June 16, 2022

Cultivating Queer Friendships with Maddox

Maddox joins Jonathan and Britt for an illuminating conversation about how we can learn to set down our fears, shame, and self-loathing, in order to step out of the shadows and start loving one another in a way that sustains meaningful friendships. 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 Beal






Britt East








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 for some courageous conversation, because Not Going Quietly starts right now.


Britt[00:00:30] Hey and welcome to Not Going Quietly, the podcast for outraged optimists and heartbroken healers all over the world where we excavate searing truths in the name of radical togetherness. I'm your host, Britt East, with my fantabulous co-host, Jonathan Beale. Jonathan, how the hell are you today?


Jonathan[00:00:46] I'm good. I'm good. The sun is shining for change in England, which makes a huge difference. And life is good. Life's changing. It's it's. Things are changing. The world is this crazy, normal self. And that's cool. How are you? 


Britt[00:01:02] It's sunny in Seattle today as well. And we always seem to have the same weather. It's you know, it's the middle of May, so I have a sweater on. So that's pretty typical. But but here we are in this crazy mixed up world. But, you know, we have a really great guest today to chat with who's going to who's going to help us out here, get things figured out and and back on track. So I'm really thrilled to start the conversation and, you know, talk about queer friendships and what we can do to come together in the name of brotherhood and sisterhood and learn to love each other a little bit more. Maddox is his last name, and what he goes by. He is a personal power coach, a community leader, content creator and host of the Authentic Gay Man podcast. He has devoted a lifetime to personal growth and freely shares what he has learned with a 40 year history of providing personal services to clients. As a beauty professional, he gained an incredible understanding of human behavior and effective listening and communication skills. He parlayed that into a thriving coaching practice. Now, with several coaching certificates, he focuses on supporting gay men to be the most authentic version of themselves so they can create deep and meaningful friendships with their fellow gay brothers. He is an authenticity activist and agent for powerful and positive change, and Maddox is a member of the Gay Coaches Alliance. Maddox, thank you for joining us. How are you today?


Maddox[00:02:34] I'm doing great, Britt, and it's so good to be here. I've really looked forward to this.


Britt[00:02:39] Oh, thank you so much for joining us. We're thrilled, thrilled to have you. Let me start by telling you a really brief story that I think will frame, at least for me, frame the conversation about queer friendships. And, you know, I had the good fortune and honor and pleasure of being invited to an intercultural event as a guest speaker on a panel recently where we were addressing anti-racism in the arts, and it was hosted by some members of an Afro Latinx community local in Seattle. And frankly, the vibe in the room was so loving and intimate that it was kind of painful for me. The contrast when I think about similar situations, not every situation, but similar situations in the queer community, especially among gay men. It was a little devastating and even embarrassing to compare the vides, to compare the level of love and friendships in the room. And I left just feeling really sad, thinking about the epidemic of loneliness that we are dwelling in right now as a community and just thinking like, what is it going to take for gay and bi men to learn to address this epidemic? To elevate our consciousness, orient to love and love one another, even platonically as brothers. So what I was hoping today, Maddox and Jonathan is hoping we could get together and excavate some of those barriers so that we can hold them into the light and figure out how we can heal together as one. Maddox, do you have any thoughts? You and I have chatted about this epidemic in the past. Do you have any thoughts about it? What have you personally experienced and what do you think are some of the causes?


Maddox[00:04:32] You know, that's a lot to unpack. Britt I, I can really relate to the story you're telling because I just returned from the International Gay Coaches Conference in upstate New York and I had the same experience. There were about 40 of us and the vibe in the room for four days was. Incredibly loving, accepting. You know, I had the opportunity to be seen and heard in a manner that was. Almost foreign. And although I think that I didn't feel the pain while I was in the room, I did feel the pain when I left the room because I knew I had to go back out into reality and go back out into my local gay community where I don't experience. What I experienced in that conference this weekend. I think that. We as gay men and I'm generalizing, of course, I think that we crave. Emotional intimacy, and we fear it at the same time. And it's this double edged sword. And oftentimes our fear wins.


Britt[00:05:53] Wow. Wow. And you highlight something that's really interesting. You implied that you traveled back home. You went to this this place. And it's like. Geographically, we are randomly distributed throughout the country. You know, I've seen a variety of surveys, at least in the U.S., where it's only about 10% of people self-identify as LGBT plus. That's like 33 million people, which might sound like a lot, but this is a big country. And when you factor in that, we come from all walks of life. We're a mix of ages and sexual cultures, we might not always have that much in common. So just from a numbers game, it can be hard to find one another. So it resonated with me when the travel component to your story where you traveled to this utopia, this place were where gay men on this personal growth and development journey were were all kind of descending in the name of brotherhood. And then you left it to come back into the, quote unquote, real world.


Maddox[00:06:58] Most of my life, I've had a very difficult time meeting gay men that were in the personal growth world. So this was very eye opening to be in a room of of 40 of them that were what I would consider, at least to some degree, woke. You know, when we start to unpack what's wrong, I have literally had conversations and interviewed like I've lost count on how many gay men trying to get a grasp of what is the problem that we are trying to solve here? What is generating all of the loneliness and isolation? And it's it's a big thing to unpack. I think fear is a huge part of it. I think part of it is that we don't know how. I did a little poll on Facebook recently and said, you know what? Is not. Not a ton of people answered it. But even the ones that did give you kind of an overview. But one of the main things that people commented was they didn't know what to do about it. They didn't know how to move beyond loneliness and isolation. Some of them said if they did know it was fear in rejection, fear of rejection that kept them from moving forward. I find it so interesting that I go into you and I both have been in these large gay groups where we show up for these connection calls and everybody's clamoring to get on these calls, to feel some sense of connection. And you get put into, you know, a breakout room for 10 minutes and you make a brief connection. And then I find that 98% of the men don't do anything with that connection after it's been made. They wait until the next connection call and get on and they get another ten minute fix in a breakout room and there's nothing in between. And I don't understand that. Or maybe I do in some ways, because that would have been me at probably some point in my life.


Jonathan[00:09:03] And I'm going to take on Britt's role for little bit and be the pessimist and. Perhaps that's just because that's my experience. But it strikes me that in a community that is so driven by an inclusion exclusion to a degree tribes and having to fit into a particular stereotype to exist. And, you know, all of the judgment that's wrapped up in that, whether it's internal judgment or external judgment, that the the actually there's some me. Just speaking in general, there's a a fear of not necessarily rejection, but much more not being accepted because I don't fit. What I'm expected to fit. And so between I can only imagine that there's a sense of. And what if I don't? What if I don't match up? What if I don't reach what's required to be accepted into this relationship connection? Am I making any sense? I feel like I'm just thinking.


Maddox[00:10:18] No, you're making perfect sense. And I think you're spot on. As I talk to men, I find that. There's hardly there's few that don't feel the whole wow, I don't feel like I fit in thing or I don't feel like I belong. That's, you know, one of my main stories for the first 38 years of my out and gay life, I never I was on the outside looking in. I never felt like I belong. And and I've largely gotten to the other side of that now. But as I share my story, it's amazing how many men step forward and say, That's been my whole existence. I don't fit in. I don't feel a sense of belonging. It's an epidemic. And it's. It's what's driving the loneliness and.


Jonathan[00:11:10] Isolation to me, to kind of sum it up, is it's the plastics in the mean in mean girls. You know, it's that kind of situation of of. Yeah. Just always being on the outside and not being allowed in unless you fit some, some perfect ideal or and yeah.


Maddox[00:11:29] Then both of your minds what that ideal is. That's the crazy thing about it. Who defines that.


Britt[00:11:37] I think you're touching on a couple of different aspects, barriers that are really important. You know, Maddox said, we don't know how and other words. Another way of saying that as we've lost any cultural transmission points or rites of passage or rituals or traditions unique to queer people. And part of that is because so many of our mentors died from homophobia and the AIDS epidemic. So we don't have people to teach us how to be gay, bi, queer, trans lesbian. We have to figure out figure it out ourselves. And that means we're all inventing a slightly different culture. And then we come together and we compare notes to see what fits. There's no common cultural points of transmission. Many people of other races are born to people of that same race where they are taught those cultural points of transmission, whereas many queer people are born in straight families. And so, like Maddox said, we just don't know how. And then when Jonathan was highlighting was gay bullying, that in many cases we try to stay safe by exposing others. Like, if I pick on somebody else, then I can feel power or even proximal power by toadying up to straight people. Or I can deflect any awareness of my nascent sexuality or emerging identification because I am pointing somebody else, especially if they are more, quote unquote feminine presenting than me, than I might make them an easy target and they can hide back in the woodwork.


Maddox[00:13:17] I think the bullying is a big part of it. You know, I I've come to realize that and I look back in my own experience as a child when we are bullied, we feel completely powerless and will do anything to just have the tiniest shred of power. I was bullied throughout my entire life at school, and at one point I felt so power. I said, This is not something I'm proud of. But I picked one of the boys that I perceived as weaker than myself, and I picked on him just so I could feel just the tiniest shred of power.


Britt[00:14:00] You know, it's such a common story. Thank you for sharing that. I mean, I think a lot of people are frankly afraid to own that parts of their lives, their history, their their stories. And, you know, frankly, I think experiencing bullying behavior changes us. I'm not a scientist, but I suspect it changes us on a neurological level, maybe even on a hormonal level. So it impacts the way that we see the world and experience the world until we go back and attend to those adverse experiences and wounds and find some framework of healing so that we can once again reclaim who we were always meant to be.


Maddox[00:14:45] You know, it can go either way. You know, I. I would never, ever want to relive the bullying that I experienced, and I wouldn't even wish it on my biggest enemy. But I look back now. It's come full circle for me. It came full circle for me about three years ago where I had this awareness one day that. Perhaps all that bullying that I and don't toured was one of the biggest gifts of my life. I like I said, I would never want to relive that. But I'm very clear right now at this time in my life that I would not be the man that I am. I wouldn't even be close to the man that I am if I hadn't endured all of that bullying and that that those experiences forged me into the man that I am today. And I. I love the man that I am today. Am I still learning and growing? Do I still have more to go? Absolutely. But I love the man I am today, and I wouldn't be able to sit here and tell you that. I don't believe I would if I hadn't been through all of those experiences now. It can go the other way. There are some people that endure that trauma and those those that bullying and it knocks them down and they they live their life out and never, ever get up and dust themselves off.


Britt[00:16:15] I hear you. That's so beautiful. I want to share just briefly from my own life, vulnerably, that I have tended to my wounds and done a lot of healing work and personal growth and development. I'd still rather never have gone through those experiences. I read it all today in a second. And just you know, I know that it's that's not like what you're supposed to say, but that's just the truth for me. I mean, just being really honest, I would trade it all in a heartbeat if I could just be, quote, unquote, normal.


Maddox[00:16:55] Yeah. I love your honesty because there's no real what we should say. That's an illusion. You know, that's. That's why we're not going quietly.


Britt[00:17:05] Yeah. Should put you on the commercial.


Jonathan[00:17:11] It's interesting because I didn't experience any really, really when I was at school or even growing up or even when I came out of school or I. I was very fortunate and. And yet I still experience the disconnection and the feeling of being on the outside. And so that tells me that that. It perhaps is something else that perhaps doesn't make sense.


Britt[00:17:44] Yeah. Do you, Jonathan, do you experience bullying as an adult from the gay community, especially when you, you know, disclose your sexual orientation?


Jonathan[00:17:54] Uh, not. No, no. Mostly because I live in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in the UK, not exposed to much gay community here. But also, I don't know, perhaps there's a part of me that in that because because I am straight presenting and don't often discuss my sexuality because because I don't know. Because I don't feel the need to. That perhaps I'm not exposed to it and perhaps. Perhaps. If I'm really honest. Perhaps. Perhaps there's something else going on. Perhaps it's that perhaps it's my privilege. Perhaps it's, you know, it could be any any number of things that mean that I just like I've had experiences, like I've been out, you know, and in town or with friends, and I've had experiences where people have been aggressive, but I haven't had direct bullying as such. I haven't had people seek me out. I haven't had people and. Yeah. I haven't had I haven't had those experiences.


Britt[00:19:16] That's for you. Yeah. And have you forgiven your bullies?


Maddox[00:19:23] Yes. I think I could sit down at the table with any one of them and have a conversation with them about it. There were a couple in particular through high school, one in particular that was just just brutal. Just brutal. And I think I could sit down and and talk to him about it. No, I don't think I could. I know I could.


Britt[00:19:51] Would you go to your high school reunion?


Maddox[00:19:55] The last one I went to was the 20 year class reunion, and I've been to two. And then I never had any desire to go to any more. You know, the two times that I went, I think the first time was I felt like I had something to prove, which was a joke, you know. And then the second time I went out of curiosity and those aren't president anymore. I don't I don't have anything to prove. And I don't any longer really feel particularly maybe a little bit curious. You know, it would be interesting to see how everybody's I mean, my next my next. Reunion will be the I think the. The 50 year. Yeah, I think that's right. And there's a little bit of curiosity about what people look like and how they've aged. But I really didn't walk away from high school with hardly any friends. I had a couple of couple of female friends that I was close to, but I was kind of reclusive. I was very shy and reclusive and tried to be invisible because I got beat on. So I just didn't really have there wasn't anything there's nobody left from high school. The one friend that I did maintain died about 11 years ago. And so there's just nothing that draws me back there.


Britt[00:21:22] You know, I think we just want to take a second and pause and make sure we explicitly lay the blame for all of this behavior on the door of street supremacy. That and maybe not every case, but the overwhelming majority of the cases, the root cause. Sure, we may have weaponized our wounds and that is not nice. But the root cause is the street supremacy. So in no way are we blaming queer people. We're trying to get to the heart of the matter so that we can shine a light on it and experience growth and healing in the name of togetherness. And, you know, I can't help but think about how all the internalized homophobia when we talked about the challenge in gay and bi friendships, queer friendships, it leads in so many cases to disposable and transactional relationships or situations in which we avoid other queer people altogether.


Maddox[00:22:33] Yes. I have been really, really studying this and realizing that. So much of our hookup culture is driven by this loneliness and isolation. It's driven by our need for. Emotional intimacy, but also our fear of emotional intimacy. A hook ups, a Band-Aid. You know, it's it's. External validation. You know, most of us feel like we're not enough. I can recall, man, if I could pick that hot guy up, I must be valid. I must be okay. I must have something going for me. And so there was this external validation thing that was going. But there was also I knew there was something I was seeking and it was beyond sex. I really believe that. Hook up sex. The sex aspect of it is a symptom. It's not what it's really about at all. It's just not what it's about and what we think it is. I remember a time when I thought it was all about sex now. You know, in. In where I am with my personal growth, I can look back and realize sex was the symptom. It was me seeking. Emotional intimacy. It was me. Seeking external validation. And the reason I would choose the hookah was because it had this safe. I could get a little taste of intimacy. It felt good for a few minutes, and I got this little hit, this Band-Aid, like a quick fix. But it wasn't. There was no real big risk. You know, in the hookup culture, rarely do we go back 4 seconds, because if you go back 4 seconds, you risk. Intimacy. And so which some go back 4 seconds. There was a time in my life where, you know, in my day we didn't call them hookups. We call them one night stands or we call them tricks. And I always wondered, why does nobody ever come back for a second? So I thought that was a great I'd come back for seconds. And very seldom did they come back for a second. And now I understand it completely. It's where the risk lies.


Jonathan[00:24:49] I wonder how much of it is is. Is wrapped up in shame, right? I mean, I know I know that most of it is wrapped up in Shane.


Maddox[00:25:02] It's happened shame. And it's racked up in a lack of self love. Hmm. You know, we're seeking. We're looking for love in all the wrong places. We're seeking to get certain needs met and. And the validation and the intimacy. And. And it's not out there. It's in here. Everything's shifted for me. When I really started to embark on. A journey of self-love. When I really begin to slow down and look at what would it look like? What would it taste like? What would it feel like? What would it be like if I actually loved myself? And it changed everything.


Britt[00:25:40] Jonathan, you're going to have to excuse Maddox. And I'm from Tennessee and Maddox is from Texas. If we start quoting country or western songs, that just means we're getting to the heart of the matter here. Looking for love in all the wrong places. Maddox, I love that you brought us there.


Maddox[00:25:55] It's one of my favorite sayings, because so much of our experience where we're doing the equivalent of looking for love, even if it's looking for something else, you know, we're always looking. We spend a lot of time looking, seeking things in the external world, and that's not where they are. Most of the things we're seeking are in the internal world, but in our limited understanding. We seek in the external world. I mean, you know, developed an actual theory about all of this. And I'm I'm happy to share, if you like. But, yeah, lay.


Britt[00:26:33] It on us.


Maddox[00:26:34] I want you to you know, you're keeping the train on the track. You know, my whole platform is built around authenticity. You can see it in the background here behind me. It's in all of my conversation. It's in all of the language on my website. It's it's everything. It's the name of the podcast. And I've come to realize that. We come into this world, we pop out of Mom's womb fully authentic and fully expressed. We have no problem being authentic and fully expressing. And then we start to get messages from the external world that tell us that that's not okay. We start to get all these messages and there's this point. Probably it'll vary age wise for different people, but somewhere in the area of or maybe around seven or eight, and I can't take credit for this term, but I love it, so I'm going to borrow it. He was talking about another form of it, but Justin Baldoni talks about solo murder and I borrowed the term because I do believe that we commit soul murder. And what I mean by that is we are getting these messages that are our vulnerability and our authenticity are not okay. And so we literally. Sever ties with that part of ourselves. We cut that part of ourselves off completely. And when we do that, we don't really get it right away, but we realize something's missing. And we become seekers and we become hustlers. And we're out seeking that something that's missing. And it shows up in the form of I got to get that top notch job with that big title. I got to get that perfect partner. I got to get the big house on the hill. I got to get the fancy cars. I've got to get the global travel. I mean, it can show up in a variety of different ways. But we're seeking we have this whole inside of us, this complete void. We know that something's missing and we're trying to fill it in the external world. And no matter how many titles are spouses, relationships, houses, cars, it bankrolls big funds in our bank. None of that can ever fill that void. So we just keep accumulating. I mean, we see this in in our society. You know, you've got $287 billion in your bank account. You know, Bezos or Musk. And and they're just still adding and doing whatever they can to accumulate. They're trying to fill a void that can't be filled is no amount of money, no amount of material worth.


Britt[00:29:36] Or to.


Maddox[00:29:37] Come in to reconnect with our authentic self.


Britt[00:29:43] Or to quote a meme out there. Now, men will literally buy Twitter and sort of go to therapy. And I think what you're talking about is you're describing a lot of the patriarchy and that that we, as gay and by men, cis men, stand at the intersection of multiple identities, identities, and we're socialized qualitatively differently. And what I mean by that is many gay and by men experience the world first as men, and we're socialized first as men. So the same constraints placed on straight men through male supremacy and the patriarchy are placed on gay men and by men. So we have that fear of vulnerability. We have that drive to participate in the zero sum game of capitalism where we get ahead, quote unquote, on the backs of others. And people are disposable. We have, in many cases, selected several people in our lives, often our family, whether that's chosen or family of origin or genetic base. And those are the people we protect. And everybody else is, to some degree, an enemy. And I think that's why straight men also struggle to find friendship, especially as they age.


Maddox[00:31:02] Yes, I agree. And I must say, you know, I've learned more about the patriarchy from listening to your podcast than I have from any other source.


Britt[00:31:13] Well, thank you for that.


Maddox[00:31:15] And probably Justin Baldoni is podcast. They talk about the patriarchy a fair amount and some conversations about capitalism. Those have been the two greatest sources of my knowledge and understanding of those systems at this point. So thank you for that.


Britt[00:31:31] Thank you. Let's talk a little bit about queer history, because you alluded to it and and I can't help but think because so many of us don't know our shared stories and I can't help but think while I sat in the first part of the episode that we lack a shared cultural story as we grow up. Eventually we find our our community, and then that's where the sharing happens. And I think one of the things that socialized quickly is our transactional nature to sex, which you alluded to. And I can't help but think back to the sixties, 1960s America and earlier, and Jonathan can let us know how it was in the UK where people segmented their lives. Only gay, homosexual, whatever. When I'm engaged in the sex act, it doesn't touch any other part of my life out of necessity, so that I can protect my physical safety, my career, my financial well-being. And so that leads to behaviors like cruising, because eventually the sex drive builds up and I require that release. And so I devote segment segmented time for it where I cordon off portions of my life. So my family and friends don't experience that side of me. And I'd go on the prowl in and, you know, early, earlier American history that could look like hooking up with guys in the back of a of a tractor trailer truck down by the pier in New York City. That could look like hooking up with strangers at rest stops. We didn't it wasn't only that, you know, Maddox alluded to the soulfulness that might be missing in some of those transactions. It was also a physical necessity. We could not afford to be known because we could then be blackmailed. Our literal existence was illegal. It's not functionally illegal. It was literally illegal. We were not even allowed to congregate, much less engage in the sex act, much less engage in loving relationships. So that's where it's all goes back to street supremacy on some level. And when you understand that history, you can then maybe reflect on how maybe inadvertently you're participating in some of those old narratives. And it's one thing to go out there and hook up with strangers as a celebratory act of momentary self love. It's another thing to, like you said, Maddox, slap on a Band-Aid. I had a bad day, so I'm going to pop on Grinder rather than deal with the root cause. I'm going to paper over my pain.


Maddox[00:34:08] Well, I had somebody a few days ago tell me and he was, you know, like in his mid-thirties, tell me that he had had had sex with over a thousand men.


Britt[00:34:18] I think it's really common.


Maddox[00:34:20] And I just can't believe that that's about sex. I mean, the thought of it just made me tired. I'm like, Oh.


Britt[00:34:31] The logistics.


Maddox[00:34:32] Alone. I love sex as much as anybody does. But the thought of a thousand men by by the time I would be in my mid-thirties, I just couldn't even wrap my mind around that. He must have a sense of judgment about it. I you know. But yeah, I just can't believe that that's about sex.


Jonathan[00:34:59] Yeah, it's, it's, it's a really interesting one for me because I've personally that's never really been a part of my experience. I haven't I haven't been in hookup culture. I haven't done those things in order to seek connection or anything else. If anything, I've just isolated myself even more. And, and those, um, reaches or connection, whatever they may be, whether it's emotional or, you know, some form of intimacy that that hasn't been part of my experience. And like you, I have no judgment about people who want to engage in having that much sex. And like you, I. I can't. I can see how partly it can be about sex, but I can see how the majority probably isn't.


Maddox[00:35:46] Yeah. Well, I mean, sex is a real thing. You know, let's face it, it's. It's it's big and. Yeah. Yeah. But I still don't think there's any way that it can be all of the equation. I think it's just.


Jonathan[00:36:02] So how do we how do we begin to heal that? How do we begin to heal the transactional nature of it or the the the ways that we've been taught that we get those needs met so that it's so that we can begin to heal the wounds and begin to move forward into real intimacy and real connection and real love and, you know, and and really having our needs met.


Maddox[00:36:31] I think that there's several pieces, several steps to that. As I spoke earlier, one of them is really leaning into the self-love. I think that we have to. Step up and take responsibility for our lives. You know, there's a point where you have to stop saying, oh, I was bullied as a child. Oh, you know, I wasn't accepted. I was gay and my parents threw me out or my church threw me out, or there's a point where we have to stop playing the victim role. There's a lot of victimhood going on in our community, and I'm not going to throw out any always and all, but there is a lot of victimhood going on and there's no power in victimhood. I think that you guys spoke. I was on the hiking trail this morning listening to your book, the last episode of your podcast. Jabali, is that his name? And towards the end, you guys commented about there just being a general lack of personal responsibility in our world and certainly in our community. And I think that I just did a Facebook Live a couple of weeks ago where I talked about, you know. Stop bitching and stand up. Stand up and take responsibility for your life. There is no power in victimhood and. In that taking responsibility for your life. You have to do the work. You can't. Nobody's going to come in and rescue you or save you except for you. If you want a different life than you have now. It's not about doing something different. It's about being somebody different. You can't be the same person that was bullied as a child. You can't be the same person that was thrown out of your church or your home or disowned by your parents. You can't be that person and ever have the life that you desire. You have to leave that person behind. You know, the whole saying of the the Phenix rising from the ashes. You have to burn the house down. And move into a new way of being. And I can't stress the being enough. Most of us, when we decide we want change in our life, we start making the change in the external world. And you can make changes in the external world, but it's almost always temporary. And then things go back to the way they were because real, meaningful and lasting change doesn't happen out here. It happens in here. And so in that, taking responsibility, stepping up and saying, okay, no more victimhood. Yes, I have this icky past, but it's the past. It's history. I'm going to show up different. Now, one of the two questions to the questions that I ask myself all the time is Who do I want to be and how do I want to show up? And in life in this situation, in this relationship, etc., etc., etc.. Ask myself these questions a lot, and then you got to do the work. Now I said, do the work. But I've had this huge epiphany just in the last couple of weeks about the work I keep talking about doing the work. And while I was at my conference this past weekend, somebody was talking about the term embodiment, and somebody raised their hand and said, Well, what do you mean by embodiment? How do you define embodiment? And I spoke up just, wow, where did this come from? It was like I was channeling. I said, embodiment is when you stop doing it and you become it. And my example was I don't do coaching. I am a coach. And that translated out in the last few days to I don't do the work. I am the work. My life is the work. I lead a small community of women. And one of the women said the other day, You know, I did all this therapy in my twenties and early thirties, and I thought I had resolved all these issues. And and she said, now here I am, you know, at 43 and. It's rearing its ugly head. And I'm angry. And I said, Well, honey, it doesn't work that way. Now, I can remember a time when I thought it worked that way. I would do the work and there would get to this point where I would have cleared all the baggage out. I'd have it all done and I'd be done and I'd be on Easy Street for the rest of my life. And then I realized, no, we're continually having new experiences that create new baggage. We don't ever clear all the baggage because I said to her, What happens when you clear out a space in your garage? She said, It feels really, really quickly. And I said, yes, because the universe doesn't like a vacuum. The minute you clear some baggage away, some more baggage is going to come in to take its place. And so the work is our life. It's not something you do part time or do when you feel like it or you do it and you get it all done and now you get to retire this job we don't ever get to retire from. We do this until we take our last breath. If we're doing it well. Notice I didn't say right if we're doing it well.


Britt[00:42:17] I am. The Maddocks is getting the Holy Ghost. I love it. So there are so many t shirt moments and that you're giving me chills. Man, that was so awesome. I was sitting there thinking like the difference between excuses and reasons. A lot of us dwell in the energy of excuse, which means we're being held hostage by our reasons. Look, the reasons are not going to go away. The reasons are perfectly valid. But as soon as we weaponise them on ourselves or others, that's when we've entered the land of victimhood that I think we're describing. And it's incumbent upon all of us to leverage what privileges we have in this world, what unearned advantages we have, what advantages we have earned for the greater good to make it easier on those coming up behind us. And that's that shared wisdom that we lost. We missed. We needed more Maddox's in this world, frankly.


Maddox[00:43:18] Oh, wow.


Britt[00:43:18] And we we need to now we need to become the Maddox is we missed in all honesty, I cannot wave a magic wand and reverse the impact of the AIDS epidemic or homophobia. But what we can do is, is be our channel, our own inner Maddox, and find our own personal power. Given our life circumstances, whatever walk of life or in whatever station of life we're in, and leveraged that for the betterment of others.


Maddox[00:43:52] Yes.


Jonathan[00:43:53] I completely agree with you, Brett. And when I want to add to that, because I think it's really important, is that all of this is about making a choice. All of it. And then you can choose to stay stuck in your story, or you can choose to write a new one. And it's not to say that your story wasn't painful, wasn't real. It was. What are you going to do with it now? Who do you choose to be next? Because every single one of our queer brothers and sisters are powerful beyond what they even know. And you get to choose that every single day. Every single guy.


Maddox[00:44:34] So well said, Jonathan. We are at choice every moment of every day. We're at choice. There's no default here yet. There's so many of us that are acting like there's this actual default thing and there's there's not. You know, we were asked early on the question of, you know, how do we move beyond this loneliness and isolation? And we've touched on several things in one of the other things that just surfaced for me as you were talking, was. We have to talk about this. We have to come out of the closet with us and talk about this. We have to talk about all of it. We have to talk about sex. We have to talk about loneliness and isolation. You know, I've realized one of the reasons we don't talk about loneliness and isolation is because when you say the word lonely, we equate that. With a loser. Only losers are lonely. And so nobody wants to admit that they're lonely because they don't want to be seen as the loser. So there's all this loneliness and isolation going on that nobody will talk about. There's all this hookup culture that we talk about it, but in a negative way. We don't. We just talk about how we either hate it or how we're part of it. And we love it and we think it's awesome, but we don't talk about what's driving it. We have to start having these conversations. I used to call them difficult or challenging conversations. I no longer use those terms anymore. I call them authentic conversations. Now, I realized that calling it a hard conversation or a challenging conversation, I was predisposing that it was going to be difficult or painful. But when I say I'm going to enter in an authentic conversation, it doesn't predispose any of that negativity on it.


Britt[00:46:25] Maddox. Given all that, what should we require of one another?


Maddox[00:46:33] Wouldn't it be beautiful if we could all surround ourselves with a little circle of accountability partners? And that we would require that we no longer beat ourselves up. We no longer. Self-deprecating. I mean, that's some of the forms that come of the lack of self-love. It's. We hold each other accountable to treat ourselves the way we actually want to be treated. I mean, most of us, if we treated our friends the way we treat ourselves, we would have no friends.


Britt[00:47:13] Exactly. Exactly.


Maddox[00:47:15] Nobody would put up with the shit that we do to ourselves. Nobody.


Britt[00:47:20] Amen.


Maddox[00:47:22] I mean, we have this whole conversation going on about toxic relationships, and somebody comes in with toxicity, and then we do the whole cancel culture thing. And some of that's warranted, I think. You know, I've had some toxic situations where I've tried to work it out, sat down, had tried to have conversations about it. There's this point where you're hitting a brick wall, and when that happens, I'm going to take care of me. My sense of self-preservation is really strong. I'm going to exit from the toxicity. But then there's that moment where we got all this toxicity that we're treating ourselves, that we're we're not addressing, that the world treats us way. It sees us treat ourselves other people's treat us the way they observe us treat ourselves.


Britt[00:48:17] I also wonder if we should require that our loved ones. In some small way become this work that you described. And there's lots of ways of requiring it. And it's not even issuing an edict or a rule or a mandate. It's we require it through our presence, through our embodied presence, what we exude, what we evoke.


Maddox[00:48:43] I'm at the point now where. I will have acquaintances that are not involved in the work. But my friends, my circle of friends, they don't make it into that circle if they're not doing some not in fact active in some form of the work. And I wouldn't even consider a romantic relationship with a man that wasn't doing his work. No way. Done it in the past. Been there, done there. You know, I know this is a trite saying, but I got the t shirts in my closet. Dating myself here. That's okay.


Britt[00:49:25] Sometimes it just seems like we're so happy to accept so little from life. Like the old saying goes scrambling for crumbs from the table of joy. And I can't help but wonder if what we require of ourselves might be. More joy.


Maddox[00:49:46] One of my teachers once said to me, in order to walk up to the banquet table, you must drop the handful of Waverly Peanuts.


Britt[00:49:58] That's scary.


Maddox[00:50:00] It is scary because in our lack of self-love, we often don't believe we deserve the banquet table. You know, think about how sabotage plays a role in so many of our relationships. Somebody shows up really, really great in our life and they are telling us they want us and they're demonstrating that they want us. And if we don't have a certain level of self-love where we actually believe we deserve that, we will sabotage it every friggin time.


Britt[00:50:37] Or not only that we deserve it, but that we require it. We require this self-love from our souls. Anything less is unacceptable.


Maddox[00:50:48] Yeah, I love that. I don't think I've been thinking in terms of require. And I got a new measuring stick now. Thank you. I will be thinking. I don't mean measuring others. I mean measuring myself.


Britt[00:51:02] Yeah.


Maddox[00:51:04] I require. I love that require.


Britt[00:51:08] At least in the long term. We also fall short every day. It's not about perfectionism, but in the long term, we we place our awareness in attunement. On what we expect from ourselves, the experience we expect from ourselves in the world, and use that as fuel for our own decision making, as Jonathan said, and self-empowerment.


Maddox[00:51:37] Yeah. Well said.


Jonathan[00:51:42] To to your point on self-sabotage or sabotage in general? I think I'm I'm what I'm I'm currently going through a process of that at the moment, which is really interesting. And and I have now been single for six years and haven't entered into the idea of any romantic relationship purely because I didn't feel ready. There was some work I had to do, all of that kind of stuff. And then it got to the point where it was just, no, now I'm just putting it off and. And what's really great is when you do the work and you can step out and you can be the observer and you can watch all of your participants and you can watch The Self-sabotage. You can you can choose different. You can choose to lean in when your self-sabotage tells you to run away. You can choose to accept love or possibility when all you want to do is hide. And you can choose to require self-love of yourself when you want to look for all of the reasons why you're wrong.


Maddox[00:52:53] Yeah. Mm hmm. And I think those voices that we're referring to are dependent on our level of awareness. If you're not very aware, you can't make really great choices. That's one of the big reasons to. You know, do your work.


Britt[00:53:15] It's a pickle because you have to be attuned to the need for the work before you do the work. And it's it's kind of a paradox and it's tough and we're not trying to minimize that in any way. I also can't help but wonder if one way of resisting the patriarchy that we described earlier is requiring mutual vulnerability. Meaning you won't enter my sphere, my inner sanctum. You know, we can be acquaintances. We can wave high in the grocery store, whatever. But you won't enter my inner circle unless you show up the way I show up with a shared trust and vulnerability built over time.


Maddox[00:53:57] I have put that in place. I hadn't language did and hadn't really even consciously thought about it. But I'm thinking about, you know, certainly I have some acquaintances that don't really get into the vulnerability piece, but of the people that are close to me, whether it be my local friends here that I can sit across the table with and eat a meal, or whether it's some of my virtual friends like you guys. The people that I've drawn into my inner circle are all capable of vulnerability.


Jonathan[00:54:33] I have a I have a caveat to add to that, and that is that vulnerability is great, but it can be a really fantastic place to get stuck in your story. And we any wonderful place of getting stuck in who you are because people will listen. On a loop.


Maddox[00:54:56] That's a great point, Jonathan. That is really a point.


Britt[00:55:03] There's a lot of easy dopamine hits out there in social media. And the more you know, you can earn easy social currency by bleeding all over your Facebook feed or your Instagram posts. I agree with Jonathan. It's it's so much of this is a paradox balancing various paradoxes, you know, and and I totally agree.


Maddox[00:55:24] I wonder one.


Britt[00:55:25] Thing that's really.


Maddox[00:55:26] I'm sorry. Go ahead.


Britt[00:55:27] That's okay. I was just going to say, Maddox, real quick, because you alluded to it and and kind of put a bow on it. It's I think all of us points to the fact that queer people are going to have to work at this. You know, Maddox said earlier there, you know, we are our own superheroes. We're going to have to work it. This is unlikely in many cases to land in our laps. And if it does, that's wonderful. But for most of us, we're too few, too far between. We're going to have to get creative. We're going to have to take ownership over our self work like we've been talking about, and then get creative about purposely implementing strategies of togetherness and connectedness. Maddox alluded to this several times with the online space. So, you know, one of the main excuses that I hear, whether it's from queer people looking for love or looking for platonic love or romantic love, is that there's no gay people in my town. I can't fix that for you. That's an easy place to dwell. Like Jonathan was was kind of mentioning earlier about sitting in your vulnerability. So you're going to have to get creative. You know, what are what are we willing to do in the name of mutual love and radical togetherness?


Maddox[00:56:46] I think you're exactly right. I have had to get creative, and I think that the pandemic certainly played a role in that. You know, I yeah. I went through a period of time where. My closest circle of gay friends were all virtual. And I don't I don't mean because I couldn't see their local friends. I've gone through a lot of my life where I didn't really have close gay friends. It's only been in the last two years three that I have started to draw men into my gay men into my all my friends were straight. I didn't feel safe and wasn't comfortable with gay men. That's all changed now. So I think that, you know, I love what you said earlier, Jonathan, about turning your your wound and and your story into that vulnerability where you get stuck in it. And because I kind of see that we there's this thing that I call wound bonding. We bond with other people that have our wound and then we just like wallow in that.


Britt[00:57:49] Get stoned.


Maddox[00:57:50] And it's very easy to do. Misery loves company. You got to take that next step, I think, which is, yes, bond over your wound and then support each other in moving beyond the wound. The bond. Is that something as long as you don't hang out in the the victim aspect of it?


Britt[00:58:09] Yeah, I see that so much. I came up on the 12 step program and man, that is all over the place in the 12 steps.


Maddox[00:58:16] Yes, it.


Britt[00:58:16] Is. Because it's it's thrilling when we first take off our masks and we're seen we're born benevolent witness and that's beautiful and wonderful and it becomes almost addictive in its own way and continuously kind of going for that hit of vulnerability with people who have been there at some point in the process. Hopefully you realize that the richness of the life is not in those wounds. The richness of life is transcending our woundedness, as Maddox was just saying.


Maddox[00:58:49] Yes. And I think the way to know that you're stuck in your story and in that stuck in your vulnerability is if you're telling your own story and it doesn't have a happy ending, you're stuck in and you're in your moment. You're at your. Hanging out in that loop, as you called it. Jonathan, it's great to share your story, but it's. Somewhere along the way. It's got to have a happy ending. Or at least you're like, on the way to ending is kind of I don't believe there's a destination, but I'm just using the coin, that phrase a happy ending. I think that draws in a whole different type of person to you. When you have the happy ending, when you can say, you know, Yes, this is where I started, but here's where I am now. It draws a different person than just, Oh, woe is me. I was really bullied as a child.


Britt[00:59:48] You know, another way of saying that is let's stop playing therapist to each other. You know, what friends do is they get together and celebrate life and they lean on each other through tough times. What they don't do is get together for hours of processing. That's with paid professionals. It's it's an integrity issue to request that for free from your friends and your family, especially for protective, protracted periods of time. One offs are fine, but it's really that's the that's the domain of paid professionals who have the training, education, skills, experience and boundaries to reflect back with you who and where you truly are, what your friends do. Maybe they do that for a moment, but the moment quickly passes and you get together for a giggle or a shared experience and you celebrate life. But if you find yourself continuously processing and rehashing emotional experiences with your friends, I encourage you to really take stock that could be a red flag that you're kind of dwelling in the vulnerability space that that we've been, you know, raising to the light.


Maddox[01:00:58] It's a good call. Brad I like that. I'm wondering how you would determine, you know, because I'm thinking about in my own situation, I have pulled together a small group of men and we do varying things to do together. We go, we have brunches, we go biking, we go walking. We've gone to movies. We do varying things. But every once in a while will I'll sit around. Often, oftentimes it happens here at my house, in the quiet of my house will sit around my dining table and we'll talk about the deeper topics we'll talk about. You know, sometimes I'll just lead off with a question and we'll go around the circle and everybody kind of gets vulnerable and then people ask questions of the other one, like to understand a little bit better. And everybody seems to always really love it. It's like, when can we do this again? But it's not like that's what happens every time we get together. It's not like just this place that we hang out in where we're wounded. Yeah.


Britt[01:01:59] Look, it's all about the container. If you have a container that's created for the sanctity of sharing, then that's beautiful and wonderful. But if it's if you if it's spontaneously arising out of the normal course of friendships, that for me is a red flag that we've entered the space of therapy, meaning we're trying to improve or heal something, as opposed to trying to experience the world and share richness together. And I think that's where so many of us get stuck in the queer community, especially those of us who've gone on personal growth and development journeys. It becomes addictive, that emotional processing, but we get dopamine hits from it, from exposure, from baring our souls. A little bit of it is really beautiful, but it's so tempting to reside there.


Maddox[01:02:46] Yeah. It can be a little blurry to candidates. I mean, the line between healthy and unhealthy, there's this a little bit of a slippery slope, I think.


Jonathan[01:02:56] I really think it depends on the intention. I think and when we're conscious and when we're intentional, when we're deliberate about it and we know the boundaries, we know we know what everyone's intention is, then it's fine. But if it becomes a proxy for a therapist, then who you know, if somebody is just latching on because they don't have anywhere else to protect and it hasn't been discussed, it hasn't been explored, it's just it just becomes proxy therapy. Then then you've got issues like first my view or if the person is choosing not to do anything about it.


Maddox[01:03:46] Yes.


Britt[01:03:48] Taking the room and holding people hostage with their own emotional processing and baggage. These are all clear signs that something's up. You know, I kind of feel empathy for the audience today, listeners, because this is confusing. This is paradoxical. We've we've spoken out of both sides of our mouth. We've given mixed signals because relationships are messy and there's no easy answers here. And we all stand at the intersections of multiple identities, all with their own cultural baggage. The baggage that men experience, the baggage that gay men experience, the baggage that binds inexperienced cis men, whatever white men. You know, we haven't even talked about gay racism in this episode and gay misogyny and how that can impact our disconnectedness and the fragmented natures of our community. I mean, we could go on and on for hours. And so I can understand if a listener is like, well, dang it, you know, I feel a little bit hopeless and overwhelmed. Maddocks Would you fix that for them real quick?


Maddox[01:04:49] Quick I'm going to wave a magic wand.


Britt[01:04:52] There you go.


Maddox[01:04:55] And and it is it is our work as a human being. I just keep coming back to that. I think I realize that as long as I was doing the work, it was one step forward and three steps back. You know, it was it felt like I was not getting the traction that I wanted. And I can look back now, even though I've just had this awareness in the last few days. I can look back and see that. There was this point where it shifted. And it was more like three steps forward and one step back and it became smoother. It became I don't know if I want to use the word easier, but in some regard and, and I can look back now and really correlate that to as long as I was doing the work, I was not getting much traffic traction. And when I became the work. It became a totally different experience and it became more joyful. It became because it's it's it's a part of me. Instead of being outside of me, it is inside of me. When I took it internally, everything shifted.


Britt[01:06:13] Absolutely embodiment. I could talk to you all day, Max. It's just so beautiful to engage you in this space and learn from your experiences. We just thank you so much for for coming on the episode today and sharing with us. Maddox, will you tell our listeners where they can find you?


Maddox[01:06:30] You can find me at the authentic Gay Man podcast dot com. Very easy to remember. I will also provide a link for you guys to put in the show notes. That is my link tree link. So that'll give them access to pretty much everything. This has been amazing, gentlemen, and thank you. You have reflected some wonderful things back to me and I am receiving that. I just want to say, you know, thank you for your words of affirmation when you were saying thank you.


Britt[01:07:08] Thank you so much, Maddox. Everyone you've been listening to. Not going quietly. You've made it through another healing episode. Congratulations. Thanks for for bearing with us. And, you know, we encourage you to check out previous episodes in our podcast. We've covered so many different healing topics for queer people from all walks of life and and straight people as well. And, you know, it's just been an absolute pleasure to have you with us. I'm your host, Brad East, with my fantabulous co-host, Jonathan Gill. Thank you so much. Have a great day.


Jonathan[01:07:42] Thank you.


Britt[01:07:46] You've been listening to me not going quietly with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Brett East.


Jonathan[01:07:52] 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[01:08:00] Check out our show notes for links, additional information and episodes located on your favorite podcast platforms.


MaddoxProfile Photo


Coach, Community Leader, and Podcaster

Maddox is his last name and what he goes by. Maddox is a Personal Power coach, community leader, content creator, and host of “The Authentic Gay Man” podcast. He has devoted a lifetime to personal growth and freely shares what he has learned. With a 40 year history of providing personal services to clients as a beauty professional, he gained an incredible understanding of human behavior and effective listening and communication skills. He parlayed that into a thriving coaching practice. Now, with several coaching certifications, he focuses on supporting gay men to be the most authentic version of themselves, so they can create deep and meaningful friendships with their fellow gay brothers. He is an "Authenticity Activist" and agent for powerful and positive change. Maddox is a member of the Gay Coaches Alliance.