June, chosen to commemorate the Stonewall riots, is a month of honoring, advocating for, and affirming sexual and gender diversity. Though I knew I wanted this blog to be about Pride, specifically the revolutionary act of self inquiry along with speaking out socially, I was myself having a hard time finding my voice and struggling with what to say. It was helpful that also throughout the month of June I've been participating in an online course through the San Francisco Zen Center with Zenju Earthlyn Manuel.
Manual expresses the importance of living with our whole self, our tender self, with our emotions and embodied experience present. She describes how it is in this place we access relatedness and how interrelationship is at the core of Buddhist teachings. She explores aspects of her book, The Way of Tenderness, which offers an invitation to awaken within the challenges of race, sexuality, and gender. She gets to how this radical personal act is also socially relevant and revolutionary.
Self-inquiry and integrating our emotional experience is part of both wisdom traditions and depth psychology. This process and practice is full of paradox: experiencing surrender along with victory; being both brave and vulnerable; feeling humbled and empowered. Manuel gives voice that we must not silence, bypass, or steer away from our embodiment and conditioning in all of this. Indeed when we are safe enough and supported and able to speak, delve into, and turn to face these aspects of ourselves we are given access to so much.
I have grappled a great deal with issues around my body, gender, and sexuality. I’m also aware (and at times undoubtedly unaware) of how my presentation as a white, femme, cis-gendered person, has meant my path, though not easy or entirely straight, has had certain shelters and paved ways. What we look like, what we desire, what we’re able to do, is full of feels and friction for us all. We are each challenged to explore and express our embodied experience. For our own psychological wellbeing and for our larger social wellbeing it is paramount we give voice to the hushed, quieted, suppressed, and persecuted.
Audre Lorde, the writer, activist, and poet who famously warned, "your silence will not protect you," also promised "[...] the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” May we speak and may our voice benefit and heal our own selves and ultimately offer benefit and support to all.