Twenty years ago, those working on the first issues of OutWords, then called Swerve, were in their 20s, 30s, 40s and a few beyond. We didn’t have the social media technology of today to contact like-minded seekers nor as many avenues to voice our concerns and opinions. But we did have a community church on Broadway with our rainbow choir, not quite as large as it is today. The first issue supplied much appreciated information, including want ads and needed roommates (as in accommodations). There were articles about individuals in the community and their diverse lives. Today, a Google search or a Facebook check will give the same info with even more photos.
Our activists needed to be more militant and courageous because they had fewer supports than those of today, who are theoretically supported by the mainstream community and yet are exposed to bullying and rejections. Today our Pride parades are longer, more inclusive and much more diverse in sexual expressions. Our clubs attract a more accepting crowd and even our baths can be co-ed.
As diverse and inclusive as the articles in OutWords strive to be, there is a sense of our spirituality threading its way through our climbing, achieving, performing, and succeeding mentality. A spirituality is developing in which we know and trust that some type of power (however we call it) is beyond our own efforts, is moving us to go beyond an inflated and arrogant ego to turn towards compassion for all beings.
In the spirituality column, Danny deals with different ways of knowing and how they relate to self-awareness to help him come to a point of self-acceptance.
Tom learns that everyone’s experience of a type of power (however we call it) is unique because of our own unique experiences, for which we need to learn gratitude. A spiritual writer says that the word “God” is a symbolic term that points to the mystery of the universe. Tom learns he can’t attain the presence of God, since he is in the presence of God and what’s absent is his awareness of the presence.
And when Jan meets with Danny and Tom, forming the “three amigos,” they remember together that they are on a journey, individually and together, and that their perspectives are part of the journey but not the whole journey. It would be important for us to remember the wisdom of our indigenous people who see mother earth not as an “it” to exploit, but as a relationship of respect. Respect being the key word in the relationship of the three amigos.
Twenty years ago, I remember articles about our aging community and the critical need to address issues of health care and housing. Those who wrote those articles 20 years ago must find them even more relevant today as we continue to address similar issues. The adversities that we face, both individually and as a community, raise issues that become a life purpose for many of us. And our life choices to speak out about our hurts and concerns come from a compelling inner voice to take a leap forward.
Danny, Tom and Jan are becoming more self-aware. And one of the most important kinds of awareness is the awareness of injustice, an issue that our community knows only too well. OutWords serves as a voice to make us aware that our community needs a sense of connection, a family spirit.
Congratulations on your 20th, thank you and Namaste.
– Ray Buteau is a former Catholic priest and author of the book No Longer Lonely. You can visit Ray’s website at www.raybuteausweb.com.