Andy’s Flaming Chalice – October 2012

October greetings! I love the autumn months, and by October the season has generally begun in earnest, with the appearances of winter squash and pomegranates, perhaps even a few early persimmons. A season of savor and depth.

In autumn we tend to move indoors, gather together and take stock of our lives and relationships. The phrase “taking stock” directly reflects the traditional and necessary autumn culling of domestic herds, based on estimating which animals are needed for food and also on how many animals can live on the available feed through the non-foraging months until Spring. The season of bounty is inevitably shadowed with the specters of loss and privation; this was a basic truth in agricultural societies and persists in our industrialized, technology-rich society where many enjoy plenitude far beyond their capacity to consume, while others remain in want.

October is also special in less-venerable ways. For example, it is both Lesbian Gay History Month and Filipino-American History Month, reminding us to reconsider and expand our notions about cultural contributors who haven’t often gotten a fair shake in our history books. October 10th is Columbus Day; there’s a holiday that engenders some sharply divided views! I prefer to think of it as Indigenous Peoples Day, but in our culture which is so bound up with European influences, is there not a place to celebrate when those influences [purportedly] first came to the American continents? You tell me.

And be sure to mark your calendars with a star on October 11th, because that’s National Coming Out Day. Coming out as a gay teenager changed my life. Boy, it was a scary undertaking! But so many positive relationships and so much support have come to me because of it. Coming out is an act of self-liberation and also a helping hand to those who are living in fear, sometimes well-justified fear. Although this day started around LGBT empowerment, it’s really larger than that. Think: Is there something about you, like a life-changing experience, an allegiance or an immutable characteristic that has greatly marked your life and identity but might not be apparent to others? Might your coming-out, even in a small way, serve your community by offering a vision of courage and hope to someone else? For me, it is an article of faith that coming out does help other people, though who has been helped or when may never be known to me. Ideally, as I envision it, coming out is a way of life, a constant reaching-out to those hidden and isolated within our Beloved Community. It is a special gift of fellowship that perhaps only you can offer.