can take many forms. Toward this end, I offer some suggestions:
Keep doing what you're doing, but with a greater sense of purpose. Recognize and value the contributions you already make, and make them with intention to serve the people around you. Never underestimate the impact that being of service has on others. Hearts and minds change when people make real connections with people who are different from them.
Choose actions that reflect your personal style, preferences, and interests. Fight for what's right in a realm that you're best suited to. Do you thrive best in politics or religious or spiritual communities? The local or national levels? What calls to you? Listen to and follow that voice.
Commit to sustainable action. Once you identify your call, commit to action that you can sustain over the long term. Don't overwhelm yourself. Take small, regular actions.
Recognize your own power. You're not helpless. Don't let the media and groupthink convince you that you have no voice or impact. That's a lie that the authoritarians want you to believe.
Create a new conversation. Talk with someone who disagrees with you. Share your point of view, but more importantly, listen. Challenge yourself to find common ground with that person. If we can create commonality among family and friends, we can do so on a national level.
Get support. Find community. Don't go it alone. Harness the energy of this moment to join with other likeminded people.
Recognize the influence gay men wield. Because we listen, empathize, and intuit, we know how to establish relationships and build trust. This is key to re-establishing a shared sense of purpose in this country. Gay men have the power to listen, persuade, ACT UP, build bridges, and challenge orthodoxies. This shape-shifting capacity is one of the most precious gifts of being gay.
Be of service. We already play important roles in service to humanity. Honor how you benefit the people around you. Stand tall in your differences.
Keep sex alive. Maintain the flow of your sexual-life force energy. This is personal power. Challenge yourself to deepen your sexual connections. Engage in ecstatic sex as a spiritual practice.
Don't let anyone steal your joy. Keep loving, celebrating, and creating joy. Our gay spirit unites people in celebration and love. Everyone responds to joy. Let's spread it far and wide.
Join a Living Out Your Gifts group. Connect with the tribe. Find sustenance from other gay men who are committed to service. Inspire and be inspired.