Dear Beloved MKY Community,
The month of June is widely recognized as Pride Month by the members of the LGBTQ+ community and the allies who support them. As one of MKY’s openly-gay teaching staff, I’m grateful to share with you all what this month means to me, especially so as a yogi.
Recognize that the other person is you.
I came out in January, 2013 at the age of 18 in what I’ve ultimately recognized to be the most decisive, fear-filled, and liberating moment of my life. For all my adolescent years, I firmly believed that if I could not conceal the fact that I was gay, I would be bullied, ridiculed, and––most terrifyingly of all–– friendless. The fear gripped me tightly. I learned to suppress and distort my sexuality by pretending to be straight at a time when my coming-of-age energies were most fragile and in need of awareness.
There is a way through every block.
After years of lying both to myself and to others, I had not only developed a chronic pain condition, my mental health had truly collapsed and I’d fallen into a dark sense of despair. Daily life was a prison, of which I felt the victim with no identifiable way out. Until one day, when I saw that the way out was through.
When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
As I stepped on stage in front of my entire high school to receive an acting award and deliver a short speech–– for my performances in drama and musical theatre–– I became faced with a completely new destiny. My heart rate exploded and my vision went tunnel… and yet, somehow, the words left my lips and into the microphone and told the whole world that I was gay. The moment I finished speaking, something within me bloomed that has never left me since. A commitment to the integrity of a much deeper truth.
Vibrate the cosmos and the cosmos will clear a path.
After years of advocacy and dedication to social reform, I experienced a spontaneous & life-changing spiritual awakening (satori) that led me, in part, to the teachings of Kundalini Yoga.
As a yogi, I’ve learned so much about how to relate not only to myself as a gay person, but as a man and a spiritual being a part of something larger than myself–– my beloved community, my sadh sangat. By Grace, devotion, discipline, and meditation has slowly begun to bloom in me. My dedication to the practices of Kundalini Yoga is renewed with every moment of beauty and experience that flows through me when I teach and take class. Praying and chanting has brought my gay identity into a space where it doesn’t become a center, but just another piece of the foundation of my inner self-esteem.
After coming out, I relied too heavily on “being gay” as a source of “pride”. Quite frankly, that identity became a crutch for a deeper sense of insecurity, which has taken many years to accept and transcend. I don’t mean to imply that this is the case for others who strongly identify with their sexual (or other) identities, but it certainly was true for me. Kundalini Yoga has inspired me to go deeper and let go of so many aspects of my personality that despite their appearance were really limitations.
And yet, I am grateful that my gay identity has continued to be a foundation of service to others. Today I run an LGBTQ+ nonprofit that helps to foster heart-centered leaders in our community, and––cut short by the pandemic–– fellow MKY teacher KiMani Divine & I offered free kundalini yoga to homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York.
Spiritual work has enabled me to integrate so many of my identities and lean on trust in God and the deeper wisdoms that pulse in unknown spaces of my heart. For me, Pride Month is a reminder of how far I’ve come, how supported I’ve been by so many people over the years, and where my work lies ahead: Choosing to love others and myself at all times, in all places, no matter what.
The Aquarian Age is full to the brim with collective challenges of body, mind, and spirit, but the most beautiful part is we are not alone. Everyone needs mirrors at times to remind them of the beauty inside. For some that may be a Pride celebration, and for others it may be a class with spiritual family at Montclair Kundalini Yoga. Or, for someone like me, it might be both.
Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand
Sat Nam!!! Wahe Guru!!
Manush teaches a weekly online Kundalini Yoga class & co-leads monthly Online New Moon Healing Ceremonies with Kimani Divine.