I recently “Shazamed” a song that was not only extraordinarily sung but also poignantly lyrical. I stopped between reps at the gym simply to be moved — and to identify with my own story of loss, love and life.
I think the song is true for most people, but especially for LGBTQ people in particular. I encourage you to listen or watch online “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles (top photo, music video below) from her Broadway musical, Waitress.
The lyrics inspire my premise that we are “all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie.”
Ahhh, but what is “this”? Well, it is the stuff and shit of life! It is all that has shaped us, betrayed us, exhilarated us and closeted us. “This”is our bleeding hearts for love, it is our pleading relationships for unconditional acceptance, and it is our longing dignity to be all that we can be and more.
Yes, “this” is, and we are each, “all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie.”
If there is one LGBTQ virtue I have encountered and been empowered by it is our courage. Brave women and men who have dared to be themselves in spite of fear and uncertainty whether at home or at work.
And yes, as the song says, “sometimes life slips in through a back door,” and we’re not happy with who we are, or we want so much more. But dare I say, it is never, ever — not for a moment — too late to regroup, honor and become a better mix of ourselves, all baked into a beautiful pie. I do believe you and all of us are beautiful.
So how do we do “this”? Through my own series of hard knocks and humble pie, I offer these suggestions.
Don't Go It Alone. When shit happens, own it as a reality (not a truth), and choose to share it with a mentor, friend or trusted peer. Only then can we begin to more fully accept ourselves.
Fear, shame, or promise should not be denied. Share it, cry it, yell it from the roof tops, and be free.
Trust Your Gut. If a relationship or friendship that you share with another feels unhealthy or hurtful, it likely is. Even if he or she is the only one, move on from that dependency. Trust that you will find healthier, more loving relationships.
Free Yourself from Toxic Family Members. This one is tougher, and I own my own bias. But, if a parent or family member is shutting you out or not accepting your decisions, life choices or identity that is authentically yours, shake the dust from your feet, and do not subject yourselves to their conditions or beliefs.
I know of too many instances of a parent or family member rejecting or distancing themselves from their child or sibling for their identity as LGBTQ. It’s unacceptable and shameful of them, it shows they can’t possibly know love as it is intended to be experienced—unconditionally and abundantly. I believe they need professional mental health help for their own growth and freedom.
Make Time for Self Reflection. Make time for some self-reflection — indeed, some soul-searching. Identify two items that are frustrating the hell out of you and make a plan to overcome or change them. It might be simply losing a few pounds, watching three TED Talk videos on the power of change. It could be identifying a counselor to explore your commitment to improvement or a new mindset. Decide and commit.
My experience tells me that all of us — humanity — are all mixed up, but it doesn’t mean we’re f**ked up! Life is hard. Life is also bountiful and filled with possibility. We need each other, and when you think about it, “don’t you just love a beautiful pie”? Share a slice with others.
Bill Dickinson is an LGBTQ Atlantan and executive coach. He lives with his husband in Midtown. Reach him at [email protected].
This column originally ran in Q magazine. Read the full issue online here:
Pick up a new edition each week at LGBTQ and queer-friendly venues around town.