Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As I Am

Every now and again (more often, lately), I hear a song that seems to travel right down the corridors of my soul until it reaches a pre-appointed place, clears away cobwebs and unlocks a door that releases light, knowledge and love, changing me forever – for that door will never be locked again, and the energy that was released will from thenceforth always be a part of me.

Such was the case with a song to which I was introduced by Mister Curie, a commenter on Sunday’s blog post.  I’m sure that many who read this blog are very familiar with the song.  It’s called “As I Am” and is from The Big Gay Musical.  Here’s a video clip of the song being performed in the musical:

I downloaded this song from iTunes and have listened to it at least a half-dozen times in the past couple of days.  Each time I do, I cry, each time at a different point in the song.  (Real gay men cry, you know.)  This song is so affirming! There is so much truth in its lyrics:

“ … I was taught to fear and condemn the things that I don’t know …”

“There is fear in the hearts of those who would change you, fear of the light that shines from you …”

“There is envy in those who recklessly judge you, wishing their hearts could be like yours …”

But, the real power of the song, at least for me, was the special message to my heart that traveled down the corridors of my soul until it came to a door marked “self-hatred.”  That is why, even as I write this, the tears come freely and unbidden, fulfilling a mission that only they know, because they know the secrets of the psyche that my conscious self only dimly senses and will perhaps never truly understand.  So, I let the tears come, not that I could stop them anyway …

The door opens, and a flood of light and love is released, traveling through me, administering comfort in a way that I cannot articulate but nevertheless can feel. 

Knowledge imbues my mind, and I suddenly understand, with near perfect clarity, something I had not seen before.  I realized that this song reveals a dramatic insight into two competing views of how the human “soul” is viewed.  (Please keep in mind that what I am about to write is more akin to a stream of consciousness than an essay that has been deliberated over for days or weeks. And I should probably also state a caveat that impressions – what some might call revelations – such as these, though real and transformative, are often extremely difficult to articulate.)

One view, which has been around for a very long time and which continues to thrive under various guises, sees the human soul as something that is inherently bad, that needs to be controlled, that can only be “good” if it bends and changes to external forces.  This view is inherently “outward-looking”; i.e., the Answers are found “out there,” not inwardly.  This view of the soul breeds feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and self-hatred and works to divorce oneself from one’s Self.  The feelings are often enforced when one is taught that Good is to be achieved “out there” (e.g., an unbalanced view of “service”), not “in there.”

The other view, which I believe is implicit in this song, is that the human soul is inherently good.  We come into this existence with “gifts”, talents, traits, and blessings embedded within us – all gifts from God.  The grand object of our existence is to discover these gifts, to “unpack” them, to celebrate them and to use them for our benefit as well as the benefit of others (as they do the same, all of us benefitting together from our various gifts).

“I was put here to fill the world with magic …”

“I was born with my own special blessings …”

“I was put here to live as His creation …”

This view of the soul looks inward, and turns outward for illumination of what lies within.  This view of the soul CELEBRATES the essence of humanity as a gift from God, instead of essentially viewing us as the spawn of Satan.  This view of the soul enables self-acceptance, self-love and a Divinely-enabled love that gains power from “unpacking” our internal gifts, a love that is then able to shine forth to bless others.

“ … the light that shines within you … designed by God,
who gave it a brilliant and beautiful hue …”

“I know all the love with which I was born
can conquer your taunting, can conquer your scorn.”

This latter view of the soul is about letting our God-enabled humanity out, whereas the first view is all about keeping that humanity “in.”  The latter view is about opening up to the world, the first view all too often leading to shutting the world out.

How appropriate that this song come from a musical about being gay!  How appropriate that I have these insights, this experience, while listening to a song that is about being gay.  For “gayness” is only one – albeit an important one – of those gifts which God has embedded within some of His children.  We who are gay have no choice but to look within and accept this gift; the alternative is giving in to the view we were raised in, the view that breeds self-loathing and a host of other negative qualities.  But accepting that gift leads to acceptance of other gifts, which in turn validates “The” Gift, until one is able, like I have (something which two months ago I could never see myself doing – see HERE), to view homosexuality as a gift.  A gift.  A gift! 

And that door marked “Self-Hatred” will never be shut and locked again.

Because the lyrics of the song as downloaded from iTunes are slightly different than those featured in the video clip, I’m including the iTunes lyrics here:

Forgive me, I didn’t realize ‘til now
That our cold, self-righteous words could hurt you so.
I was taught, very young, by those who came before me
To fear and condemn the things I don’t know.
There is fear in the hearts of those who would change you
– fear of the light that shines from you.
They don’t know that light was designed by God,
who gave it a brilliant and beautiful hue.
And to those who would change you or send you away,
you must proudly stand your ground and say:

I was put on this earth as I am
I was put here to fill the world with magic.
I know all the love with which I was born
Can conquer your taunting, can conquer your scorn.
I was put on this earth as I am.
I was born with my own special blessings.
I’ll let them shine and not give a damn.
I was put on this earth as I am.

There is envy in those who recklessly judge you,
Wishing their hearts could love like yours.
They don’t understand they can reach within
And find all the love forgiveness restores.
And to those who condemn you with fury and shame,
You must proudly plant your feet and proclaim:

I was put on this earth as I am,
I was put here to live as his creation.
And I know I’m loved in virtue and sin.
I’m calm and content within my own skin.
I was put on this earth as I am.
I was born with my own special blessings.
I’ll let them shine and not give a damn.
I was put on this earth as I am!


  1. As I've said before, the admonition to "fulfill the measure of your creation" is much better advice than "be ye therefore perfect."

    Go, therefore, and be fabulous. Live your life with grace, beauty and joy. I'm glad I'm here to witness it unfold.

  2. Awesome.

    People label what they don't understand, in an attempt to control it. Then they call it religion, and make up a mean, nasty, bad god to tell them all this stuff about themselves, thus externalizing their feelings of self hatred. Whether God exists or not (and I believe He does), sociology definitely does.

    Your blog continues to inspire and empower me, as do you. Rock on!

  3. @MoHoHawaii - I certainly intend to try. Thank you.

    @CJ - Bingo! If people can avoid knee-jerk responses, they will see that what you have said about religion is completely and totally true with respect to an awful lot of people.


  4. Beautiful song! I hadn't heard of it before (no, I'm not handing out my gay card!). I think this should rank right up there with True Colors and Somewhere Over the Rainbow! :-)

  5. Another song you should ad to your affirmation playlist: "Take Me Out" by Atomic Tom.

    I was listening to it in my wood shop earlier today--I'm snowed in, so I'm working on a model I'm really into at the moment--and it struck me, this is just the awesomest song, and it really speaks to the power of making a decision. There's one couplet that goes, "I don't want to stay here/I don't want to live half my life and disappear". And that's really it, isn't it? We're given a choice: live half a life, and fade into blackness, or fight to be more.

  6. Great post, love the comments ... live a FULL life, not a half one like you said CJ (I love that) and be as you are, that is beautiful and inspiring for many ...

    for those who judge in fear, too bad that they don't get it ... you do!


  7. “In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in the dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.”
    Dante – La Divina Commedia

    I was moved by the imagery and significance of your door-of-light experience. After reading your post, I too am profoundly grateful for my “gift”. Without it, I may not have awakened to discover the “true way. Men and women in the mainstream without this gift are, perhaps, not as compelled to look as deeply to find truth, to find the true nature of the divine within.

  8. Glad you enjoyed the song. I find that it provides much needed affirmation after a life of living in shame and wondering what was wrong with me due to my Mormon upbringing.

  9. @Miguel - LOL. Hugs to you, too!

    @CJ - Thanks for the recommendation. And good luck with the snow!

    @Trey - I agree with you: we are compelled to seek, and in seeking, find. Others who are not so compelled never come to sense the signficance of the journey nor the experience the joy of discovery.

    @Mister Curie - Thanks again for sharing the song. This is a great example of how one simple comment can lead to great insight by another.