Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Unconscious and Compulsive Need To Be “Right”

The Unconscious and Compulsive Need To Be “Right”



How much time, energy and money have we spent defending our personal positions to be in the ‘right’? With loved ones, family, friends and co-workers we fight a battle to make others agree with us and prove the other ‘wrong’.  There is something in our minds that judges everybody and everything, what we do and don’t do, what we feel and don’t feel.

And living under the tyranny of this inner judge is what causes us the most pain.


Our ego personality is the culprit. It wants to feel strong and secure. So, whenever we have the sense we may be wrong, it reacts by making us feel angry and afraid. The deal is that someone always has to lose in this dynamic. That’s why it always leads to interpersonal interactions that foster mistrust, conflict and competition—they’re all based on fear.


The truth is that, somewhere along the path of our growth, we separated from the interconnected aspects of our being and began to focus instead on becoming separate from one another. In the process, we either created, or were indoctrinated with, sets of beliefs, assumptions, and world views that we thereafter looked upon as constituting the essential “me.”


As a result, we live in a world with as many beliefs and opinions as there are people. We live life from an ego-directed place, so it’s “all about me.” That’s why, to feel secure as “me”, our reactions are to compete and put the other down—so the fear of losing “me” or being threatened can be taken away. That’s why our relationships are based on a continual need to be right: being right means that I can be “me” in a world where not being “me” is a threatening proposition. Hillary was right and wrong. It takes a village to make you nuts.


Recent discoveries in quantum physics have proved that everything is derived from interconnected sub-atomic particles. Without getting too Stephen Hawkings on you what this means is that we are all interconnected; physically, spiritually and emotionally. No man is an island is not only a cliché, but now a proven scientific fact.


We are all at a good time now to just “Let it Go” and stop the selfishness that categorized the last eight years. If you look at our relationships, our businesses and our happiness, it truly looks like we took our cues from our national leaders.


·                          What is threatening to you about not being right?

·                          Are you sometimes enslaved by a need to be right? If so, how does this feeling affect you and those around you?

·                          How do you feel when you’re wrong? Why do you feel this way?

·                          What was it like to be ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when you were growing up? What did ‘being right’ get you; what did ‘being wrong’ bring about?

·                          How does this dynamic now play out in your adult life?

·                          Would you rather be right or happy? Honestly?

Let go of the past, hold ourselves accountable for our own happiness and share the light and love to eradicate the darkness.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don't call us MSM's.. we're GAY!!

Don’t Call us MSM’s..We’re GAY!


We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everyone from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and many federally funded AIDS Service Organizations (ASO’s) have recently removed the word “Gay” from their articles, charts and reports and replaced it with the more politically correct “MSM” (Men who have sex with Men.) This was done to reflect the growing population of men who do not identify themselves as gay but still by choice or fleeting profession, have sex with other men. Since J. L. King’s book, “On the Down Low”, there was a sudden awakening to the general public that many more men were having sex with other men.  Of course this came as no surprise to us in the gay community.  Many of us have heard sex partners, sometimes in the heat of gay sex, tell us they are not gay and we say to ourselves, “If you aren’t gay what are you doing with my penis in your mouth?”


On a more serious note we understand why this happened. Over the past few years more and more heterosexual men and women have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and what was once the “gay plague” had crossed the line into more mainstream America. We do understand that the message needs to be addressed to the heterosexual population, but we are different in our language, visual attractions and even sex acts. While ten years ago ads for prevention and condom use had scantily clad gay men, they are now presented in a watered down version that is as bland as seat belt or littering advertising. When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.


To call gay men MSM’s is to define us by one thing only; with whom we have sex with. It denies us the connection to our rich history and heritage of civil rights advancements, acceptance, and religious awakening. "MSM" is a sex act, but "gay" refers to a
community. And HIV prevention takes a community. The Gay Community offers an incentive to stay free of HIV, a responsibility to the community to not spread HIV to others, and to keep our community healthy. “MSM” offers nothing like that, as it ignores and negates our sense of community, and relegates us to acts of sex. That is one of the aims of the right-wing in our country, and the term "MSM” plays right into that.


The statistics reflect the fact that slightly more than half of the new cases are now people of color and heterosexual women. Many of these heterosexual women have been infected by men on the “down low.” In our opinion this is part of the gay HIV disease.  Was it a shortcut that government agencies have substituted ‘MSM” for ‘gay”, or was it a concerted effort to make us invisible again? We believe it was the latter. MSM’s did not picket Ronald Regan’s inauguration. MSM’s did not chain themselves to the doors of the Food and Drug Administration demanding more research and faster access for HIV drugs. It was our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who knew that if they didn’t do it, no one else would. MSM’s who do not identify themselves as gay can serve in the military, get secret CIA and FBI clearance, adopt children, inherit tax free, and do not have to have the special arrangements we do to visit loved ones in the hospital. 


Our prevention programs were successful decades ago but have fallen flat in the gay male community lately with the largest increase in gay HIV cases being in young white men. In Broward County, American Red Cross HIV educators cannot use the word “gay” or “homosexual” during public school information sessions. According to statistics from the state health department twenty five percent of all new HIV cases in Florida are men under the age of 22.  When the target group is ignored, there is no way you can hit a home run or even score.


Put the “GAY” back in AIDS and male homosexuality, and keep our heads high and fight together with MSM’s, PWA’s and others and be there for the cure. Have a peaceful week.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dr. Freud, Dr. Phil, and The Secret

Dr. Freud, Dr. Phil and The Secret

For those of you not familiar with the latest Oprah find, the movie “The Secret” reveals how to get everything to want in life. The movie based on the same named book opens with a graphic back-alley gay bashing with a narration that suggests that the gay man being attacked in the alley had somehow ‘attracted’ the assailants to him by telling self-depreciating jokes at a comedy club. This is not the first time popular culture has suggested that our thoughts and self identities have attracted disastrous results. Years ago at the beginning of the New Age movement Louise Hay wrote that gay men ‘attracted’ HIV to their bodies by anonymous sex and illegal drug use. There was of course the usual outrage from the talking heads and some newspapers but for the most part these writings live on as a testament to the line of thinking that you become what you think about, and totally responsible for the life you have now.

When religion and science parted in the seventeenth century leaving the ‘known’ to the scientists and the ‘unknown’ to the clergy, there was a distinct line drawn between the physical world we see and touch and the spiritual world that we feel and experience. Sigmund Freud wrote about the Id and the Ego separating our instinctual and physical world. Many years would pass until scientists discovered that our emotions are controlled by chemicals in the brain that are affected by our thoughts and actions. When this knowledge was added to the world of corporate bookstores and sound bite headlines a new industry was created. This New Age/Self Help/personal responsibility paradigm has taken a firm hold on every part of our society; gay and straight, HIV positive and negative. How many times have we heard Dr. Phil deftly interrupt his ‘patients’ with the retort, “Now, whose fault is that?” But have we arrived at this place and time at the expense of those who did not attract the good or bad things in their lives? How can this simplistic view of the world apply to such complex issues such as our relationships, our health and our self-esteem?

In the book, The Secret the reader is introduced to a theory called The Law of Attraction. Our thoughts, our words and our actions attract what is coming to you in the universe. For example if you expect to get a bad meal or bad service at a restaurant, you probably will. The same goes for relationships. If you feel that all men are dishonest, you will attract a dishonest man into your life. According to the book your mind acts as a giant transmitter broadcasting your attitudes and then receiving what you ask for from the universe. Millions of copies of the book and video have been sold, several episodes of The View and Oprah have been dedicated to “The Secret” and while many of us say, “so what?” to this phenomenon, it has truly become part of the fabric of our social culture very quickly.

It’s hard to know what to believe anymore. We are bombarded daily with conflicting studies in nutrition, relationships, and spirituality. An easy solution such as the one given to us in “The Secret” can come as a relief to many as an answer to many questions we ask ourselves daily. Humans want to feel good and avoid pain. If a simple answer is put in front of us we’ll embrace it and put it to use.

HIV is a virus transmitted by blood, semen and other bodily secretions. It does not ‘come into’ our lives because of what we transmit to the outside world. Many people did not contract the virus while they made poor choices and had bad thoughts about themselves. They remained HIV negative by biological chance, not a force that somehow protected them while infecting others who did not have the same outlook. There are strong mind body connections. Our thoughts do affect our physical being. We know from experience that people with a good support system have better success with HIV treatment than those who do not.

The answer to life’s complex problems does not exist in a slim volume, information on the internet, or sitting in support groups. . Integrity comes from the work Integrated and our lives have to exist in harmony with our thoughts, actions and goals.
No one has kept “The Secret” from us. It is the man or woman in the mirror that lives in truth, self reflection and honest actions. Have a peaceful week.

 Nate Klarfeld/


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ten New Year's Resolutions for the Gay Community

10 New Year's Resolutions for the Gay Community 
'Tis the season to make promises to yourself. Whether it's losing weight, taking up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (mine from last year) or calling your mother, the new year is a time to resolve to do new things and be a better person. We've got the personal covered, but what about the gay community as a whole? 

2008 will be remembered as a big year for the gays—we won rights, then lost them and then caught the world's attention by making our voices heard. At the same time, the world of gay media continues to shrink, LGBT folks continue to be beaten and killed both at home and abroad, gay leadership often seems missing in action and, if you're a gay minority, you're get ting the short end of two already pretty-damn-short sticks. We can't control Obama or Congress or the homophobes who will call us names, deny us our rights or, in far too many cases, still turn to physical violence. But the best way of controlling our destiny is to start with ourselves. Here are 10 new year's resolutions we'd like to see the gay community keep: 
Build an army. 

You can blame gay organizations for not achieving goals faster than they have, or for only asking you to open your wallet, but let's face facts: If you only have a limited pool of people actually willing to work for equal rights, your best bet is to make sure they're well funded and to pass the heavy lifting over to professional experts. We 
lost marriage equality in California and Florida partly because we handed the reins of the campaign over to paid professionals. Sure, we should take advice from political experts, but you can't buy equal rights. You have to work for it. Let's see the gay community take a page from the Obama campaign and organize grassroots activists; let's see meetings of 10 or 15 people at a time talking about what they can do on their block, street or town to make a difference. Multiply that across the globe and talk to one another, and there's nothing we can not achieve. 

Don't fear visibility. 

The most important thing the gay community can do to help itself out is to continue to be present and vocal. We should use every opportunity that we can to make the case that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, the right to serve our country and the right to live without fear of retribution is an attack on civil rights. That means when a transexual woman is beaten and killed, her death can't pass into the night forgotten; that means when a priest who compares gays and lesbians to pedophiles is invited to speak before the whole country, we speak up too; that means talking to your friends and family about the issues that are important to you. Harvey Milk was right: There is no downside to being visible. 
"You're not being a good friend if you let someone go on doing something that's stupid, ineffective or dangerous"

Realize that equal rights is not a popularity contest.
More than a few well-meaning gays and lesbians seem to think that if only homophobes could see what nice people we are, they would step aside and allow us our rights. Join the Impact's series of increasingly silent and passive protests are a step in the right direction (there's only so many times you can march back and forth and still be effective), but the attitude that by being the best little boy or girl in the world will confer upon you a gold seal of approval is so last century. Stop asking for equal rights and start demanding them. This doesn't mean simply yelling louder than the opposition, but it does mean making the case for equality forcefully, and remembering that there's nothing wrong with you—it's the homophobes who need to change. 
Treat the gays just like straights. 

We need to stop giving a special pass to gay and lesbian organizations, be they charities, media or businesses. The charge that you're being "divisive" when criticizing t he gay and lesbian community is foolish. We should hold ourselves to the same standards we hold the rest of the world. This isn't just a nice principle, it has real benefits. If gay and lesbian groups aren't scrutinized, questioned or criticized, they risk being loved to death. You're not being a good friend if you let someone go on doing something that's stupid, ineffective or dangerous simply because you don't want to hurt their feelings. 

Make allies everywhere. 

Here's another fact that has to be faced: Gays and lesbians will always be in the minority, no matter how much Baptist ministers would have you believe that we're going to turn all the children gay. The good news is that more people are willing to stand up for equality—some because they have friends or family who are gay and some because they think it's wrong to treat any group of people like second-class citizens.=2 0The biggest challenge now is reaching and engaging both communities of color and religious groups. It's prejudiced to think that people in these groups can't have their hearts turned, and the truth is, we haven't tried all that hard to reach them. 

Define the agenda. 

As long as the gay community is unclear about its goals, homophobes will continue to define them for us. All they have going for them is fear and they'll continue to tell people who don't know any better that the goal of the gay community is to teach homosexuality to children, force churches to marry gays and lesbians and any number of other ridiculous lies. Yes, there's a gay agenda, but there's no reason it should be a secret. We need to find a clear way to articulate what it is we believe to be full, fair and equ al treatment under the law, and then we need to tell everybody. 

Get a winning attitude. 

I remember standing on the street at an Amendment 2 protest. A slightly older gentleman came up to me and introduced himself. He told me and a few others that the thing we need to realize is that "in the scheme of things, this will only take a minute." He's right. The plain and simple truth is that we've come a long way in a short time and that a lot of the impatience we have now is because, at long last, there's a finish line in sight. Even though we lose ballot initiative after ballot initiative, we should remember that these initiatives are a response to our success. The story of America, the thrust of our history, is toward more equality and freedom. Be angry, be outraged, but don't lose sight that you're on the winning team. 
"We should remember that these initiatives=2 0are a response to our success." 

Hate the bigotry, love the bigot. 

No matter how virulent, homophobia always comes down to ignorance. This means nobody should be written off, but it also means that no matter how good or decent or kind a person is in their other walks of life, their homophobia still deserves to be called out. I'm talking about Rev. Warren, obviously. The truth is, Warren's done a lot of good for the world and I believe he's a decent man, but when it comes to his views on gays and lesbians, and the extent to which he's gone to deny gays and lesbians their rights, he is fundamentally wrong. We shou 
ld do our best, even when they're fighting against us (even more so when they're fighting against us), to help people who are letting hate and fear control the m. 

Remember that it's not all about you.
Just as the fight for LGBT rights doesn't boil down to overturning a gay marriage ban in California, there's more to equality and fairness than just the needs of gays and lesbians. You can practice your politics in whatever way you choose, but if you support full and equal protection for gays and lesbians, you owe it to yourself and your fellow citizens to looks at the many other gross inequalities around the globe and do something about them as well. It's easy to be self-serving, but if you expect straight people to care about you, you should try caring about something that doesn't directly effect you as well. And don't just empathize, do something tangible. 

You can have your cake *ahem* and eat it, too. 

Finally, let's resolve to be diverse. The argument over whether we should be "mainstream" or "radical" is tedious. We can be both. We can be Democrat and Republican. We can forcefully advocate change through civil disobedience while also working within the system for change. Of all the groups of people in the world, it seems that ours has the greatest capacity for being able to hold two ideas in our head at the same time. We're a better, stronger and more interesting community when we are both the lou 
d-mouthed flamboyant hairdresser and the buttoned-down country club preppy. We wouldn't be fabulous if we all did it in the exact same way. It's a big community and no one single person or group gets to own it. That's why we all own it.