Posts Tagged With: Teo Drake

What Will We Do the Day After Election Day?

I doubt I am alone, during this election cycle, in being afraid, being exhausted, being exhausted of being afraid, and also having moments of anger.

When I think about the day after Election Day, I hope to feel relief. If things go the way I hope they will, my fear is that for those of us who feel relief, all of our anxiety and exhaustion will turn into self-righteousness and gloating — if, that is, we have the comfort and safety and ability to go back to living in a world that seems comfortable and safe.

Meanwhile, the inequality and violence that shaped this current election cycle won’t have changed, and the lives of those of us who have always born the brunt of that inequality and violence won’t have changed. If anything, this election cycle has stoked the fires of racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of inequality and violence.

So I need us to stay awake. I need those of us who continue to be in danger to find each other and stay connected. And for the rest of us, those for whom danger is less present, I need us to remember that not all of us are safe.

Early on in my sobriety, I learned the importance of pausing for a moment when I am hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired (what’s known as HALT). I’m not my highest self in those moments. My survival depends on taking the time to check in and get in touch with my own heart space and with my connection to those around me.

As we head into Election Day and the days immediately after, I believe we are all in need of that pause and I worry that we won’t choose or be allowed to take that precious time. I can see the hunger for safety and connection. I hear the anger on all sides. The divisiveness has certainly created profound isolation and fatigue.

My ask is that today, tomorrow, and the next day, you join me in pausing. Pause to breathe. Pause to get connected to your own heart space. Pause to remember our shared humanity.

For those of us who have born the brunt of the trauma inflicted by violent rhetoric, who are genuinely afraid and at risk, may this pause bring comfort and connection. My hope for us is to find the time and space to remember that we are valued, that we are loved, and that we belong — and to find one another in that pause.

For those of us who have the privilege of safety and comfort, whose lives are organized in ways that allow a certain amount of comfort but who still feel anxiety, may this pause serve to remind us of the ongoing call to democratize wellbeing. My hope for us is to remember who might still be afraid and might still be facing violence the day after Election Day.

And should we feel relief on Election Day, although it might be tempting to indulge in gloating, my hope is that by pausing and making the choice to be in our heart space and to be connected, we can choose to recommit to ensuring that everyone has the ability to be safe, to be comfortable, and ultimately to be well — no matter who they voted for.

If, on the other hand, we wake up tomorrow to a Trump America, if our lives afford us a certain level of safety or comfort and we can joke about leaving, may we think about who doesn’t have that choice and may truly need it. Because at its very core, wellness begins with being safe. If we can’t be safe, we can’t be fully well.

Ultimately, just as none us can be free until all of us are free — as more than a century of freedom fighters have reminded us — so too, none of us can truly be well until all of us are well.

So please, the day after Election Day, join me in a pause. And a recommitment to the wellbeing of all.

This piece was written for CTZNWELL as part of their VoteWELL campaign and originally published on their blog at Medium, earlier today. 

Categories: Activism, Compassion | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Vibrancy on the Margins: AIDS, Solidarity, and Justice

I don’t always know how to express where my calling to do transformational change work comes from. I don’t always know how to give voice to what motivates me to not only act in solidarity but keep showing up and even on some level pay a cost for showing up. What won’t allow me to be quiet, what won’t allow me to get quiet to get along.

But when I think about where my sense of solidarity comes from there is one particular moment from my life that I go back to in my consciousness, one moment I revisit in order to understand even a little bit what my black and brown friends and communities of color in general experience in the world, what #BlackLivesMatter is really about. If you have never encountered cold, impersonal hate, then I don’t think you can understand both the paralyzing fear that it creates, and how alone the system leaves you feeling—the profound sense of isolation that comes with meeting hate like that. I have encountered it, and it’s a moment in a lifetime of such moments that I will never forget. Continue reading

Categories: Activism, Compassion, Identity | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

My Complicated Relationship with Survival: Twenty Years with HIV

I have a complicated relationship with survival.

That relationship involves monumental loss, and deep love. It is the space where heartbreak and resilience live. The very space that makes me me in so many ways.

Twenty years ago today I was a 28-year-old who was far too young and far too old at the same time. On July 15, 1995, I was sitting in the health department in St. John’s, Newfoundland, listening to a doctor I had never met coldly tell me that I was HIV+. This was a time just before effective medication. HIV was still a death sentence. I knew that, deep in my bones, because I had buried friends and acquaintances and would bury many more over the years to come. We were all too young and too old at the same time. Continue reading

Categories: Compassion | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

On Priests and Police: The Role of Good People in Ending Systemic Sickness

I was raised Roman Catholic at the tail end of an era of seeing priests as infallible, as inherently good. It was unthinkable to question a priest’s motives or moral authority even if my own survival depended on it.

In the article “Ex-Cop to Americans, ‘I’m a Black Ex-Cop, and this is the Real Truth About Race and Policing’” Jay Syrmopoulos mentions a recent Gallup poll where Americans rank police in a list of top five ethical professions which also ironically includes clergy. The irony feels meaningful.

Do I think that a majority of priests sexually abuse children? Heck no. I believe an overwhelming majority answer the call to the priesthood to do good work. A very small minority of priests actively hurt children, but—and this is a big but—the system protected that small minority in such profound ways that it forever altered the system for the worse until it became impossible to see any good. For the Catholic Church to harbor the insidious evil that it did and to do the damage that it did, it required good priests and non-clergy to ignore the un-ignorable over centuries. Continue reading

Categories: Activism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Spiritual Practice of an Open Heart

This joint sermon was delivered at Arlington Street Church in Boston, MA, on August 3, 2014.

You can listen to an audio recording here (in my opinion, the audio recording is much better than the written word—I swear! We’re more charming in person).

Teo

We aren’t taught in this culture to be openhearted. There’s no lesson. And I came to openheartedness as central to my spiritual practice the hard way. Whether it was the violence I was growing up with, the shame and the struggle around being queer and being gender nonconforming, whether it was being 28 years old and being diagnosed with AIDS at a time before medication was available.

Every turn I came to in life there was a reason for me to armor up. There was a reason for me to not let anyone near me. Because the outside world was telling me that if I wanted to stay protected I needed to curl in a ball. The last thing I ever needed to do was leave myself vulnerable. But at the same time that the world was telling me that, there was always this soft, loving voice of the beloved telling me that that was not for me. That I was meant to be openhearted regardless of the information I was getting from the outside world. Continue reading

Categories: Compassion, Faith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I upset a white woman today

So I upset a white woman today. A straight, white, able bodied, cisgender woman. I did this by saying her professions of being colorblind, or more accurately “I treat everyone equally; we are all the same under our skin,” were offensive.

Here’s what happens when you are a marginalized person immersed in communities largely populated by people with dominant identities. The upswell of support for this white woman was immediate and fierce. Her hurt feelings and bruised ego necessitated calls of “explain yourself!” directed at me. Continue reading

Categories: Activism, Identity | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Queering Family

Teo

Whenever I am asked if my boifriend and I are married, especially in LGBTQ space, I feel unwelcome pressure to define my relationship so that the asker of the question can translate my answer into dominant culture’s terms.

This is the same pressure I have felt around gender. All of the questions about anatomy and my experience can feel like an assessment of which pre-existing “knowable” box to put me in. This is especially true for my boifriend and our relationship to one another. His genderqueer prancy femme boi self cannot be neatly summed up in dominant culture’s language without being dulled in the translation.

What we are to each other does not play by the binary rules the language of marriage requires. How we love and live cannot neatly fit into the “degree of commitment hierarchy” that the State’s definition of marriage requires. Continue reading

Categories: Identity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Being Sober for Exactly Half My Life has Taught Me

Teo

On Thursday January 2nd I passed the milestone of being in recovery for half my life: 23 of my 46 years. I have now been sober three times longer than I drank. Along the way I have learned a great many things (often the hard way). Here is what is coming forward at the moment, but is by no means a complete list.

Nothing is linear: not healing, not harm, nothing. Shedding damage from trauma, including addiction, has not been a process of going from point A to point B. It has been an ever-meandering route that seems to invariably circle back upon itself (often accompanied by my sentiments of “Fuck, I thought I dealt with this already!”). In early recovery everything was new and often magical; hard, but it still felt like I was getting somewhere… Then it seemed like growth came more slowly or not at all. Over the years I have found that to be the way healing unfolds. I honestly don’t know if there is a destination. What I know is that I am at home in my skin more than I thought would ever be possible. I’m wary of seeing myself as a “work in progress.” I distrust the self-help gurus who push “self-improvement.” Healing for me has come from being curious about who is actually here rather than focusing on “what I could become.” Continue reading

Categories: Compassion, Faith, Identity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Some Kinda Faggot

Teo

Continue reading

Categories: Identity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Walking Faith

This reflection was originally delivered at The Sanctuary Boston worship service on April 18, 2013, three days after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Teo

Take a moment and just feel whatever is holding you, whether that’s the ground, the chair…

The aim of spiritual practice is not to protect us from heartbreak—our own or another’s. It’s to provide the grounding and the renewal so that we can deliberately put ourselves in the place of heartbreak. One of the most sacred things that we are called to do as human beings is to bear witness to another’s suffering. When they cannot hold hope it’s for us to quietly hold it for them. When we can live at the edges of heartbreak and still hold on to hope then that means that our spiritual practice has purpose and passion.  Continue reading

Categories: Compassion, Faith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: