It’s Pride month and I’m happy to be celebrating it for more than one reason. I officially came out to myself as a queer woman a couple of years ago, followed by family members and a few friends. More recently, I came out to my bigger community: friends and colleagues connected with me through social media. I am now just beginning to come out to my work community and local network. There are so many places, and ways, to come out. It’s a bit overwhelming but with each new step I feel the pieces of me coming together into a stronger whole, which makes it so worth it to keep going.
As I might have expected, coming out in one aspect of my being has given me permission to come out in another way as well, as creative. Like my sexual orientation, my creative leanings are something I’ve been working on for a number of years; exploring, experimenting, discovering what it means for me to be creative and all of the parts of my life that touches, from how I show up and navigate being in relationship with others, to the work I do and how I engage with it and my business partners, and to how I want to approach each and every day.
In recent years, I’ve learned about internalized homophobia – my own fear around being different from the norm – and correspondingly, I’ve become aware of my internalized fear of being creative, and being seen as or labelled creative. Both have seemed just as dangerous to me. To clarify, I’m not talking about artistic when I say creative. I do have some artistic skills but they’re pretty embryonic and I haven’t been motivated to develop them further. In some ways, I think it may have been easier for me to accept my creative self if I had some demonstrable artistic talent to show for it (and then again, maybe not).
Rather, creative to me is about approaching life with an emergent perspective: open to what might unfold when I sit with a challenge or opportunity and notice what comes up for me as I do, rather than diving into solving for X or trying to figure out answers prematurely. Oh, that impulse to solve and figure out can be so persistent. At times, it takes a seemingly monumental effort to let go in the moment, to step back and observe what’s coming up instead – what new thoughts may surface, what feelings I may become aware of, and what new information may inform my perspective about what’s possible. I’ve learned to trust in that process although it’s taken a while.
I’ve resisted my creative self just as much as I’ve resisted my homosexual self. Being creative has seemed as bad and as wrong as I was taught to believe about being non-heteronormative. But I am queer, and I am damn good at being creative, so I’ve had to face my resistance and question it, and question it, and question it, against the reality of who I am.
I am a queer and creative work in progress and the work continues. I have been fortunate to meet and form connections with those who support me in my journey, and I delight in supporting others in theirs. It’s what I (and others) refer to as self-leadership, or leadership in life. We each have the opportunity to learn and grow in our own ways, and take greater ownership of who we are over the years. And who knows who may be watching, and being inspired?
For your own reflection:
- What is coming up for you as you read these words?
- What aspect(s) of yourself have you been judging, resisting, or condemning?
- What does it mean to be gentle with yourself in your judgment, resistance, and condemnation?