BY SCOTT KILOBY I really don’t like the word homophobia because I don’t like labels generally – at least the kind that are used to put people in boxes. This is the same reason that I don’t walk around each day thinking of myself as gay. No thanks. Take your box somewhere else. Yes, for conventional purposes, I am gay. But the word is not what I am. Nor is the word “homophobic” what other people are who do not like or who fear gay people. But the word homophobia does, at least, speak to the fear underneath the issue. Phobia means fear. Some of my gay and lesbian friends do not understand why I do not get upset or outraged when I see homophobia in the world. I used to get really upset. But my work in the last decade or so has been about meeting my own fear directly. I cannot fix others. It is not my job. Certainly, the discrimination and hate crimes against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community cannot be condoned in a civilized society. The laws are changing in favor of protection. And that is great. But the deeper issues cannot be changed fully by laws. Just as racism continues (largely out of fear) decades after the civil rights movement in the 60s, fear or ignorance around LGBT people will continue for a long time despite the recent changes in law. The real work is not just on the side of those who fear or do not understand those in the LGBT community. It is also on the side of the LGBT community. Very few of my gay brothers and sisters actually investigate fully their own deficiency stories and internalized homophobia. Being gay or lesbian, we grew up in a world that contained many people who thought we were disgusting, sinful or just plain freaks. Many, or I should say, most of us in the LGBT internalized all of that. It’s similar to when young black children internalize the sense of being less worthy than white children (this was noted in the Brown v. Board of Education case – ending segregation). In my view, the real work in civil rights issues happens within. Until people see that they are not these stories of deficiences and until they let go of the internalized fear, we will never see the full acceptance of the LGBT community in society. How can society accept us if we do not accept ourselves first? The same kind of work has to be done, of course, on the side of those who fear or who do not understand the LGBT community. Those who bullied...Read More
Scott’s BlogJust sharing whatever comes up.
By Lisa Meuser I came across this article today and it got me thinking about the work I’ve done with clients and myself regarding body images- how we see our own body as well as other bodies. In the article, the author asks the question: “Does geography influence the body types we idealize and are attracted to?” The author goes on to talk about the research done, and the results. First, the research: “There’s a lot written about the effects of culture and media on the bodily standards we uphold. But the International Body Project, a survey of 7,434 people worldwide, aimed to investigate whether there were more base-level factors motivating our ideal body types, too.” Then the results: The researchers found that places with low socioeconomic status tended to value heavier female body types, while places with high socioeconomic status tended to favor thinner bodies—possibly because body fat acts as an indicator of status when resources are scarce. And the effect of media shouldn’t be underestimated: “Our results show that body dissatisfaction and desire for thinness is commonplace in high-SES (socioeconomic status) settings across world regions, highlighting the need for international attention to this problem,” the researchers write. I happened to be reading something that further suggests that geography influences how we see our body, but contradicts the above study. In studying an Amazonian jungle tribe, Daniel Everett learned that those with body fat were viewed as lazy and untrustworthy (“fat means corruption”), because hard work and a strict work ethic were very much a part of their cultural norms. So even though there was a low socioeconomic status, they valued thinner body types, but for different reasons. There are many variables that lead people to consider certain bodies as attractive, and others as unattractive, but it seems clear: geography and the cultural norms of the area are directly linked to body image. The ideas related to body image are passed down generationally, and literally become part of the culture and are taken as “truth”. If I look to my own familial norms and beliefs, as well as the culture I associate myself with, I notice that how I view my own body (as well as other bodies) is tainted with biases and viewpoints expressed by my parents, relatives and the culture I most connect with. Here comes the value of inquiry: if not examined, those biases will continue to hold “true”, and I will judge myself and others accordingly. Body image is literally the way I imagine or remember my body to look like. If you have ever done inquiry, if you’ve ever looked at images coming from the mind, you will know that all images...Read More
By Scott Kiloby Ken Wilber stated in one of his books, “Sex isn’t bad, only bad sex is bad,” as a way to speak to how some spiritual/religious traditions and other therapeutic models make sweeping statements that condemn sex as a whole. Sex is made into a dirty and wrongful act. This is a topic worth discussing when it comes to sex addiction/recovery and how our personal and cultural views play into it. In my years of working with men and women on sex addiction, I’ve noticed that most of the addictive or compulsive behaviors around sex have to do with stories of deficiencies such as “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” “I’m unsafe,” or “I’m not man enough.” These stories have a way of making people feel bad about themselves and then look to sexual behavior as a way to medicate the negative thoughts and feelings that come with these stories. In addition, there are general beliefs around sex as being bad, wrong, dirty or perverted that seem to fuel addictive behavior. I’ve noticed that many who come to work with me at the Kiloby Center on sex addiction take an extreme view around sex generally, judging or resisting the sexual impulse itself, whenever it arises. They have a desire to extinguish all sexual impulses instead of limiting their inquiry only to addictive and compulsive behaviors that are fueled by the beliefs above. Even non-addictive or non-compulsive sexual attraction is deemed “wrong” or “problematic.” This view, I think, is not healthy for us. It takes the spiritual/therapeutic quest too far and creates unneeded turmoil and self-judgment in our lives. When I see a preacher or pastor on TV condemning sex, I think it actually creates a cultural taboo around the topic, which has the effect of fueling sexually addictive or risky behavior. Sex becomes the forbidden fruit. And we all know that fruit that is forbidden is even more tempting and tasty! How do we find a healthy balance with sex? How do we discern the difference between healthy sexual impulses and sex addiction? Let’s start with my definition of addiction: Addiction is using a substance or engaging in an activity, repetitively or compulsively, for the purpose of avoiding having to feel emotion or sensation, and in a manner that is not necessary for physical survival. Procreative sex is needed for our survival as a species. Does this make all sex outside of procreation wrong, as some religions state? Does it mean that all non-procreative sex is addictive by nature? No. Addiction involves engaging in activities in order to avoid or medicate certain uncomfortable emotions or sensations. Not all sex is about avoiding...Read More
Scott Kiloby, July 1, 2013 There are many possible perspectives on the gay marriage issue, each of them partial. This is merely one perspective. Now that the historic Supreme Court gay marriage decisions have been handed down, the summer of 2013 centers on two political G-spots: God and gays. As I watch the talking heads on both sides of the debate, it seems on the surface that the central issue is “What would Jesus do?” Would he cry in the face of this moral decay or would he think that gay marriage is fabulous? Religious gay marriage opponents are citing God as the ultimate authority. And the LGBT community is scrambling to meet them in that argument somehow, as difficult as it is to argue with the idea “This is God’s law.” What a show stopper! This union of sex and religion is nothing new. These two have been strange bedfellows for centuries. But the tension between religion and sexual identity is magnified on the issue of gay marriage because of its potential social and political implications. As I watched the mental sword fight, I saw something which felt more deeply-rooted here, buried beneath the surface issue of God and gays. There are emotional wounds running the show on both sides of the equation. This debate can be seen as much more than a question of who should be able to marry or even a question of morality, religion, or sexuality. At its very core, like most human issues, it’s about identity. Read More I could hear the subtext of the religious opponents of gay marriage taking the form of the story, “I’m unsafe,” (or a similar story). “Gays are ruining our society” is a really scary thought! But what is really being threatened? Is God being threatened by well-decorated gay summer weddings or is the identity behind the religious belief itself being threatened? I imagine it is the latter. Sometimes when I watch and listen to the fear and disgust, disguised by religious rhetoric, I can’t help but see that an emotional wound is talking, not a religious zealot. And, in many cases, I see the same on the other side. Of course the arguments in favor of gay marriage have merit. I support gay marriage 100%. On the surface this is about equality and benefits. Those are sound arguments. But mental arguments are so often less about logic and more about defining and strengthening identity. Asserting LGBT identities are important to assert at first, in order to start the conversation of equality. But they lose their power when we hide what is really going on within us. We are all hurting and feeling threatened by other. ...Read More
When I was a young child, I had no idea what “gay” meant. Homosexuality was virtually never talked about in my family, except for a few tight-lipped stories of a gay friend of the family. All that I really knew was that I was attracted to boys, not girls. That was my experience, not my identity. From age seven to eleven, I experimented sexually quite a bit with boys my age, all of it consensual. But again, I never made a connection between that activity and the thought, “I’m gay.” Around age twelve, I was watching TV one afternoon. It was the early 80s when the gay rights movement was really taking off and the AIDS epidemic was all over the media. I saw people calling themselves gay or lesbian and holding up signs about being proud. Others were holding up signs that said “Fags will rot in hell” and “Homosexuality is against God’s law.” Still, I made no connection between those people on the TV and my own identity. That had nothing to do with me, so I thought . . . . “I’m just attracted to my friends sometimes.” ”[Read Then, it all changed. Sitting alone one day in my house, in freshman year of high school, I had a sudden earth-shattering epiphany, “Holy Shit, I’M GAY!” I repeated it over and over again, as if to convince myself that this is really who I am. “I’m Gay, I’m Gay.” It didn’t feel at the time that I was convincing myself of anything. This clearly felt like realizing who or what I was. The identity-making mind had kicked in full throttle. I felt liberated to finally know and yet absolutely terrified at what that meant. The next few years of high school were about hiding my identity, tucking myself neatly away into the closet, and dating girls to cover up the truth about myself. By the time I attended Western Kentucky University, I was ready to stop hiding. I came out of the closet and told everyone, one by one. The experience of telling my loved ones was so terrifying that I would either throw up afterwards or medicate myself with drugs before and after to cover up the fear and shame. That was the late 80s and early 90s in the Midwest. Need I say more? Gay was not quite cool back then. Now that I look back at those days of growing up, I can see what happened. There were observed regularities happening in my experience and I took those observed regularities and made an identity out of them. When I was a young kid, I experienced the regularity of having same sex attractions...Read More
I was giving a talk a few years ago and a young man approached me with a quizzical look on his face. He said, “I have a girlfriend but I think I’m attracted to men and I really don’t like that. I would like to use your Inquiries to get rid of this part of myself.” Needless to say, I strongly recommended that he not use the Inquiries in that manner. These were, apparently, very naturally-occurring thoughts, emotions and proclivities arising for him. But the sense of shame around his sexual desires led him to non-dual teachings as a way to escape the attraction. He may not have been aware that this is what his mind was doing. Apparently, he was partly concerned about cheating on his girlfriend. But I encouraged him to see that cheating deals with issues of monogamy and honesty in relationship and that sexual orientation is a different matter altogether. The gender(s) to which you are attracted is not the same as whether you lie to someone in a relationship. This is where I think some confusion arises in non-dual teachings. Life is a streaming river of all kinds of feelings, thoughts, energies, urges, attractions, repulsions, pain and pleasure weaving themselves temporarily in and out of experience. It’s easy to see awakening as a way out of the river. But I’ve found that the deepest realization is to wake up within and through these movements in life, to actually look at what is arising and to free oneself from the escaping from, and grasping for, a fixed belief in self. Negating the various eddies in the river is not transformation. It’s the same old game of escape disguised as awakening. For those who wish to use awakening as an escape from sexual orientation or gender identity, maybe a healthier route would be to look at the story of deficiency that is connected with the orientation. Is there shame, fear or self-judgment running the show? Is the belief, “There is something wrong with me,” present? Those things can certainly drop away, as the thoughts, emotions, and sensations are no longer identified with. But is the sexual orientation itself really the problem? And how would you know until the shame, fear and self-judgment is released? There is a natural expression of uniqueness that can come about through no longer identifying with stories, labels, and emotions. This is one of the most elusive and inexplicable aspects of freedom because the mind believes that “natural expression of uniqueness” is just plain ego. It’s not. It’s movement within and through life no longer feeling bad about who you are, no longer feeling the constraints and limitations of a thought-based...Read More