Case Erickson joins Britt for an illuminating conversation about religious trauma, reframing spirituality through the lens of love, parenting children as gay men, and finding the freedom to be yourself. But most importantly they discuss all sorts of ways we can practice loving kindness in the face of cognitive dissonance, bigotry, and bias.
Join us on this wild ride, as we delve into the tough stuff and plumb the depths of our souls. You won’t want to miss it!
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Jonathan[00:00:02] Welcome to Not Going Quietly the podcast where we inspire growth, beat down biases and get into all sorts of good trouble with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Britt East.
Britt[00:00:11] No topic is off limits as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.
Jonathan[00:00:19] So get ready to join us in courageous conversation because not going quietly starts right now.
Britt[00:00:30] Hey, everyone. Welcome to Not Going Quietly, the podcast for outraged optimists and heartbroken healers all over the world where we surface life searing truths in the name of radical togetherness. I'm so thrilled today to have Case Erickson on the show as our featured guest. I can't wait to delve in and explore all sorts of juicy topics. Jonathan's out sick today, so it's just me. But we're going to get rocking and rolling with Case here. Let me read you his bio. He's an amazing guy. Done some absolutely extraordinary stuff. As a gay father, author and TEDx speaker who came out of the closet after 14 years of marriage, as well as overcame substance abuse and lost 40 pounds after selling three restaurants and getting divorced. Case Erickson marries his passion for business, authenticity and health to empower entrepreneurs to cause more freedom and authentic power in their lives and careers. His holistic business meets life coaching practice aligns marketing and sales development strategies with health and wellness goals, which create authentic, courageous business leaders who forged the way to a braver tomorrow channel, challenging them to come out of whatever closet of fear they have, no matter what their sexual orientation. Well Case, I can't wait to hear more about all of that and as well as talk about your book. But first of all, how are you doing today?
Case[00:01:54] I am. Good. You know, it's just one of these transition days, and, you know, one need one day at a time. Days and feeling blessed days. And what the hell is happening is and I love that, you know, that we're getting a chance to connect. It's been a hot minute. And so I'm just feeling more blessed than than frazzled. I'm going to be headed out of town here shortly for a wedding this weekend. Not mine yet, but yeah, I'm really excited to connect with you.
Britt[00:02:41] I think you just described modern life in the United States of America like we're all a little bit crazy. A little bit frazzled, tired, and, you know, taking it one day at a time in a life in the pandemic, plus capitalism plus street supremacy, racism, everything else we're dealing with, living. It's it's no joke. But I first I want to show those of those folks who are watching us on YouTube. I have a copy of Casey's book right here. I'm putting in front of the camera. It's such a friggin good book. It's got so much wisdom and helpful guidance in here that I kind of want to delve further. You know, it's called coming up by going in. For those of you just listening to audio and part of what you do case in this book is you recount your life growing up in a religious family of not exactly gay, but quote unquote, straight with a problem which just has cracked me up for weeks and weeks. What do you wish that little boy would have known at the time when he was growing up?
Case[00:03:53] Oh, jeez.
Britt[00:03:56] Yeah, I don't mess around.
Case[00:03:56] You know, I was just talking to my mother.
Britt[00:03:59] I don't mess around. I'm going to say I'm going straight in.
Case[00:04:02] Oh, yeah, but I stop. I thought I heard you said. I thought I heard you say it's okay to mess around. I'm like, That was a good one. I would've told. I don't feel bad for fooling around with your friends in second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth grade. Oh, but, yeah, I was just talking to my my partner the other day about we talk we talk about it frequently, you know, the the impact of religious trauma and the narrative that I was subject to as a, you know, prepubescent slash pubescent child in the church in this Southern Baptist, Southern evangelical, in that really the height of the AIDS crisis in the eighties. So, you know, and early nineties. And so it was this is what God does to the gays like from the pulpit. I didn't get it from my house so much growing up. You know, I wasn't it was kind of like, you know, looking back, you know, in third grade, asking my mother for a perm because I have a crush on Tom Selleck, you know, And God bless my mom, she got me a problem. I was like, Mom, why didn't you get me a perm? For God's sakes, I was in therapy. She's like, Well, I just wanted you to have one. So, you know, I was definitely one of those typical create, you know, the creative, artistic, you know, I loved music and dance and gymnastics and, you know, expressive and, you know, kind of checked off all the boxes of your stereotypical gay kid. However, I was being subject to every Sunday. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, I went to Christian private school five days a week. We had chapel once a week there and then Bible class every day. And so and all the teachers were in that, you know, political moral majority narrative. And so it was pray for our country, you know, because the the belief or the fear was, you know, oh, if this happens and what's next, you know, we got to you know, this is what happens. You know, it's all Old Testament God and, you know, God's wrath and all these things. So it was a lot a lot of fear, a lot of fear mongering. And so when when my feelings on have crushes on other boys in my class and, you know, I was just like, oh, my God, Like, it was just a lot a lot of lot of a lot of fear. Like, God's going to get me. I'm going to die. I'm going to go to hell, because that's what that's what was being programed into me. That was just everyone else's opinions, my authority figures, opinions. And as a child, we aren't really wired to be able to really deconstruct and logically think and question authority and the way that we are as adults. Or at least this was my perspective and my upbringing. I mean, particularly in the, you know, the Christian the Christian tradition, which is, you know, God, man, woman, children and. So that is the order. You don't. It's all about obedience, all about falling in line, all about, you know, all the things. So there was really no questioning allowed. So 27 minute answer to your question, I would tell that boy that, you know, it is 100% fine to love who you love. And the the the grown ups in your space that, you know, are in your churches and in your schools and maybe even your parents, they're all very, very afraid. They are. You know, so the best thing you can do is just be yourself, be bravely your self, love them, love yourself, and be compassionate to people who are afraid. Because now I know, I believe that a lot of the construct of that narrative, of that of that particular religious facet, I'll call it, of Christianity, I don't have a blanket. I don't have a big agenda to bring Christianity down on the whole. But like that whole facet evangelicalism and you know that the fundamentalist, you know, is is very, very it's a foundation of fear. And for me now, having come out, I tell people the book is a lot about coming out of religion just as much as it is coming out of the closet. And so for me now, I still have this. I tell people I'm kind of like a spiritual atheist, believing that all is one and we're all just energy and we're all just multifaceted little fractals of of God source, love, whatever you want to call it. I do believe that that love is at the core and love is greater than fear. And so really, that's the biggest impact that I would tell and I try to do to my kids now is just, you know, there's there's nothing to fear, you know, really giving them some some tools to kind of reframe their relationship with fear and so not to put fear in the driver's seat. So that's what I would tell people.
Britt[00:08:48] That's a really beautiful I mean, I think that's that's that will help a lot of kids out there. And I love that you're now getting to convey that message to your own children. You know as well as you describe in the book, part of your journey was at one point in your life, you married a woman and had kids. And, you know, there were so many gay men in the community out there with similar journeys. You know, what gets driven so much in the the mass media narrative cliche about gay people is, you know, that we are all single, you know, young urban professionals living in major metropolitan areas, no kids, you know, just lots of affluence and disposable income and partying all the time. And really, there's no one way to be gay. And there's so many gay guys out there who are married to women and have children married, you know, and, you know, similar journeys. So I'm really glad people are getting to to to know this story. And that's one of the things we try and do on the show is highlight different ways to be gay and all the different forms out there. But I guess my question to you is how has your experience of being that closeted, closeted little boy with all of the religious trauma you just recounted, how does that informs the way you parent your children?
Case[00:10:22] How has that informed the way a parent my children? Well, you know, I believe that at our core, most parents, even the fundamentalist ones, they want to do a better job than their parents did. You know, most of you know, of course, there is exceptions to every rule. You've got your, you know, dysfunctions in your addicts and all these other things. But for the most part, most parents want to do better for their children than they than they received. And so, you know, it was I mean, my my thing has just been like, just be yourself. What I've been very encouraging of whatever their self-expression is, even though, you know, it's interesting what I have found in my my I'll say fundamentalist programing, because I do believe that when we you know, we just our program that this is the way that life is. We don't question it when we're young. We're just sponges and taking in. This is this is reality. This is the world. Even though it's not the world, it's just our world, my world. And so I notice when I started really deconstructing my faith, coming out of I don't like I don't really like I came out when I was 19. Well, I confessed of my my demon when I was 19. My shadow, my darkness, my cross to bring to Jesus. You know, it was kind of like this, the same sex attraction and the struggle. And it's like there was always this desire to be authentic in some way, shape or form, so not to hold anything back. So, you know, I knew that the impact of it was that it was kind of like hindering my self, just my happiness, really. And so at the time I thought, you know, nobody's gay, everybody is born straight. And if you feel if you have gay feelings, that's just your same sex attraction. So I definitely bought into the whole reparative therapy, that whole narrative, you know. What did your mom you had to overbearing mom and the emotionally absent father and like I'm like, oh, yeah, I check off all those boxes and that's why I'm gay. So, you know, it was a big process of, you know, kind of coming to different levels of authenticity. So it was 19. I made my confession. I thought I was going to be single and celibate and all the things then started fooling around with my girl, this girl who liked me. And I'm like, Why don't you like me? You want to be more than friends. Okay, we can fool around. She was the first one that I really fooled around with, and then she fell in love. And then I was like, Oh, my God, we're having sex. We have to get married now, or else God's going to get like, God sends the gays to hell. And if you have premarital sex, you're going to he's going to withhold your blessing. He's not you're not going to have the favor of the Lord if you're a little slut. So you need. Though, you know. And you know, I told my wife, you know, she was then my girlfriend. I'm like, I used to think I'm gay, but I guess I'm not anymore, like. And I mean, I don't know. I feel I felt the need to confess. I was only 20 at the time, and so I believe that was true. She believed that was true. And then, you know, we were married for a couple of years. And then, you know, of course, the shocker still, I'm still attracted to the people I'm attracted to. It was not taken away. And so it just started down a long road of dysfunction for probably 12 years after that, before I finally got to the point where I was like, you know, I'm not you know, honestly, I had a big crisis of faith. There's some work that I was doing with a personal and professional development program where, you know, I really had to take on this notion that I was perfect, whole and complete. And I'm like, Well, that's not that's the whole reason I have this faith. I'm broken, I'm shattered, I'm a mess and da da, da. And, you know, when I was probably 35, that was the first time when, you know, it's really seeking, you know, who God was to me at the time, who Christ was. And now it's like Christ, consciousness, love, acceptance, all those things, social justice. That's that's to me, what Christ consciousness represents. And so, you know, it was like I was reading the the parable of Jesus Healing the Cripple at the pool in Bethesda. And he, like so he basically broke the law that day. You weren't allowed to heal people and you weren't allowed to carry anything. And he was like, Carry your shit and get out, you know, to the cripple. And I was just like, you know, for whoever, whoever God was or Christ was for me at the time, I felt like he cared more about me being just me, like, than whatever the law, you know, whatever All these other people in the Bible interpreted what the law. La, la la la la. And so that was the first time that I actually felt okay to be gay, like. And it wasn't like I was straight with a problem. I was like, Oh, God, like, so I'm gay, you know, 35, you know? And that was the first time I was like, If it's okay for me to be gay, why? Why am I married? Why do I have a wife? And let's let's start deconstructing that and let's start getting clear on that. And so that kind of started the whole process of. Kind of the journey of this new level of authenticity, I'll call it. So I know I went on like 27 different rabbit holes there, and I don't feel like I answered your question because I don't fully remember what it was.
Britt[00:15:31] No, you're great. Have brought up several threads. I one, I want to kind of get through. You know, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be traumatized by religious organizations and systems of power. And I wonder what you think, what you might like those of us who have experienced that trauma to know about spirituality and God.
Case[00:16:06] The only thing that's coming up for me right now is to me like this belief that, you know, we are part of something greater and greater thing is is a part of us. It's in us. It expresses itself through us. And it is good, it is loving, it is kind, it is supportive. When I look and, you know, just kind of zoom out and realize that we're sitting on a big ball of floating molten lava in the middle of nowhere. And yes, nature is exceptionally chaotic. And it is also and so, you know, I look at this, these kind of systems of nature and feel like that this is a supportive system that we're in. There is organization, there is structure. To me, it is a very hard leap, even though I, you know, understand the the notion of, you know, there's there is no God per se, there's no separate entity. So, you know, I kind of kind of pick and choose the words that I was you know, I was very I have a lot of biblical scripture that's just been ingrained in me, you know, And so it's like I have to reframe it or I have reframed it through the lens of love. And so because that to me feels good, I question, do I want to do I want to believe something that feels good or do I want to believe something that doesn't feel God? So I believe that, you know, we all believe in something. Even believing, believing that there is nothing is a belief in something. So, you know, I'm I choose to believe that we all, you know, parts of Christ message that, you know, let them be one, as you and I are one. So it's like, okay, what if we really were one? What if we were really we're all connected. And I use that as the the frame or the lens of, you know, and even looking at scientifically like quantum theory and all these, you know, entanglement and this weird, weird, crazy shit that we don't even know, we do not even know the degree of connectedness that we are and the reality of that. Our current human experience is very, very, very much an illusion inside the world of separation. So I've just done a lot of research and listened to a lot of works. Neville Goddard, Florence Convulsion. Alan Watts Those are the the main force. You know, the Wayne Dyer was a really big one, you know, spiritual people who kind of use these use these spiritual principles of love and energy and light and these these types of things that resonated with me that I'm like, okay, that's going to help me. I am I am done, too. And it's it's honestly like a daily choice still, you know, because that's why I'm like, I need meditation, I need yoga, I need proper nutrition, I need proper sleep, I need a lot of shit to like human. And that's okay. Got me to I mean, it took me a hot minute to not make myself wrong for that, to not make it, to not make myself a weak for that. You know, it's it's just sometimes it's more challenging for other people to to actually get up and do the thing that is life. And so for me, I have a lot of tools in my arsenal. And I can feel like when I when any of those tools is off, I feel it. I start to kind of assume the worst or, you know, get into a fear based mindset or, you know, any of those things. So it's for me, it's about just bringing back to love because I choose to believe that. I choose to believe that, you know, because it just feels feels better than better than not. So yeah, that's what I would say to anybody who is kind of, you know, has gone through that religious trauma just to acknowledge that that is a human a human opinion that someone stated as fact. And so, you know, everything is an opinion. Even what I'm saying right now is an opinion. It is it is my truth. Today. It might not even be my truth tomorrow because my truth has changed so much. So I don't even I even my own truth. I'm not like in my book I wrote pre-pandemic, you know, So I wrote my book pre-pandemic. I wrote, you know, pre-pandemic and pre loss of my business. I lost a large portion of my festival event production business. I went homeless for a little bit. And so all of those things really changed me a lot. A lot, a lot. So sometimes I'll read my book and be like, I don't agree with myself. Like I don't agree all the way with myself now, so I don't know, you know, So it's in looking back and realizing that truth is malleable, it's changeable, it's it's relative, it's subjective and acknowledge that. Okay. Thank you, man. Thank you. Thank you. Pastors in my past. Thank you. Religious. Leaders. Thank you, religious teachers. Thank you, Bible teacher, for this and Bible teacher for that. And I no longer believe that your opinion is my truth, because their opinion is just their opinion. And it's not the guiding light for my life. Because when I took on their opinion as as the truth for how my life should go, I was suicidal. So I'm not going to do that anymore. But it is it's a daily it's a daily acknowledgment of what the default is, because the default is a lot of fear based. You know, the fear is the comfort. The brain wants to be afraid. The brain wants to stay small. The brain is just kind of it's it's got special needs for sure, all of our brains. And so, yeah, I just kind of reframe, done my best to try to reframe any possible religious narrative into one that really supports me and my children and my loved ones around me.
Britt[00:22:08] You know, you have so many gifts, you're so smart, you're so funny and relatable, and you're so relentlessly honest. I really adore that about, you know, like it's so empowering to hear like, oh, wow, somebody else has experienced The Dark Knight that I've experienced the depths of the depths of despair that maybe I've experienced and, you know, and is still wrestling with demons every day and still wrestling with life struggles and journey every day and has a pragmatic array of tools and techniques to stay afloat, to knit, to meet the moment in whatever it requires, and to go forth and love others. And I just think that people who read this book and who listen to and are going to feel so inspired by that, that relentless honesty. So here's my question. After that build up.
Case[00:23:13] I know you're like, basically, I can't lie. It's what you're saying. Yeah.
Britt[00:23:16] And then, you know, you have to tell me the truth. Have you have you ever sat down with any member of your family, your loved ones, your former congregation that you might want to remain close to and ask them to consider? And I mean, really you consider. What their homophobic choices have cost you and what they might feel compelled to do with that information.
Case[00:23:47] Well, okay, so I have. So I might have told you this, but I know I didn't say this. I don't think I've said this yet today. My mother worked for televangelist Pat Robertson for 23 years. And so she worked there. After I graduated high school, I went to Liberty University. You know, good old Jerry Falwell on this good ol sidebar. Have you seen, God forbid, on Hulu?
Case[00:24:20] So anyway, we could go on a whole tangible. Yeah, but, you know, so I was kind of. I got married when I was a sophomore in college because that's what I thought you did. And that's what good Christian boys do and. And that whole stuff. So, you know, and during that time, and really, the large majority of my married time and my mother was working for Pat Robertson. So of course, you know, Pat Robertson was like wrath of God. You know, the gays brought on Hurricane Katrina. You know, he's he's stated these really, really extreme things to where I was just like, oh, my God, how can my mother? But like, I just like, let my mom be, you know, I didn't want to cause any big things and be like, why aren't you changing? And then it, it oh, this is the point I wanted to make before when I was talking about the fundamentalist programing now coming out of fundamentalism, coming out of this religious narrative into a more, you know, kind of new Thor, new Age, woo woo, whatever you want to call it. You know, I noticed my propensity to want to be right in that space, which is very fundamentalist. So it doesn't matter what you believe if you are staunchly in the thing of like, I'm on the right side, you're on the wrong. Like, Oh, you believe X, Y, and Z, you're wrong now I'm right. Well, I'm not really different while the, you know, shit may have pretty or packaging is still shit once you open it up. So you know, this desire and this propensity to be right is like, it's a killer, man. It is a fucking killer. And to really like, like let go of the desire to be right, meaning you have to allow the other person to be right. And so, you know, it was always kind of like a sidestepping conversation or topic with my mom, partly because she worked there. So when she retired, I think she retired a little bit before the pandemic somewhere in 2020. And so there was a part of me that was like, Oh, now mother is going to see the light and I'm going to show her.
Case[00:26:33] So, you know, I kind of took this first sort of new age evangelist, you know, and it just backfired like a motherfucker, pardon my language. And, you know, I really so that was probably in 2020. She and I have had a very tumultuous like. I mean, she was I was always kind of like her, her right hand kid. And I it's just me and my brother. And, you know, I was definitely the the emotional one. Like, tell me about your problems, mom. You know, like and my brother was your typical straight like, what are you you know, I've got I've got one of those with my son right now. And I just I don't even know. I can't. But, you know, it got to a point where I was really like, you know, like Byron Katie talks about in loving what is and like, really shifting this this desire that we have this these judgments on other people are really that then these triggers are really what our desire for ourselves. So to let you know, mom, why aren't you the advocate? Why aren't you don't you see this? And don't you see in this and don't you see this and don't you see that? And I'm showing her all the statistics and, you know, suicide rates and evangelical and I mean, I, I don't know if you know who's in control with free hearts, if you ever talk to her or heard of her organization. She she's a really, really great organization that serves parents, Christian parents of LGBT children. So I'm like and one of her one of her TED talks is like over 2 million views. And I actually met her. She used to live in Austin and I met her and I went they participated in their faith community for a little while. But her whole stance was, you know, I chose that. I chose my child over the church. And, you know, she's got all, you know, debunking all the clobber passages and like, it's a mother. I'm like, Oh, my God, this is going to change, mom, for sure. She's gonna she's going to come over to the Rainbow for sure. I'm going to connect her to Susan, and Susan is going to show her the light. I give her to the Lord, I give Mom to the Lord via Susan. And so, you know, on show, I'm sending mom all the things and I'm just like, you know, it really it really became like I said, it really became that, you know, the stories that you hear of, like, you know, the gay kids and the fundamentalist father and the father sending them all the the reparative therapy, you know, conversion therapy paraphernalia and books and all this stuff. It really became that that kind of new age evangelist pressure to her. And, you know, just got to a point where I was like, okay, this is really my desire, letting my mom off the hook for having to be anyone other than who she is. And I'm realizing that my desire for her to be more of an advocate for me was my desire to be more of an advocate for me like I am not. I can barely control myself, much less someone else. You know the ego on most of us to be like, I can solve this, but I'm going to need to control you first. I'ma need to come over to this side first or I mean, seriously, you know, it's just absolute insanity. So, you know, she and I have had many, many, many, many, many, many, many conversations around that. And I finally got to the point where it was like, okay, you know, and it's been interesting that I have actually identified more now with the Christ character, and I've reframed a lot of the Bible as a fiction. I mean. The. Q The main Q And that is like it's it's a story that starts off with a talking snake, so it might not be a literal. So I've reframed a lot of the Bible, as you know, this fiction based narrative that, you know, just allowing that love to transcend and this love, love to heal and love to be like the guiding light and, you know, surrender and all these things. And and I feel at the same time, I feel persecuted by the people who claim to be followers of God. I'm like, wait, isn't this what Jesus was complaining about? Because all y'all are being all holier than thou and Jesus is like, I'ma hang out with this lot real quick because she is way better than y'all. Y'all need to get y'all have messed this the fuck up, you know? And I'm like, Oh my God, I get Jesus so much more now that I left Christianity. So anyway, I've tried to be that like that space of of unconditional love, dropping the judgment. You know, the challenge is they do have these belief systems have real life impacts. They have real life like this. Like I mentioned, the suicidal ideation, the suicide rates are double double for LGBT youth, for those of those who are subject to any kind of reparative fundamentalist conversion. Conversion therapy type backgrounds are double for that for those who have experience. And I think this was some equality Texas or some place that notices or you know said this and then but for for those for those kids who are subject to that in their home and when they they left and then if they were subject to that narrative after they left as well, meaning like they were still in the community, they were still getting from there, their risk of suicide was triple that of their heterosexual counterparts. So, you know, it's it's fine for me to say, oh, it's okay, you know, I love you no matter what, like and like that. And honestly, that's something I'm still navigating is like, it's it's to me, it's kind of like a civil rights issue. It's an educational issue. It's like, do you even understand the impact of what you know? So there was a lot of defensiveness, I feel, coming from from me. And so I had to go through that journey of of release and, okay, you know, give it to God, give it to Jesus, whatever, and really let her have her journey become more of an advocate for myself. And in that space, you know, probably about I mean, it took about ten years. I mean, she came from like, stop saying you're gay. Are you sleeping with you know, I remember when I first came out and I was leaving my wife at the time and I was like, well, you know, I'm gay. That that. And she's like, Why are you saying you're gay? Are you sleeping with men are. No. She goes, Are you having sex with men? I was like, Well, no, right now I'm on the phone with you. It's like they're just so like, they don't understand. There's so many synapses that just are not firing inside the context of, like, orientation and behavior. I mean, oh, my God. I feel like, you know, the work can feel overwhelming and sometimes. But anyway, you know, she she went from that to now. You know, I've been dating my my partner for close to a year. My mom and I had a has have had, you know, one reconciliation after another, probably about a I would say two or three weeks ago, we had a conversation, you know, Tom was with Tom's my my partner's name. And so, you know, I put my mom on the speakerphone and Tom was just talking about how much he loved his mom and how much he wished he could talk to his mom. His mom passed away, like three years ago, and he was just like, oh, my God, my mom was amazing. I just wish I could talk to her. And, you know, it just occurred to me in that moment I should call my mom, you know, like, it'd be not like my mom's still alive. I guess I'll call my mom. You know, I call my mom and we ended up having, like, an hour and a half conversation, and it was really, really just beautiful and lovely. And to kind of set these these things aside and to really hear her love in that and it's like it's just been really true. I mean, and as she said, it's like she approves of Tom, Like she was just like, oh, as soon as I met the first one, I knew Tom was just like a kind and gentle soul. And I was just like holding the phone. I'm like, Is it are you did you? I don't you know, not that she was ever like that much of you know, my father, of course, he was the Marine, the Southern Baptist pastor, Lieutenant colonel. You know, he and I start talking two years before he passed away because he told me that the precursor to the downfall of society is the acceptance of homosexuality. So basically, if I accept you, we're all going to hell in a handbasket. So, you know, he was definitely exceptionally extreme, but my mom definitely kind of definitely came forth. Merkel. I mean, it's just it's like two, three weeks ago. So it's very, very new This this kind of this this land that we're in, you know, and acknowledging that love is the foundation. So if we can remain to the idea that love is the foundation and if someone is acting, you know, Marianne Williamson talks about this and I think it's a Return to Love is a book. But of course, In Miracles, I mean, it's kind of like a recap. And of course, In Miracles where it says, you know, everything is either a call for love or a call to love. And so really, I mean, when I first heard that years ago, I really appreciated that perspective because, you know, I do think a lot of a lot of people's choices and their words and their actions are coming from are coming from fear, which to me is the opposite of love. So, you know, it's this whole like, oh, if we approve of homosexuality, then what's next? You're going to be sleeping with your dog, you know, like they go to this, like, ridiculous extreme, you know? And so now it's like the the gays are kind of allowed. So now we're going to attack. We're going to marginalize trans like that's the new we're going to marginalize either Muslim or trans for, you know, people in the evangelical community. And so it's this this notion of marginalization that I believe comes from fear. And I don't believe that the on the Foundation of Christ message was love, which was against fear. It was dropping judgments. It was loving your neighbor as yourself. It was being one, it was being inclusive. And so, you know, my mom just said probably last week she was talking about because my my daughter's kind of a nurse, one of her friends is changed their pronouns, you know, and changed their name and is now kind of like a gender neutral name. And my daughter's kind of in this unisex phase. And, you know, my mom is all she's I can hear it. She is she's just buying the narrative. It's a fear based narrative that you see and and right right wing conservative media around like, oh, you know, we've got to protect our family, protect our children. You know, they're being given hormones and they're being wrecked. And, you know, I mean, just all this stuff that to me is a fear based foundation. And so I try my best to educate. You know, it's it's one of those things where I used to hate when other Christians were be like, I'm just speaking the truth and love. You know, I'm like, no, you're not. You're being a judgmental asshole. So to not be a judgmental asshole when I'm trying to get people to love one another, like, go figure. Like, that's my, my, my plight. So, you know, to me, there is no easy answer. I look to others before me, you know, the the Martin Luther King's, the Gandhis, the you know, the people who have, you know, experienced what I'll call civil unrest or a violation of of civil rights. And so there's this this element of, yes, I can love you and stop beating your child. You know, just because we put a mandate on you to not, you know, handcuff your child and throw them in the basement, but it doesn't mean we don't love you. And so it's like I honestly I don't know. I mean, for me, that's my next like, how do I build this bridge, right? Because I feel like a lot of gay people on the gay community, men or women or whoever in the gay community that that have religious trauma. They want to stay angry. They want to stay resentful. They want to stay in their hate because that is a more comfortable place to be, because that's how they felt about themselves for so long. And it's easy, exceptionally easy to make someone else wrong. And we think that if I love the person who is basically my abuser in some way, shape or form, I mean, to a large degree, a number of the church communities were I mean, I underwent spiritual abuse. You know, for someone to put these narratives in, you know, it was abusive to my orientation. It was, you know, And so then this notion of I'm going to love my abuser seems kind of screwed up. And so, you know, it's like, how do you hold these abusers? And that's a I'm using that as a sweeping term. I'm not saying everybody who's Christian or evangelicals abusive, but I'm saying this this notion of, you know, you hurt me, I'm not going to love you. I'm not going to forgive you because I don't agree with what you're doing. What you're doing is wrong. And da da da da da. So, you know, it's that's that's a reality. You know, like when people are being marginalized, it's like I told my my mom the story of the Good Samaritan for me now is like, I'm like, mom, it's not about feeding the homeless or taking care of someone's wounds. Like, look at the people who walked by the person. They were the religious leaders. This this person, they weren't allowed. To touch. This person was marginalized by the religious community. That's the reason they weren't helping that person. And the person who did was like, Fuck church, I'm going to help this person. I'm going to meet their basic needs. You know, so for me, that's like. We're kind of a lot of people in the LGBT community are in, you know, particularly the trans right now are in that like space of being kicked while they're down and it's not right. So, you know, there's no like magical formula for me to, you know, say, oh, here's here's how you do it. Here's how you protect those who are, you know, being marginalized other than, you know, doing all the things, you know, doing the work, doing the aligning with the organizations and, you know, the funding and supporting different political action committee committees or different community initiatives that that foster equality and inclusion and, you know, trying my best to fight to fight the fight, but also to just be very clear that I'm I'm doing my best to come from a space of love, to come from a space of inclusion. I always preface anything that I have to say with anybody of any kind of religious background of like, you know, to me, Christ was inclusive. He was an advocate for the marginalized. So I look at who is being marginalized right now and by whom. And I can say that the trans community has been marginalized by the evangelical community. So how am I going to be like Christ today? I'm going to advocate for the marginalized. And just leave it be. And, you know, and it's a lot of the times it's like I want to like take on all the world's problems. And like I said before, I can barely control myself. I can barely, like, manage my own problems, much less the world's. And so I try my best to focus on the relationships that I have in my little my little nest, you know, with my partner, with my ex-wife, with my two kids, with my mom, and tend to those. Make sure those those people know my heart. Those people know that I'm doing my best to take responsibility for my actions whenever I've been hurtful, to not draw the line in the sand and make myself right, even though I feel like I've seen the light, you know, be willing to listen. You know, it's kind of like, you know, B being be willing to understand rather than to be understood, you know? So really learning some tools of conscious conversations, conscious communication, you know, a lot of that you can say is biblical to, you know, be slow to speak and quick to listen. You know, there's some really good universal truths in there that have applied for me in managing the relationships that I've had with the conservative, conservative evangelicals and religious people in my past. And I think my mom is the only one left. Everyone else who I was, quote unquote, friends with back in my married heterosexual days are, quote, heterosexual. They when I came out, I was like, okay, we can we don't we have standards. One of my one of my friends was like, well, you know, we have standards. So it doesn't you're not really in alignment with, you know, our beliefs. And like, these are people I was friends with, I hung out with. I went to college with, you know, and that just kind of happened across the board. And, you know, I just rationalized, as you know, well, they weren't friends with they didn't have a relationship with the real me, you know. And so now it's like I'm having these relationships from a space of authenticity. And, you know, I think I'm really not in relationship with a lot of people in the religious community other than my mom.
Britt[00:44:08] That was a beautiful, beautiful meditation on forgiveness and a lot of juicy stuff there. And I can't help wondering, you know, and thinking about my own life and things that I struggle with. I can't help but wonder, wondering about the forgetting. You know, it's one thing to forgive, to say, I release you, I release me. And approaching relationships and people and situations with a beginner's mind and an empty heart, meaning available to be filled with love. It's another thing, though, to say I forget, even just for a moment what transpired between us. And if we if we are unable to forget or choose not to forget, then we're forced to hold multiple truths at once. You random person may have chosen to abuse me in some way in the past. That's one truth. Another truth that you alluded to is there was some brokenness in you that was longing to be loved and steeped in fear and and all sorts of needs going unmet. How. How do you forget? How do you forgive and forget? Is it is it important to forget? Or is that just kind of a cliche that doesn't have any have any meaning? Is it, you know, how do you hold those truths together simultaneous? Because I think that's where a lot of guys get stuck in the rage. Yes. It's artificially empowering. Like you described. You get juiced off of it, you get an adrenaline, have a serotonin hit and all that kind of stuff. But some of it, too, is also there was nobody in those moments so many years ago to attend to my woundedness and somehow getting in air quotes in this moment as adults in the name of spiritual forgiveness and togetherness, radical togetherness, there even somehow that forgetting feels like a betrayal of that little boy or person in that moment. So how do you hold both of those things together?
Case[00:46:27] Or, you know, I it's it's like I think that you can forget. You know, it's kind of like it to me. It's the intention behind the the energy, the feeling when someone says, well, I can forgive, but I don't forget. I'm like, that's the whole thing. Like, you're holding on, like, that's a grudge, you know? And to me, it just kind of comes down to to boundaries. And, you know, I've got Do I have it over here? I think it's called here. I've got it right here. It's the language of letting go. This is she wrote Codependent No More, and it's daily Meditations on Codependency. And so today's was beautiful about detachment and really just taking responsibility for our own feeling in the matter and our own. Like, are we the ones who are like, attached to this thing and are we like in the gerbil wheel of suffering because of what someone else did? Yeah, you know, And so that's like that, like, and, but at the same time you're like, well no, I don't want to forget because they fucked up or they did this. And that's not right. And there's a lot of legitimacy in that feeling to, you know, reminding that I have to remind myself, like to not feel guilty over anything like guilt. So it's kind of like the other thing. It was like fear, guilt, shame. I'm like, Oh, this is a good little pie. I'm just But then it has so many so much to unpack there, you know, but not feeling guilty for for being angry. And because those feelings are valid, if we are abused, if we are mismas, if we are forsaken in some way, shape or form, how do you detach while also forgiving and loving? And so for me, you know, through my work, I've done a number of work with, you know, 12 step staff and, you know, all these things is about boundaries, boundaries and clear communication. So, you know, you can stay. And what I have said is like, you know what, this this affected me. This is how it affected me. This is how it's it's also continuing to affect other people. So this is an ideology or this is a system of behavior or this is a system of thought. And here is the impact. And what that means for me is that we're not going to have the a close relationship because I am in close relationship with those I'm in alignment with. I am on I am on a mission now to kind of build these bridges and come from a space of love and not a space of fear. And, you know, to really transcend some of these old narratives that I, I feel were were bad for me or were hurtful for me. You know, we don't always have to learn through a large degree of hurt and trauma, Like, we can learn and we can evolve and we can grow. We don't need to like throw ourselves in, you know, down the slide full of like razor blades into like a pool of salt water. You know, that shit stains, you know, we can get a papercut and understand what a sting is. So, you know, we're coming. For me, I feel like we're coming out of this emotional, dark age. And so how do I come out of my own emotional dark age while acknowledging that shit is still going on? I've been doing a lot of like looking at a lot of documentaries recently, and, you know, it was very I was kind of in my little I'm in a healing bubble right now and I'm just like tending to myself and, you know, doing all my like, I'm just going to be here at the Healing Spa and oh, I'm sorry, I can't see you over there getting beaten and bludgeoned, but I need my rest. And so it's to a point now where it's like, okay, I'm ready to now be more of an advocate than I was before because I'm, you know, it's kind of like the scriptures that says, you know, fill your cup, you know, me a cup overflow. Like if my cup is empty, I can't be of service. And so for me, it's about establishing boundaries, being authentic, saying what works, what doesn't work, acknowledging that the other person also has their journey. You know, you I, you know, in my past, in my ex-wife, that's a whole other thing we could talk about forever. But, you know, she has her journey. And, you know, I never want to say, you know, Bret hurt me and he's never going to change because he's just an asshole, you know? So when I create someone in that space based on their past behavior, I give them no space to change in my own personal reality because of the way that I created you for me. So I really kind of had this insight when I got to my my father passed away around four years ago. It was like a church full of people. I was like, Are y'all here for the same? Got Steve. Steve Erickson Did I get the room right? You know, but, you know, it's just a beautiful moment. My brother got up and shared, and then I had an idea of what I was. To share. And as my brother was sharing, I was like, Oh my God, I cannot share what I was going to share. I got to share something else. What I'm going to share, to share whatever comes to my mind. And I don't even remember like I was in the flow. I was like talking about love and forgiveness and, you know, because I done a lot of forgiveness and reconciliation work with my dad, with religion, with big, you know, invisible sky. Grandpa is what I call him. I do a lot a lot of work on that. And so I was just talking about love and forgiveness. And, you know, I didn't come right out and say, so this is there was a Southern Baptist church that was at First Baptist Church, but it was like, I will only go to church for a wedding or a funeral. And so I was in there and I was just like, you know, my dad didn't really know what to do with a weird and crazy kid playing with ribbons. And so, like, I didn't really say I was gay, but I did all the gay gestures. So there would be no there was no mystery as to what the situation was between me and my dad, you know. But it was it was a beautiful message of love and forgiveness. And, you know, it's like we can sit and bitch and moan and argue semantics. And at the end of the day, you know, it does take the bigger person to to love and to forgive. And I don't like I don't even remember exactly what I said. But, you know, like people started people clapped at the end. I was like, who claps at a at a funeral? I tell that story. So like, but I don't even remember. Like to me, I was like, in the flow I was in like, you know, I honestly don't remember a lot of what I said. And, you know, it moved the spirit moved, you know, you know, move through the little gay version of me in a in a in a Baptist church. And so, you know, my dad was he participated in a lot of like groups, and one of them was a veterans group. And so this veteran father came up to me after after the funeral, and he had tears in his eyes and he showed me a picture of his daughter. And, you know, he said, I just I haven't talked to my daughter for two years. And I just hope that someday she'll be able to forgive me the way that you forgave your father. Wow. And, jeez, you know, it was just like very moving and very like, you know, that to me is is is the energy of it. And we want to Wilson argue like, this person's wrong and this person deserves. And I'm not saying that there aren't some really, really atrocious atrocities going on right now at the hands of many religious institutions, many, you know, government institutions. There's there's a lot that's wrong with the world and there's a lot that's right with the world. And so when we can come from a space of honoring the other person's journey and the whole reason why I told you the story about my dad in the funeral and all these things, it's because all those other people had a completely different experience of my father, completely different experience of my father. And so when we are so married to the experience that we had with one person for our little fraction of a time that we experience them for, so they heard us or they said this or they did that or that. And that's just how they are. No, that's not how they are. That's how they are with you or that's how they were with me. So the only thing I can do if if I want to keep them that, you know, dead or alive, if I want to keep them that perpetuate or that that person who hurt me, that person who's unable to change, you know, then then I hold on to my grudge. I hold on to my, you know, the idea that that's just how they are or, you know, and this is my journey right now as and like to yesterday I was just talking yesterday about this whole issue with my ex-wife. I'm like, you know, like, I can't I can't if I hold on to that narrative, if that's how she is, she will never I will never even give her the opportunity to be anyone other than that, you know? And so it's like. You never know, right? Like this whole miracle. Like it took ten years for my mom to get to a place where she's, like, basically giving me her blessing for Tom and I to be together, you know? Which is crazy, you know, that she has gotten to that point and she's just like, chill. I'm like, Apparently you needed to get to your seventies to chill out. Everybody's got their time. Everybody's on their timeline. It's not our job to say how anyone else should live so that we don't have to do our own work with our reaction about it. You know, it's like, Oh, I don't I want you to kind of just I want everybody to be well behaved because I cannot handle a misbehaving classroom right now. Well, sometimes you're going to get a misbehaving classroom and you have to figure out how you're going to, you know, mitigate that so that you don't lose your shit. So the way that I found not to lose my shirt with people who I don't have anything to do, like I don't have anything immediately in common with is just let them have their journey and also establish very, very clear boundaries in terms of what works for me, what doesn't work for me, and be open and honest about my struggles and the impact and the hurt and the suicidal ideations that I went through that other people are going through right now presently, and hope that my my patience and my love and, you know, Lovejoy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control, these are the fruits of the spirit, right? So for me, God is love. And so I'm like, I kind of reframed everything as just love body, Kumbaya. That's great. When I grew up this that the passage was that self-control was all about, you know, sexual purity. And don't touch yourself. And like, you got to control yourself and control your mind and control your eyes and watch what you're looking at. It was not the and now the perspective I have is that is self control, not others control. So it's self-mastery in the face of all the other people, all the other things we want to control. We want to control the people want to control the world. We want to control it all. But that's not real love. Real love is surrender. And like letting people go have their journey and mastering ourself and our own emotional reaction in the matter.
Britt[00:57:50] I want to know what it has been like to give yourself permission to fall in love with a man and what you know, love to be. Hmm.
Case[00:58:04] I like the cigaret for that one. There is a euphoric red light gauge that.
Britt[00:58:12] Yeah, there is some euphoric recall going on here that the people on YouTube all get to witness. So.
Case[00:58:20] Yeah. It's like I always like I'm gay. Jesus with like a big long low like cigaret with a big, long like thing. And I was like, any, like black, you know, black heels with the red bottom. You know, that's been a whole other journey. And for me, like, I have really, you know, it's it's been a lot of hurt in my so my marriage would experience, you know, multiple betrayals. You know, she had had an affair with my best friend for three and a half years. And then we reconciled. We opened three restaurants and had two kids within five years. And then we moved to Austin. And then I came out and then she'd fallen in love again. And I guess either had some kind of love affair or whatever. So my, my converse, you know, and that to me was all kind of born out of inauthenticity. So when there's when there's infidelity, it's 100% my fault and it's 100% the other person's fault. So, you know, coming out of blame and coming out of all that. But anyway, I say all that to say my notion of I had built up this idea, this this fantasy that that no one was going to attain ever. And that fantasy was actually what I was creating as a means to keep myself safe, because I thought that relationships were hurtful and damaging and painful because that was my experience. Very, very hurtful, very painful, very traumatizing, just so dysfunctional and toxic. And so for me, having this relationship space with this this man who I've known for a decade never was not like, oh, I saw him from across a crowded room and, you know, like I had this this Hollywood idea of how it had to be. And I had this Hollywood idea of how I had to start. And then I had a Hollywood idea of how it had to continue of like always up here and this like, literal, impossible standard of perfection that no one, not even myself could attain. And the reason I had that standard was because I was doing everything in my power to keep myself safe, because I thought that single equals safe. And so when I really started and God bless my partner, he is like the patience of a saint. It just makes me love him more. Oh, my God. I you know, but when we really started, you know, kind of detoxing all these things and like I said, I incorporated everything that I just said. I incorporate it into my my dating experience with with time, because, like, it didn't start and it was like I mentioned the homeless thing. I started like, you know, I was hustlin for a little while and rebuilding my business and I was given massages. I'm like, I'm watching dogs, I'm watching houses, I'm giving massages, I'm clean. What do you need? I got you. You know, like I'm a hustler, I'm an entrepreneur. I know how to do what I need to do. So I'm like, Oh my God. Like, is this like, you know, Richard Gere or Julia Roberts situation here? I'm down for it if it is. But, you know, like, so for me, it's been like this deep, deep, authentic connection because I am just like I've been so I was so willing to, you know, not have it all figured out to be like, I don't know, like, I don't know, like, I thought I was going to know, you know, like I was going to have this big brick hit me over despite all the other things in the world where I'm like, you know, with Allen, what's causes the wisdom of insecurity. And so, like, really being alive is just an immense amount of of uncertainty. You know, we just we're not certain. We're not secure. We're not there's all these things coming at us. And so it's it's been it was through my willingness to be scared, to be vulnerable, to be authentic, to to not be certain, to really traverse these these plains of a relationship where it's like, Oh, shit, I think I'm in love. Like, and it's not like the way that I thought it was going to go. And it's it's really been beautiful because we have like, now we have like this safe container where I can be a hot mess. He can be a hot mess. You know, we can both be hot messes together and, you know, really getting out of this world of judgment and fear. And it's it's been a lot a lot of a lot of work. And, you know, I knowing myself now, I wouldn't have done it any other way. I wouldn't have done it like the whole like brick hitting me. I just, you know, the Hollywood version, because it to me, it's just more so much more substantive. To have this this partnership and this like safe place and this like a raw in this like compliment. You know, he's like kind of very introverted behind the scenes, kind of like, you know, the spotlight operator. And I'm like, who has my spotlight? I need the spotlight, you know, And so and there's no competition there between us, you know, there's no competition. There's only compliments. You know, we compliment each other and we have very, very similar values. And, you know, he's entrepreneurial and he has kids and so forth. And so we have a lot of common things in common that, you know, and obviously, you know, he's all about work going, you know, coming out of trauma and, you know, all the all the stuff that that we talk about and trying to make the world a better place, he's about as well. So to answer your question is it's very surreal to me. Like I'm still like, you know, now it's like, oh, am I going to let myself be happy? Oh, I don't know. You know, like, I'm I'm happy. And then I'm like, okay, don't get too happy because I don't really fuck it up, you know? So it's, it's this whole still still comes up like we're comfort. I'm comfortable in suffering. I'm comfortable. Well, let's just say I'm more familiar with suffering from more familiar with, you know, these these other dramatic roads. And then it's like, ooh, I can be happy in them. Like, Oh, I'm going to feel bad about being happy real quick. I'm they feel bad about having this, that or the other thing. And so that's, that's what I've been coming out of is, is just like, okay, you know what? I'm not going to feel bad anymore. And I'm going to acknowledge there's a part of me that thinks it should feel bad. What is that part of me that thinks it should feel bad? Oh, the part that thinks there's something wrong with that. Oh, like there's nothing wrong with it. Like, you can be happy. Let yourself be happy, You know, Be in the present moment. In the present moment. There's nothing, you know, It's all temporary. This, too, shall pass. Good or bad, you know, really relish the good and you know, and let go of the bad. And, you know, in that space, acknowledge that, you know, this is this is life and this is what it is. And how can I be of service? How can I use what all the gifts and talents and abilities that I have and the place that I find myself, How can I use that to better the world, further equality, you know, end injustice, even if it's in my own little a little space, a little world, own little relationship. So it's a very sincere question and a very exciting, surreal, blessed, fortunate and grateful time for me.
Britt[01:06:01] So beautiful. I have learned so much from our conversation today. You've given me so much to think about, and I'm so thrilled that we are getting the chance to introduce you to our audience. And I hope everybody runs out and buys your book. It's absolutely incredible. We're going to include links in the show notes to keep this socials and where you can find the book and all of that so you don't have to jot things down. I will be in the show notes and, you know, I encourage everyone to check it out in case you just keep fighting the good fight. I'm just I'm just cheering you on the whole way. I think you're doing amazing work. It's so fun to watch it all unfold and, you know, to be a big cheerleader of yours. And I just am. I'm just blown away by your journey. Thank you so much for being on our show today. Oh.
Case[01:06:57] Yeah. Thank you, Britt. It's always, always a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Britt[01:07:01] Yeah. And well, dear listeners, you have made it through another episode of Not Going Quietly. We're so thankful and grateful for your presence. Please let us know what you think of the show. Drop us a line. And you know, we've got a lot of great guests lined up for you coming up. I really hope you enjoyed this episode. I know I learned a ton, like I said, and I can't wait to share this conversation with the world. So everybody, take care of yourselves. Be blessed. Have a great day and and be well. Thank you so much. You've been listening to. Not Going Quietly with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Britt East.
Jonathan[01:07:41] Thanks so much for joining us on this wild ride as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.
Britt[01:07:49] Check out our show notes for links, additional information, and episodes located on your favorite podcast platform.
Coach , Author, and Podcaster
As a gay father, author, and TEDx speaker who came out of the closet after 14 years of marriage, as well as overcame substance abuse, and lost 40 pounds after selling three restaurants and getting divorced, Case Erickson marries his passion for business, authenticity, and health to empower entrepreneurs to cause more freedom and authentic power in their lives and careers.
His holistic business-meets-life-coaching practice aligns marketing and sales development strategies with health and wellness goals, which create authentic, courageous business leaders who forge the way to a braver tomorrow -- challenging them to come out of WHATEVER closet of fear they have, no matter what their sexual orientation.