LGBTQ Activist, Centers for Spiritual Living Practioner and a dear friend- meet Chris McArdle!
Tell me about yourself?
My name is Chris, and I am a 58-year-old gay man. I was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and currently live in St. George, Utah. I am a Practitioner at the Center for Spiritual Learning.
Was your family supportive when you first came out?
My family was very supportive, and a lot of love always surrounded me. My dad died when my mom was pregnant with me, so she raised me on her own. She was Catholic and went to mass every day, I always hated going to church and complained about it all the time, I didn’t agree with what the priest said. One day my mom said, “If you don’t like what the priest says, go when he isn’t talking. The church is open all day go in there, close your eyes and connect with God.” That’s what I did and I found my connection.
I was born into sadness because my mother had lost her true love while I was in her womb. As a child I always hugged and kissed everyone, they would say I saved them, but I just tried to take away their sadness. And so even today, I have a connection with sorrow which allows me to connect with others that are feeling down.
One word to describe yourself
It would be loving- I am a lover of everything. I love humans, animals, children, my furniture, nature-everything.
How did you get involved with teaching and mentoring?
I was in my early 20’s, and I moved from Ft Lauderdale to Palm Springs, California. This was during the onset of the HIV/Aids epidemic. I started to experience death all around me- many of my friends died from this horrible disease. This lead to my spiritual journey and my desire to seek out the understandings of my higher awareness.
I found peace and love with the people that were dying. They didn’t have much time left, but they were content with themselves and everyone around them. They had made peace with their history and forgiven their families members who had rejected them; they talked about affirmations and love. I started to volunteer and helped HIV/Aids patients prepare for end of life.
Being a 21-year-old snooty guy, I couldn’t believe how much love they had in their heart and I started to ask questions.
I was told that they went to this place in Los Angeles called the HayRide(by Louise Hay) Once I started going there my life changed. I went there every Wednesday and found myself a mentor and it literally changed my life.
Why did you choose to move to Utah?
I left California to be with my mom. She was 42 when she had me and was getting older, and I wanted to spend some time with her. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and died within nine days.
During that time I was in a relationship, and we went to St. George on vacation (my sister lived there). It was stunning-like Sedona on steroids without the touristy feel. After the holiday my relationship ended, and I decided to move to St. George, and have been here ever since.
In St. George you became a mentor for young gay kids….
When I moved to St George, I realized that there was no support system for the gay youth there. These kids would meet for a Sunday afternoon coffee, and that was it. When I went to meet this group of gay youth, their stories just horrified me. They were shunned by parents, family members and the community around them. Before coming to the group, they believed that they were the only gay person in Utah. They felt alone and were suicidal, and one young man injected his neck with methamphetamine.
After talking to them, I figured that they were afraid to come out and embrace who they were. They used to have this pride festival which was more like a small hidden picnic in the park. We organized events under the Southern Utah Pride Festival and worked closely with the ACLU and Lambda Legal among others and fought for the rights of these young men and women.
If there is one thing you could change about the world, what would it be?
I would let people know that there is enough for all of us. Fear of losing everything is what makes humans go to war, kill others and do all sorts of awful things.
Originally published at medium.com