“Oh, God!”: It’s about to mean something different. Consider going deeper than those trite inquiries – stats? penis size? top or bottom? – by exploring the spiritual side (and not the middle-front one!) with those inquisitive about “the man above,” the universe, life, death or love.
Perhaps there’s an empty spot waiting to be filled – again, not that one – by someone who shares similar beliefs. Then click on over to http://MyOutSpirit.com, a growing newly-revamped Web site that offers social networking (e-mailing between members is a popular feature), plenty of LGBT-affirming spiritual resources and a chance to win a trip to Hawaii.
“Like http://Gay.com, DList or Manhunt, it is what you make of it,” says Clayton Gibson, the Ann Arbor-based Web developer who launched the world’s first spiritual LGBT networking page in September. “MyOutSpirit is not a hook-up site, although a few people use it that way. MyOutSpirit member profiles tend to be much more personal and revealing than profiles on other sites. Our members are courageous enough to express their most deeply-held beliefs, goals and questions on their MyOutSpirit profiles.
“You join MyOutSpirit if you’re ready to go deeper – in your own life and with whomever you meet online.”
We went deeper with Gibson. Why’d he launch the page? How does it re-define homosexuality in the new millennium? And how the heck do you win that million bucks?
On the reason for launching MyOutSpirit.com
Everyone who attended the Gay Spirit Culture Summit in 2004 was shocked at how few of the 130 gay male spiritual leaders knew each other – or about each other’s work. Because of my marketing background, I was asked to conceive a way to get the word out about the important services and products that LGBT-affirming spiritual resources offer. The future is already here; it’s just not well-distributed. I created http://MyOutSpirit.com to help affirming resources attract and inform more LGBT people. Popularizing spiritual inquiry and practice in the LGBT community makes the community healthier and happier.
On his early spiritual exposure
My parents were very conventional Southern Baptists, and didn’t know any more what to do with a meditating third-grader than anybody else in Arkadelphia, Ark. I certainly didn’t know what I was doing, either. To this day, I don’t know how I knew to sit cross-legged on the playground and focus on my breath; maybe some people are just born with a spiritual affinity outside their cultural background! Even that young, I was already expanding my spiritual horizons, just as a natural self-exploration; like the old saying, ‘Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.’
On the gay, Southern Baptist battle
In my case, the struggle between being a Southern Baptist and homosexual wasn’t my own. The only struggle was in the minds and hearts of the people around me. I was perfectly happy to think outside the box by exploring other religions and philosophies. The hard part was waiting for other people to give up their ideas about who I should be and what I should believe – not to mention, whom I should love. So many LGBT people are forced by discrimination, or ‘spiritual abuse,’ to think differently about their spiritual paths. For some, this means seeking acceptance from their faith tradition, while many others create unique collages of spiritual beliefs and practices that help them live their best lives. MyOutSpirit.com gives all of them a way to express and explore their personal spirituality, conventional or unconventional.
On the effects of the site on LGBT people
LGBT people – especially the newly-out – don’t realize how many LGBT-affirming body/mind/spirit resources exist to nurture and support them. Our media usually focuses on conflicts between anti-gay religious leaders and LGBT people. The story that gets repeated over and over is that LGBT people and spirituality don’t mix without a fight, so it’s only natural that many LGBT people don’t even bother ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater.’ Perhaps the most important thing http://MyOutSpirit.com does – besides making it easy to find LGBT-affirming spiritual resources and connect with other conscious LGBT people – is to help create a new story. MyOutSpirit tells the story of a passionately, creatively spiritual LGBT community thriving inside and outside of religious traditions.
On the million-dollar giveaway
MyOutSpirit is giving away a million dollars in free advertising in the MyOutSpirit Directory to LGBT-affirming spiritual resources that do not charge for their services. We are still working hard to get the word out about this opportunity, and resources from all around the world are already signing up. (Note: Visit the Web site for more information.)
On the “next big thing” in gay culture
We’re doing the sexual health thing. We’re doing the community-building thing. We’re doing the fighting for justice thing. We’re doing the personal development thing. What’s left? Only the spiritual component of popular gay culture is missing. ‘Coming Out Spiritually’ on http://MyOutSpirit.com is the next big thing in gay culture, because that’s where the largest opportunity for growth is.