A Spiritual Perspective On That Wolverine And Buckeyes Rivalry…

Since moving to Ohio almost five years ago now, I quickly became aware of a huge rivalry between Michigan and Ohio. For those who are from this neck of the woods, know that I’m NOT speaking of the one that often plays itself out on the roads here between drivers from opposing states. Rather, I’m speaking specifically to the one between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes football teams.

Every year since first coming to this area, I’ve witnessed the constant bashing, taunting, and bragging those goes on around here from far too many. It seems to come up constantly in conversations all around me. It’s also on plenty of social media postings as well. And by the time the annual big game between the two arrives on the weekend after Thanksgiving, the trash talk has usually reached its peak. That is, until one of the two teams become the victor, leaving the other to bear the load of a ton of shaming comments. Frankly, I’m not a fan of any of this, as I feel there’s too much negative energy that comes out of it.

The reality is that I don’t participate in this rivalry because of this. I do my best to avoid any of those rivalry conversations that take place and I tend to avoid even watching any part of that big game when it’s on. While my partner did which a short bit of it this year, I opted to not tune in because honestly, I have far more difficult things going on in my life right now that causing me great stress. Choosing to really support one of these teams is only going to cause me get more stressed out and generate even greater pain within me. That why when this past year’s game took place down in Columbus where Ohio State ended up winning by a landslide, it didn’t affect my energy one bit. I can’t say the same was true though for a number of Wolverine’s fans I know, as I’m sure would have been true if the game had gone the other way.

Regardless, I know that watching sports and being a fan of any team is simply a pastime for many and often a tradition that’s passed down in their families. Yet, it wasn’t a tradition in mine, as hardly anyone ever watched any type of sports with any regularity on our television when I was growing up. On and off over the years though, I eventually did become a fan of several teams from different sports, except I constantly found my energy experiencing a roller coaster of emotions because of it. When my team was winning, I always got tons of temporary highs. But when my team was losing, I had the tendency to get temporarily depressed. Ultimately, when my health began to decline years ago, I found myself not wanting to experience any of that energy yo-yo anymore. That’s because it became just too stressful on my whole energy system every time I engaged in it.

It became too stressful on my mind and body to see the team I supported lose and even more stressful to endure all that bragging, taunting, and bashing that came from those who supported opposing teams. It also became stressful on some level when my team was winning, as I too often resorted to the very same trash-talking, which never made me feel very good inside whenever I did that. Thankfully, none of this seems to be in my make-up now and is the very reason why I don’t consider myself a true fan to either of these rival teams.

I’m sure this huge rivalry will probably go on for generations to come in this area and will continue to generate more of that bragging, taunting, bashing, and trash-talking. Many of these team’s fans will probably also keep on posting the things they do on social media, like something I saw not too long ago where one of these team’s mascots was receiving simulated oral sex from the opposing team’s mascot. While it’s not my place to condone this or any other behaviors that often arises out of this rivalry, especially since I once participated in it, I’m just thankful I’m not taking part in it anymore. Whether a team wins or loses really doesn’t matter to me these days. What matters more is just treating people with unconditional love, which for me, includes all people from Ohio and Michigan, and all Wolverine and Buckeyes fans…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Boy Erased”, An Eye-Opening Film About The Truths And Many Horrors Of Gay Conversion Therapy Programs

There are many in this world who continue to believe that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin in the eyes of God. While I don’t believe it’s my place or anyone else’s for that matter, to ever try forcing any of them to see it differently, the same can’t often be said for them, especially when one of them is also a parent facing a child’s struggle with sexuality. As many of those parents frequently resort to sending their child off to gay conversion therapy programs with the sole hope it will remove the part of them that’s gay. This is the very premise of an eye-opening movie I recently saw in theaters titled “Boy Erased”.

Based upon a true story from Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name, the film follows the life of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), who is the son of a Baptist preacher, Marshall (Russell Crowe) and a Baptist mother, Nancy (Nicole Kidman). When a disturbing sexual event from his life catches up with him, Jared is directly confronted by his father and asked if “IT’S” true. When Jared finally admits his deepest, darkest secret to his parents, that he thinks of men, his father becomes immediately disturbed, so much so that he consults a few other pastors for help, both of which convince him to send his son off to a gay conversion therapy program. Once there, Jared witnesses the truth and many horrors of the program at the hands of chief therapist Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), including physical abuse, mental torture, shaming, and intimidation. While some remain in the program and privately admit they are just “playing the part”, others desperately try to remove the piece of themselves they’re constantly told is a disgrace to God. It is there where Jared will ultimately face himself and decide once and for all, is he truly gay and going to accept that’s how God made him, or is his thoughts of men really just some sick part of himself?

Sadly, some 700,000 children have been sent off to gay conversation therapy programs just like the one Jared Eamons took part in, many of whom became psychology worse because of it with some even eventually resorting to suicide, all to escape the pain inflicted upon them by both their families and the “therapy” forced upon them.

While my parents never attempted to force gay conversion therapy programs upon me, I have experienced first-hand quite a few ultra-conservative religious folks over the years attempting something similar. I’ve been repeatedly warned by them I’d never make it into Heaven if I remained a “practicing homosexual”. I’ve been informed by them my sexuality is a choice and that God didn’t create me in this way. I’ve been rejected from membership from a number of prominent churches in the process as well. And I’ve even in recent years been advised that my long-enduring health issues are nothing more than a punishment from God for being gay. After watching “Boy Erased”, I was actually grateful that the brain-washing attempts upon me over the years by ultra-conservatives wasn’t anything even close to what Jared Eamons went through.

What I found most sad about these types of programs after watching the film and reflecting upon my own personal experiences with those who attempted to “convert” me into what they believed was the only God-given way, is how many in this world have ended up permanently turning away from God because of it all. Far too many gay people I’ve met over the years seem to care less about God, all because of the constant message they’ve received that God hates gays.

Ultimately, I believe I was born gay and that God made me this way. I don’t believe God made a mistake with me, or anyone else for that matter, especially when it comes to one’s sexuality. And I wholeheartedly don’t believe that God called me to live a life of either celibacy or a life in a relationship with a woman I don’t have true feelings for. To arrive at this place of acceptance with myself and my sexuality took experiencing many moments of stillness in meditation and prayer. God eventually did answer, many years ago, leading me to understand that whomever I entered a relationship with, man or woman, I was only to love them with all my heart, mind, and soul, and that’s all that mattered.

Unfortunately, much of the world still believes otherwise and continues to send questioning youths and even adults off to places like gay conversion therapies or worse. The fact is, until everyone comes to realize that God loves and accepts everyone, regardless of their sexuality, and that a person’s sexuality is for them to decide and no one else, more and more people are going to feel rejected by God by the actions of ultra-religious conservatives forced upon them.

Thankfully, Jared Eamons survived what was forced upon him and was able to go on to share his story with the world in both a memoir and now a movie that is extremely eye-opening to the truths and many horrors of gay conversion therapies, so much so that I know I’ll be praying for some time to come for anyone who ever has had to endure them…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Beautiful Boy”, A Heart-Aching, Yet Inspiring True Story Of A Teenage Drug Addict

I have seen plenty of movies over the years that have portrayed the demise of an active alcoholic or addict quite well, but rarely do they ever seem to show the painstaking efforts involved on their journey to get sober or the effects it has upon their family and loved ones. Thankfully though, one recent film titled “Beautiful Boy” actually does just that.

Based upon the true story of David Sheff (played by Steve Carrell) and his son Nic (played by Timothy Chalamet), “Beautiful Boy” tells the heart-aching story of an exceptionally gifted young teenage boy’s rapid descent into drug addiction and the agony it brings not only him, but also his father and family. From one relapse to the next, Nic finds himself in a vicious cycle that always befalls anyone who severely suffers from the deadly grips of drug addiction. Through all his lies and deception, promises that never get kept, a constant emotional instability, and even theft, Nic’s family experiences all too strongly, the sad plight of a drug addict and how powerless they truly are to ultimately stopping it. Yet, in the end, Nic’s story is also an inspiring one, one that finds him eventually discovering the path to recovery, but not before his and his family’s life gets completely unraveled into utter chaos.

My heart truly did ache while watching “Beautiful Boy”, mainly because I kept thinking this kid was going to die from this disease, given how low of a success rate there is with those who fall prey to drugs like he did (mainly Crystal Meth), and given the number of sponsees and friends I have personally lost to overdoses. In fact, just over four years ago now, I sponsored someone who was pretty close in age to when Nic was deep in his own drug addiction. Unfortunately, his story didn’t end like Nic’s, as he was one of those who continued to relapse until he eventually overdosed. Sadly, that’s often the case these days with many hard-core drug addicts. Nic was actually one of the lucky ones who somehow survived this disease and is now living to tell his hard-earned road to recovery.

I think the hardest part in watching Nic’s story play itself out on the big screen was in seeing how his family tried every possible tactic and level of support, hoping it would bring him into sobriety. But, that’s the biggest misconception that parents and loved ones often have of alcoholics and drug addicts in their lives. They think they can control it or cure it and sometimes are blamed so much so into believing they are the cause, yet none of which are true. The reality is that an addict is the only one at fault for their disease and is the only one who can ever bring themselves into sobriety and recovery. In the end, there is NOTHING anyone else can do to bring that about, no matter how much love, anger, tears, grief, guilt or manipulation gets expressed.

That being said, I recently became aware of a family who continues to spend countless money, hours, and anguish trying desperately to get their adult son into a life of recovery, yet in the process have been making themselves grow sick, weary and imbalanced. I only wish they would discover what Nic’s family discovered in “Beautiful Boy”, that being a 12-Step program called Al-Anon, which is specifically tailored for families and loved ones of addicts. In Al-Anon, one can find plenty of help, help in learning to cope with an addict, not help in trying to fix them, which isn’t possible. Thankfully, Nic’s family got that help and hopefully so will this other family as well.

Nevertheless, “Beautiful Boy” is an exceptional film that truly chronicles the full spectrum of drug addiction, on both the family and the addict themselves, through all the trials, tribulations, and suffering, to eventual healing and recovery for both. I highly recommend seeing this movie and hope it ends up getting recognized during the upcoming awards season.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson