What is the first thing that comes to mind when you say, “May name is M*. Awesome SoAndSo and I identify as…” ? Is it Pansexual? Gay? Lesbian? Queer? Trans? Bi? … a Realtor? An Accountant? … a Muslim? A Christian? What is the one identity that informs the rest of who you are?
Then, how does your identity manifest in the world? At work? Family? Community? Passion & gifts? Knowing this is incredibly important and a potential source of healthy self-esteem and life-giving relationships.
Essential/Core Identity (The Crown)
Did you know that your name is a doorway to the treasure of what it means to be you? Meaning, my name is Randy but what is inside of Randy that makes him his true self? Along with having a name on or before day one, our essential identity comes from our formative years of family, environment, education, experience, with prevalent belief systems infused in all that. Of course our personality, skill, and passion manifest within that multi-layered experience and are important ingredients that define our core identity.
Nevertheless, this is the stuff that shapes the course of our lives. This is no small thing; a treasure, indeed.
For LGBT+ people living in a hostile culture that historically hasn’t provided a positive context for us or our experience, we might be guided to only socially acceptable options that are ill-fitting angst at best or oppressive and shame-based at worst. At our core, we know some people consider us “different” even though we feel just as human as anyone else. The truth is, being LGBT+ is its own treasure. It’s a gift and how we bring beauty into the world.
It is an incredibly difficult journey to find our true primary identity, but it is not only necessary for growth and maturity. Many times it is life-saving. Plus, our essential identity may change over the course of a lifetime and we MUST give ourselves permission to reevaluate and define who we are. Mine certainly has changed because living with a false sense of self nearly killed me. Knowing who we truly are at our core is vital. I believe that all of life stems from our core identity. If we have received stigmatized views of who we are into our mind and heart, it will darken everything else in some overt and many subversive ways. If we have a healthy and clear view of who we are, it not only brings life to ourselves, it will be life-giving to others.
So, who are you? What is the treasure waiting to be discovered in the soul known as you?
Manifest Identity (The Jewels on Our Crown)
Our identity manifests in various and beautiful ways. Our core identity works itself out in all the various environments and relationships we have. It is critically important to also discover and embrace how our identity manifests to offer a healthy balance and consistency in life. Without realizing and taking ownership of how we live out our true self in various ways, life will get myopic, distorted, and closed off.
I believe hard-core zealots of any belief system consider themselves to be one thing and one thing only. They don’t allow for variations, nuance, or options to live in the bulwark of one primary identity. They don’t take ownership of the various ways they engage the world and plow through with an idea of self instead of the true self; with objectified legalistic views of what “should be” instead of humbling assessing the reality of “what is.”
Also, because we are so complex, we manifest our identity in myriads of ways. There is a magnificent crown (core identity) within your treasure chest, but seriously, what is a crown without all those fabulous jewels? The essential self is still the essential self. However, we have the potential to become more genuine and beautiful to who we are in the context of relationships and how we engage our world. Alone, each of these manifest expressions of identity is still worthy of embracing and enjoying. Knowing them and their place is what makes us shine and sparkle even more.
Embrace Our True Identity Frees Us To Live Life And Love Others Well
As the wise inimitable Mother Ru says,
If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here? (AMEN!) … Now, let the music play!”
Amen, Ru. Amen.
Today I can say my name is Randy and I am a Christian who is also gay (essential/core identity). I also happen to be (manifest identity) Dan’s partner, a brother, son, Uncle Silly, Fairy Godmother (to my partner’s daughter), Artist, Writer, Internet and Phone Support Technician for a very large cable company, RuPaul fan-girl, and a LGBT+ advocate with an emphasis on speaking against conversion therapy and ex-gay ministry. There are many more ways that my essential identity manifests into the world but you get the point.
Regardless of my past erroneous beliefs, being a Christ Follower has been a sweet and life-giving “home” for over 23 years. My faith, and what that means as a gay man, is what is informing the rest of my life at this point in life; this is at the core of what it means for me to be a healthy whole person. This essential understanding is what helps me to be a healthy and whole partner to Dan, fairy godmother to the magnificent fairy princess, support tech … Etc.
Also, many people may not know that being a Christian and/or gay is at the core of my identity because of how and where we interact. That said, they don’t have to know that about me. It is important to *me* to understand that this is who I truly am and how it leads to a healthy and whole life. An example of this is where I work. They don’t care if I am Christian or gay. They care about me being a good coworker, efficient, and getting things fixed first. Being Christian and gay is secondary to them, if it’s even brought up. And that is fine. I know me so I am fully present in whatever sphere of influence a happen to be in.
Plus, there isn’t a single correct formula for everyone and no one should feel limited to what’s been handed to them. I think that when we come to our own understanding of who we are and what we are about is beautiful and even miraculous.
So, who are you? We are eager to know!
It took a very long and consequential road to get to a place of knowing and embracing my authentic self. It is difficult to describe but walking out from behind the stained glass closet door and into the treasure I believe God made me to be was like the dawning of a magnificent day after a very dark night. A dark night I didn’t even realize I was in.
Open up the treasure of who you are. Find your core essential identity and then look at how you manifest your unique identity into the world. Own who you truly are. Enjoy the gifts and treasure overflowing within, and then manifest that beauty to the benefit of the world around you.
And never forget, we are here to support, celebrate, and enjoy you when you are ready.
Note: Next week we will tackle another one of the five key aspects of life, our sense of relational being! Click here to see other posts in the series.
Have questions or want to learn more?