Pride Is A Verb

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I went to my first Pride parade like a closeted gay boy walking through the underwear section at Target—pretending to have a calm, collected countenance, but also so desperately wanting to oogle at the beautiful models. At that parade it was important to me that people assume I was a supportive outsider, so I tried to appear as though I was a simple community member doing my civic, neighborly duty, politely waving a rainbow flag. I walked around Pride as a subdued supporter of my local LGBTQ+ community.

During that hot June in Colorado, I had already told a smattering of close friends that I had “same-sex attractions.” But as you can tell, I wasn’t yet fully okay with myself. I was teetering on the fence: could I embrace myself or simply live as a straight person, inconspicuously window shopping the LGBTQ+ life?

Then, I fully believed that to come out was to admit that I was a sexual deviant. I thought that my body—its cravings, yearnings and involuntary reactions—were a mistake for which I’d pay the price by living alone, forever.

As you can infer, I hadn’t quite yet fully understood the premise of Pride. Many of us haven’t.

A lot of us LGBTQ+ people have lived in a context that trained us to stay small, filter our personalities, question our desires, and conform, all for the sake of belonging. We have subtly swallowed messages that teach us that we are safer in our closets or hiding behind facades, and more successful when people are pleased with our personality-altering decorations and costume changes.eas

Some have become so skilled at managing the facade they are known for that authenticity feels either awkward or selfish.

But as Pride swells, I like to remember who I have become and the true potential of LGBTQ+ people.

Now, as an out Bisexual gender non-conforming person—a far reach from that 26 year-old ‘supportive community member’—I have learned to embrace my choices and my lifestyle. And this, to me, is the essence of Pride.

Choice and lifestyle have often been trigger words, weaponized language used against the LGBTQ+ community to demean and shame us. But in my world, they have become the pillars of my Pride.

Now that I fully love who I am, I want to shout from the mountain tops that I am proud of my choice to accept who I am; my choice to let myself visit a gay bar, my choice to ask God what God thought of me; my choice to say, “Its none of my business what homophobes think of me.” You better believe that I chose to fall in love with an my queer, gender non-conforming self. And dang it, I earned the ability to do so! I spent years in therapy, choosing to fight against the voices of shame and self-hatred that left me trembling in fear. For me, embracing Pride has been a long-fought-for choice.

And better yet, I created a lifestyle of which I am utterly proud. I love the home I created with my partner, Joe. I love the way we go for runs after work, the way he loves my niece and nephew. I love my career, one in which I have taken the harmful messages of transphobia and homophobia and turned them on their heads to liberate all members of the LGBTQ+ community. I love the lifestyle that I’ve found working with the LGBTQ+ community, advocating for us, and building bridges, making LGBTQ+ equality more of a day-to-day reality. Do I have a queer lifestyle? You bet! And I LOVE it!

When we embrace who we are and take up the courage to express that openly, we make one hell of a choice. When we choose to be happy, healthy, and successful we create lifestyles that lead to greater life satisfaction.

Outwardly expressing the choices and lifestyle that tell the world just how beautiful LGBTQ+ life and love can be is incredibly rewarding. In this light, coming out didn’t just mean that I told people about my sexual orientation. Coming out meant internalizing and demonstrating LGBTQ+ self-acceptance as though Pride were a verb, an action, a way of living energetically, authentically, openly, vivaciously, from the inside out.

Pride is not only telling someone about how you feel, love, or express your gender. Pride is the confidence and excitement to let others see your authenticity lived out in your everyday life. Pride rids the inclination to guess at your position in relationships because it stabilizes our identities in self-confidence and relational esteem, the roots that hold us knowing our relational value.

Walking through the booths, streets, bars, and parades at Pride celebrations are no longer events I simply window shop. I am proud to be myself. Pride is not only an event I attend once a year; it is a way of being. In this light, I want to wish you the best Pride ever!  

Posted on June 18, 2019 .

Do Open Relationships work? P1. | Navigating the Common Challenges of Polyamorous Relationships

One client said, “If I could not make it work with one, what made me think I could make it work with multiple?” After doing some profound work on his attachments and attachment style, that client found a lot of happiness, stability, and success in his open relationship.

One client said, “If I could not make it work with one, what made me think I could make it work with multiple?” After doing some profound work on his attachments and attachment style, that client found a lot of happiness, stability, and success in his open relationship.


Open relationships require major consideration. As one member of a couple, or as a couple, there are many factors to think about when considering opening up your relationship and/or becoming polyamorous, such as attachments and emotional cravings. In part two of this blog series, we will consider life dynamics, long-term safety, and rules of engagement.

Attachment Styles & Emotional Cravings

Attachment styles are created within the first year of life, and the type we develop largely depends on the manner in which our primary care providers interact with us as infants. There are various types of attachment styles, such as secure (the one we are looking to create in adulthood), insecure, avoidant, anxious, and defensive detachment. These dynamics—or attachment styles—become our relational software. With little self-awareness, we will recreate our first attachment style over and over again. 

Opening up a relationship will have the highest chance of being healthy if you have a secure attachment style. A secure attachment style is comprised of an internal knowing that does not, never-ever, waiver in security. People with a secure attachment style do not become anxious or fearful at the thought of breaking up, nor when relational challenges rock their boat. In fact, the thought of breaking up isn’t characteristic of secure attachment styles. 

In the variety of attachment styles other than the secure attachment style, there is a lot of fear, doubt, mistrust, insecurity, and little faith in the stability of the relationship. These factors can plague any person who might wish to enter an open or poly relationship. 

When we do not have a secure attachment style, we can feel lonely, exhausted, resentful, or relationally empty. Because we are hungry to deeply connect, we can search for someone who will make us feel seen, thrill, and passion. We can begin to imagine what it would feel like to have a refreshing, titillating sexual experience or a connection with someone new who can leave us feeling full. This can often be a motivator: opening the relationship to other emotionally satisfying resources, people who can fill our emotional reservoirs. 

As a clinician, it is important to address the motivation when partners advocate for open or poly relationships solely because they are emotionally hungry. Before they open the gate to allow others in, I encourage the emotionally hungry to take a comprehensive assessment to ensure they are not seeking more people as a way of medicating a painful attachment style. Trying to achieve fulfillment by engaging new people can easily lead to jealousy, resentment, sexual challenges, and, dare I say, the end of an otherwise healthy relationship. 

One client said, “If I could not make it work with one, what made me think I could make it work with multiple?” After doing some profound work on his attachments and attachment style, that client found a lot of happiness, stability, and success in his open relationship. 

Attachment psychology has grown over the years, now offering an in-depth and research-based perspective that can help individuals ensure they are healthily connected, full of relational resilience, and capable of carrying the emotional weight of multiple relationships. 

Can open or polyamorous relationships work? Of course. Maybe not for everyone, but for certain people, open or poly relationships are deeply satisfying. To make one work, you might need to prepare the emotional context with consideration, wisdom, and a ton of communication. Create the attachment structure you need to make your open or poly relationships work.


Posted on June 12, 2019 .

Let's Talk About Sex | Healthy Communication Tips for Gay Couples Struggling With Sexual Issues

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Many of us are comfortable talking about sex with friends. We divulge details, share tips and tricks, and even get advice on aspects of our strained sex lives. Talking openly and honestly with our sexual partners, however, comes with a higher level of discomfort. Talking with transparency comes with the risk of hurting our partners’ feelings, embarrassing ourselves, and asking for things that feel selfish, and it forces us to be vulnerable about the parts of ourselves many of us try to hide: our naked, sexual bodies.

Psychological research shows that couples who talk openly about sex report higher levels of relational satisfaction. How, though, do couples talk about sex so easily?

Tip #1: Spend time destigmatizing sex, sexual activity, and sexual body parts.

One of the best ways to work through the discomfort of sexuality is to pick up a sex guidebook that can help you learn more about your body, sex, and sexuality in general. Some of my personal favorite books on this topic are Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity and Janet Hardy’s The Ethical Slut. Books like these will help you feel versed in sexual language, destigmatize sex language, and experience confidence talking about sex with your partner(s).

I once taught a master’s-level course called Sexuality and Counseling. It astonished me how many graduate students felt either scared to talk about sex or ashamed that they had never masturbated. What surprised me more than anything was that these students had a very hard time identifying parts of their sexual organs on a fill-in-the-blank chart.

Learning about our bodies from an academic perspective will help you become comfortable talking about your sex and sexual cravings, allowing them to become a natural part of who you are and how your autonomic nervous system (neurology in charge of sex) functions.

Tip #2: Embrace self-exploration

Learning about how your body functions, what you like, what turns you on, what is uncomfortable, and what fantasies you might have can help you make peace with your sexual cravings, and it can also give you the confidence to speak your truth to your sexual lover(s).

Even if they needs to be your personal secret at first, sex toys can help you discover the innocence of what feels good. Masturbating with sex toys and/or the insights of books can help you fully understand your body and inspire confidence to ask for the things you like and stop the things you don’t. This will also help you ask your partner what they like and don’t like, making your self-exploration quite the guide for an under-the-sheets exploration with your partner(s).

Tip #3: Talk about your sexual ethic and cravings

Sexual activity exists on a massive spectrum. Some mate for life, and some are polyamorous; some enjoy little exploration, while others dive head-first into kink or puppy play. To better assist you and your sexual partner(s) as you approach sex or resolve sexual issues, understanding what is off limits and how you agree to keep one another safe is going to be a great way to set the stage to talk about and have great sex.

The autonomic nervous system, where sex and orgasm live in the neurological body, heavily rely on a felt sense of safety. With safety, the body can sexually function rather well. Without safety, however, the autonomic nervous system will easily and quickly shutdown.

In this light, talking about your sexual ethics and finding agreement will help the nervous system find ease and comfort, which will inspire great passion and sustained satisfaction. You can read more about sex, the body, resentment, and safety here.

Tip #4: Practice vulnerability & emotional intimacy

If you are having a hard time talking about sex with your lover(s), you might want to start with non-sexual emotional vulnerability and intimacy. Talk about your fears, your dreams, your insecurities, and your passions that have nothing to do with sex. Doing so will help you realize that vulnerability is a very rewarding and safety-building process. Log some time experiencing just how safe vulnerability can be and how much emotional intimacy it can create. In this context, you will create an exciting climate and will learn to trust the process of healthy vulnerability, which will lead to meaningful talks about sex. Pave the way to talking about sex by being vulnerable in other areas.

Talking about sex is very different than slipping right into it. However, having these conversations will not only boost your sex life, but also fortify your connections.



Posted on May 31, 2019 .

Faith & Sexual Identity | Using Your Spirituality to Strengthen Your Confidence

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It was Halloween. I stood in a Scooby Doo outfit made from random pieces of clothing and garments I found in the dusty corners of my closet. We walked into a massive, gay party, me and my queer friends from seminary. I stood talking with a guy who might as well have been a model—his muscles filled what could be extra fabric of his costume. He asked what I do for a living and I told him that I was a counselor for the LGBTQ+ community, one who also works with religious parents of queer children. I told him about my time in seminary, where I reconciled my sexual orientation with my faith. 

With confusion in his brow, he interrupted me to ask, “Wait, you can be gay and Christian?” 

Many queer people are confused not only that some would call themselves both queer and Christian, but also that the combination itself is a sheer possibility. 

Faith and sexual identity go hand in hand, in my book. To prove similar claims, many reach for theological academic resources, diving head-deep into biblical commentaries, historical languages, and archeology to understand what was penned in Scripture centuries before us. 

Sure, the biblical texts have helped many come to a place of self-acceptance, but as a trained psychotherapist, I am certain that there is no better way to understand one’s inherent value than to experience love, relationships, change, and growth. 

Let me begin by stating that, as a seminary student, I hated who I was, who I was becoming, and the fact that I was completely powerless to change the unwanted attraction that involuntarily occurred within my body. To be honest, relying on old biblical texts that referred to sexual behavior seemed like a bad mistake—not because they would tell me something I didn’t want to hear, but because too many smart people disagree too much. I couldn’t trust the manner in which we didn’t agree. 

I stopped reading the Bible for a while. In seminary, I had learned that the Bible was assembled by men who voted on which books should and should not be included. These men voted by throwing colored, marble-like stones into the center of their meeting table. When I learned this, I was like, “What the heck?” I seriously began to doubt the credibility of the Bible. 

So I set off on a different path, a truly experiential one. I didn’t just want to read about God; I wanted to experience God. I didn’t just want to hear what people thought about God; I wanted to know what God thought about me. 

Here are some important things I learned on that journey: 

1. God does not care about our behavior.

God cares about the motivation that underscores the behavior. As I started treating clients for sexual addictions, explosive anger, and compulsive habits, I began to realize that the behavior (which is what most therapists would focus on) was only a symptom of what my clients were emotionally experiencing. I realized the same thing of my own motives and desires; they, too, were initiating my behaviors. It does no good to change behaviors if the desire is still missing the mark. I believe Jesus was stating the same point when he conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well. And this leads me to my second revelation…

2. Once we make peace with our desires, we take back the power from shame.

Shame is a sneaky force that convinces us that desire itself is wrong. The moment we are persuaded by shame, we will start to hide our emotional yearnings and cravings, thus limiting our options for satisfaction to occur only in the silent, secretive moments when no one is looking. But when we strip shame away from our desires, allowing them to be seen as pure and innocent, we are able to behave in a way that leaves us demonstrating integrity and pride! This is a powerful transition for those trying to reconcile sexuality and spirituality.

3. Trusting God has nothing to do with what we do.

Trusting God means that we do not worry about who we are in God’s eyes. It does not mean we have to keep an eye on God’s emotions, or feel afraid when we make a mistake. For example, if I were to trust a babysitter with a newborn, I wouldn’t spend my time away worrying, calling to check in, or texting to feel comforted by the sitter’s responses, and I wouldn’t end my night early to dash home to feel relief. Trusting the babysitter with the child means that I do not worry because I intrinsically believe the child is safe in the care of a competent person.

Learning to truly trust God with who I am was a revolutionary lesson. It was not only a cognitive thought that left me with some cool insight; it was a physical experience of relief that convinced me I was safe…forever. I could feel comforted by my behavior to keep God happy, but this is not trusting God; it is trusting myself and my actions. Practice trusting God with who you are, not yourself by what you do.

4. I am inherently valuable.

As I began living life as one connected to God, not religion, I discovered that I was inherently valuable. No matter what mistake I made, my God-given value could not diminish, and no matter how perfectly I behaved, my value could not increase. I was perfect to God, even when I messed up and even when I was trying too hard. Our inherent value does not excuse unhealthy or immoral behavior, but it does help us live tied to our worth. And when we know our true worth, we begin to honor it with the actions of our life.

Can you be queer and Christian? Of course. Some may want to rely on religion as a way of finding confidence. I find, however, that the combination of theology and spirituality is a dynamic duo. Reconciling sexuality and spirituality is no easy feat. There is no one answer that fits all personalities, belief systems, and religious backgrounds. That’s why it’s important to rely on what works best for you. A therapist, a pastor, a loving parent, and a best friend can all give you advice because they love you to pieces. All of their words of wisdom could, however, be dramatically contradictory. 

An experiential season of spirituality might just help you discover what you believe and why you believe it.

Need help making peace with your faith and sexual identity?

Posted on May 7, 2019 .

4 Signs of an Unhealthy Sex Life in Gay Relationships

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As a clinician who specializes in working with the LGBTQ+ community, I often have conversations around healthy sex. Growing up, many of us had the “birds and the bees” talk, but not many had “birds and birds” or “bees and bees” talks.

Like we all know, healthy sex can be an incredibly emotional event, and it can be an experience of pure physical pleasure. In my office, however, one of the most frequent conversations I have is around unhealthy sex lives. After specializing in the field for nearly 10 years, I have identified four common signs that your sex life may be unhealthy.

1.     Obligation & Guilt

Many clients, who are looking for love and so hopeful they’ll find it, tell me that they are fierce in their flirtation. After creating too much emotional momentum and hinting at things they only wanted in their fantasies, my clients often feel guilty for luring someone with tempting words. They can’t shut down the sexual momentum, even when things start to feel uncomfortable, because they feel responsible for creating it in the first place. Whatever the context, whether it be a game of flirtation, a long-standing relationship, or a short-term hookup, going through with a sexual act out of obligation will lead to guilt at least and shame at most, for you and your sexual partner(s).

A major component of creating a healthy sex life is presenting the authentic self and being willing to say, “No.” Speak honestly about what you really want and don’t want right from the beginning. This will set a tone of honesty and authenticity for your relationships.

2.     Resentment

For many of us, sex and emotional intimacy are deeply tied. In fact, the same neural system that houses the sexual orgasm also hosts anxiety, anger, aggression, and trauma. In other words, relational pain and resentment towards your partner can override your neural system, making sensuality, sex, and the sexual orgasm nearly impossible.

Resentment builds when we bottle up feelings of being unsatisfied, isolated, unimportant, or when we tolerate unfairness for too long. These relational pain points will grow into full-blown resentment, and this, in my opinion, is the number one agent that will shut down anybody’s sex life. So, whatever your pain may be, your one job is to talk about it constructively with your partner(s). Then and only then will your sex life have the option of returning to hot passion. I always tell my clients, “You have to protect your relationship from your resentment,” and I mean it.

3.     The silent transaction

Being held, feeling valued, and getting affirmation during sex can often mimic true safety. In the heated moments of sexual passion, we tell ourselves that our sexual partner will forever be the one who will provide relational security. In fact, hormones are released and areas in the brain are activated during sex specifically to deliver the message of belonging to the body, but because many of us perpetually crave to feel connected, we may prematurely ‘give’ our sense of belonging, security, and value to our sexual partner(s) in a silent transaction that happens [unknowingly] during sex.

If this transaction has happened in an unhealthy way, it leaves one partner feeling too tied, too needy, or too dependent. Their partner won’t engage emotionally at the same depth or intensity, because they have no clue that they now hold the other’s safety and security. As a result, many wonder why sex “always ruins the relationship.” To avoid the unhealthy passing of your emotional stability, It doesn’t mean you need to be monogamous, committed, or married; it just means you need to understand the emotional depths to which all people involved are ready and wanting to go. Before you hand over your heart, make sure your partner(s) are ready to hold it.

4.     Self-esteem booster

Sex is often a nice little elixir that medicates our loneliness or insecurities. And many of us feel a whoosh of self-esteem when we can get someone ‘like that’ to sleep with us. Placing emphasis on sex, we often confuse sexual acceptance for relational belonging. The confusion will leave us hunting for sex because it helps us believe we are truly worthy. For many of us, this hunt persists for years. It can even be our default setting if gone unchecked. We may have a glorious and adventurous sex life, capturing the trophy types and the model-esque, and yet we can remain confused as to why we can’t find true, long-lasting love.

But when we start by cultivating self-esteem, we don’t need others in the same way; we know how beautiful we are and what we’re worth without needing someone to prove it to us.


Obviously, sex is a beautiful thing—but it can very easily ruin relationships. Let sex be something that adds joy and satisfaction to your relationship, not the pillar that sustains you or your self-esteem.




Posted on May 3, 2019 .

Relationships Hurt: Emotional Cravings Part 3

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As we enter relationships we are come equipped with a dominating guidebook for our emotional cravings, their roles, and when they are appropriate. We all have these emotional guidebooks because they come from childhood.

My childhood neighbor was a rough and tough, tumbling G.I. Joe-loving little kid. We would play for hours, mostly me trying to understand his world.

I really couldn’t understand the allure of an action figure, but whatever I played I did it because I longed to fit in. As a boy with significant insecurities around boyhood, I was just glad to have a friend.

Soon enough my friend, Eric, would enter the jock crowd. He would pick other playmates during games of baseball and ignored me as I walked down the hall.

After being teased daily for being a “faggot,” I simply craved to have the protection of another boy my age. Would anyone come to my side, validate my boyhood, and welcome me to the place where I belonged…the boy world?

When puberty settled in I started to crave protection in a much more profound and sacred way. I dreamed of my other. My innocent fantasy told me that he would want to be by my side. And when my emotional craving for protection led me to romantic attractions to other boys, I felt incredibly dirty. 

My emotional craving to be protected was labeled by my church as a perversion and by boys as gay, the derogated type.

But watching shame distort our emotional cravings is something we all do. 

Emily, one of my clients, had a brother with a sever mental disability and she was scolded for being too energetic and laughing too loudly. Emily was taught that her innocent emotional cravings for fun and joy were wrong. So in relationships she was stoic. She would often cry on my couch, grieving the part of herself that used to feel alive.

Every time Mark approached his father with the hopes of securing emotional intimacy, Mark’s father would complain that Mark was in the way. And Mark wondered why he had incredible feelings of discomfort whenever he tried to open up to his partner. He was frustrated that only vulnerability he could share comfortably was buying gifts and doing deeds around the house.

Because of Emily and Mark’s childhood environment, they had significant shame binds wrapped around their emotional cravings; Emily felt shame for being joyful and Mark was shamed for wanting connectedness.

In other words, to use Pia Mellody’s language, we carry many shame binds around some of our innocent emotional desires. Your shame bind will take on a life of its own-without your consent-and may distort the way you see yourself as a relational being.

Essentially, when we’ve received negative feedback about our emotional cravings we’ll play the script over and over as we progress in our relationships. In this light, the distortions of emotional desires actually prevent us from engaging in relationships with freedom, reciprocity, and vulnerability.

Although many shame binds can be undone with awareness and practice, the hardest part is allowing them to be reclassified as innocent.

It is hard to redefine the cravings of your heart in a way that bolsters your new relationships, as opposed to letting it leave feeling inferior.

As a means to redefining your emotional cravings, practice trusting that your partner won’t be overwhelmed by your joy, or that you won’t be rejected when you ask your loved ones for relational intimacy.

After several years of rehearsing the script that told me I didn’t belong, I tried something new. I ask the men of my life to listen to my history of using a self-deprecating dialogue. They helped me understand who I am once they learned how hurt I had been. Some of them went road biking with me, and others shopping. I was able to cry and laugh with them. We had shallow conversations and deep ones, too. Overtime, I felt cherished. But mostly I was able to learn that I belonged, I just needed new teachers. 

Trusting someone with the vulnerable parts of who you are, especially after they’ve been wrapped in a shame bind, will be utterly frightening. But trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Relational stability and freedom are priceless and well worth the fight. 

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Posted on October 17, 2016 .

Emotional Cravings Part 2: A Distorted View

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Through the lens of an awakened consciousness, the freedom from the “obligation” to the flesh (Romans 8:12-13) is not perfect physical behaviors (the thing most of us call righteousness). Rather, freedom from the flesh occurs when we deconstruct the distortion and realize that our heart is always pure. In this new light, we are able to choose behaviors that match the value of our emotional cravings…because we now know how beautiful our desires are!"

Posted on October 12, 2016 .

Your Emotional Desires Are Always Clean: Emotional Cravings Part 1

"Emotional cravings, I began to notice, were not my demise, they were God’s blueprints tucked into my soul. When I followed my emotional cravings I was following God’s plan." 

"Emotional cravings, I began to notice, were not my demise, they were God’s blueprints tucked into my soul. When I followed my emotional cravings I was following God’s plan." 

After a night of drinking and driving I would slip my key into the lock. It was always my turn to open up shop on Friday mornings. I had to be there early enough to test the blood alcohol content of all the DUI offenders.

I would show up with bloodshot eyes and embarrassment smattered all over my face. How could it be that I was a substance abusing, seminary student working to rehabilitate DUI offenders?

After work I would dash to my own therapy sessions. I would talk of my own emotional needs with my counselor, questioning their validity. A good Christian, I often heard, didn’t and shouldn’t “need” anything but the Lord. It was easy to believe my emotions were damaged, since my own emotional needs always led me down the wrong path.

My own emotional cravings were the anatomy of the flesh that I should learn to live without.

But my view has changed.

Now I see that the majority of Christians have been too quick to call emotional cravings pathology. We have literally split ourselves from, well, ourselves.

I can’t help but to be astonished when I hear sermons where emotional cravings are characterized as the internal vehicle that drives us away from God. We have really lost the fact that God gives us the desires of our heart (Proverbs 3:5-8 & Psalms 37:4).

I used to think that God was like Santa Clause, delivering the desires of my heart. Being clean enough -ensuring my name staid on the good list- and having quiet times was going to keep God in the overnight line at the post office.

As I realized that my good behaviors weren’t forcing God to slide down the chimney and deliver my emotional needs, I had to seriously question the foundation of my faith. 

Like a two-by-four whacking me in the head, I realized that God was not sending me the gifts for which I asked. But I came to understand that God had planted the original desire in my heart, and it was my job to seek the materialized version for which my heart craved.

"God had planted the original desire in my heart, and it was my job to seek the materialized version for which my heart craved!"

God didn’t give me a gift, he gave me the craving itself. Like seeds holding all of the genetic coding for every aspect of how the tree would blossom, so too are our emotional desires. All of our cravings are packed into our heart from day one.

In this way, then, growing up meant watching that seed blossom into full-fledged, God-given, innocent desires. God had given me the desires of my heart and I could feel them growing, reaching their way to the surface. What was most spectacular during this revelation, even though it is incredibly simple, was that I was experiencing God’s heart when I experienced my own emotional cravings.

Emotional cravings, I began to notice, were not my demise, they were God’s blueprints tucked into my soul. When I followed my emotional cravings I was following God’s plan.

I didn’t need to follow some random, intangible path with a finicky compass that God would flip on and off whenever pleasing. The plan that God has for me, for us, is to follow the emotional cravings of our heart…that were planted within our essence.

“But what about the desires for porn or the desires for midnight chocolate cake that I get? These are my emotional desires, the cravings of my heart. Some emotional cravings can lead us away from God,” some might say.  

Not so fast!

Underneath every craving that leads to a shaming behavior has its origin in an innocent desire.

Porn: the craving to feel powerful, seen, acceptable, desired, and thrill.

Midnight chocolate cake: the desire for pleasure, comfort, reprieve, and safety.

We have to move beyond judging our physical behaviors so that we have time to stop and peak at our emotional cravings. What really is the primary motivation for wanting to look at porn?

It’s not like we’re only craving to do something wrong and dirty. It’s not just about having a sexual experience. It’s not just about a cancerous selfishness festering in your heart.

It could very well be, and most likely is, that an innocent emotional craving has become associated with a shaming human behavior.

Remember, the God-given emotional cravings that have been screaming in the heart of one who looks at porn are innocent: the craving to feel powerful, seen, acceptable, desired, and thrill. How innocent are those!

So here’s my thought:

After spending countless hours working with clients and examining my own emotional plane, I have come to believe that our emotional cravings are God’s way of leading us to an authentic life where we can experience freedom, joy, and congruence. But when they become overshadowed by the shaming behavior, we allow them to be called wrong.

But its time the Church make peace with the desires of the flesh, because they're from God

God gave you the desires of your heart. Identify them. Memorize their callings from within your body. Respect them. And meet their needs with healthy innocent resources that leave you feeling proud and liberated, not guilty.

Our desires have been present from the time we were born. Watch them blossom and let them guide you forward.

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Posted on October 3, 2016 .

My Response to A Conservative Christian: Unconditional Love

I have come to believe, at many instances unwillingly, that my attractions for men are an expanded way of observing God’s love expressed through humanity- another pure form of general revelation. 

I have come to believe, at many instances unwillingly, that my attractions for men are an expanded way of observing God’s love expressed through humanity- another pure form of general revelation. 

Original conversation stemming from my Huffington Post piece.

Dear Dr. Brown,

As a high school student I was a strong advocate for sexual purity, making a big deal out of the covenant ring I sported. I was zealous in my fight to protect sacred convictions from any form of secular contamination.

And so it is important for me to answer your first question. You ask, “…how can we ‘build relational and religious paradigms free of hate’ when you are branding our sacred convictions as hateful?

I believe that all convictions, even those of the conservative church, are not hateful, in and of themselves. They are always essentially pure. Like the innocence of that covenant ring-sporting teenager, we just want to do the right thing.

So although I don’t label conservatives’ sacred convictions hateful, I do distinguish sacred convictions from the behaviors with which one chooses to defend those convictions.  

The fear of many conservative Christian parents, with whom I work, is that unconditional love will create a crack in the container that keeps their convictions stable. Sorrowfully, unconditional love has become synonymous with moral compromise. 

And this seems to connect us to question two: “…if we cannot have real fellowship with professing Christians whom we believe are practicing sin… how can we have true fellowship with you if we believe you are living in sin?

I have spent years working with families comprised of conservative Christian parents and LGBT+ children. These families are often trapped in a cycle of relational ambivalence perpetuated by: 1) a deep desires to experience connectedness and 2) the anger created when their loved one cannot agree with their moral perspective.    

Many parents choose to cut all ties with their children. The “moral compromise” of the children is too great. They indirectly answer the question, “Is there anything your child could do to make you stop loving them?” Their answer is an angry and prideful, “Yes!”

There are also conservative parents who demonstrate unconditional love- a love that supersedes their children’s actions and dogmatic statements. These parents feel comfortable in tension because they’re familiar with the process of spiritual development at work in their children’s lives.

Such parents are able to compassionately accompany their children’s journeys without feeling threatened by their relational or sexual decisions.

God does this for all of us daily. In fact, I believe unconditional love is one of the effects of spiritual maturation, not spiritual degradation. Unconditional love is the fundamental orthopraxy of Christianity, not its end.

In this way, I hope that all Christians- including you and I- will recreate unconditional love, regardless of one another’s actions or dogmas. Creating this side-by-side fellowship, or emotional intimacy, is the way we will build relational and religious paradigms free of hate.

I believe unconditional love is capable of allowing a vast diversity of opinions to coexist within its power.

I’ll tie this answer to my response to question three: “…since you identify as bisexual, what stops you from affirming your heterosexual attraction as God-given and your homosexual attraction as fleshly, whatever its cause or root?

I do not deny my attractions for men because I do not consider them sinful, but a blessing equal to my attractions for women. My attractions are part of my flesh, but this is no different than the innocent attractions of the straight woman or man. I’ll explain.

As a psychotherapist trained at conservative seminary by conservative psychologists, proving conversion therapy’s successfulness was my life’s mission. As a result, I spent many hours studying biblical passages, reviewing psychological research, and listening to my sincere Christian clients’ experiences of human sexuality- behaviorally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.  

I have come to believe, at many instances unwillingly, that my attractions for men are an expanded way of observing God’s love expressed through humanity- another pure form of general revelation.

So, being made to love the same gender and being loved precisely because I’m attracted to the same gender are God’s expressions of unconditional love- those expressions covering the spectrum from creative design (sexual orientation) to human orthopraxy (falling in love, even same-gender romantic love).

And so we arrive at your fourth question: “…what do you say to those who are ex-gay? Do you embrace their stories and thank God for their transformation, or do you deny their stories and even call them liars or self-deceived?

Several of my clients who initially presented for unwanted same-gender attractions have fallen in love with someone of the opposite sex. They have expressed their love through sexual intimacy, and reported that sex has been extremely gratifying. And I genuinely rejoice with them.

I would never call people who fall in love ‘liars’ or ‘self-deceived.’ In fact, I embrace their stories because the experience of love, true love, is equally pure among all- even those who have attractions for the opposite sex, same gender, and those who have experienced an augmentation in their emotional cravings. 

What I mean here is that when many conservatives see a shift in the gender one dates, with whom one has sex, or with whom one falls in love, they easily call it a conversion or confuse external changes as a transformation of sexual orientation or a deliverance from homosexuality.

But what we’re actually seeing is their full, and until then latent, array of emotional desires creating changes in their external, relational world.

So while examining the fluidity of human sexuality, I think it unwise to call their new demonstrations of love a transformation. Language like this mischaracterizes one's emotional cravings, limits our understanding of sexual orientation, and may prohibit one’s ability to experience ‘God is love’ in its most authentic form.

To many, my responses will sound like the contamination to which I have previously fought against. And to many others they will peacefully reinforce self-understandings.

As I mentioned in my initial letter, I am not hoping that conservative Christians see it my way. I am not positioning my side of a debate.

I am, however, hoping that by empathizing with my perspectives conservative Christians will replace hatred- as a way to defend sacred convictions- with unconditional love. Doing so will literally save lives. Let us not forget that 49 have been buried because a learned hatred evolved into violence.

Thank you for your questions. I look forward to more discourse.

Blessings,

Isaac Archuleta

Posted on July 22, 2016 .

Christian Counselor Encourages Homosexuality Calling it 'Diversity'

"I know the voices of my critics very well. Their critique of my diversity helped cultivate the shame that spoon-fed me the message, 'I am a broken boy.' But I’ve also lost my way and found the magic that points me toward God,  which means I ultimately find myself over and over again."

"I know the voices of my critics very well. Their critique of my diversity helped cultivate the shame that spoon-fed me the message, 'I am a broken boy.' But I’ve also lost my way and found the magic that points me toward God, which means I ultimately find myself over and over again."

My 11 year-old nephew was driving with me in the car two weeks ago. He plugged his mother’s pass-me-down iPhone 5 into the stereo. Periodically looking at one another with smiles, we bobbed our heads in matching rhythm.

He rocked a Justin Bieber snap-back while I waved my hands in the air.

We both adore one another and this is a glimpse into the sweet spot we’ve co-created over the years. We just let one another be. His child-likeness reminds me how to be genuine, and I give him the freedom to be authentic when I enter his world matching his energy.

In between Toby Mac and Flo Rida, my nephew turned down the music bringing us back to reality. “My mom said that you might marry a man. Is that true?” he asked me.

Advocating for the inclusion of all people-and all versions of love-I replied with a normalizing, “Yes, I might.”



“Can I marry a man, too?” he questioned. Again, with a normalizing tone, and the pressure to aid in the construction of his shame-less worldview, I replied by giving him freedom to be authentic one more time. “You can marry whoever you fall in love with. The trick is to follow your own heart,” I told him

After he understood that he was free to love whomever activated his heart and body, he turned up the volume, this time with Daft Punk:

“Every body will be dancing and will be doing it right…
If you lose your way tonight
That’s how you know the magic’s right.”

I couldn’t help but think that only when we feel lost are we truly secure. So in the way of losing a safe heterosexist way of life- and an appeasing version of myself to present to the world-do I know that the magic is right. Feeling lost is the course correction that points me home and I know I’m on a spiritual journey (Matthew 10:39). 

Daft Punk reminded me of Richard Rohr who penned these words, “People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know that they don’t know. They are utterly humbled before mystery.”

A “genuine spiritual experience” is an awakening that feels like the rug has pulled out from underneath your feet. Those proverbial rugs are the pillars of false security by which we name ourselves and rely on for temporal sustenance. While steadfast, pillars of false security keep us from discovering the authenticity inherent to God's creative design. 

A hidden sexual identity or calling one another sinners are true pillars of false security. Hiding and judging can surely be the trap of shame, yet the refuge protecting you from ridicule. What a false version of acceptance to which we’ve become accustomed.  

 
 

When it’s a true spiritual experience we realize what we 'didn't know' about true security- the security that is reinforced from within, not by other's approval. We also don’t know where we’ll land. In these moments, we’re humbled by the mystery of God’s love- the liberating love that perpetually invites authenticity. 

What a brilliant way to demonstrate creative authority and unconditional belonging. Makes sense to me. No artist wants to see their masterpiece hanging upside-down or tucked behind protective walls that force its secrecy. 

But sometimes you have to dance with an 11 year-old who loves you to death to remember that being intentionally diverse was the sovereign plan all along. 

For many Christians my words will sound offensive and flat-out heretical. How can a bisexual uncle talk so openly and comfortably about homosexuality to his 11 year-old nephew? How can a Christian encourage homosexuality?

I know the voices of my critics very well. Their critique of my diversity helped cultivate the shame that spoon-fed me the message, “I am a broken boy.”

But I’ve also lost my way and found the magic that points me toward God, which means I ultimately find myself over and over again.

Self-discovery is never about latching onto pride so that we can feel confident by our performances that keep others happy. Self-discovery is about humbly making peace with our diversity- the diversity that let’s God’s creativity be true, even if it’s knit into our biology, temperament, gender, or emotional cravings (Psalms 139:13).

I wonder, what would happen to our world if we started referring to God by the name of Diversity?

Would we respect others more? Would we then understand freedom and love with more depth than any generation before us? I believe so.

If we could see Diversity as God’s face shinning on this planet we would be less inclined to conform and judge or more connected to the true confidence of ‘I AM' (Exodus 3:14).

This is our work at iAmProject: reshaping the way I AM shines on earth by remembering the basics of God’s creative design. iAmProject is here to reclaim God’s diversity so that we can all love ourselves first, so we can love our neighbor fully.

As a means to launch this brand new baby, iAmProject, we are offering a free launch party on May 7th at the Holiday Theatre on 32nd and Clay. We’ll have a live art demonstration, live music, and a FREE cocktail hour! For more information visit us at ThisIsiAmProject.com.

 

Posted on March 30, 2016 .