“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.” – Harvey Milk
When I started doing yoga, I also started following yoga people on Instagram. Just starting out, I viewed it as a way to feel connected, and not alone – plus, they would motivate me. Sadly, so many of them were the heteronormative stereotypes that I couldn’t connect with, even though I tried. After a few weeks, I unfollowed all of the yoga people and started over.
Later I was able to find several LGBTQIA+ groups, but most had a tilt to one side, like only being gay men’s yoga or FUCKING gross for excluding Trans Folx from their spaces. Don’t get me wrong, I was able to connect with some beautiful people, and through those people, I was exposed to more and more Queer Yogis. It was almost a year into this Where’s Waldo community-building project for myself when I realized there really wasn’t much Queer Yoga representation on Instagram in the form of community or collective pages – even hashtags! That’s when I started thinking about a way to connect all the rad Queer Yoga Folx I knew, plus expanding that network. I put it on the back burner for a few months to simmer.
While I was attending Queer Yoga Camp in Oregon, my mind kept going back to the queer community and spaces within the online yoga environment. The irony isn’t lost on me; however, I am privileged to participate in an in-person retreat, but I wanted to focus on an online space because that might be the only access folx have to a sense of sameness or reflection. Then, I thought that it should be more in-depth than a social connection, but also a way to educate each other. The Queer Yoga Community is VAST and BEAUTIFUL, we just need those safe and supportive environments to reach our FULL potential. That’s why I created the #QueerYogaFolx Project, as a way to try and achieve all these things.
Please consider sharing your individual story and practice with other QueerYogaFolx. Also, thank you for taking the time to learn more about this project and what it means to me. Namaste.
“I am not here to entertain straight people.” ― Sarah Schulman
I spent the summer looking forward to Queer Yoga Camp (QYC), and when the long Labor Day weekend finally arrived, I was buzzing with excitement! Not only did I get to finally meet Roger McKeever, but I would also get to meet other Queer Yogis – rarety where I live in Bellingham, WA.
While I expected to enjoy the retreat, I didn’t realize that it would be a life-changing event.
I was one of two people attending that weren’t members of Queer Yoga Church, and the only person who hadn’t meet Roger. So, I was slightly worried about how I would be greeted by the group as a complete outsider. All those worries melted away when after opening my car door, I was meet with a hug from Roger! Then as other Queer Yogis began to arrive, I realized how silly I had been. Each person met me with genuine interest and compassion – why was I EVERY worried!
One of the things Roger told us to pack was a journal, and with mine, I started to examine how I felt after each activity by recording my feelings, takeaways, and shared moments. In my bunk bed the first night, reflecting on the day, I felt a sense of ease that I hadn’t experienced in years. After the second morning’s practice, I knew why – Queer Community! This space was completely accepting and queer AF, allowing for a sense of freedom not afforded to queer folx often. My next statement might seem harsh, but I was so happy to be without people who identify as straight for three days. It made me realize that even as secure and open as I am, I still make adjustments to my authentic self to blend in with heteronormative society.
This became the most apparent to me in the studio, where I was able to do things that I’d never been able to do before – it was like my practice elevated to a new level! All because of the environment of the studio and the folx at camp. I wasn’t the gay guy in yoga class anymore (I know that’s how I’ve been referred to in the past), but a member of an unapologetically queer community in and expressly queer space, and it was FUCKING LIBERATING! It also left me with lots of questions to explore about being a queer man, as well as how to replicate that sense of community for others. Also, realizing that I’m going to be visiting Portland a lot over the next few months.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – The Bhagavad Gita
I’ve learned so much about myself since starting my yoga practice on July 29, 2018, and I couldn’t be happier with how that knowledge has allowed me to grow into a very different person. During this period of transition, I made some significant life changes like becoming sober, taking my mental and physical health seriously, and starting a dedicated yoga practice. Through this combination of things, I feel like I changed the course of my life for the better, with the driving force behind most of the change being yoga.
My yoga mat became my constant, and as I explored more deeply within myself, I realized that this wasn’t going to be something I only did physically, but that it was enriching me spiritually as well – an area that was sorely lacking as a result of my past behaviors and actions. The mindfulness and introspection that my practice brought helped immensely in my therapy sessions, as well as in reframing the way I think about things. One of the first significant steps I took with my practice was to create a dedicated safe practice space for myself. I worked to make the downstairs my personal yoga space, and in a way, reclaiming that area of my home.
Until this point, I hadn’t really used my Instagram account. So, it became an accountability tool for my practice, while also enabling me to carefully curate a network of other Queer Yogis and people with similar experiences. Now I have an incredible online and in-person system of support, and I am forever gracious. Some of the other perks to photographing your practice are seeing the pose from a completely different perspective for adjustments and to see progress within certain poses over time. For me, seeing all the growth from when I first started until now made all the hard moments along the way worth it.
Now, I start RYT 200 yoga teacher training in January of 2020! I don’t want to think about what my life would look like if I hadn’t started my yoga practice – I genuinely believe my yoga mat saved my life.
“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit
I have started and stopped writing this post, deleted countless others, and briefly published one only to take it down. So, I think the easiest and best thing to do is just let everyone know that I’m changing this from a Library Land blog to more of a digital diary.
I’ve gone through LOTS of changes in my life over the last year, and I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me.
If you are a library person, thank you for reading and if you unsubscribe I totally understand.