October 11th is National “Coming Out” Day

 

The day where we all get to declare who we are and who we love. Sometimes coming out is more than just revealing our sexual orientation. Sometimes we need to come out about other aspects of who we are that others may not agree with. But as Rev. Deborah Johnson, Author of Sacred Yes and Your Deepest Intent, told me in a recent interview I did with her, she learned early on from a PFLAG mom that if we share our truth and people turn away from us, then they never really loved us in the first place.

My friend, Pastor Marcos Apolonio, experienced a devastating loss in his own life when he came out to his church community. In fact, he thought he had lost it all. At the time he was a married man with children living in Brazil and leading a congregation of 3,000 7th Day Adventists. He had been living a closeted life and finally the closet door could no longer hold his authentic self in. Marcos has had a powerful “hero’s journey” in the words of Joseph Campbell.

After coming out, Marcos chose to leave Brazil and immigrated to the U.S. where he applied for asylum twice before being granted it. He has built his new life out in the open with his same-sex partner, Obed. Marcos has since graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Work and leads Kinship, an international ministry of former and practicing 7th Day Adventists who are LGBTIQ and straight allies. He will be featured in an upcoming movie called 7th Day Gay Adventist.

In recognition of National Coming Out Day, and to acknowledge all of us who struggle to live our truth out loud and be our authentic selves, I’m doing two FREE tele-seminars Coming Out.

Please join me on Thursday October 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM PST/ 9:00 PM CST/ 10:00 PM EST for an interview with 7th Day Adventist Kinship Pastor Marcos Apolonio as he shares his story, strength, and hope with others in this unique interview.

 

REGISTER NOW: http://www.davinakotulski.com/workshopinfo.php?w=27

 

I am also offering a FREE Coming Out tele-seminar called “3 Steps to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!” This tele-seminar is based on my experience as a coach, psychologist, and LGBT rights activist to support LGBTIQ people and their family members in the coming out process.

Join me for: “Three Steps to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!” Tele-Seminar– October 20, at 6:00 PM PST   

 You’ll Learn How To:

  • Feel Confident Speaking Your Truth!
  • Influence People’s Responses To Your Coming Out.
  • Avoid Painful Mistakes Many People Make When Talking About Being LGBTIQ.

In the words of Martina Navratilova–“Just by being out you’re doing your part. You’re doing your part for the environment if you recycle; you’re doing your part for the gay movement if you’re out.”

Spiritual Divorce

 Spiritual Divorce

Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford is a really great book for anyone who is going through the ending of a relationship, who wants to understand themselves better and who is open to a spiritual approach to understanding their divorce.

Debbie Ford says “when we use our divorces to heal our wounds, to learn, grow, and develop ourselves into more loving, conscious human beings,” rather than staying stuck in our pain, then we will have “a spiritual experience and liberation of our souls.” Ford, who ascribes to the metaphysical “they are no mistakes” principle, affirms that “our lives are divinely designed,” therefore accepting whatever is taking place in our lives gives us power to move forward.

Ford identifies 7 “laws” of what she calls a “spiritual divorce.”

1. Law of Acceptance: “everything is as it should be.”

2. Law of Surrender: “When we stop resisting and surrender to the situation exactly as it is, begin to change.”

3. The Law of Divine Guidance: “God will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.”

4. The Law of Responsibility: “With divine guidance, we can look at exactly how we participated in and co-created our divorce drama.”

5. The Law of Choice: “Having taken responsibility, we can choose new interpretations that empower us.”

6. The Law of Forgiveness: “After we have cut the karmic cord, we will be able to ask God to forgive.”

7. The Law of Creation: “Experiencing the freedom of forgiveness opens up the gates to new realities.”

The book has some really thoughtful exercises to look at each person’s part in the breakdown of their marriage and to bring out their “highest self” even in the midst of “divorce drama.” I highly recommend it.

What did you so this summer? I got divorced.

What did you do this summer?

You probably know what I did this summer.

I filed for divorce.

The news of my divorce appeared in the Huffington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Bay Area Reporter, the CBS news, and on many local radio stations. It also appeared all over my soon-to-be ex-wife’s Facebook page. She has 2000 plus friends, so you can imagine word travels fast. It was the same time former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s marriage to Maria Shriver was imploding, a great reminder that marriage equality includes divorce equality.

Needless to say, it was surreal. It is one thing to have your joy and advocacy for marriage equality out there in the public eye, quite another when it’s your personal pain being publicly paraded. I did not answer media queries during that period as I felt the need to process the ending of my marriage privately.

Ending my marriage has not been an easy process. The other day someone told me that they were one of the 18,000 couples who were married in California before Prop 8 passed. I responded that I was one of the 18,000 couples who were married in California and one of an unknown number of those 18,000 couples now going through divorce.

For over a decade, I’ve devoted my life to marriage equality. Now like over 50% of married heterosexuals I am going through the Big D. I’m trying to understand what it means to be a marriage equality advocate going through a divorce.

The reality is that many marriage equality advocates marriages and partnerships have ended in divorce/dissolution like straight allies Mayor Gavin Newsom and Mabel Tang and pioneers and named plaintiffs in the marriage equality movement Genora Dancel and Ninia Baehr (Hawaii Court Case1993), Julie and Hilary Goodridge (Massachusetts Court Case 2004), the Woos (California Marriage Court Case). Many of the activists I’ve worked alongside for over a decade have divorced and are on their second marriages. Isn’t that cool? If we repeal the Prop 8 ban, LGBT people can have their second and third gay marriages too, just like straight people.

But seriously, getting divorced sucks! It is truly one of the hardest rites of passage that I hope you don’t have to go through unless it is for your soul’s evolution. As a coach and therapist who also does couples’ therapy and couple’s coaching, I recommend that you give that a try before you make a big decision like ending a marriage. I continue to recommend John Gottman’s books Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, 7 Principles of a Healthy Marriage, etc. and his workshops. Divorce is like a death, so if you can bring your relationship or marriage back to life, then go to the mat for it.

Sometimes, however, we change in directions that are different from our spouse/partner or we are in relationships that are abusive or co-dependent. If you are unable to break these unhealthy cycles or if you find that you and your spouse are just on different paths and incompatible, then I encourage you to try to disentangle yourselves in as healthy of a way as possible. Couples therapy is also useful for helping you to talk through the challenges and get support in letting one another go peacefully. Talking to a trusted spiritual mentor such as a pastor, rabbi, minister, imam, etc, is also a good idea.

If you have an unwilling partner, or for safety reasons you cannot meet with a neutral third party, I strongly recommend getting into your own therapy, finding a divorce group, a coach or a clergy member or spiritual practitioner who can support you during this transition. Having support can help you deal with your feelings of grief and loss and minimize your reactivity to the hard process of disentangling.

One other resource that I have found helpful in looking more deeply at the demise of my marriage and processing my feelings is the book Spiritual Divorce.  I have included an article about it and I hope you will read this and share this with others who are going through a divorce.  As this book will help you look at your part in your relationship dysfunction,  it could also be a good book for those who are considering divorce, but who want to see if they can salvage their marriage.

 

Everyone knows, Uncle!

“Everyone knows, Uncle!”

What would you do if you’re entire hometown found out you’d been keeping a secret?

January 9, 2010 was a surreal day for Isaac Namdar, a Jewish surgeon living and working in New York City. That afternoon he received an e-mail from his nephew telling him not to come to synagogue that weekend and to stay away from the Sephardic Jewish Community he’d grown up in.

“Everyone knows uncle,” his nephew wrote.

Isaac panicked. Someone had discovered his on-line wedding album with pictures of him and his husband, Andrew. Okay so a handful of people had found out that he was gay. He would manage somehow.

But he was stunned to find out that over 5000 people viewed his online wedding photos and someone had hacked into his Facebook page and other assumed “private” digital files. The dam had broken. He was being swept up into a current of homophobia that included  being excommunicated by his rabbi the following weekend.

Isaac had never brought his husband, Andrew, home to the insular spiritual and cultural community he had grown up in. Different than his peers, Isaac chose an occupation that would take him away from the community. As a physician, he was able to relocate to the big city where he struggled for years with his sexual orientation. When he met and fell in-love with Andrew he stopped struggling. The two legally married in Connecticut in 2009. Isaac expected that he would continue to keep his community and his marriage separate, but on that fateful day the two collided.

Isaac and Andrew glimpsed an opportunity for education and seized it. They opened their wedding website up for dialogue. What ensued was two weeks of unbridled posts about homosexuality, Judaism, and God. It was an online town hall where people could hide under various profile names and share their true feelings and engage in a dialogue.

Some of the posts were thoughtful and supportive.

“Congratulations to you both and BRAVO for following your path. Kudos for choosing to embrace the way G-d created you. May you have a blessed and happy future as a family.”

“Mazel tov to Andrew and Isaac. What a gorgeous couple! I genuinely hope that you two don’t mind that your site has become a platform for a serious discussion about the value system in our community, of which I have grown to become a staunch critic.”

Some were predictable for a conservative religious community.

“We are an orthodox Jewish community which does not allow 2 men 2 get married. I’m sorry if that offends anyone. It isn’t close (sic) mindedness, it is who we are. It would be the same if someone married a non-Jew.”

 “Homosexuality is not in line with Judaism, but neither is shaming a fellow man.”

 Others were just plain stupid.

 “Suck cock Jewish Father and everyone else who aggrees with the Gay ways.”

“Is he so gay that he couldn’t get it up for a woman even if he tried to?”

(Um, isn’t that sort of the meaning of gay for gay men?)

After a couple of weeks Isaac chose to shut it down and to turn these posts and his experience into a book. You can order his book In This Day and Age?!: A Community at the Crossroads of Religion and Homosexuality through your local bookseller or online.

Presently Isaac is speaking out at temples and spiritual conferences about his eexperience. Issac hopes that his story will foster more understanding and respect between religious leaders and their LGBT congregants.

In February 2011 I did a tele-seminar interview with Isaac. The interview will be included in my upcoming CD Package-How to Come Out of the Closet And Into Your Power or you can download the interview How to Survive Being Outed and What to Say When Someone Tells You That You Can Change!” at http://www.davinakotulski.com/workshopinfo.php?w=20

Isaac said that if he had been younger or a more insular member of his community and not had the kind of outside support he had as a successful surgeon, this experience might have caused him to commit suicide.

I want to honor Isaac for his courage to take a terrifying situation and creating an opportunity for others to grow. Isaac you are a Love Warrior!

Remember a hero isn’t someone who does not have fear. A hero is something who does something courageous despite the fear she or he feels.

Take a moment to reflect on when you’ve been a hero. What did you do even though you were afraid? Acknowledge yourself. Being an LGBTIQ person or a straight ally often means being true to yourself and doing things even in the face of fear.