It's a blessing to be just a few months short of 50-something years old. Life offers up many varied and always instructive experiences over a half century. Over the coming months, maybe years, I'd like to share some of the most interesting experiences with you, a BLACKlines reader. A most enjoyable experience of life was college graduation day. It was great to see my parents and close relatives get along very well with my best friends, who I introduced as Carl and his lover Ronald. By the end of that day Uncle Edward got into his usual control and command attitude and sat Carl, Ronald and me at a table. He described to us why his graduation gift was a book, The Disciplines of Life.
He said it took lots of love plus serious committed effort to make his marriage of over 25 years to Aunt Marie work. With so much anti-gay prejudice in the world he figured it would take discipline, focus and a sense of direction for the three of us to make it successfully thru life 'especially with a little sugar in y'all's tank ... .' We chuckled at his weak attempt at humor. Then turning serious again he said all the homosexuals he'd known pretended that nobody knew; and wasted too much of their time and potential getting drunk all the time. But since we three were open about it, we'd do well to be self-disciplined, and to live with proper decorum in public to avoid the harsh discipline society imposes on people who don't. I read the book. It essentially said: to be successful impose a tough values system upon yourself. Got it. From then on I sought out gay-friendly spaces that support and reenforce a well-disciplined approach to living.
These days for same-gender-loving [sgl] men of African descent an excellent space for getting support and reenforcement in living a principled, self-disciplined life is in the nationwide organization ADODI. Hundreds of Black sgl men, in dozens of cities and suburbs, have kept ADODI going strong for 17 years. The principles which guide its participants are:
1. To be spiritually guided. Adodi brothers seek alignment with the Divine Energy at the beginning and closing of all that we do. This supports a commitment to integrate genuine love with diverse communication styles to preserve a clear sense of purpose.
2. Honesty Openness and Clarity. Adodi brothers take personal responsibility for clearly articulating our ideas, suggestions, insights and needs. This principle recognizes the importance of body language in communicating.
3. Sensitivity to feelings. Adodi brothers utilize active listening skills to respect and validate feelings which are expressed or implied; whether or not we agree with them. This principle helps protect the spiritual component of our existance.
4. Carefronting. We trust our ability to flag discrepencies in our language and behavior. When necessary we will with clear intent to support, not hurt, give a brother the information needed to rise above the state he is in now. This principle relies heavily on honesty, caring, thoughtfulness and is designed to strenghthen intimacy, as opposed to creating distance.
5. Resolution. This principle involves a collective caretaking which allows for individual Adodi brothers to achieve closure on matters discussed. We honor time constraints or when necessary set aside extra time in a specified setting to further explore unresolved matters. 6. The sixth and last Adodi principle guides all the others. Known as the 5 A's, these five A words constitute ideal dynamics to be used when interacting with people. They further the development and preservation of the spiritual component: Acknowledge, Appreciate, Affirm, Accept, Ache'. Ache', like Amen is the concept of empowering, the key dynamic by which the other four function. The centerpiece of the ADODI experience is an annual national retreat. That is where these principles guide intense and serious workshops which seek to teach brothers how to improve the quality of our lives in such areas as in relationships, employment careers, personal health, financial matters, spirituality and cultural arts. Of course along with workshops, retreats always feature sports, games and many liesure time activities. Locally ADODI CHICAGO has monthly meetings to address those topics of retreat workshops, one at a time, a different topic each month. Also a monthly potluck dinner in an informal social residential atmosphere builds a friendship network. Everybody knows about the troubles and problems that can diminish or cut short the lives of sgl men of color. For ADODI to proclaim ideals, to call us to action and to ardently pursue the uninterrupted continuation of a great quality of life track record spanning 17 years is all good. Homophobic attitudes which generate self-doubt are actively confronted and put in check by ADODI. ADODI aims to deliberately move sgl brothers to feel self-worth, to care about others, and to actively participate in the improvement of out community, nation and world. Truly the work of ADODI is creating a stronger and stronger community of sgl men who can come home to family and friends individually and in couples or to neighborhood and community venues as a collective: with self-confidence in knowing that we bring much of value to the table and are net contributors.