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SUMMARY: Unresolved Sexuality Trauma & the Quest for A Mate Caucus (Part II)

In August, The Gatekeeper’s Collective welcomed back sexual trauma therapist and interfaith minister, DeShannon Bowens as we gathered in pursuit of bridging gaps in participants’ experience resulting from unresolved sexuality trauma, and towards anointing same gender loving sexuality as a gift.  
Picking up from where we left off during the last caucus, among questions explored included:

What is your relationship to the construct of unresolved sexuality trauma?

“Not being present in your sexuality, and not knowing how to date…We simply don’t know how to date…If [a man] invites a brother out to have a coffee, [automatically] it’s a date…”

“It’s more about [damaged] self-esteem…”

“Being with people who demand a certain type of behavior from you [that doesn’t match what you feel]…”

Moderator says, {“We also talked about shame…One can cover…the Latin root of the word, shame is ‘to cover’…hiding an assumption of being wrong…”}

“I was in a three-and-a-half year relationship…I talked [about it] with my therapist…My lover died of AIDS complications…brain cancer…Ever since then, I’ve been afraid of [relationships]…”

Moderator says, {“Even if we haven’t experienced sexuality trauma [ourselves], being aware of others’ trauma [might dispose us to] being prepared to spare ourselves, [or] protect ourselves [from being traumatized]…We must have compassion for and [patience with ourselves]…Wherever we are, remembering not to judge ourselves…”}

“How can we not feel guilty when we have pressure from [our families and people whose respect is important to us?]…”

“I don’t date guys…I don’t know how…I’ve tried a couple of times…And, sexuality [is a stumbling block]…That’s why I come [here]…to listen and learn…I’m so afraid of hurting other people…I work in places where it’s so homophobic…I just watch…I don’t have the energy to fight it…”

Moderator says, {“It’s not the world [you have to] take on…Your family, society…The work starts in here (she says, pointing to herself)…In yourself…Where you feel the pressure of others, push them out and [just take care of you]…Can you look in the mirror and say, ‘I desire to be with another man [and that is perfectly fine]’…’I love myself’…When you can do that, the pressure from the family and from others will lessen…”}

Co-Moderator asks,  {“How many among us present in our sexuality in all areas of our lives?...”}

(A few hands go up)

Co-Moderator asks,  {“Were you ever told that your sexuality is the source of great power?”}

(A couple of people respond in the affirmative)

“There is a step we need to take into consideration…Like [the Brother who just spoke]…To go out and [attempt to] fight the world when you don’t believe [fully in your right to be as you are in] it, is a set-up…You have to sort of disown you…There are many things about us that we own and take pride in which, in reality, we just walked into the body [and they came as part of the package]…One must humble one’s self to understand that the body has parts and does things which we do not know [how or why they work]…The One that created them, created me too…[Once I accept that] Then, it’s easier to defend myself...”

Co-Moderator says, {“In my experience, what owning myself has meant is that I don’t have to defend myself [to other people]…By in large, I experience myself as whole and complete and my sexuality as Divine…On the way to that relationship with myself [and my sexuality] I had to do what DeShannon talked about when she spoke of letting go of other people’s expectations…and then...over time I began discovering that my self is not simply acceptable, but, in a number of ways, exceptional...until finally, I no longer have to defend myself…I celebrate myself...including my a gift…”}

“Fighting is much harder when you don’t have your identity...People are exhilarated by hate...Because of [the] power and aggression [inherent therein]...[It’s] not necessary to fight with the outside [world]...Soul salvation [lies within] the safeness in yourself…”

“When I felt in the space [our hurting Brother] is in, [I] was as a younger person…[What helped me was to] find a passion...Just do the work...Be the best you can be…and, in the end [you will prevail]...”

Co-Moderator asks,  {“Were you ever told that your sexuality is magical?”}

(People shake their heads and say, “No”)

“I think my sexuality is potentially magical…If you overcome something...Every burden that is mastered and turned into a gift can be magical…”
Moderator engages participants in an Emotional Freedom Technique exercise, advising: {“Thought-Feel Therapy comes from Roger Calhoun...It’s kind of like acupuncture…[It has been] used [successfully] with people who have phobias, PTSD, etc…Used in this context…If there have been any negative experiences around your sexuality…traumas…If you want to move toward feeling more whole, safe, this might be useful…Like fear…What do I want to release from my life that’s holding me back?...”}

“Fear of the unknown in terms of career path…life choices…has stopped me from going for things…taking risks I’ve needed to take…”

“Fear of being alone…”

“Fear of no one accepting me completely…That, I will have to change myself [in order to able to be with someone else]…”

“[I am afraid of] Sexuality getting in the way of things that are important…Because there is a mojo involved, and a hard-on involved…It’s sort of a problem because it takes so much time and energy…I don’t want to be ninety and to be trying to figure out who looks hot…”

“Being left…”


“Fear of being poor…”

“Fear of being hurt…”


(As the exercise ends…)

“I feel a difference in my body…”

“What if a person feels shame for having done something wrong…Like stealing?…”

Moderator says, {“It’s not about focusing on the past, but about making a promise to myself about where I want to be…We talked about releasing [negative experiences and expectations and things that do not empower us]…The value [of the exercise will vary]…You can try it and see if it’s useful to you…”}

Co Moderator says, {“In terms of processes which support us in unlearning negative beliefs about ourselves and learning to value ourselves, therapy can be an invaluable tool…There are different types which, from one to the next of us…and from one pocketbook or kind of health insurance to the next…may tend to be best suited to us…It requires a commitment to researching options on the way to finding the process which best enables our becoming self-loving…”}

DeShannon leads participants in a ritual to consecrate SGL sexuality as a gift, saying, {“[We] pour libations because, once you release something, you should claim something…Libations [are] a water prayer… Calling on the Creator and thanking the Ancestors [for being as we are] and calling on them for support to lift us up…to acknowledge that we wouldn’t be here but for those who have gone before…We stand on the shoulders of others…”}

What, if any usefulness, has this exploration had for you?

“[It’s encouraged me that] I have to speak my desires out and take steps to make them happen…I have to do that work on myself…Not to be fearful…Tap into each other…Give myself permission to see in my Brothers what’s in me…[For this engagement} I’m more open to going out and being present…”

“[It was] wonderfully touching…rich…meaningful and quite sacred…Giving ourselves permission to let go of things…And, the silence…Sometimes, in the silence [wonderful things can happen]…”

“I heard the word ‘permission’ used twice…[It] Provided the group the opportunity to be right [in the world]…and not judge your own self…We don’t give ourselves permission to see ourselves beyond others’ expectations…”

“I’m going to be understanding of other people…This is the first time I’ve been in a situation like this where people were trying to release things…Each one of us have an idea of what we lack and what we have, and there’s an on-going negotiation [between those properties]…For us to be given a space to say how you feel…When we sanction how we feel with words, something shifts…Courage starts with a declaration…‘This is something that’s hindering me’…”

“I think this experience gives [us] space [we don’t normally have]…”

“It’s very helpful…”

“I’m leaving here a different person than when I came in…I was really down…I was smiling…But I felt really bad…It takes a lot of energy to keep up a happy face…I was tired…Something gave me the spark of courage to go off and have a healthy life…”

“The ritual is reminiscent of what we do at Adodi…”

“Any time you resolve to do something, it kind of clears away anything else…Adding clarity to where they were going…What I got…She made individuals make resolves…Clear[ing] away all the debris...”

“A mechanism to measure [the value of] that is to add numbers to that…”

“There is a way to turn what we are doing into assets…What can we do that is going to support us?...If there is someone in Wyoming who wants to get what we have…we can provide what we’re doing to others [across the country]…”

“There are ideas that happened here that are magical…When someone learns that their ideas are sacred [that’s magical]…It’s very different to unlearn that [you are wrong in the world and that that you are magical]…”


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