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Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Pride @ Yoga Lab

June is my favorite month. It’s summer, it’s my birthday month, and it’s also LGBTQ Pride month.

I know many see Pride month as a celebration where the rainbow flag is draped on every possible product and cities have parades filled with drag queens dancing half naked in the streets. But it’s so much more.

It’s a celebration of life, love, and liberty. It isn’t just about parades and partying. It's about the gay community being visible and belonging to a community, a town, a city, a nation and the world.

It's about spreading hope that not only are things getting better but things will continue to improve. We won't forget the battles, the lives lost, and the pain suffered because these have afforded us a growing list of equal rights in the United States.

I’ve been a gay man since the day I was born. Throughout my entire life I’ve been marginalized and pushed to the periphery. Even now, in 2019. I was confronted with the hate label of “faggot.” On the flip side, I’m consistently confronted with comments like “I’ve got no problem with gays” and “your lifestyle doesn’t bother me.” As a good rule of thumb, when I use qualifiers and justification there’s a lurking untruth. Every aspect of how I was born and how I am seen pushes me into the untruth of “I definitely don’t belong.”

10 years ago I would be embarrassed by the rainbow flag. I saw it as a symbol of something that made me different. A badge that confirmed to the world I don’t belong.

Until Yoga entered my life.

The practice freed me to see that it is each of our core callings to create connection with not just those who are similar to us but to those who are dissimilar.

My studios are filled with those who are dissimilar. Everyone who steps into these studios comes from different walks of life, different financial circumstances. We’re different colors, different sizes, different ages...and yet somehow, every day in each of these studios love, acceptance, and friendships are forged. This is my most prideful accomplishment.

My seeing has changed on what that flag represents. It isn’t just for the LGBTQ community, it’s for all of us. It’s for everyone who has ever felt they don’t belong, everyone who has ever felt they are not enough. It’s for anyone who has ever felt unloved. It’s for those who are brave and stand for equality, life, freedom, love, and liberty.

We talk a lot about “enlightenment” in yoga. Enlightenment isn’t going to happen by mastering headstand or doing 108 sun salutations. It’s not going to come through hours of meditation. It’s so much simpler: enlightenment happens when we stop seeing others and start seeing one. One connected beautiful group of human beings.

I know we change our conversation at Yoga Lab weekly. But it’s my birthday and this is the gift I want. For the rest of June, share your stories of equality, of love, of moments where you didn’t feel enough, when you felt you didn’t belong. Because my teachers, my leaders, and I are going to share them with you.

Our arms are open because you do belong here, whoever you are.

I see you. As one. Michael

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