The power of shameEditorial, Top Highlights Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Shame is something that no one wants to experience. It may be caused by that most embarrassing moment in your life that if simply mentioned makes your blood boil. You are absolutely humiliated and wish you can make that awful moment go away. Shame is one of the most powerful emotions.
What makes LGBT people remain in the closet? Shame, as well as fear of rejection. Shame that they will be shunned by their family, friends and co-workers. Shame because you are thought of differently; “Hey there’s that gay guy.” The power of shame. It can control your life and affect what you accomplish.
Do LGBT people lead more productive lives after coming out? I think so. No more hiding at work, with college friends or most importantly, with your family. The energy that is expended creating this veil can be put to more productive use, accomplishing your goals in life. Living honestly and authentically is reward in itself.
I came out at 18 in 1978. I was considered a trailblazer, but hey, I just added gay to the discrimination I experienced because I am black. My family was fantastic, which can be unusual but I was free. Free to be me, no shame or regret.
We only need to look to the recent headlines to see that shame can be overcome, but also see its power to derail you. Tiger Woods is back on top. He is the number one golfer in the world and has won four tournaments this year. By the way, faster than in any year in his career. What does Tiger have to do with shame?
When Tiger’s infidelity scandal happened in 2009, the magic of his golf game seemed to disappear. Tiger lost his number one ranking and basically experienced a three year slump. I think it was all caused by shame. Can you imagine how humiliated Tiger was each time he took to the golf course? The whispering in the gallery about his infidelity, how could that not affect Tiger’s game? It did.
But Tiger has managed to come out the other side. The good thing about shame is it dissipates, once you accept whatever caused it. Tiger is finally at peace with what happened, as evidenced by his public announcement of his new girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn.
Tiger is no longer feeling shame. He is now focused upon his work and his new life. Guess what? He is back on top; so is Congressman and former North Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Sanford had to resign his governorship also due to infidelity. He was censured by the North Carolina ethics committee. Good, bad or indifferent, Sanford is also back on top. He has moved beyond his shame.
Now comes Anthony Wiener, who is running for mayor of New York.
I say to those of you in the closet, I understand your fear; no one wants to experience shame or rejection. I am here to tell you that you will come out on the other side. Be a tiger and come out. Things will be just fine.
San Diego LGBT Weekly
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