First I was afraid, I was petrified…Gloria Gaynor
Last week I had a conversation with a coach who helped me get clear on who I work with. Essentially she helped me come out.
“Why don’t you work with gay men, Darren?”
This question has come up with a few coaches I’ve worked with on my business over the years. For some reason I thought I shouldn’t box myself in.
The fucking irony is that I’ve been playing with the metaphor, and writing about, how we box ourselves in over the last two weeks.
Seriously? Was I moving in this direction on a subconscious level? Did I attract said-coach to help me finally get out of my own way?
We all live in a box…
I’ve found a way to break through this cellophane line
Cause I know what’s going on in my own mind
Am I living in a box? (living)
Am I living in a cardboard box?
We’re either living in a box that’s so fucking dark we can’t see the possibility of not only who we are, but who we can and want to be. Or we’re in a transparent box, seen but not heard. We only need to push the lid off to top to come out.
No matter what kind of box we’re breaking down we’re boxed in somewhere else in our life. We box ourselves into a particular way of behaving when we’re,
- at the office
- with one friend versus a another
- and even more so with family.
It’s not like I hide being gay.
But this is something I’ve been struggling with in the last number of years.
Close to 15 years ago when I first started in personal training, I wrote a column for GayGuideToronto.com. I thought I would be the gay voice of fitness. I also wrote a column on personal development, Flex Your Mind. Neither approach worked out like I had hoped.
I was too new and inexperienced on both counts. I was a new personal trainer, and had recently discovered personal development, which completely changed my life.
I used to be angry all the time.
I experienced a major personality flip when I realized I needed to take complete ownership for every choice that I made. I saw that was the only way I would become a happier person, and it worked!
But now, as I transition into working more as a coach, I need to ask,
“Who is my market and who do I want to work with?”
Don’t you hate it when someone answers your question with another question? Well in this case, I turned the question around on myself by asking,
Who am I and who can I best serve? Who can I best help through the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned?
My answer? Other gay men of my generation.
Gay or LGBTQ?
I’ve struggled with the acronym, LGBTQ, because it’s a container, it’s another box.
In the late 80s there was no acronym to describe “us”. It was simply “gays and lesbians.” Sometime later it became “gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.” Back then (back in the day…I’m an old gay now, ha!) I might have said,
“Oh those bisexuals! They just can’t make up their mind. They’re playing both sides of the field because they’re whores.”
Ahem. Well, I do have a bitchy side!
In truth, many of my gay friends didn’t understand bisexuals. They didn’t conform (put themselves in a box) to our political needs.
I don’t profess to understand all the different labels and nomenclature. That’s not who I am. That’s not the box I find myself in. It’s neither right or wrong, but I do know who I am, and how I choose to identify.
What I’ve learned…
I’m coming out of my own box.
This box has blocked me and has kept me in a container of not declaring that I want to serve and work with other gay men, men of my generation, 40 and up.
There I said it (thank you Adam Lambert).
What excites me? Coaching other gay men who struggle with not expressing their best self, not accepting, loving and owning who they are.
The closet is a fucking powerful container.
Many men of my generation struggle to break down the container that is keeping them in the closet.
These men grew up in the closet at a time when there were no rights for gays and lesbians. They grew up at a time when men were getting sick and no one knew why.
The one thing that made us feel human and alive — sex — was fucking killing us!
Were you singled out as a child, made fun of, called a faggot, or gay? Maybe even unsure what that meant?
What a brain fuck!
When you are made to feel not good enough in the eyes of your peers the resulting development of your mental psychology is going to be messy.
Am I good enough?
Fuck I have struggled with this all my life! It’s the one thing that has held me back the most. From a neuroscience perspective, not feeling good enough explains a lot of my own vices and behaviours.
Simply put, if I don’t feel good enough, my mammalian brain thinks about what would make me feel better. In my case that would be sex, jerking off, or watching porn. These are ephemeral pleasures, but how well they distract me from doing something meaningful and productive!
The longer you’ve been in the closet, the greater the resistance.
If you’re someone who’s lived in the closet 20 or more years, especially during adolescence and your formative years, you’ve got some serious blocks.
Imagine hiding away your truth, keeping secrets, and not expressing your identity for 20 years or longer!
The closet is a powerful, unforgiving container and the longer you’re in that box, there harder it is to break it down.
Coaching gay men to break out of the box that fucks with their greatness.
Not living your greatness is something I’ve struggled with. My gift is that I can listen with an empathetic ear developed from my own life experiences.
You can look back on your life experiences and accept them as lessons. Then you can choose to break down the box that blocks who you want to be. You can take ownership of your own truth and finally say,
This is who I am.
This is who I’m going to be, becuase I am.
I’m not going to hide any longer.
I’m not going to hide a part of myself that I deserve to explore.
Being authentic means living all the parts of who you are.
What part of your life are you boxing in to protect other people from knowing you?
Are you protecting yourself for safety reasons?
Do you believe you won’t get ahead in your career if you’re out?
It’s not like you have to walk around wearing a rainbow flag at the office!
How much happier, how much freer would you feel if you lived without walls, apologies, and without a box around your identity?
How much lighter would you feel if you didn’t have to worry about boxing in your gay self?
Now if you asked me, “What do you do?” I can say,
I help gay men break out of the box that fucks with their greatness.