Feb. 23, 2023

The Courage To Be Courageous with Dan Bolen

Dan Bolen joins Britt for an illuminating conversation about coming out at an any age, spirituality, addiction, abuse, redefining personal success, and how to find the courage to be courageous. 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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Transcript

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 heartbroken healers and outraged optimists all over the world where we surface life searing truths in the name of radical togetherness. I'm your host, Britt East, and my co-host Jonathan Beale is out sick today. So it's kind of a major bummer. But even though I'm flying solo, we've got a fabulous guest here that I can't wait to introduce you to. You're going to hear some amazing things about his story, as well as the book that he's recently released, which I highly encourage everyone to to buy. It's absolutely incredible. So our guest today is Dan Bolen, who was born in 1947 in Spokane, Washington, and grew up in Boise, Idaho, and in several places in Alaska after marrying a girl in White Go-Go Boots and dropping out of college to become a Jehovah's Witness minister, he discovered he had a gift for employment, recruiting, a passion that would propel him to great professional and financial success. From 1967 until 2019, he held the nationally recognized executive search firms, management recruiters of Boise and Dan Bolen and Associates. After working, after using work addiction and religious addiction to bury who he really was, he finally came out as a gay man at 70 years old. After he came out as gay, he was disfellowshipped from the church and ended up in a divorce to his second wife. It was at this time he decided to write his own book titled The Courage to Be Courageous, to help others to gain the peace and joy that comes from living as your authentic self. Dan, we are so thrilled to have you. Welcome to the podcast. How the hell are you today?

 

Dan [00:02:14] I'm doing fine. And thank you for reading that. That was that was incredible. And it's it's who I am. So thank you.

 

Britt [00:02:24] Yeah. You know, I mean, there is so much in there. You have lived such a rich life, which you, you know, you outline in the book, you know, which I happened to have a copy of right here. I'm holding that up for the folks on YouTube so you can see this amazing cover. My husband was talking about this today. He absolutely loves the cover, the the tear out at the top with the view of the mountains. And it's just an amazing book. And you tell such a generous, vulnerable story. I felt like in many ways, this book, The Courage to Be Courageous, is a catalog of your successes and accomplishments, which are numerous. And you know what? They granted you a wealth of opportunities. I can't wonder if those successes in some ways through a certain lens, might have held you back as well. So what do you think when you think of the word success? It can be such a loaded term. What does it mean to you? And were you in some ways a victim of your own success?

 

Dan [00:03:21] I think that's a very good question. And I would say, yes, I was a victim of my own success. I was raised in a very dysfunctional family. My dad was very abusive emotionally and physically. And I was in a generation. You could not come out as gay. And I knew when I was seven I was different. And so what I did to become successful for me and to bury who I was is I became an overachiever. Number one in high school, valedictorian, went on to University of Arizona on two scholarships. Anything I could do to be able to hide. The. Feeling that I was different than everyone else. And so that, I guess, kind of spearheaded me in success because I could always accomplish. My dad was a workaholic. He taught us kids to work very hard. So I went that direction and I wanted to prove to myself that I could be successful, that I could be able to be the top of the range in my whatever I'm doing. And so, yeah, that was successful. But on the downside of that, that success buried who I was because the more I would have these feelings of feeling towards men, the more I would work and the more I would do whatever it took to be able to silence this shame that I had inside me. And I, I think the biggest con job we do is on ourselves. And that's the way I did that. The more I would have feelings about who I really was. The shame was so great. And then I got connected with Jehovah's Witnesses. It's quite a story that is revealed in the book. And because I didn't have a family at home, I had a family, but a very dysfunctional one. Then they became my family. And of course, I'll do anything for the family. And I became an elder in the church. I became successful in the church. So, yeah, success was what I pursued. And it financially I have done very well. But emotionally it held me back from identifying who I really was.

 

Britt [00:05:41] What do you.

 

Dan [00:05:42] Work, addiction or addiction?

 

Britt [00:05:44] What do you wish that little boy at the time would have known?

 

Dan [00:05:51] I wish he would have known he was accepted, that he was accepted of who he was. That was not possible in my generation. I my dad would have probably physically killed me. I was raised in a generation where being gay was considered to be perverted. It was something that and society is telling you was wrong. And so I wished I would have been able to come out as a little boy and say, I'm a gay man. I'm a gay boy. I didn't know what sex was, but I just knew I like boys. That's what I wish I would have been able to do. Come out as a gay man and be accepted by society and accepted by my family of who I was. I do not believe that would have been possible, though, because it was really an area of protection of myself and the generation I lived in. One of the big advantage we have a young kids today is that we have made so much more progress in accepting people as gay and lesbian and transgendered. And I think that helped me to be able to look at, wow, these other people that are doing this. I think that provided me some courage to be courageous, to come out. So that's the one thing I wish I would have been able to do it to identify who I was and say to my dad or family, hey, I don't know. I like boys. I like wrestling with them and not be ashamed. Or how if I had done that, it would have been disastrous.

 

Britt [00:07:19] You know, as part of your journey could. Yeah. As part of your journey, you share that at one point in your life you were married to a woman and had children. And, you know, there are so many other gay men in the community out there with similar journeys. I've had a very different journey that's more of a contemporary cliche where I came out in my teen years and then moved to what was then called the gay ghetto and, you know, never had really sexual experiences with women and and certainly never had children. And part of the really neat thing about in the last few years as I've been doing this work is getting to hear stories different from my own. Because I didn't I did not realize how many preconceived notions that I carried about gay men that I just kind of reflexively assumed everybody was just like me. And it turns out there are lots and lots of guys out there in mixed orientation marriages coming out in their 50 or 67 years, having children, grandchildren and all of that, which is so beautiful. And one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show and why I think your book is going to be so healing is because I think there's a lot of guys out there that are that are kind of have on similar journeys to you will feel very seen an unknown and affirmed by your story. How has your experience of once being a closeted child, an adult that lived in the closet? How has that informed the way that you parent and your children over the years?

 

Dan [00:09:02] Well, I did have one daughter. I did not want to have children. Religiously. Jehovah's Witnesses. That's not something they encourage. They don't necessarily discourage it. So I think they think that when you are hiding who you are, the first one to suffer is yourself. And then your family suffers because of that. My wife at the time suffered because of that, because I became a workaholic and because she had some other mental issues and problems. She was an alcoholic and bipolar and and borderline. So she had her own stuff going on. So I think I would have been a better parent had I been able to live my true self. Now, interestingly, my daughter does, except her dad is a gay man. And so but it's been a tough it's been a tough road for her. And it's been a tough road for both of us. Because if you read in the book, there were some very dark things that happened to my daughter, now my relative. And so that's been really hard. And to still today, she struggles with that issue of being abused by my brother. And so it's it's. You know, you're looking back, you get a different perspective than when you're going through it. But I do believe I would have been a be able to be a better father to her. I want to make a comment that you made that I really want to I want the audience to really relate to. One of the reasons I wrote this book, several reasons. Number one is for my own cathartic reasons, because I can't speak to my family. I'm one of seven kids. I was kind of the patriarch of the family. They can't have anything to do with me, no contact, no association at all. So I did it for my own reasons. And I want this story to be released to them. They each have a copy of the book. Now, they may have burned it, they may have thrown it away, but I wanted that when I die, that they can go back and understand who the real Danny is. I go by Danny with my family. That's the first reason. And the second reason there are people out there in my generation. Who've lived my story and have so much fear of coming out, losing their wives, losing their kids, losing their family, losing their jobs. And I want to be able to come to these people through my book and say, You have the courage to be courageous. You can do it. You can get through it. Because it's interesting when you look at going through something and you think of all the things that you think will happen. In Jerusalem. The majority of them do not happen. But you think they do? I think that's what I say about fear is false evidence that appears real. So you have this fear going on and the fear is so strong that you you deny yourself. And I want my book to have people have the courage to be courageous, to be able to say, yes, I may lose a wife, some of my kids may not accept me, whatever, but to be able to be their true selves, because there are still many out there, even younger than me in my generation. My partner, John, and I've been together almost three years and he's given me a lot of insight. There's a lot of married guys out there who are married to women, have children, and that are having sex with men. And that I want them to really stop and think it's affecting a lot of people, not only affecting you with what you're doing to this woman you love, but it's affecting also yourself. It's affecting your children. I never in my mind this I'm not trying to be a moral judgment here, but in my mind, this honesty is the best policy, even if it means that you're going to lose some of the things that are precious to you. You were able to gain who you truly, truly are. When I went through my second divorce, which was the result of coming out as gay and acting on it, it was the worst year of my life, but it was also the best year of my life because the first time I was at peace with me, I was at peace with that. I wasn't I wasn't shameful of who I was. And that was a gift that I can only say until you come out and identify who you really are and own, that you'll get a gift that you can't even imagine. And that's the reason I want to help others to be able to read the book and and understand, you know, their because there's still a lot of them out there that are it's we've made some tremendous project and thank you for the younger generation you guys have really brought this out in a good generation brought us forward in a good generation. So I hope that that will be able to have some impact on those individuals.

 

Britt [00:14:05] It's so beautiful. And, you know, in all sincerity, to the listeners, to you as well, one of the things I was most struck by your book, the Courage to Be Courageous, is the tone you more than really any book I can think of strike a remarkable balance between relentless optimism, because I just think that's part of who you are. You're really sunny, warm, fun, funny guy and authenticity. I mean, there is a balance of, you know, dark might be a word, but reality regarding invulnerable reality regarding your experiences. But there's always the thread of optimism there. So it makes it for the reader. It's a really pleasurable read because, you know, you don't have to worry about being traumatized by the book. You know that there's sort of a happy ending coming, which you alluded to with the union, with your partner, and like you said, the recognition that even in the darkest times which you recount in the book, that there was also a liberation happening.

 

Dan [00:15:19] That is so true. That is right on target. I think the liberation that you have is beyond any type of liberation that you can gain because you're liberating yourself. You're liberating your your shame, you're liberating your guilty nurse, you're eliminating all of that. And I think that's one of the things that I want people to be able to enjoy. And I think my book will help them to be able to do that. It's interesting because since this book has come out, it came out in August 1st well, actually last July, it's gotten great reviews. And one of the ladies wrote me personally. Her name is Debbie, and she's been very successful in the real estate business. And she says, now, after I read your book and see the courage, that courageous that you had to go through, what you did is made a change in my life because I've been unhappy in my memories for 20 years. I don't feel love. I don't feel accepted. I'm just they're very successful in business with her husband, in the real estate business. But I don't feel loved. I don't feel accepted. I have the courage to be courageous. I'm going to change that. So that's a gift that I get from the heterosexual community that I had not planned on. So and several others of the heterosexual community have commented on it that it's been powerful. So it isn't just for us gay and lesbians and transgendered people is for our whole human community. That you can learn because I think all of us at some time in our life have such. Fear of something. The only way we can get through it is to have courage, even though you really don't know what's going to happen. You think you know what's going to happen, but you really don't know what's going to happen. And I think if you do that and you go through that, I hope that can be a gift that I give to the humanity, to all humanity, not just to our community.

 

Britt [00:17:24] What does it mean to be courageous?

 

Dan [00:17:30] Good question. I think for courageous for me. He is, despite all odds that are against you. When your heart and your self tells you that you need to own who you are. That is courageous. I think it starts with ourselves. And even though I had all these reasons and because of the church and religious background, I know I would lose my whole family, All my family, all my friends were Jehovah's Witnesses. And so I lost all of them. And so to me, I knew I was going to lose that. I knew I was going to lose my. My wife. I knew I was going to lose all my friends. So the courage for me is going against all odds. When your soul, when your heart tells you what you need to do, even though the outcome seems hard for you to face. I think, really the courage to be courageous, even though you don't feel courageous. The courage to be courageous, even though I don't feel courageous statistical. But I think the courage to be courageous is is really the key to doing that. So that to me is what courage is, I think. And for me, I had to be courage with myself. I had to actually lay it on the line of who I am. I mean, I tried to say I was bisexual. I tried to say that I was it was just an experiment. I tried to pay the gay away. I mean, I tried all of this stuff even after I got this fellowship from the church. Second time, I tried for a whole year to come back. And then I realized that's not courage. I came out of the closet and now I'm forcing myself to go back. It ain't going to happen. I said. I got the courage that I'm going to come out. I am proud of who I am as a gay man. And when I finally came to that point, because the reason I did that is to save my marriage for my last wife, who was a wonderful woman, wonderful woman. But I realized that I had to be able to be courageous for me and allow her to have her own courageousness, because I had to be courageous for me, because I've always been I've always been doing things for everybody else that never really. And I think there was insecurity there. You know, if I just do enough for everybody else, if I'm just helping everybody else, then I'll feel better about myself, about who I am doesn't work. I may give you a little temporary relief at that moment, but until you are doing what you're doing, because your heart's in it, because you know who you are, I actually love Dan. I actually love who I am. I'm not perfect. I have issues, but I love who I am. And so anything that comes up in my life, like John and I have a great relationship, but if something happens where it doesn't work out, I will survive. I will survive because I am courageous with myself. It sounds like a nice existence.

 

Britt [00:20:40] Yeah, it sounds like courage is a practice.

 

Dan [00:20:45] Totally. Totally. I have to have the courage to be courageous, to control my anger. I was raised as an angry by an angry father. So I see something I want to fix. It was like, No, you're not. And wait a minute. Wait a minute. Okay, Come on. This is a little courage here. And I have to pull back and say, Now I want to be courageous. I want to be able to do the right thing and not be able to react in an unhealthy way. So you're right. You're right. Brett Creech is a it's a lifelong thing. And you need to embrace courage and not avoid courage. It's the embracing of courage that gives you the gift. It's not the avoiding of courage that gives you the gift.

 

Britt [00:21:28] That's really beautiful. You alluded several times today and of course, talked about it at length in your book about your spiritual faith and community. What would you like those of us who have been traumatized by various religious organizations to know about God?

 

Dan [00:21:54] Very good question. That God is your personal friend. That he is someone that accepts you who you are. I knew I was born gay. You know, people do this controversy that you choose. Gay, reborn. I know. For me, I was born gay. I was seven years old. I was different. He made me that way. And so my relationship with him is accepting the gift. He gave me a life and created me who I am. And I'm still working on that. And what I mean by that, because I consider myself to be a spiritual person. I'm at a crossroads with religion. I am really down on religion right now. Part of the reason is because Jehovah's Witnesses use the term Jehovah to apply to the name of God. So it was hard to associate Jehovah God from Jehovah's Witnesses. And so I'm doing a desegregation of that because I don't use the word Jehovah as much anymore. I want to be able to say my religion is with God and I tell God and I don't play like he used to, but I go God and say, God, I'm not ready yet. But I know you love me and know you care for me. But I'm not ready because I'm trying to disassociate from this organization. That. I need to. And I feel his patience. I feel his acceptance. I feel his. I feel his presence. Because right now he knows I'm spiritually, I'm kind of wondering and searching for what my spiritual relationship is with God. I know he loves me. I know he cares for me. And that's my spirituality. I want to get a much closer relationship with him, but I don't see it for me personally connected to any other religion. I've seen what religion has done to people. I've seen what it's done to me. And so it's a different for me between religion and spirituality. So I'm kind of. God's giving me a time out right now. He's always there for me. He's kept me alive. Here I come. I see something. It's like, you know, it's like if I lose my timbers. God, I'm sorry. God, that I shouldn't have said that. So I still talk to him, but, yeah, he's giving me a time out. But he's always there when I'm ready for him. So I believe spirituality is your relationship with your higher power, whatever it is, regardless, and in spite of religion. Religion does not give you spirituality. In effect, it takes away your spirituality. I really believe that.

 

Britt [00:24:47] You know.

 

Dan [00:24:47] That was the case in my.

 

Britt [00:24:51] Area. There are so many gay guys out there that, you know, cut themselves off from a relationship with God reflexively based on the trauma they experienced. And that's one of the things I love about your book and your story is that you're very real about all that you experienced, and yet you still have this continuity. You've cultivated a personal relationship with whom you call God or Jehovah or whatever word you're using. And I think a lot of guys will see themselves in that or might rekindle the spirituality they maybe aborted through the trauma they experienced, the fear they experienced as children or even as adults. And nowadays there's so many pathways to practice and express that spirituality. There's so many open and affirming churches, there's so many individual spiritual practices and communities. And we don't often hear that in the contemporary gay culture, which tends to be really secular, I think, and somewhat a reaction against at least like gay culture as expressed through Hollywood. I think it tends to be like more of the cliche that I alluded to earlier. The life that I was leading kind of surround, you know, young and urban professional with a technology job, white collar worker, college degrees. So secularists are going out the clubs all the time. You know, that that singular gay identity seems to be what Hollywood has homed in on for whatever reason, is deemed marketable. And so whole swaths of guys out there that don't resonate with those media, you know, mass marketing tropes feel abandoned, alienated, unseen. And the truth is, there's no one way to be gay. So my question to you is really? Yeah. My question to you is, like regarding gay culture. When you came out, were you embraced by the community? Did you have a sense of community have to fight for a place in community where you're shunned by the gay community? How did it go for you?

 

Dan [00:27:11] When I came out as a gay person and I admitted to my wife immediately when I had the affair, I told her immediately, of course, and ended up in me being divorced from the church. So I did not have a gay community at that time, other than John, who became a best friend of mine, who now my partner. And he helped me a lot. But he didn't have a real gay community either because he was married to a man who was a hermit. And in 18 years, they never had any association, anybody at their house. So he didn't have a community either. So I think what we began to do is we began to find we both, of course, very active as far as physically. We joined the Front Runners group. We joined a happy hour on Friday. And the embracement was fantastic, fantastic. You know, because the manager there, you know, they were of your kind. They're not there to judge you because, I mean, we've all been judged. And so I found the embracement to be fantastic. And we just got back from a gay cruise in Mexico. It was fantastic. Fantastic. And just being able to know and be able to associate with so many gay people that they many of them are totally vulnerable about where they've come and where they've come from. And they've had this journey. And I mean, everybody can write their own memoir. Okay. It's unusual for somebody to come out at somebody. But yeah, we were really embraced and we have a wonderful community. Nowadays, we we have gay friends. We've had people come over to our house. We done happy hours at our house here. We've been front runners in San Diego, which when I'm down there because I spent the summer in La Hoya, wonderful community and we have been totally, totally embraced. And that is assessment fantastic. You know.

 

Britt [00:29:03] What I love about that is that you are implying that you had the where you practiced the courage to be courageous when you came out and and your friend at the time, partner now did not have a community knocking on your door. You went out and built your own community and cultivated relationships and put yourself out there and risked rejection, risked whatever fears you might have had. And you, you created your community.

 

Dan [00:29:36] We certainly did. And, you know, my grabber line is when I meet somebody, I said, hey, I just came out as gay at 70 years old. And of course, their mouth drops open and then they want to hear my story. So it's kind of, you know, I couldn't I mean, I go back to where I couldn't even use the word gay years ago. And now I say I'm a gay man, a happily gay man, and I have a wonderful gay partner. And when you have that vulnerability. And out there with the community and they see you vulnerable, they're going to be vulnerable. Back to you. So I'm very vulnerable with people in my community, my gay community. So, yeah, it's been wonderful. I have it's been it's been an incredible family. Just being able to read your book, which was fantastic, and being able to identify with you and being able to make, you know, bring you into my life. It's been wonderful and wonderful. And seeing people like you and other individuals like Coach Maddock and also Bryan McNabb, which I did, as you know, on the podcast on YouTube with him on Are You Happy Without the movie? And so I've been able to embrace these others. But interestingly, I pursued them because I wanted them to be a part of my community. I think you have to make the effort here. You just can't sit around and wait for them to come to you because you have to believe that this is your community. They're wonderful people at the majority. Are you going to find some that you know are going to be some that you you may not want to bring as close friends, but the majority of them are wonderful people. Wonderful people. And so I think that's that. But you have to make the initiative. You go out there and then accept it and be able to do that. I mean, I'm a marketer. I mean, I built a business or marketing, so for me I'm going to get to build a business of marketing. I want to get myself out there. I've got a career. And so that's just that's just who I am. And that's very natural and very authentic. And so partner for John. Hmm. Go ahead.

 

Britt [00:31:42] I'm so glad you said that. That's exactly where I was going to go to connect the dots there that you were able to leverage skills, attributes and affinities that you've cultivated in your career as a business person. Whether you were conscious of this or not, you were able to leverage those skills and apply them in your personal life. And that's perfectly okay. In fact, that's a fantastic way to.

 

Dan [00:32:04] It is totally true. And and and that's who I am. That's my core. That's just who I am. I mean, when I see somebody in trouble, I see them going through a situation. I want to be there to help. And I've always been that way. But now it's totally authentic. It's totally real. So thank you. That that that's a good compliment. I appreciate that.

 

Britt [00:32:29] What was it like? I mean, really like in your body, in your mind and your soul, your spirit. At the age of 70, to give yourself permission to fall in love with another man.

 

Dan [00:32:50] I can only speak of my own personal experience. John and I became very best friends when I met John. I went to a new health club because I had to change health clubs, which was my wife's prerequisite. And John and I became friends. He's, of course, a trainer. He's now director of training. And so we just became good friends. He did not know I was gay. Although he suspected. Okay. And in the book, you'll find out how we met and didn't take him long to figure it out. And I think for me, it was being able to embrace. I needed the friendship before I had the experience of dating a guy. I needed to be a friend with a gay man before I wanted to date them. And so John became my closest friend. And but I knew he was married. He had been with his partner 18 years, married for. And so I knew I was not going to interfere with that marriage. And so the friendship just continued for quite some time. And I ended up falling in love with him. But I could not tell him at the time what I was feeling. But feelings were coming in that made me thinking I'm falling in love with my best friend. And he was having the same feelings. And the book course tells you how that all occurred. So I think for me it was. I have to be friends with somebody first before I'm going to have intimacy with them. That's just my requirement. I'm not one that's going to be some guy and have a one night stand. And I think that goes back to my own moral code. I'm not being judgmental of anybody that they do that. I'm just saying, for me, that's just not part of mine. So I think it was a matter of my friendship evolved into love and I would date different guys and bring them to the club. And John would say, Hey, John, what do you think of this one? What do you think of that one? And then I realized it was falling in love with him. And then I had fear. I'm falling in love with a married man. And I had just. Lost my marriage in the process of the divorce, and I'm causing another one to happen. So I had to kind of a. I want to see a shame attack, but I think it's like, I can't do this. I cannot put somebody in that situation. I care too much about his husband. I care too much about John. And John had to come around on his own to finally realize in the book tells you how how we ended up meeting. And so I think it's a matter of of the friendship. And I want to encourage people that are coming out, make the friendship, and you can have lots of friends. And then the friendship will lead in the direction it needs to go for you and for the other person. I think the minute you try to force it, it doesn't go well. I think you just have to go with the flow. No, I answered your question.

 

Britt [00:35:50] Better not. Yeah. Yeah, that was the mechanics of it, which is a beautiful story. And you really delve into it in the book and it's it's really great reading, frankly. What about there had to come a moment, I suspect once John came around and figured out his situation and his personal life and and you were feeling settled and ready in your personal life where you gave yourself permission. Okay. Now I'm afraid I'm afraid of breaking up this marriage, quote unquote, or I'm afraid of, you know, whatever residual homophobic messages you had still internalized. But now I'm going to give myself permission for the first time in my life to share love with the man. Do you remember what that felt like? Can you walk us through like there was it?

 

Dan [00:36:41] I totally do. I totally do. You hit the nail right on the head on this one. John and I went to a happy hour. And. We were talking and I walked outside and I kissed him for the first time. And the feeling I had. And I held him and I thought, this is what true love is for me. I went home immediately and told my wife she knew I'd been disfellowshipped. And I said to her, I walked in and said, Sandy. I've. I met a man I can't having because he's married. But I know what real love for me is with a gay man. And I cannot let you be married to a gay man. I am a gay man. And I have to give you your freedom and give you my freedom. And it was hard for her to hear that. And the next day we filed for divorce. So it was that moment when I realized that what it's like to really be loved by a man I had had sex with a man, one man, two different times. Same man. That was sex. With John. It was love and I knew the feeling and the love. And it wasn't just the physical, it was the emotional connection. We were friends. We shared so much. It was that connection that you had. That, you know, this is what you're supposed to have. And that's when I filed for divorce. And and that gave me a sense that I also realized because in my mind, I'm thinking I've hurt my wife so bad. My second wife, I got to get back. I got to get reinstated in the church. That was a requirement that I get reinstated. What that means is I can never I can never date a man and I can never I can never cheat on her again or and I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it to her and I couldn't do it for me. And so it was that moment I began to realize, I'm not going to get John necessarily, but I'm going to get someone that gives me the feeling that John gets me. And that's when I knew that's the event. When I knew that it's a it's it's it's a love. And the experience of that evening was just. It was clear it was clarity for me was just a little clarity.

 

Britt [00:39:11] I'm trying not to cry.

 

Dan [00:39:12] And I still love images today.

 

Britt [00:39:13] I'm trying not to cry. I said, I'm trying not to cry. It's so beautiful. Yeah, it's you know, what I love so much about that story is that you get the Hollywood moment. The cliche of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy opening the door from her Kansas house, and it shifts from black and white and color, which is the magic I think that so many of us experience when for the first time we practice the courage to be courageous and and give ourselves permission to kiss another man, to have sex with another man. And then when combined with the potency of love like you describe, it's something else entirely. And then come the consequences. And that's what I love about the story, is that it is full circle. It's tethered to reality. And I think it's the book in a microcosm. The book is not just happy joy, feel good optimism. The book is not just bleak, Dark Night of the Soul. The book is a life well-lived, fully described in all the peaks and valleys. And that, I think, for me, is so much the source of the power. And I think what will help so many of us see ourselves in your story is because you don't shrink from reality. You had that moment with John and you knew your moral code required would require you to then disclose this information to your wife. There would be consequences. And yet there were still no going back. And in fact of John decided had, you know, buyer's remorse, for lack of a better term or decided it wasn't going to work out or whatever happened between you, you knew you would be okay, because the courage to be courageous helps you cultivate resilience. And so you had built that resilience through all of this investment, and you knew it would hurt. You've experienced pain. So you know what that's like. But you would be okay and there would still be love for you again. And there was no going back.

 

Dan [00:41:18] And that is so true. And you really worded it perfectly. And Sandy, my second wife. I've never loved a woman any more than I love her. And I still love her. I have deep love for her. And I loved her enough to let her go. And Elsa wasn't going to play this little dance game about I I'm too honest and open. I just don't do deceit in a relationship. I just don't do it. It eats at me, it eats my soul. And so I think being able to get to the point where and at this time John was still married and John and I were a couple, I just had this feeling for him. And so my thing was I got to find another person like John because I did not want to break up another marriage. And so that's when I went and started doing some dating. But they were all being compared to John and and John would give me his feedback too. So I think it was a matter of I knew, I knew with that feeling with John at that moment, what real, real intimate love is with a man. And it is a power that unless you've experienced that, you, you know what I'm talking about. And so then it matter of it takes courage to move forward because and I knew I can't have John I'll go start looking around and date someone else that I can, you know, I can find. And so I think that's I think has the power to be correct. Courageous is is something you're going to display everyday in your life. And I think even today, you know, John and I have a great relationship, but we have issues and inmates, they don't have issues, is either brain dead or they're lying or both. But we work them through and in my my history comes up, his history comes out. And if we if we need to get a psychologist, we do that. We call Arnie, who's a gay psychologist, and we work on this problem. We some help us go to him. And I think that's courage to be courageous to do that because. There's this, a great book called Wired for Love, and it talks about the couple bubble. And it says, It's not what you want, Dan, or what you want, John, is what the couple bubble needs. What does the couple bubble need? Because we have a tendency to fight for our own needs when we're fighting for our own needs, somebody is going to be the loser. But the couple bubble is what's best for the couple, but what's best for the relationship. And so we've applied those principles and the reading today. And we're both very we're both. Ready to learn every day about our relationship. Learn every day about a relationship. We all have triggers. John has his triggers. I have my triggers. I'm sure you have your triggers. And so we all have those. And it's a matter of being able to be aware of the triggers of someone, listen to them without talking, acknowledging, mirroring what they're saying. And. Then if you see an opportunity to talk, you can do it later. So those things for me take courage. You know, every day is relationship is so important to me and my relationship so important to him that we do that. We just do that. And unfortunately, we've seen a lot of gay couples that are. They're disjointed. They're disjointed. It's the taking of granted for granted. When you start taking your relationship for granted with your mate or your boyfriend taking each other for granted, it will start to erode the relationship to where the relationship will start to. It'll start to end. So we always say, Let's not take each other for granted. Let's let's. Let's be open. Let's be in the present. Let's let's be aware of who we are and where we're at today. And so we've grown. We've grown, as I think we've grown as a couple. We've grown as some of your biggest pain comes through your experiences. And so but we walk through the pain. We have the courage to walk through the pain, what we're going to get to get to the other side, because we have that deep love for each other. I don't know. I'm probably maybe I'm. That's just my perception. I hope that other people will be able to enjoy that. And I hope that people, through my reading of my book and being able to do that and I want to be able to help others who are struggling in their relationships to be able to understand. I struggle to I'm not a counselor, but I can give you my life's experience and maybe you'll learn something from it. And that's what I hope to do.

 

Britt [00:46:12] And you practice the courage to pick up the phone and call a counselor when you need one.

 

Dan [00:46:20] I do. I did. I did.

 

Britt [00:46:23] That's part of it. You are in the game. You are actively involved in your partnership. You face challenges head on. At least that's a practice. And so, like you alluded to, if you're having issues, you use your tools. You don't just cross your fingers and hope for the best. You know, I think many gay men are mired in this epidemic of loneliness where there's a litany of reasons why they can't find a loved one gay community. The gay community is toxic and terrible. I live in a remote part of the country. I'm closeted or, you know, I don't like other gay men or nobody thinks I'm attractive. There's a litany of reasons for the loneliness that I think a lot of gay men have. What would you like to share with them about finding a partner and being in and being in a partnership?

 

Dan [00:47:23] I think I think to be real with themselves and honest with themselves. When you said you're not attractive, you're attractive. When you say you live in a rural community, you can't find a real community. That isn't a true statement, but that's your truth at the time. So I think being open and honest and just being able to take the courage to go out and develop relationships with men. I think friendship is the way to be able to develop a relationship. Because when you're friends with each other, you're not trying to date each other. You're not putting on your best foot, you're just friends, you're open, you're friendly. And I think that when you do that, I think you have to be the courageous, courageous. You have to go out there. You have to identify who you are. You know, we as gay people, we've had all these messages bombarded to us for generations. It's not right. You're not attractive. It's not normal for you to love a man. You've got all these bombards of these things that have done with it. And frankly, it's the heterosexual community that's given that and religion this give it that. And so I think when you need to step back and really analyze. There's a difference between reality and there's a difference between your feelings. And I think understanding that where you're at with your life. What are the good things? And this is another thing. It just I just thought I'd do a gratitude list on yourself. Do a gratitude list on yourself. What are the things that you like about yourself? We can give you a whole list of things we don't like about ourselves. Do a gratitude list on yourself. What you really like about yourself. You can do the negative. What you really like about yourself. Get your mind thinking about what you like about yourself and not what you don't like about yourself. And I think a gratitude. This is good. If I'm having an issue with someone in my in my life and I'm having a really toxic situation that can come up. I forced myself to do a gratitude list. What do I like about it? You know, my father, I had so much hatred for him, I couldn't do one until I finally had to realize where the depth of his pain was. And then I was able to do a gratitude list for him. So I think do a gratitude list on yourself, find the good things you're dealing with and what you're going through and the pain of that. I have a gentleman who's still part of Jehovah's Witnesses who gay interestingly, that I actually served on his judicial committee. He's now come back and he is suffering depression and he's suffering. And I was talking to him the other day and he says, I hate who I am. I thought You mean you hate your room? I hate the fact I'm a gay man. I said I'm a gay man. Do you hate me? He says, No, I love you more. I said, All that give you the same love. Do a gratitude list on yourself. Tell me the gratitude things that you have for your life. And so I think that starts with being open and true, vulnerable with yourself, honest, develop friendships. And when you're open and honest and vulnerable and love yourself and accept yourself, people are drawn to that. They will see it. Maybe it's in a different town, maybe it's a different person than what you're used to seeing. But yeah, I think it's I think it's you've got to you've got to be real with yourself. And it's so easy for us to be to put ourselves down because society has done that for years for us. Society and churches have done that. So we've got to do the reconnecting of the link to being a positive promoter of ourselves. That's hopefully what I do. You know, I can improve on it. I know there are things that I that I see that I can improve on, but I just I really love who I am. I really love who I am. And I went from a point of hating or I was even as you probably know in the book, it talks about my attempted suicide. And and I embrace that now, embrace that because I understand where that pain came from. I acknowledge it. And it's all in the book. I was totally vulnerable. I laid it all out there, and maybe because I was like, Oh, you're getting 70 years, but I'm just really, really happy with my life. And and I hope that this broadcast will help individuals to to learn to love themselves. And when you when you get that love and that internal love for who you are and are comfortable with who you are, people will see that love the right people that you want. That makes some sense.

 

Britt [00:52:05] Oh, yeah. You know, I think there's still a lot of guys out there in the closet, which surprises people. You know, people, you know, especially if you live on the West Coast, maybe in some liberal cities, people have this notion that everybody comes out when they're, you know, ten or 12 years old these days. And that's just simply not true. And coming out is not a one time experience. We come out almost every day about all sorts of different things, only one of which is our sexual orientation. So it's definitely it's a lifelong process. I mean, I came out first about my sexual orientation in my teens, but I still come out frequently. I mean, still telling people all the time. So it's it's not like a one and done. It's a lifelong process. But having said that, what would you tell other guys out there who are suffering in their closeted lives, feeling trapped by the street supremacy that you alluded to? Don't know what to do. Don't know where to turn. What would you tell them?

 

Dan [00:53:11] Identify with our community, identify with our community. There are so many out there organizations. Gamma is one that I just am a part of now, which is gay men who are having affairs with their married to women who have children, and they're having affairs with women. Some of them want to come out. Some of them don't have the courage to come out. Some have already come out. It's their stories that will give you the strength. Because when you're going through your own stuff, you think it's your story. But there are so many stories that are similar to yours. So I would say connect with the community, connect with Gama. There's another one called That's H.W. If they're married in there, how they're having children. Connect with the community. Connect with a gay community. You've got to be able to be open. You've got to let yourself out there. As long as you stay closeted with yourself and closeted from the community. You will. And I think the longer you wait, the harder it becomes, because I think it's just there's so many organizations I did, I associated when I started coming out, I did a lot of Internet access to different organizations. Some I tried and I wasn't happy with them. But there are organizations that can come out there, listen to podcasts like what you're doing, Bret, or what Maddox is doing on the authentic gay man. These are the things that will be able to expand. The version of what real gay ness is all about, because we have a tendency to get stuck in our own little world. You got to open your world up. That would be my one thing. And find a close friend. Someone who's a close friend, gay or heterosexual, that you feel you can be open and honest and share who you were. But as long as you don't do that, you will be stuck in the closet. And it's a hell of a miserable place to be. Yeah, I know. I lived it.

 

Britt [00:55:07] Yeah. And it doesn't have to be that way.

 

Dan [00:55:09] Expand the community.

 

Britt [00:55:11] Yeah, it doesn't have to be that way. There's a whole world out there waiting to love you, and there's. It's. It's not like it today. It's not like it once was. There's all sorts of organizations with people just like you. We promise. Like you said, you think you're the only one You're not. You're not that special. There's all sorts of people just like you who you can lean on for, you know, even if you're going to remain in a mixed orientation marriage, even if you're not quite ready to come out or if you're in the coming out process or if you're newly out, there's all sorts of organizations out there that that can help you more. All the ones Dan referenced on the show, not so you have links to their websites and can learn more.

 

Dan [00:55:53] Gamma is one where Gamma is people who have come out, people who are not coming out, they're comfortable being able to to be. They haven't told their wives. They're comfortable with that. There's people that have come out because people that are not coming out but want to come out, it's a whole gamut of people. And so you're going to get different perspectives. And so you just pull a little piece from each perspective. And that's what I've done. And and I'm hoping on Gamma, when I joined their meeting, I guess it's been about a month ago, a gentleman who was struggling with it, I said, you know, this is very similar to what I went through just to be able to give him some hope and some this is all and be totally vulnerable. Find an organization, be vulnerable. Now, you don't have to be vulnerable right off because you may be a little uncomfortable, but just as you get to know them, they begin to see the friends and the vulnerability will become natural because you'll see other ones that are totally vulnerable and that gives you permission to be vulnerable.

 

Britt [00:56:58] Yeah.

 

Dan [00:56:58] That would be my encouragement.

 

Britt [00:57:01] Then. You are such a mentor to gay men everywhere and I am so thrilled to claim you for our community. You're ours, you belong, and we're not letting you go. And I would.

 

Dan [00:57:18] Say.

 

Britt [00:57:21] You know, because of who you are, because of the life you live, because of your story, not in spite of those things, because of it. You're such a beacon and a bright light. And I hope other men out there find the courage to get to know you through your book and through the organizations that you reference. It has been such a pleasure to speak with you today, to have you on the podcast from the bottom of my heart. I thank you.

 

Dan [00:57:49] And Britt, thank you so much for you and Jonathan doing what you're doing. You're giving our community a gift and other people are being able to grow from what you're telling them. People that are watching this, that are struggling with whatever they are, you're a gift. And thank you for what you're doing. It is very much appreciated.

 

Britt [00:58:10] Awesome.

 

Dan [00:58:11] Thank you, my friend.

 

Britt [00:58:12] Yeah. Like I said, everyone, we will put links in the show notes where you can buy the book. His Facebook page, the organizations he referenced will give you all of that in the show notes. So you have it at your fingertips. And I'm just so happy that you joined us today for this conversation. You made it through another hour of not going quietly, the podcast for heartbroken healers and outrage awesomeness all over the world. You heard some searing truths that we surface. There's a whole lot of them out there. But you also heard a lot of love and joy and hope and hopefully some courage as well. So from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you. Have a great day. Bye.

 

Dan [00:58:49] Thank you so much, Britt. I appreciate it. Bye bye now.

 

Britt [00:58:55] You've been listening to me not going quietly with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Britt East.

 

Jonathan [00:59:01] 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 [00:59:09] Check out our Shownotes for links, additional information and episodes located on your favorite podcast platform.

 

Dan BolenProfile Photo

Dan Bolen

Author

Dan Bolen was born in 1947 in Spokane, Washington and grew up in Boise, Idaho, and in
several places in Alaska. After marrying a girl in white gogo boots and dropping out of college
to become a Jehovah’s Witness minister, he discovered he had a gift for employment
recruiting – a passion that would propel him to great professional and financial success.
From 1967 until 2019 he helmed the nationally recognized executive search firms
Management Recruiters of Boise and Dan Bolen and Associates. After using work addiction
and religious addiction to bury who he really was, he finally come out as a gay man at 70 years
old. After he came out as gay, he was disfellowshipped from the church, and ended up in a divorce
to his second wife. It was at this time he decided to write his own book titled “The Courage
To Be Courageous” to help others to gain the peace and joy that comes from living as your
authentic self.