Where to Start: Christianity or Medical Marijuana?!?


I’ve been pondering where to start with my “This I Believe” journey. Which topic or belief should I tackle first? Two that seemed timely in my life are my spiritual beliefs, and my thoughts on legalizing marijuana for medical use. At first, these might strike you as odd ones to bubble to the top. But, given my life story and key influencers or mentors along the way, these actually make a lot of sense to me. 

Christianity

I grew up in what I suppose one would call a mainstream Christian family. Going to church every Sunday, participating in church youth groups and other activities was a big part of growing up. Looking back, I think my parents went through this ritual because it was a healthy social outlet for kids and exposed us to faith & spirituality in general. I can’t say we ever had deep spiritual conversations about our beliefs – nor did we ever actively talk about or explore other spiritual paths. So, while we weren’t evangelical Christians, there was clearly a gently bias towards what was probably considered “normal” in society at the time. Moving around quite a bit growing up, I can see how a church connection gave me some stability and social connections. In that sense, it was helpful. Beyond that, I’m not sure I consciously “chose” Christianity nor could really articulate what I believed.

Fast forward through being in a Christian cult at college and exploring the “ex-gay” movement, it took me a long time before I felt comfortable stepping foot in a church. Even when I did in my 30’s, it was more for that same social outlet – as a way of making friends and meeting people in my community. When I got into recovery for my addiction to meth and other substances in my 40’s, I found the concept of a Higher Power – or the Universe – to be a lot more acceptable and helpful. In the 12-step programs, we are encouraged to recognize and find a Higher Power “of our own choosing” – which, as a gay man, was a lot more inviting and helpful than some of the Christian dogma I faced throughout my life. In more recent years, as I’ve become exposed to the flow arts community with my fiancée, I’ve expanded my explorations into other spiritual belief systems and world views – probably for the first time in life. And, it’s been comforting, challenging, exciting, and scary. 

At this point, I don’t know that I can say what I believe. But, there are things I know I don’t believe. For example, I don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God – or that Christianity is any better or different than any other man-made religion. That’s the first time I’ve ever said that out loud – or in this case, shared with the world!  Kathunk….

Having said that, I can’t say what I’ve found – if anything – to replace that deep-rooted belief system. After 40+ years of blindly accepting something at face value, I’m only now beginning to question and explore. It’s only in the past 7 years that I’ve really begun to challenge my world view – so it’s just the start. And, I’m ok (for the first time in my life) not knowing what I believe for the most part.  I’m not sure I’m any better or worse off than before. I couldn’t say that I really believed anything – just blindly accepted it and didn’t make waves because – I’m a rule follower.  But, I’ve reached a point where that no longer works for me.  

What I do know is, I’m still learning and my beliefs around faith and spirituality are evolving. I believe we are spiritual beings, just as we are physical, emotional and intellectual beings. Each aspect is an integral part of who we are – and to ignore any one seems unhealthy to me.  But beyond that, I don’t know which parts of religion, spirituality and faith are important to discern. There is probably some subconscious clarity that I expect will begin to emerge as I write, discuss and explore further.

Medical Marijuana

For me, this is a relevant topic in my life for a variety of reasons. With the changing laws across America, it’s becoming a relevant social and political topic. At some point, I’ll probably live in a State where marijuana is legal for medical purposes, and possibly for recreational purposes. I’d like to know what I believe before that occurs – so here we go!

Having worked for a pharmaceutical company for 20 years, I’ve largely believed only in “FDA-approved” health solutions -mainly for the same reasons I called myself a Christian. It was the mainstream, socially acceptable position to take. But, like the sometimes blind and narrow-minded aspects of religion, I am finding that this narrow-minded, Western view of how the mind, body and spirit heal has also run its course for me. In the past, I would have discounted acupuncture, herbal medicine, yoga and other mindful practices that clearly have medical value – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – despite what the FDA or other “authorities” might currently say. So, why are they “right” about pot? Clearly, they’re not.  So, what do I believe?!

At this point, I also can’t say with certainty what I believe and why. There is a lot of rhetoric out there, and I know the 12-step community is pretty black and white on this topic.  But, I’ve also learned that life is not black and white. So, I’m trying to be open to other possibilities for my own physical and mental health. I’m determined to educate myself more on the health benefits of marijuana. Given the reality of corporate greed and politically lobbying, I’m less inclined to accept what the government or corporate America wants me to believe – and and more included to go learn for myself. So, I’ll be looking for books, articles, TedX and other talks on the changing tide towards accepting marijuana as having medicinal value.  

For me, this seems to be the proactive and responsible step to take – as and before the laws change around me. So, if you’re reading this, and have any suggestions on where to start, I’m open to research and studies that speak to the medicinal properties  marijuana!

 
So, for now, I’ll close.  This is a little bit of “This I Believe” – but more an acknowledgement of what I don’t know.  And, for now, I’m ok with that!

Thanks for listening!

Top 10 things I learned at a nudist colony


My fiancé and I just spent a week at a nudist colony. Having grown up in a Puritanistic society, I’ve grown up with that society’s rules, stigma and shame about the naked body.

B has opened my eyes to many mindful practices, including the freedom, body awareness and self-love associated with naturist practices. This was a first for both of us – spending a week at a gated community & resort for fellow nudists.

My reflections from our week include:

  1. Pan is the new bi
  2. The only thing you really need to pack is sunscreen – truly!
  3. Fake boobs look weird, just saying (granted, I’m not a boob man…)
  4. Not all nudists are naturists
  5. Naked transsexuals are beautiful too
  6. Spinning poi naked can be a little more dangerous
  7. Nudism isn’t about sex – but keeping it real, the two sometimes co-exist (just saying)
  8. Men generally do know how to give better head, from the observations I was able to make
  9. Being a nudist or naturist doesn’t always translate into open minded or gay-friendly
  10. The human body is beautiful, in all of its shapes and sizes; and the eyes are still windows to the soul

And my favorite “live life better” quote, from Dragonfly and Eric, is “Don’t yuk on someone else’s yum.”  @pureorgasmlove

Words to live by…

We’ve come a LONG WAY baby! #MYINDYPRIDE


This is the headline for this month’s The Word, a mainstay newspaper for the Indianapolis LGBTQ for 25+ years. This is from my frame of reference. I moved to Indy for the first time in July 1990 to take an entry level position at Eli Lilly. It was the era of Brother’s (now Ollie’s), OP’s (now Greg’s), the Metro and Jimmy’s (now the home of the Indiana Arts Council). I was barely 22 years old – the world was my oyster (literally, with my business travel) – and I was out and proud…slowly…everywhere…but work.

As I reflect upon my own journey from those first sometimes terrifying years in my career, worried what would happen at this “conservative, midwestern-values based career-oriented Fortune 100 Company” if they ever found out one of their top recruits was a “known homosexual?” I shuttered to find out…the stress at times was unbearable, wearing a mask and hiding who I was.

In those early years of coming out, I experience the Garage Party, the Grand Masquerade, Bill McKinley and Terry Woods at Jimmy’s Nightclub, the move/expansion of IYG into their current location, the Damien Center, the Bag Ladies, the Horny Hole / Unicorn, the 501, various other clubs that came and went, early Pride (without Corporate tables and national sponsors) and more… (Well, in my version of the past, they were all there then…)

Let’s take a “TBT” walk down memory lane – from then to now.  We’ve come a LONG way baby!

 

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Here’s me, dressed up as a Fairy Godmother for the Grand Masquerade (early 1990’s). This was taken with a dear friend, Ron Meyers – since departed, but an important early mentor of mine. To this day, they are finding fairy dust in the crevices of his downtown condo! 😉

 

Fast forward, and I’ll be back to Indy Pride tomorrow – riding with the Indiana Men’s Motorcycle Club – also known as bear-backs – I mean, the gay men’s motorcycle club. Here I am, 25+ years later, ready to be out and about again (ah, there’s another fond memory – Bruce Seybert and Out & About!)

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Here I am, 25+ years later – ready to head “Out and Proud” again in this month’s gay pride parade.  Look for me with the Gay Men on Bikes!