For a long time, I suppressed a part of me that, after being exposed to it in college, I knew was a core part of who I was. Sure, I had experimented in high school and knew of people who had told their friends, but that wasn’t how I was raised and honestly, I really didn't know many others like me at the time.
During and after college, I found opportunities to express myself and to be myself, but those were usually unique occasions and not ones that I was open about seeking. I secretly looked forward to when the setting was just right and I could just go for it and no one would care. Frequently, if traveling by myself and away from my girlfriend, I would sneak it in. Those close to me always knew that I had those urges, but not everyone was as openly encouraging of me finding more places to be who I knew I was.
Then a couple years ago, a lot of things changed. My world got turned upside down and I was in a place where what had been didn’t matter as much and I was deciding which parts of my life I wanted to do more with and who I wanted to be. And that is when I decided I would no longer hide the fact that as a tall, white, bearded, heterosexual male: I love to dance.
It’s not just something that every now and then is fun at for me to do at weddings or special occasions, but all of the time. If the beat drops I am not going to be shy about my urges. It was something that I knew in my new state of life and new state of mind would be something I could be open about. But I still wasn’t sure how to be that person given all the other expectations that were built into my existing life and who people knew me to be.
I needed a place where I could experiment and find others that, like me, may or may not have been completely open with the rest of the friends and family about their love (of dancing.)
Then I found it. It was as if it had been created just for me.
Daybreaker, the morning dance party that has swept NYC and countless other cities, was the place where I found out I could just let go, be myself, and dance like a maniac with 800 other incredible humans a couple times a month. Over the past almost two years, I have hardly missed a single one and have brought so many friends with me to share in the fun. For two hours, from 7-9am, we all just dance our faces off completely sober. We feel the beat, we feel the energy, and we all just go for it. We wake up NYC. And everyone is smiling because everyone is being exactly who they are. For those two hours, there is no fear, no distractions, and we all have the ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.
So this afternoon, when I walked out onto my front stoop and watched the mayhem and rainbow clade New York Pride Parade march down my street, I couldn’t help but see the same relief and trueness in the smiles of those marching and those looking on. Thousand and thousand of people being who haven’t always been able to be who they knew themselves to be, had fought through a challenge much greater than me liking to dance and come out to their friends and family and the world. And today, they were loving and being loved by who they loved and they weren’t afraid to show it. They were living into who they knew themselves to be. They were fully alive and themselves in that the moment.
And in this life, what more can any of us want for ourselves or those that we know than to be fully ourselves and fully alive? Each of us living each moment with the joy that comes from being who we were created and have grown to be.
One of my favorite quotes since high school is from Gil Bailie, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I needed to dance, and those in the parade and watching the parade today needed to love and be loved. And while those needs are not nearly on the same level of importance in life, today was a small glimpse for me into what a gift it is when we give each other the space and a place to truly to come alive.