Disclosing Shadow to Self

by Mitch Walker

There are gay men today trying to explore and fulfill an authentic living homosexual tradition, a tradition going back before Plato which will likewise stretch into the distant future. It is the archetypal tradition of gay-centered Spirit, that is, honoring and practicing the self-realization of the "god-ness" within gayness itself, its sacred progenitor, its royal mysterium. It is this Gay Spirit that creates homosexual love as a magnetic center of inner value, compelling our sexual orientation and identity.

Out of this Spirit comes a sensibility and a procreativity of stunning importance not only to us but for all humanity. Not only to participate in but also to wake up to this fecund Gay Spirit self-consciously, to seek its knowledge and wisdom in ever more purposeful and actualizing ways, is to join with our mystical forebears to fulfill the revolutionary promise of our gayness and thereby help usher humanity through its current crisis to a more humane and mature form of social life. Since Gay Spirit arises and lives in the psyche, one must face one's psyche in an actual and full way to truly reach a fuller partnership with Gay Spirit. In practice, this means a thorough encounter with one's Gay Shadow, that is, with what is actually most disturbing and most resisted against inside one's own feelings.

We are all thoroughly Shadow-ridden in the most unconscious of ways. Only people willing to ongoingly face their Shadow in full honesty can seriously enter their own psychology. Only by learning to fully partner and explore encounters with inferior feeling can we redeem the "other half" of our complete psychological wholeness in Gay Spirit, and thus come into fulfillment of the awesome potentials that are our patrimony. We gay men have only begun to scratch the surface of dealing with our "unfinished business" from dysfunctional/homophobic families and antisocial upbringings. The goal is to actualize the finest, deepest and most creative tendencies of Gay Spirit. To encounter and work through the "problem" of the Shadow-side in gay psyche is to undergo the greatest Grail Quest of homosexual realization. This is the Call to true gay adulthood. It is to make a partnership with that wounded inferiority provoked by the yearnihg for gay love so as to enter our own psyche and reclaim it as gay, re-owning projections not only to work through unfinished business but to become a worthy companion to the Sacred Spirit. This is the truest meaning and fulfillment of Homosexual Romance. And those who are not actively answering this Call to psychological responsibility are instead, just like our biological families and the rest of society, unconsciously acting out and projecting covert Shadow agendas of unfinished business with violence and destruction. Yet, as is always true under actual revolutionary conditions, such understanding is highly dangerous because it summons a real power that seriously threatens the reigning oppressors, and in this case that means the forces of toxic repression, which are ensconced in the very psyche of the person seeking such understanding! We have all been raised and live in a ferocious psychological tyranny of unconscious repression and projection, and the overthrow of that fascistic domination in oneself and in all people is the real revolution to come. The revolutionary nature of this truth is nowhere better demonstrated than in how it provokes a hot resistance in the perceiver. Ironically that very resistance is at the same time the doorway to a new, necessary and actual liberation. Reactions of judgment and annoyance at other people, for example, indicate that one's own Shadow has been tweaked. To wake up to one's Shadow is to seek conscious relationship with the unresolved pain, shame, rage and unmet need in one's own sense of self, so as to withdraw from unconscious merger in the irresponsible mass mind and move towards actual emotional adulthood and autonomous individuality. (This is the principle of psychological self-realization, as C.G.Jung would say, individuation or wholeness of self.)

In gay-identified persons, the sense of sexual identity arises from an overwhelming, compelling experience of fundamental Eros, homosexual in nature. Since Shadow dominates in all psyches raised to deny the dark side of the mind, and since gay minds additionally carry a collective scapegoat myth that gayness itself is part of that dark side, how much, then, will Gay Shadow dominate experience of Gay Spirit and Gay Soul in the psyche? Perhaps the cruelest effect of homophobia is the internal creation of a hugely crushed/crushing Gay Shadow. The subsequent protection of that shadow by the person's own psychological defenses brings a veritable Trojan Horse into the innermost citadel of their Gay Soul, where it can perpetually poison and betray their finest potentials.

Engaging Gay Shadow takes focus, persistence, and serious confrontation in the arena of self-honesty. This starts with identifying feelings of strong shaming judgment about aspects of self or others. If you examine your feelings of offense and judgment carefully they will lead you into a world of the hurt self, where a wounded, terrified boy has lurked for decades full of unresolved painful experiences. Following these experiences out by continuously expressing, processing, and mirrroring them leads not just to "healing" that little boy but to his being drawn into a profoundly deeper initiation inside, whereby his truest capacities and most spiritual gifts may unfold. By facing psychological hypocrisy in ourselves through gay-centered inner work we model the way to a necessary transformation for all. Thus we advance our most hallowed traditions of archetypal Gay-Centeredness into humanity's evolutionary future, into the post-Christian Aeon of Aquarius the Waterbearer, who, after all, was Ganymede, the Beloved Companion and Servant of Zeus.

Mitch Walker is a gay-centered Jungian psychotherapist in Los Angeles. This essay is abridged and reworked from a longer version which is appears in Walker's latest book: The Revolutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness in Men: 3 short essays. This 22 page booklet is available from A Different Light Bookstore (L.A.). It is priced at $3 plus shipping & handling. Call 800-343-4002. www.adlbooks.com