“… and we can’t take our eyes off him and we confuse this primal act of protecting oneself – by paying attention to – for desire. Sometimes our guts mislead us, telling us that we are finding chemistry when, in fact, the exhilaration is nature’s way of saying ‘run’.” Brandon on identifying emotions towards a crush. We also discuss his intimate relationship with cheese and carbs, what to ask him on a first date and the importance of intersectionality.
COMMUNITY and DATE NIGHT
A quote that best describes your outlook on life?
“Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.” My homegirl, Helen Keller.
Do you remember your first queer kiss and who is your pipe dream crush?
Yes, her name was Marcy and it was my first lesbian kiss. At the risk of sounding like a home-wrecker, Ricky Martin.
You’re a rational and insightful source for relationship advice. What would you say to people who feel as though a connection exists between a potential partner – when in reality, the other person doesn’t share the same feelings? If we’re taught to trust our gut is there something else in the mix we should be considering?
Trusting your gut isn’t always the best advice. Along the way, some of us have been traumatized by guys not right for us – whether it was in 7th grade or last summer on Fire Island. Due to this traumatic experience, we developed a response to other men that remind us of “him.” The “him” being that person that may have imparted that first wound. The response could feel like exhilaration or even passion, but more often than not, it’s truly a sensation of “danger in the air.” We inevitably recognize this person from across the room, like a rabbit spots a fox, and we can’t take our eyes off him and we confuse this primal act of protecting oneself – by paying attention to – for desire. Sometimes our guts mislead us, telling us that we are finding chemistry when, in fact, the exhilaration is nature’s way of saying “run.”
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I was used to my dreams changing. I was used to chasing them for awhile until they fizzled away. It wasn’t that they were too hard to achieve; I was never afraid of a challenge. It was that I was afraid that it wouldn’t be worth it; that the time spent on chasing a dream would eventually not be worth it. That the time spent in one position—Undeterred, Immovable, would not pay off. . . Be the lighthouse, be it a brilliant or broken one. Be privy to the day’s durability—the rough reaping of the sea foam from the tumbles of the waves. And bear witness to the rocking ships shifting and fleeting, sailing and sinking—forever or never fulfilling their foray. . I would want to write professionally and then wonder that what if I woke up 10, 20 years from now and was like “my God, I should have been building something instead” . Be there like the lighthouse smooth against the rocky ledges, the crags and snags of whipping winds and sea birds’ talons. Endure the night. The long ride. A race flooded with a trillion entries of lights. Be still and shine. Shine amongst the stars and stay til dawn. Outlast the night lights. Stay past the morning sun and welcome the rise of the newest formation of life. . I’d move about from one job to the next hoping to find a new experience and gain new insight into myself and my place in the world. . Stand tall against the backdrop of a drooping tide, ebbing and flowing, gasping for air, wildly unyielding, and you, be still. And be unstoppable, unshakeable, enduring the countless storms of hurricanes and typhoons, and be unshakeable and unsinkable, dear lighthouse, as the tsunami barrels toward you and the tidal wave topples over you. . And then I stayed. I stayed for years at one job and had new experiences within myself because the journey was always inward. Ironically my adventure was ever evolving by staying put. . Swing your light round, and when your light shines no more, stay standing at the edge, tall battered, broken yet visible for all to see. . The lighthouse doesn’t cast itself to sea seeking its ships, it stands still at the edge and effortlessly draws them near.
A question that you liked to be asked on a first date and one that you would ask?
My favorite question to ask and be asked on a first date is, “what’s something you wouldn’t normally tell someone on a first date?” It ups the stakes.
You’ve spoken out about body dysmorphia, perfectionism and the complex relationship that gay men in particular have with self-image. Having struggled yourself, where are you at in this journey and what’s your approach to health and fitness now?
I have a very intimate relationship with cheese and carbs, so I generally follow an “all foods fit” regimen. Meaning, there aren’t “bad foods.” As soon as we start to listen to the voice in our heads about “bad foods” and “bad body shapes and sizes” we create suffering. My journey, right now, is I ask my body in the morning, “what do you need from me today?” Once I started doing this, I stopped working out so much. The world has seasons, and, so too, do bodies. Sometimes I will weigh more, sometimes I will weigh less. Sometimes I will feel softer and sometimes I will feel firmer. Sometimes I’ll want to hike and not go to the gym for weeks at a time, and sometimes I’ll have sheet cake for dinner. My goal is to flow with it instead of resisting it.
Growing up, what outlet did you have to explore your sexuality and what space or activity did you have that gave you a sense of belonging and comfort?
Where else? Other than the comic book sections at Barnes and Nobles with gay magazines shoved in between coffee table books so I could surreptitiously read gay lit and look at gay pics.
“I am amazed at the individual LGBTQ person and the collective LGBTQ community. For most of us, we grew in the shadows, alone, in secret, during our most formidable years. We had no examples—none in our real, everyday lives.”
TECHNOLOGY, ACTIVISM and SPIRITUALITY
Through your spiritual conventions and life coaching sessions what’s one of the most common questions people ask and what have you learned yourself through guiding people through their hardships?
“How do I love myself?” God, it brings me tears just thinking about it. That and, “How do I get rid of the shame?” My clients are mostly gay men. After hearing their stories, I am often amazed. I am amazed at the individual LGBTQ person and the collective LGBTQ community. For most of us, we grew in the shadows, alone, in secret, during our most formidable years. We had no examples—none in our real, everyday lives. We were asked to wait our turn, to not be so loud or “out there,” to not take up so much space. Still, often we fear walking down the street holding hands with loved ones in many cities in this country. We do all of this, and yet, we manage to get to love. We get to the point where we love others and we love ourselves. I am annealed by the experiences that my clients share with me that we aren’t a fragile people but an indomitable one.
For someone who might not understand intersectionality, why is it so important and what do you say to those who undermine it?
The term intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and was used to explain a phenomenon where black woman were too black for secretarial jobs and too woman for labor jobs—they lived at intersections of discrimination; they were hit on multiple sides. This term has expanded to include other minorities. Intersectionality is a buzzword, but it’s important inasmuch as it serves as an umbrella to all of those who recognize how their disability/sexual orientation, race/gender, nationality/gender identity, color of their skin/class/[insert minority status] allows the majority to discredit or create disadvantages for them.
EL CHAMP is driven to promote entrepreneurs and individuals manifesting their own lives outside the capitalistic cubicle life model. What would you say to someone filled with self doubt to take the next step and pursue their dreams?
No one really cares about your initial failures, and by the time people do notice if you fail, you’re already going to be a success.
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I’ve had my anxiety my whole life and am constantly trying to find natural ways to deal with it. @herbstrong is a plant-based product line (1000 mg Full Spectrum Hemp Oil Extract), and especially their Recovery Oil has dramatically helped my social anxiety. Use code Brandon10 if you’re interested in trying it. I use it everyday and have gifted it to friends. Link in bio. Or go to @herbstrong and check out their other products.
A guided meditation track that you can recommend?
Mallika Chopra’s simple guided meditation was the first one I was able to do consistently, and I believe it stilled my mind enough to hear my higher self ask me to get sober. After two months of listening to this, I was reflective enough to no longer be dishonest about my drinking problem. LINK
Can you talk to us about how important it is to consistently seek out advice and motivation in relation to being your “best self” and creating new neural pathways?
Perhaps the greatest key to success is finding someone with whom you can share your thoughts, challenges and triumphs to, and help you process them. I’ve been walked along this road by many powerful individuals, and I have been given wisdom and tools not just for my own benefit but to pass on to others. Meditation is one. Mindful journalling is another. Check-ins, affirmative mind treatments, forgiveness practices, these are all things I would not have had had I not had mentors. These tools help create enough space to expand my window of tolerance—that space in between depressed and anxious, sad and angry, that allows me to see things clearly. Once I am in this space, I am able to dig grooves and as I re-dig those grooves, the new neural pathways are formed allowing me to literally re-wire my brain. Teacher—>Tools—>Tolerance Zone—>New Thoughts
“No one really cares about your initial failures, and by the time people do notice if you fail, you’re already going to be a success.”
As an advocate of blockchain technology, how do you think the intersection of such technology and identity can promote community growth?
Blockchain technology is the first technology in history (aside from maybe the printing press) that decentralizes power without forfeiting capitalism. Why is this important? Because there is a common notion that one must have socialism or capitalism. But the altruistic component of blockchain technology is in allowing as many people as possible to succeed by dint of labor unencumbered by a centralized authority. The mechanisms in place to ensure this form of democracy are mind-boggling and inspiring.
An altruistic technological organisation that we should have on our radar?
Do you have a personal development goal that you’re striving for at the moment?
As I finish my book, Society is Sick and I Am Patient Zero, I am thinking a lot about voice and what makes me, me—which can be a scary place because self-obsessive thoughts are often dangerous for me. And as I work on it, girl, my energy is thrown. And, for awhile I thought I needed to discover myself, then I thought I knew myself. Now, it seems as if I am getting to work on, whether I like it or not, being more in the world and less inside myself. The development here comes in when I remember to be in the world for others and not just for myself, knowing that if I take care of others, the universe will take care of me.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?