Pride, Sobriety and the Power of Friends

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I am suffering from some form of post-Pride emotion. I am not sad – far from it.  It is more like solemn feeling stemming from the cessation of days and days of immense joy.  Actually, I keep contemplating this word “Joy,” probably because I am feeling so much of it lately.  I feel happy much of the week, but joy is a whole other level, nearly off the charts.
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This week I am quite reflective of all that I just experienced and feeling a lot of gratitude for it all.  This Pride that just quickly past us by has been my favourite of all of the Prides I have experienced. Why?
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Pride, Sobriety and the Power of Friends.

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Pride
I have it. Feeling ashamed of who I am was so tiresome and I no longer want to feel that. Hiding who I am is toxic to my soul. As the years go on, I settle more deeply into my authentic self.  I continue to mature emotionally, intellectually and physically – hell, I own these grey whiskers and wear them proudly.
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I wore stilettos this weekend to the Davie Street block party; my toenails were painted to complete the look.  I remember a day when the thought of doing it was frightening for some reason, like I would be judged. Unpacking why we believe that clothing is gendered is a whole other blog post, but, simply put, a person should be able to wear whatever they want and feel confident in (so long as we aren’t breaking any laws ((unless those laws are oppressive and need to be addressed)) ). Let me tell you, I felt incredibly confident – not to mention sexy – in those heels.  I am proud that I was able to realize my wish to dance my face off in heels and to feel comfortable (emotionally!) while doing it.  And let me tell you, I can seriously bust a move in those puppies.
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heels Heels 2
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It has taken me a long time to get to where I am today – to feel confident being me.  It’s fun to continue to get to know myself and to explore things that make me happy. I like Chad today, and I certainly used to not like Chad very much at all.  I used to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I hate you, why do you have to be gay?” Today I love myself and that is something of which to be proud. Yes, I have more growing and learning to do and I look forward to it. If the future is a better version of how I feel now, I am eager to get there.
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I’m gay, and I’m proud as fuck about that.  So many people still live lives of closetted shame.  Our country is becoming less oppressive when it comes to people within the LGBTQ community, but we still face certain ridicule and violence.  Part of my pride and joy I felt this weekend stemmed from holding an awareness that so many of our brothers and sisters around the world may never experience such a weekend, lest they be persecuted or beheaded.  I am grateful and do not disregard the injustices faced by thousands of others internationally.   I feel proud that I can experience Pride not merely as an onslaught of parties, but as a reminder of my privilege.  This reignites the fire inside me to continue to work towards international LGBT rights.   A lot of work still needs to be done.
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Pride
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Sobriety
In January, I will be 5 years clean and sober.  Something else I feel highly proud about.  Furthermore, I feel proud that I can enjoy such a weekend without illicit substances.
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One of the things that I found particularly enjoyable this Pride was being able to tell people, “actually I am sober.”  I was asked, “what are you on?” and “do you want some K?” or “would you like some of my beer?”  When I reply that I am sober and that I do not drink or do drugs, people are often surprised – their faces and reactions are memorable.  I got down and dirty this weekend, dancing holes in the floor everywhere I went.  Surely I must have looked doped up on some speedy E, but I wasn’t.  The closest I came to being “high” was the energy kick from a Redbull.  I thrashed, stayed up until sunrise, and danced like a mad man… as most do; however, there was one obvious difference:  I had a smile bolted on my face where as a majority of others looked rather miserable.  Of course, this isn’t to say that all those who “party” look like goblins, no, it is just that, as a sober person who used to consume huge amounts of drugs and alcohol, it is very evident to me when people’s faces are drug-driven.  As the night progresses, it is common that the partygoers look haggard and frowny, with mouths that move as if by some force beyond their control.
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On Sunday night at Rapture, one of the many final Pride parties, I came to a place of sheer joy.  Every so often I get caught up in a DJ set to such a degree that my body seems to move on its own accord – to me it is a spiritual experience.  I smile, and sometimes I even laugh because I feel such joy – it’s just so bloody awesome.  I used to only experience this if I were at a party somewhere all hopped up on “molly.” However, today I can feel this ecstasy in sobriety and to me that is one of the greatest gifts ever.
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“You are fun” and “You have such a good energy about you” are a couple examples of the comments I received this past weekend.  I love to hear them… having fun in sobriety is exactly what needs to happen for me.  There is this belief that as soon as drugs and alcohol are no longer a part of the story, the story becomes boring.  That is so far from the truth.  My life has become evermore enjoyable since making the decision to commit to sobriety.   You never know, maybe the people who I crossed paths with and chatted with about sobriety, for however brief, heard or saw exactly what they needed to hear or see.  If I can live by example and show others that sober living is actually WAY FREAKIN’ BETTER then my life purpose has expanded.
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I was in the hottub tonight and was hearing a couple of guys talk about Pride, and that the jacuzzi was exactly what was needed to help replenish their serotonin that was disintegrated by ecstasy consumption.  I have heard comments from others about their hangovers and their “recovery week.”  I am SO happy that I never have to have a hangover again, god willing, and that my serotonin levels are stabilized naturally through self-care, fitness, and seeking the things in life that bring me and others pleasure.   My only sense of “recovery” from this weekend was normalizing my sleeping routine.  5:30 am bedtimes certainly throw me off!
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The cherry on top: I remember everything I did, and not a single aspect of what I did is embarrassing or displeasing.  No blasted blackouts or mornings of shame and regret.  Fuck yaaaasss!
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sober
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Power of Friends
This is the first Pride where I really truly felt as if I were part of a friend circle.  We spent a lot of time together, and it was amazing.  Of course, years past I had people to hang out with and to celebrate with, people I cherish and care about deeply, but this year was different.  I am blessed with a group of friends who support me, love me, and enjoy whole-heartedly my presence – I can feel it.  I feel comfortable, welcomed, and “part of” more than “apart from.”  It is not uncommon for me to go out and celebrate Pride on my own.  In fact, I have attended several parties solo, something else of which I am proud.  I went solo not because I had no friends, but because my friends and I were not tuned into the same wavelength.  These friends that I am so grateful to have are friends who either do not drink or drink very little; they are friends who can party hard and party clean!  They know about my sobriety and support it, which is clearly the most important part of any of my current relationships in this world.
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As my confidence level grows, and my life in sobriety expands, I am meeting more and more people who ride wavelengths similar to my own, people beyond the friend circle just mentioned.  Periodically this weekend I crossed paths with many of these people, and we enriched each other’s lives if only for that moment.  It is really quite powerful to have these kinds of friendly connections.  It is becoming clearer to me that if my friends fail to enrich my life or bring me joy, and vice versa, and bring me struggle and strife instead, than these people are not supposed to be in my life – joy is too easy to lose and life is too short.
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What I love about this friend circle is that it is incredibly diverse and thrives on welcoming new and interesting people. Vancouver social circles are very challenging to penetrate, they seem to have a clique shellac that leaves no room for new additions.  Many of the people visiting Vancouver often say to me that it is “difficult to make friends here” and that the people are not friendly.  And, I get it.  I do not disagree.  Why is that?  What is it about Vancouver gays that makes intergroup socializing such a ghastly idea?  Anyways, that is, again, a topic with enough juice for an entirely separate blog.  What I mean to express is that I am happy to have spent this Pride with such a kind-hearted and welcoming group of people who have allowed me to feel nothing but love and acceptance.
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Holy crap did we ever have some fun together!  Like, serious joy.   I look forward to future adventures.
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Friends
Friends 2
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Coming home from the gym tonight I just felt struck by the urge to share these thoughts.  Sometimes this happens…
Thanks for taking the time to ready them.
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#LoveYourselfie

I have a confession to make.  I take selfies… a lot of them.  #selfieaddict

It is wild how much flack I get for doing it… be it a fun and casual flacking or heavily weighted in judgment and opinion.  There is this presumption that, just because I selfie like there is no tomorrow, I am narcissistic, insecure, and on the hunt for “like”-based increases in self esteem.  Are these presumptions really the only possibility around why people take selfies??  #really?

Feeling attractive is new to me.  I grew up feeling ugly, awkward, and unlikable; I certainly wasn’t beautiful or cool, whatever “cool” was at that time.   Today, after a lot of self-care, fitness, and weightlifting I have come to find some confidence, and I fucking love it.  I like that I can now look at myself in the mirror, or in the front-facing camera of my iphone, and like what I see.  I do not poison myself, hate myself or call myself ugly anymore, nor do I wish that I were something or someone I am not.  Today, I am who I am, I look how I look. I own it.  I have come to love myself, and not in an overbearing I-cant-love-anyone-else kind of way… No.  I love myself in a way that helps me move through my day with a jovial grace; a way that elicits comfort in conversation; a way that encourages me to continue caring for my body and treating it with kindness.  #selfcare

Am I insecure because I take selfies?  Or are you insecure because you can’t, don’t or won’t? #perspective

Do “likes” and Followers excite me?  Yes, they do.  I love that little orange notification bubble. It proves contact, an interaction with a fellow human being who is going about her or his day within the social media interspace. It tells me that this someone, somewhere else, has connected to me, if even just momentarily through a string of kilobytes, and finds something about me likeable.  Is my self-esteem contingent on these “likes” and Followers??  No, but they certainly help.  #like

Self expression has been part of human culture for millennia.  Whether we tattoo our flesh, insert shards of bone into our ears, or weave a feather into our hair, we are taking advantage of the gift of expression.  I feel privileged that I have the freedom to do so. Today’s selfie is simply another platform of expression and an unexpecting tool of self-discovery.  #individuality

For me, as someone who used to hate himself, being able to post a picture of me, taken by me, and just how I like it, is an incredible feat.  It is telling of my growth as an individual and it is telling of my growing confidence.  It certainly isn’t symbolic of some insecure feature of my personality that needs your judgment and pity. #thatsforsure

In a recent Body Image Study, it was revealed that 65 percent of selfie takers said seeing their selfies on social media actually boosts their confidence  (Dahl, Today Health, 2014).  In my opinion, this is great! We need more confidence in this world, today more than ever. I like the thought that people’s confidence is being boosted by the creativity of her or his own hand.  Power to you.  #selfieconfidence

Instead of judging people who take selfies perhaps it is time to take a look at the reasons why you aren’t taking them.  With all do respect, I think that it is time to #loveyourselfie

It is almost #selfietime, so… unapologetically, I leave you with my thoughts.

See you seeing me seeing you soon…

Chad Walters… #selfieaddict

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Gym Contemplations

The gym is such an odd place to go. Don’t you think? As I am there, pumping iron, so to speak, I often find myself contemplating the whole process of going to the gym. It is a petri dish of examples of the human experience. For a number of reasons… and surely I intend to outline some of them for you :)

1: Adaptability. Think about it. We are animals. We have muscles. Centuries ago we used to run around, climb, hunt, dig, fight. etc… you name it, we used to do it. Man, can you imagine how many sexy humans would have been walking around!? Our bodies would have been toned to the nines. But now, in this automated, processed, delivered, and convenient lives we live, we do not have the need to do all of these things that would keep us so shredded. So… as we move away from necessary physical exertion, and towards a stagnant and inactive life, we hear the call of our muscles. We have adapted to a shrinking, if not non-existent, world of physical demand. Evolution of building muscle.

2. Ego. Classic. I just love seeing people stare at themselves in the mirror and give a quick flex and a wink… “hey baby, how you doin?” Here we move away from the base-level call from our muscles to be formed and tightened and towards an inflation of the ego. “Dayam I look good! I am definitely going to get some action tonight!” Our culture says that the more shredded you are, the more abs you have, the more successful you will be, be it in the office or bedroom. I am sure this goes back to caveman times when the bravest and toughest rented the most wombs.

3. Ignorance. Really?! Did you have to throw those weights? Do you realize that there is a yoga class going on downstairs. Do you care? That sign right there says. “Please do not drop your weights!” Perhaps when you bend down to pick up your weights you will see it… oh wait, you don’t actually pick up your weights, which brings me to 4.

4. Discipline. Didn’t your mother (or father) tell you to clean up? Perhaps to put things away after you use them? What ever happened to the collective willingness to keep things tidy… did it ever exist? I can only imagine what these people’s homes look like… I hated being nagged to clean up my room, the kitchen, the yard, etc. I see the value now. We are all owners of this planet, and many lack the discipline to keep it orderly.

5. Rage. “Aaaarrgrrrrrrrraaaaaaahhhhhhh!!” Says the dude pumping more weight than he should (right before he drops it all, naturally). The Grunts. The Growls. The Moans. Sure, blood is coursing through your veins… but what’s with the Werewolf sounds? Are you mad at the world? What did the dumbbell ever do to you? I often wonder if these growlers can even hear themselves. Maybe it helps to lift. Perhaps I should try it, maybe I will build more muscle. Perhaps there is even a Muscle-to-Growl ratio… perhaps there is a Thesis here.

6. Attraction. Let’s face it… with all that ego-boosting muscle building, our hormones are at peak vibration. After a quick glance at the reflection… it’s off to the races. We see those toned bodies, those tight pants, and those muscle shirts. We leave sweat traces all over the place and heat clouds surround us, surely this sends those pheromones out further to the gym universe. It can sometimes be a cesspool or sexual tension.

7…8…9… Surely there are more. :) Food for thought.

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