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What Does 'Authentic' Mean to You?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by SevnButton, Sep 28, 2018.

  1. SevnButton

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    That word, "authentic", shows up a lot here on EC. It's a common word that I've known for most of my life. But talking about sexuality, along with other uses of the word, I've been trying to understand what it really means. How about: "Authentic" is when the packaging and the outward presentation matches what's inside.

    How would you describe 'authentic'?
     
  2. Contented

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    My definition is the external me matches the internal me exactly. The external me reflects my true feelings, self image and world view without the filters of the heteronormative society we unfortunately live in.
     
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  3. SoulSearch

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    For me it’s not hiding my truth from the world. Being true to myself even when I’m defying others’ expectations. Being real with the people who matter. Standing up for my beliefs. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been.
     
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  4. Nickw

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    Sven

    This is a wonderful topic. I have had this conversation with a friend of mine who is gay and married to a woman and has a couple of kids. What, really, is authenticity?

    I think it varies with the person. For many it is as both Contented and Soulsearch describe. That it is reaching a level of acceptance that there is no difference in how you ARE and how you LIVE.

    But, there is another level of authenticity that I think sometimes doesn't get a lot of air time. This is what my friend and I discuss. To be "authentic" in the classic EC mold would require one to give up the heteronormative completely and become what our sexuality demands. But, for some of us, there are spouses and children. A version of authenticity that I respect is when some of us honor those commitments and responsibilities. For some of us, being authentic is really being that spouse or that parent we promised we would be.

    Now, I'm not saying that it is wrong to say "I can't be the spouse or parent unless I can be myself first" Absolutely, nothing wrong with that. We do need to nurture our own souls, which includes our sexuality, before we can be those things truly. But, some of us are capable of doing that within the boundaries of our current lives.

    I guess what I am saying is that I am not sure we all have to leave our lives because we have a same sex need or desire. Sometimes, it is authentic to work our sexuality within those lives.
     
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  5. Rade

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    My inner and outer person have been in severe conflict for 42 years LOL.
    I'm only now trying to find myself and balance the outer person with the gay person who's inside.
    I'm getting there slowly shocking some people along the way.
    I personally don't find it easy. If I meet a partner eventually I hope they could play a part in balancing the outer me to be more comfortable with the inner me.
    When you have acted straight 42 years it ain't easy, and my kids don't know yet.
    I'm now nurturing my sexuality and not being scared or afraid of it...
    Rade
     
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  6. Rade

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    Like this....it sounds like be too!!!
     
  7. OGS

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    For me it means that I am myself, at all times and in all situations--and that I genuinely believe that self is worth sharing, so I don't lie, I don't hide and I don't feel shame.
     
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  8. greatwhale

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    Authenticity is better understood by its opposite. We are frequently put off by "inauthentic" people...those who behave in a certain way, or say certain things, in private and another in public. We abhor hypocrisy, and stand on alert for the slightest inconsistency in others. But authenticity is somewhat more complicated than that.

    Those masks that people wore during Carnival in Venice had a singular and ironic purpose, which was to erase the participant's public selves and to bring everyone, no matter their status in "real" life, to an equal level. With these masks, people could behave as they wished, and with whomever, without any social consequences. This was all well and good, however, it also unleashed darker impulses. As the night progressed, incidents of theft and violence were not uncommon..."authentic" humanity indeed...One could also argue that social media are one big Carnival where people can hide behind their screens to create whatever persona they wish, and behave as they wish, whether for good or ill.

    Being authentic presupposes that we are perfectly aware of some stable, core self, and that we are unafraid to be that self openly. But I would argue that we are quite inept at truly knowing who we are, mainly because we use abstractions to support some concept of ourselves. By so doing, we ourselves become abstractions. I include "gay" as just such an abstraction; use any such labels with caution, they don't quite reach the target...

    Those masks we wear in order to perform some role or roles in society can often become so habitual that we often cannot discern the mask from the self, in other words, I would contend that we become who we perform and that any "core self" is itself an abstraction.

    If there is some true self, it is only within that becoming, within the force of our desires, and within the things that arouse our attention in the present moment. The great psychologist, Carl Jung, spoke of life as a continuous quest toward becoming ourselves. I contend that in the end, we never quite reach that goal, because we are always becoming...As for dealing with the darker side of our natures, Jung spoke of integration, as a means of accepting and integrating our shadow-sides so that we behave and act in a way that integrates and directs those darker inclinations in a positive direction. In my opinion, it is the best authenticity one could ever hope to accomplish.
     
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  9. DecentOne

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    I like what others have said above, about knowing your inner self and having the outer presentation or actions congruent with that self and your values. I consider myself to be an honest person, with a caring heart - so my authenticity isn't just "this is me!" but more like "this is me, and in right relationship with you and others." That has guided my coming out process.
    As a little kid I remember clomping around in my Dad's shoes, or putting his hat on, pretending to be him. I think that was part of imagining myself grown up... such play wasn't "inauthentic" it was imagining possibilities and expecting a possible future for myself. As a teen I remember "trying on" various selves. But if I was one person among some people, and another person when not in that circle I noticed it didn't feel honest - I think I was learning authenticity by watching myself move across groups. There was a book that came out which was an early learning in differentiation, "I'm o.k., you're o.k." -- the book coupled with messages I received from family and church that diversity/difference was a good thing, we didn't have to be the same to be able to fit in. I am grateful for that, although I still got plenty of rules/boundaries/conventions absorbed. Later when grown and working with teens we talked about creating spaces where it was safe to take off masks, I tried to pass along the gift of a supportive safe environment to them.
    Part of why I came onto EC was to find a space to work through what I could not quite understand, such as how my male friendships had dropped away, and wanting a group which would support me in finding some ethical way to proceed. I really considered myself straight, but had enough awareness that something didn't quite fit, and how that might mean I wasn't fully aware of myself. So awareness of self and the whole picture is part of authenticity too, and having folks around me who are encouraging authenticity is necessary.
    Thanks for asking the question!!!
     
  10. Contented

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    Nickw said it best, for me it is giving up the heteronormative totally and openly living as the gay man I am without excuses, regrets or shame. Identifying as a homosexual without regard to what others think about me has been a heady eye opening experience in authenticity.
     
  11. Broccoli

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    I agree with this. I feel like I'm still trying to figure out who this 'authentic' version of myself is so I can be them!
     
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  12. dirtyshirt84

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    Good question!

    I think for me it is never apologising for who I am anymore, knowing myself better and being as honest as I can be.

    I think as Great Whale says it is a work in progress...
     
  13. Love4Ever

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    I think it is being wholeheartedly yourself. No longer caring what others think.
     
  14. Mihael

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    I think authenticity is about not having a packaging :slight_smile:
     
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  15. SevnButton

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    It helps me to think, for a moment, of authenticity separately from sexuality. Then the things you mention here, @Nickw, all fit in nicely with the notion of being authentic. Yes, my sexuality is a big part of my being, and so are other things, like parenthood. I couldn't be authentic by spending all my time nurturing my sexuality while ignoring my parenthood, because that is not who and what I am. It's just that it's way easier to be authentic about my parenthood than it is to be authentic about my gay.
     
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  16. SevnButton

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    Maybe instead of "packaging", I should have said "what I present to the rest of the world.
     
  17. Mihael

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    Then I'd say the same as you.
     
  18. SevnButton

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    But I like what you wrote, @emerry - not having "packaging". What you see is what you get, no pretense, no marketing.
     
  19. I'mStillStanding

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    I love this thread (question and answers)!

    Authenticity, for me, is (like mentioned above) being your true self. Now I feel most people only want to focus on the best parts of themselves (and I’m not talking body image issue because god knows I have them I mean more internally), me I take the good and bad. It is what it is. I believe in duality so the best parts of me are the exact opposite as the worst parts. I have to accept that and try to choose to stay living in the positive space, but I don’t hate myself when I slip the other way lol. I mean when I good I’m great, when I’m bad I’m better hahaha. (Really no point here I guess.) I also think we should grow and evolve so it’s ok to be different tomorrow... I’m getting lost down some rabbit hole so I’ll leave it here lol.
     
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  20. smurf

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    Not sure how to feel about this.

    I think you are a great representation of what it could look like to be authentic by figuring out a way to deal with life and being open about the struggle, but I don't think commitment and responsibilities is part of being authentic. That sounds more like duty, and to me duty feels opposite to being authentic in many ways.

    I don't think you have to be living a specific life to be authentic like you mentioned, but I think being open about the struggle is where the authenticity comes in. Letting other people know that its hard, having the conversations that you had with your friend, being open about the joy and the heartache of it all. That is authentic.

    For me being authentic just means living without the worry of filtering my life.

    But because the world is really fucking harsh to anyone whose authentic self isn't "acceptable" I'm content with being authentic for most of the time. Being authentic and open to all is just too much risk for me to handle with my life.