True Self

by John Cottrell

Queer Spirit to me is the opportunity for a person to explore and express one’s true self. How does one know the true self? It certainly takes some exploration and intentional evaluation to answer this question. The road to the answer is to look at how we define ourselves; what constitutes our identity? We often define ourselves by what we do: “I’m a lawyer, ” “I sell cars, ” “I’m a father. ” And although we play many roles like these in our daily lives, they only capture a fraction of who we really are. For example, a man may work as a police officer, but may only be in this profession because his father and grandfather before him were police officers, or that it is a government job that might provide good benefits and a respectable retirement plan. But does the job tell us who this person really is? Yes…. and no. Yes, because this person wants to provide helpful service to his community and finds fulfillment working in law enforcement. And no, because he may only be a policeman because his father expected junior to follow in his footsteps. So what is the true self?

When I think of the true self, I think of the inner spirit: a person’s passions in life…what they love to do and why they love doing it. I will sometimes ask my clients and my friends the question, “what is it that you enjoy doing, could do all day, and not worried about getting paid for it? ” I often get answers like photography, skiing, reading, teaching, etc. Then I will ask, “what is it about _____ that draws you to that activity? ” This is when their face lights up and a smile appears. “It’s the magical feeling of capturing movement on film….. the rush that I get soaring down the slopes……. the serenity I feel when I escape into a good book….. the satisfaction I feel when a child in my class gets the right answer. ” These, I believe, are authentic reactions and expressions of a person. They begin to get at the root of the self…. the true self. When a person begins to be more aware of these truthful reactions and expressions, they are displaying their inner spirit.

So what about Queer Spirit?
I believe that a gay man is multi-dimensional
and has many ways to express himself.

So what about Queer Spirit? I believe that a gay man is multi-dimensional and has many ways to express himself. I also believe that there is no prescribed role a gay man is expected to play in this society, so he is able to design a life direction more freely. Laying out this design may and can involve more opportunities to express his true self. This life plan is not required necessarily to fit a prescribed role, but instead incorporate the passions, dreams, and desires he wishes to express. This man can explore broader relationships with women and men. He can develop and experience intimacy more authentically and naturally. And because there is no expectation for this realm of self-expression, the gay man, the Queer Spirit, can truly flourish with a wider repertoire of passions, dreams, and desires from which to select. And the most important element in this way of self-expression is that it is done without shame. The Queer Spirit expresses confidence, determination, acceptance, and truth.