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Acceptance & Belonging: Contemplations About the Challenges and Aspirations of LGBTQ+ People

Acceptance & Belonging: Contemplations About the Challenges and Aspirations of LGBTQ+ People
Photo by N. / Unsplash

Part 1: On the fundamental human experiences of societal norms and self-discovery.

Several years ago, I published a collection of pull quotes from my writing on my since-closed Medium publication called, “Think Queerly — Meditations & Critical Reflections On Liberating Humanity.”

The pull quotes were literally highlights. I reviewed over two years of articles, copying paragraphs that readers had highlighted, which is a native feature on the Medium platform. It was gratifying to review what struck a chord with others and to draw insight from their comments.

My friend, Jeffry Iovannone wrote a testimonial for the book, which I quote in part:

“Through short aphorisms and reflections that read like a modern-day Tao Te Ching written from a queer perspective, Stehle shows he is a philosopher for the people and a leader for our time. He gently, but insistently, urges queer people — or anyone who feels they are outside the norm — to look beyond assimilationist strategies of social justice and to, as he often says, use their difference to make a difference.”

Since publication, I have tried to re-work the collection a few times.

The first attempt was a disaster!

I tried to write long-form content based on the highlights that began to sound like dogma — which was interesting on the one hand, but worrying on the other. A few weeks ago, I was experimenting with ChatGPT to help me create clarity, a logical flow, and a clear framework of steps for a longer article I had written. That’s when I got an idea about how I could re-work my 5,000+ word original text.

The idea was to analyze my original text with ChatGPT, but only one section at a time (each section was grouped by categories like Leadership, Personal Transformation, Authenticity, and so on).

I knew there were a lot of overlapping and similar ideas. So, I needed to work through the sections separately to isolate the core ideas by eliminating unnecessary words and then distilling them into aphorisms. This distillation of my original collection has resulted in over 100 aphorisms, which I'm carefully editing and organizing into coherent categories.

An exploration of identity, authenticity, belonging, and acceptance.

I’m excited to share this first group of aphorisms with you today, which is the start of an “infrequent series” that will comprise about 10+ posts in total.

These aphorisms are about the fundamental human experiences that reveal the complexities of societal norms and self-discovery. While most of the highlights from the original collection were written with a queer readership in mind, these new aphorisms speak more broadly to the universal human condition — which includes us all without prejudice.

The irony is not lost on me how many words I have used above to explain in detail how I created the following aphorisms.


Belonging Breeds Security

Security stems from belonging –
peace, safety, and inclusion.
LGBTQ+ people thrive when they're accepted for their uniqueness,
not limited by conditions.

Humanity of Belonging

To impact positively,
foster belonging for all.
Allow creative expression,
fuel self-actualization,
ignite compassion and empathy.

Authentic Love and Acceptance

Love doesn't demand conformity.
True acceptance means embracing every aspect of someone else,
for who they are without prejudice
transcending dogma.

Trust and Vulnerability

Trust builds with time.
Be vulnerable with those you trust,
fostering a space for acceptance and authenticity.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance

Embrace your complete, humane self
devoid of judgment.
Your essence is enough.

Belonging Fosters Compassion

Belonging ignites creativity and empathy.
By embracing our otherness,
We cultivate compassion and empathy,
and an open mind.