GAY MEN & HALLOWEEN - an opportunity for personal empowerment!

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    Oct 31, 2007 7:34 AM GMT
    PART I -
    Trick-or-treating, playing pranks, scaring one another, and dressing up in costume are some of the things that we generally associate with the festive spirit of Halloween. For many of us Halloween is the one day of the year when we can enjoy becoming our alter ego, disguising ourselves behind an anonymous mask or costume, and perhaps even letting the trickster in us all to come out of hiding without fear of being judged. As gay men, Halloween can be the time of year when we may find ourselves bringing out our own inner secret or hidden alter-personality – dressing up as the virile super-hero, the dominating leather master, the macho military man, the hunky sports jock or possibly in drag as a famous or beautiful female figure.

    Whatever costume you may don this Halloween, I invite you to ask yourself, “Does this costume represent an aspect of my unconscious identity that I feel does not have the opportunity to be visible to society or healthily expressed in my life?” For many gay men, we have been programmed to believe that there are roles and forms of identity that we must conform to if we are to be accepted and embraced, not only by others in the gay community but also by society in general. It is an unfortunate situation in our community that we, as gay men, often feel judged about our sexuality by culture and society. It is this notion of the fear of feeling judged that has created within many of us the perception of being different, isolated and segregated from the greater community. In turn, it is this very perception of judgment and shame, often programmed into us as gay men, that fosters within us our own individual sense of separation, loneliness and feeling somehow “incomplete”.

    It may be surprising to learn that the original sacred and holy traditions of Halloween offer valuable and important lessons for us as gay men. Halloween can actually be a wonderful opportunity for us to expand on our own healing and spiritual journey as we embrace a greater sense of self-awareness, wholeness and integration. The word Halloween is actually an abbreviation for “Hallow Even(ing)”, the night of the year when it is said that both the dark and light energies of the world and of humanity are considered to be the most “hallow” or sacred. You might wonder how can there be anything sacred about the dark? The word “hallow” refers to that which is sacred or revered and is related to the words “holy”, “heal”, and “whole”. Although the Winter Solstice is technically the longest night of the year, many ancient cultures and spiritual traditions of the world marked this time of year around Halloween, as the “darkest” night of the year. Halloween is when the thin veil that separates the Darkness from the Light of the world disappears and the barrier between the world of the living and the “other” world drops, allowing our own inner Light and Dark to have the potential to become in proper balance and integration. There’s no coincidence that Daylight Saving’s Time also occurs around Halloween.

    For many of us, whether we’re gay or straight, Halloween is the only time of the year when we can allow the hidden and perhaps repressed parts of our consciousness come out and be seen in public without fear or shame. I have always been fascinated to observe that we as gay men have a particularly stronger connection to Halloween – perhaps even more so to that of the revelry that the straight community experiences during this holiday. Have you ever wondered why do all the official publicly sponsored Halloween festivities occur in the gay districts of every major city – West Hollywood, the Castro, Greenwich Village, Dupont Circle, etc? I think that one reason again for our deep and intimate relationship with Halloween is that it permits us gay men to feel safe in knowing that our deeper identities or hidden fantasies have permission to be visible for all to see. Halloween is the one time of year when gay men are “sanctioned” and given permission by the rest of society to have their inner secret personalities come out and be healthily actualized in public without fear of rebuke, shame or ridicule.

    Although festivities such as Gay Pride or Mardi Gras certainly also offer that possibility, Halloween is the one culturally universal holiday, celebrated by all, where we are given the societal OK to let our suppressed identities come out of hiding. Our society does not fully encourage us as gay men to feel empowered and whole in our sexual expression of who we truly are. Halloween, by default, becomes the only “safe” time of year when we as gay men can feel free without rebuke to allow ALL of our hidden or fragmented aspects of our Self to come out, play and feel fully expressed! Now, I’m not encouraging us to dress up every day as Superman, Madonna, GI Joe or as our alter-ego every day of the year. What I am encouraging is for us as gay men to support each other in our path to becoming “whole” and for us to become fully integrated as gay men with our unique sexuality and sense of Self.

    These parts of our Self that are hidden or veiled for the outside world to see are sometimes referred to as the Shadow, the Alter Ego, the Lower Self, or the Disowned Soul. They are simply valuable parts of our Greater Whole that we as gay men have so earnestly guarded and have actively invested energy to conceal from the outside world out of fear that they will be exposed, judged, or ridiculed. What exactly is our Shadow or this disowned Darkness? Simply stated our Shadow and our Dark are whatever we have become unconscious of, repressed, denied, or avoided in our life. As gay men, our Shadow can appear as repressed anger, violence, fear, shame, judgment, contempt, or repulsion to others or even to ourselves for being who we are as gay men. There are endless ways in which our Dark makes itself known. Our Shadow surfaces only in the hope that it can be healed. Our Dark speaks to us all the time, but the more we ignore its pleas to be witnessed, the more it grows and surfaces when we least expect it. Whatever aspects of our Dark that we have disowned and unidentified with, we project onto those around us!

    Just as many of us have been taught to fear the dark of night, so too have many of us been conditioned to believe that our individual Dark and the disowned aspects of our consciousness need to be repressed and shunned. As gay men, society has taught us to equate our Shadow and our repressed Dark as being sinful and unhealthy. We need to truly understand that our Dark is nothing to be ashamed of! It is not, as we are often led to believe, something that is unwholesome that needs to be shunned. There is a common misconception that many of us, including myself once, have bought into regarding the spiritual journey toward health and wholeness. While those of us on the spiritual path make it our goal to live from a place of expansion, abundance, and integrity in our Light, many of us focus so much on experiencing our Light that we completely ignore the Dark that exists right alongside the Light. The goal of the spiritual journey toward authentic happiness and health is not one that requires us to strive for perfection or purity, but one that encourages us to be fully conscious and accountable for all aspects of our Self – including our Dark. In my many years as a spiritual counselor, inspirational speaker and integrative health therapist, I have finally come to the realization for myself and also have expressed to my students and clients that the key to expanding on the sacred journey is to embrace and fully integrate your shadowed Dark with your Light. As the famous psychologist Jung once asked, “Would you rather be whole or good?”

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Oct 31, 2007 8:01 AM GMT
    Interesting topic... a couple of things, if I'm reading and following correctly.. you are construing the "dark" as a part of your personality or consciousness that is not released through the year or is "repressed" and we are able to use Halloween as that time to "release" that. And we can act on this
    "repression" by our costumes or "roles" we assume on Halloween.

    I think it can be simplier than that. Repression can be something as a side of ourselves which we are in conflict with each and everyday. For me, tomorrow I am allowing this "dark side" to emerge without a costume, but I am certainly aware of its existence. Instead of showing diligence late tomorrow afternoon as I generally do and follow a very careful routine, I plan to hand out candy and crash and be lazy....LOL.

    One other thing... Halloween is traditionally the time daylight savings time "ends" (or has ended). It ends this year next Saturday.