A Blythe Coach

Happy PRIDE Month! Celebrating Diversity, Identity & Justice – Leaping Out of the Closet (again and again)

Happy PRIDE Month lovely LGBTQIA2S+ community and precious allies.

As much as I believe that our joy is it’s own protest, the fact is that in many places around the world it is illegal to be queer and for too many living authentically can be life-threatening.

So it always feels a bit risky to discuss, but is important to bring up anyway. I’ll include links to influencers and further resources below.

Being Visible

Voices from many sources have been nudging me over time, and increasingly this year, to keep striving to show up be visible as who I am, every bit.

Not that I’m secretive about who I am or who I love, but I’m not always outspoken about my history or principles.

Susanna Barkataki’s Yoga Visibility Challenge in January encouraged me to unearth my unspoken message. As I discussed in my January Reflection, I “made a first stab at responding to the prompts for each of the three days of the challenge here on Instagram, but I know there’s always further growth in articulating my voice and message.

Actually, I launched my Podcast, then the blog and YouTube Channel a few years ago specifically in order to practice exactly this sort of articulation, to share my knowledge and refine my message.”

International Women’s Day‘s theme of #inspireinclusion spoke to me directly as an educator and as I took part in events that day and over the course of Women’s History Month, I considered again the ways I can be more inclusive.

I seek every PRIDE Month to learn, reflect, and act. In my teaching and coaching practices this looks like practicing:

  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Mindful Inquiry
  • Conceptual, Universal Ideas
  • Creative Expression
My girlfriend Ela and I at Cologne Dyke March last year for CSD/PRIDE

Gender is a Journey

I’m privileged to have been able to live in relatively free, democratic countries, though that is still no guarantee of safety or fair treatment.

How fortunate for me that when I “came out” as queer to my parents and family they were wholeheartedly loving and supportive, and that I’ve been met with acceptance by colleagues, clients, students and their families. But even in my place of relative privilege and ease, who I love and who I am still involves coming out again and again, being addressed and asked odd questions by strangers, explaining that I have a girlfriend, not a husband in a heteronormative world.

Personally, I always felt uncomfortable with gender and sexual binaries, patriarchy and convention. I remember feeling relieved that my interests lined up ok with my assignment as girl, but I still never wanted to be a Mrs. or “Ma’am”, always a Ms., as a feminist learning from the first and second wave. Queer culture, representation in media and acceptance have in many ways matured along with me.

In college I read topics in gender studies, identified as queer or bisexual and felt so accepted in spaces such as the Queer Potlucks at Whitman, through I was in a straight-passing relationship and for years a happy marriage.

During my early professional life in Portland I got involved with the Queer and Trans community through participation in dance, poetry and the arts, made connections like my late friend Bryony, who themself had “boy days” and “girl days” and played fluidly across the spectrum of representation and shared at the Dirty Queer open mic, and inspiring others.

Personally as time went on I found myself happier outside of the constraints of masculinity and femininity, gender roles and traditional responsibilities and I felt embraced in the cities of Portland and Honolulu. Being with partners who read and identify as female, I am now typically interpreted to be lesbian, though my perception of my own orientation is more expansive.

Having moved to Cologne, Germany five years ago, I have struggled to find the right language within a new tongue, knowing instantly that I’m definitely not “Frau” anything but also not “Herr” or Mann, but finding it tricky to navigate conversational in-between. Things are developing fast here as well, socially and linguistically.

As progressive colleagues lead the way when we all moved online during pandemic, I added my pronouns to my name in Zoom, so that all who I meet in classes and sessions online will know that I accept both “she” and “they” pronouns. Truthfully, I prefer “they” or a non-binary address, but won’t freak out to hear either “she/her” or “he/him” though I’m rarely read as masculine. With certain trusted friends I have made this request and I feel fully seen by them.

These days I prefer being addressed simply by my first name (which I chose aware that it is a gender neutral family name), or as Coach Blythe when a respectful professional preface is desired.

The learning continues! In fact I just discovered last weekend (thanks to a reading at the Koelnchella queer music festival by @ijula.veedel) that there is indeed a German-language alternative to the nonbinary “they,” namely “dey/dem!” The adventure of self-discovery is never complete. I know I will continue to learn about my own gender, identity, and expression as I mature as well as better understand the incredible variety of humans around me, how about you?

What Difference Does it Make?

Why talk about all this personal stuff on what is otherwise largely a professional and educational blog, on a website that represents me as a teaching artist, dance educator, and coach?

Because seeing ourselves represented in others living their full truth empowers us to be more free, creating a positive ripple effect.

Fostering Acceptance

As my colleague, client, student, member of my community, you can count on me to accept your gender and sexual identity as well as any other ways you may feel marginalized.

You can also get in touch if I can support you in making your life and creative dreams come true.

Queer Influencers Making a Difference

Just a few individuals who are particularly inspiring me with their kind, diverse, and inclusive message on Instagram are:







Maybe you want to follow them too to inspire you at PRIDE or anytime.

Questions for Inquiry

  • How are you showing up in the world?
  • When do you feel seen and accepted?
  • What message(s) do you feel moved to express?
  • In what ways can you support yourself and others to live an authentic and meaningful life?

Resources for Further Exploration

Have a safe and happy PRIDE and summer!

Love, Blythe

Blythe Stephens, MFA & Bliss Catalyst they/them
A Blythe Coach: helping multi-passionate creatives take leaps of faith

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