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How Challenges and Experiences Form Us

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

As the first blog post for this website, I wanted to kick it off with an explanation of why I choose to focus mainly on coaching adult gay men.

***Please note that I share a list of views and experiences below that may bring up difficult memories and feelings.

There are so many specific reasons to focus on gay men in my practice. I am a gay, 50 year-old man who has had multiple careers over the past few decades. There are many different facets to who I am and, as I age, I find they age with me. Some have aged easily and well and are satisfyingly continuing to improve. Others, however, have been real challenges. With the latter, I actively choose not to give in and instead actively choose to continue moving forward.

My friend Larry in Scotland
Each of our paths is unique

I sat down this past week and challenged myself to write down five things that have significantly formed me and my generation. I came up with so many more than five almost instantly! Being a young gay man in the 80s and 90s was, in so many ways, extremely different from the experiences young men have had for the past twenty plus years. And yet, in many ways, the same personal, professional, and societal challenges continue and persevere.

The fundamental needs to be accepted by family, friends, and society for who we are, who we love, and who we strive to be, have not changed.

Following is a portion of my list formed from my experience as a young gay man in the 80s and 90s. These experiences have been significant influences on how I experience relationships, how I view and have developed my professional lives, and how I struggle daily to feel like I am making a difference in peoples' lives.

You may relate to all, some, or none of these thoughts and views:

  • Gay men were expected to take on the "normal wife and husband" roles when in a gay relationship and were asked, often rather blatantly, who was playing which role.

  • Choosing to live a "gay lifestyle" was considered somehow threatening and offensive personally to others and to the world in general.

  • Being gay was seen as a deviant CHOICE. There was no concept that being gay is genetic.

  • It was often espoused that choosing to live a gay lifestyle upsets the natural, Godly ways of relationships and procreation.

  • Choosing to be gay was an unnatural choice.

  • Being gay was to be hidden and living as an out gay men was to live an alternative lifestyle.

  • As gay men, we were unable to establish and maintain stable, monogamous relationships.

  • We were assumed to be promiscuous.

  • We were all effeminate.

  • We were all partiers.

  • Gay men were dying of AIDS… but that was God’s way of getting rid of us.

  • It was Okay to beat up gay men and to prosecute us because we were not normal.

  • Gay men were held out as OTHER and we were CHOOSING to be victims of violence, marginalization, and discrimination.

  • Therefore, we gay men were not to be looked up to but instead pitied and shamed.

... and the list goes on and on.

Now, if any of these triggered you, I am right there with you. Writing the list (which continues for a couple of pages in my notes), I found that I continue to carry a lot of very personal pain, sorrow, frustration, and sometimes anger thinking about "how it was". I also have those same feelings when I see that many of these views still exist and are perpetuated.

However, I also rejoice when I see the progress that has painstakingly been made to strip many of those assumptions, incongruities, and just plain bad stuff away in the past decades. All of this, and so much more, has impacted who I have been and who I currently am. It also has influenced how I look at life, society, and relationships.

I consciously decided, about a decade ago, to take the words "choice" and "choose" away from the negative side of who I am, how I live, and how I love. I decided to instead use those words as personal power words that empower me throughout my life. I choose not to let my past and the incredibly long list overwhelm, dishearten, and control me but instead I choose to see those things as motivation to clarify and focus me in my ongoing, continuous efforts to help people discover or reinforce their own empowered, unique, beautiful selves.

Patrick Buckley MSOP

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