Listen & Subscribe on iTunes!

EP004: JD Wolfe - Mentors and My Hero’s Journey

episodes show notes Apr 27, 2020

Photo: From JD's Instragram: This #THIS this is how proud I felt today working The Mankind Project booth at pride. What a joy. So many differences on display. It was glorious. #MKP #difference #jdwolfecoaching #lapride #authenticity #grateful #diversity

Today, I’m speaking to JD Wolfe.

I wanted to interview JD because I saw his gifts in action in brotherhood at the ManKind Project (MKP). It’s a pleasure to have JD Wolfe joining us on today’s podcast to discuss (among other things) re-framing our gay personal history as a hero's journey, healthy emotional advice for this quarantine season, and navigating healthy, sustaining relationships.

He has the ability to connect with men and support them in their own work to become better individuals and better members of society. That’s exactly what the GerleMen podcast is about. Helping men see their own gifts and challenging them to step into leadership in their own life.

JD is a coach, yoga teacher, and facilitator. Every time I’ve encountered JD, I could feel his empathy and heart-centered connection. 

We talked about:
  • Investing in your dignity [02:43]
  • Dealing with being different [06:46]
  • Finding my mentors [07:18]
  • Intuition [14:45]
  • Good coaching practices [20:09]
  • Who is your family [32:16]
  • Best tools for communication [36:14]
  • Gifts from my Hero's Journey [42:24]
  • Moving from Oppression to Celebration [51:05]
  • Coronavirus: Don’t make up stories [52:50]
  • This is the time of the introvert [1:00:07]

 Mentioned in this episode

  • JD Wolfe's websites for Yoga and Coaching
  • ManKind Project:The Mission of MKP USA is to create a world where men act on their individual and collective responsibility for the future of humanity, by initiating and supporting men on a path of emotional maturity, spiritual awareness, and deepening community.” 

Episode Full Transcript:
Mike Gerle 0:00
Welcome to the GerleMen podcast. My name is Mike Gerle, and I'm the host and founder of A site for gay men and anyone self identified as the other. designed to help you invest in your own dignity, strengthen your connection to your chosen families and thrive in general society. Now that you found us Please hit the subscribe button.

Today's guest is JD Wolfe. I met JD through my work with the Mankind Project. It's an organization dedicated to developing emotional literacy in men. Seeing him in action during a training was a lesson in empathy, strength and heart centered connection. So of course I wanted him on my show. JD is a professional life coach and yoga teacher. And so during this interview, we'll discuss reframing our gay history as a hero's journey. Quality coaching. Excellent advice on staying emotionally healthy during the Coronavirus and navigating relationships, meaning knowing how to lean in and strengthen the ones that edify us while also creating distance win relations. Do not edify us. Welcome to the show.

The moment you realized you were a gay man, you were forced onto the path of the other. So you know oppression inside now. the calling of otherness has led you on your own hero's journey. And that journey has prepared you for greatness. You were a man entering the cult of brotherhood to go into sex into heart centered connection. Welcome home brother.

Well, JD, JD Wolfe, which I think is one of the coolest names I've ever seen. Welcome to the GerleMen podcast.

JD Wolfe 1:41
Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here and chat with you this afternoon.

Mike Gerle 1:46
What's going on with you today? I guess that was a loaded question.

JD Wolfe 1:52
Yeah, well, I love a loaded question. I am good, if not a bit confused. I just can't help but periodically tab all these questions about, like, you know, how, how are things going? How are other people who are around me, but I'm not in a place of worry.

Mike Gerle 2:16
I just have such a deep respect for the way that you show up in the world. And especially when I've seen you doing a very incredible life changing work with men. That's to work through the Mankind Project that I've seen, that we've been able to participate in together. So I'm really curious as to like, how did JD Wolfe, you know, become this man? What kind of wisdom can you give people about your experience, the things that worked for you as far as investing in your dignity? What do you think some of the best things? Or maybe you could share some of the things that didn't work? Well, I don't know.

JD Wolfe 2:59
No, I just laugh because I just, it just felt so far from dignity and the you know, for a long time like such a struggle and so painful for so long. So to to now name it dignity and claim it as as dignified feels feels so so so like a really nice rewrite to the story which which I appreciate and which I'm willing to own and I

Mike Gerle 3:33
I'm that's what I'm trying to do on this podcast is have people retell their story. I could tell a story about someone who was rejected by their faith and moved away and got AIDS and people died and all this like very serious tales of Whoa! But it is was a hero's journey where I learned empathy and strength and tenacity and family, and all of those things, and having done that myself, I think that you most of my brothers can do the same thing with their story. And I just wanted to drop that in here. Sorry to interrupt you with that.

JD Wolfe 4:07
No, I think it's well placed. I feel like for for me where I get to retell that story is to look at it here with you and and give it a hold it differently. And that's what you're really offering. So I really appreciate this opportunity to hold my story and in different way. And I think what I was aware of very early on coming from a home where my father was an alcoholic, he's now passed away. And we we had a good relationship there by the end because actually of the work that I'd done with MKP I was able to really have conversations with him and I think that he was a man with a lot of heart and a lot of soul but he didn't know how to experience or express that. So, in turn, he was this this guy with a lot of heart and soul but completely distant with the alcohol and from the family. So he was an absent father. So even though he was very much there, he wasn't there. He wasn't present. And my mom, she was there she was, she was very much at everything that I did and present for my life. And, you know, she had, as we all do our fault, she was a warrior, etc. But she was, she was very much there and she was someone that I could talk to, and still to this day very much can, and she had my brothers and sisters as well to attend with. And I'm the youngest of five, and she had a tumultuous relationship that she had to deal with with my father. And so I noticed that with my family, that it wasn't going to be a place of support for me. wasn't going to be a place of safety and well being. And for some reason I craved that from a very early age. I don't know. My parents often would say in me growing up, they would just say, Where have you come from? Because like, I really introduced, I had a, I still do these friends who lived right up the street from me, and they would always tell each other that they love each other. And as a family, they would say love to each other. And I would bring that home into our family and my family would be like, what are you doing? They're like, This is crazy. Why are you telling us you love us? Like, Irish Catholic, that's just not how it goes around here. Haven't you got the memo? And I had not received that memo. For some reason. I wanted connection. I wanted support. I wanted love. I knew that my life was going to be challenging knowing that I felt differently and that I couldn't quite categorize it yet. Because I was too young to even understand what was happening to me. But I just knew that for some reason I was going to need some level of support. And I had this neighbor, Lorraine, who I would eat Sunday dinners with. And she's still very much alive. And I'm connected to her. And that was very helpful for me to have someplace outside of my home to go to and that felt like support. And I think she sort of started to help me to understand not by what she said, but just by being there as a source of support that I would need to find other mentors in my life. And so by seventh grade, I started running with the high school cross country and track team. And because of this one man, Jim Hoar was his name, and is his name. And I ended up having a real ability to run and was successful at it and so I was part of the team early on and what I learned there was, how to think positively how to self talk in a way to get myself prepared for a race. And then when I was in a race, how to be present, and in the moment, and really use my own inner self talk to win, to hold my space. And I think that really helped start to develop me a from a really early age that like, I'm the one who's running this story. I'm the one who, who's having thoughts, good or bad about myself, that are either going to help me to win or lose.

Mike Gerle 8:47
It's really interesting that you found that through sports.

JD Wolfe 8:51
Yeah, very early on.

Mike Gerle 8:54
I generally didn't like sports and I didn't find out until I experimented with actually like riding and doing like age lifecycle and things where, you know, very challenging things.

JD Wolfe 9:06
Well, I should say that also, like I was put because of my brothers, who were in all kinds of sports before me. I was put into like, our early football programs in our early baseball programs, and I just fucking hated that stuff. So much that like being hit by others and pads and being, you know, knocked down on the ground by others, like from an early age that was just offensive to me. Really, I really hated that. So then with baseball and everything like that, at least no one was hitting me but there was still some sort of version of why and then basketball was I thought I was supposed to like it because the other kids did. And and so I even went to basketball camp. It was torture. And what I noticed there is that it wasn't torture for others.

Mike Gerle 10:05
Yes. I had the experience.

JD Wolfe 10:07
It's like, some of these guys were just so enlivened by it. And I thought, Wow, that's so not me. Yeah. So I think from an early age, that's what sort of started to create an awareness in me.

Mike Gerle 10:23
How did you make contact with that, like first mentor outside of the house? I mean, how do these, how did you find these mentors? or How did they show up in your life? And then what did you do to create that connection? or What did they do to create the connection?

JD Wolfe 10:38
Well, Lorraine lived just directly across the street. And so I asked if I could mow her lawn, you know, make some money. And and then it just became more of a conversation. She was a single woman who had never wanted to be married, or have kids and and she wasn't even trying to replace me as one of her kids, it was just more of a relationship and where I speak, speak freely, but she was also Catholic. And so was I but like, my parents didn't go to church, so I would go to church with her to see if that was for me. And she didn't, you know, she didn't require it, you know, either. So it was all on me. So I think in general, I was just very curious about people. Even though I'm a bit of an introvert who works well in the world and can be an extroverted, I've always been more of a one on one and needing my space. Okay. And I felt like she was, was very aware of that because of her own introversion. So she just was a cool place to go and a safe place to go. And then when I saw the way that Jim was with the team, the track team and the cross country team, he was just That was, I had never seen someone be so positive with such a group of people and be such a leader, because he wasn't always nice. He was also firm and direct, and not necessarily what I would, quote unquote, call nice. But he was a coach. And that was more important than him being nice. He wasn't our friend. He was our coach. And then by the time I was ready to actually be with him officially, which would have been in high school. He went, he went away. He went to another school district, and that was one of the most devastating things of my young life. I remember crying and crying so much and literally, the reality is, he was just a few towns over. Yeah, but that I wouldn't have this experience with him as coach. But your original question is how did I How did I attract or Locate or get in connection with these mentors. And I think that one of the things I've been gifted with is having a sense of people, and who I want to align with and who I know is not necessarily any good for me, though it's always been something of a gift. And so I knew that I know when there's something there for me that I can receive from another without just taking. I know that like, there could be a exchange there of some sort. And so I really appreciated both Jim and Lorraine because they were such safe havens for me, and I knew that I could trust that there would be no violation. You know, there would be no domination, there would be no parenting. I wasn't looking for another parent.

Mike Gerle 13:49
It sounds like so this is intuition. And I think this is a whole I think I found intuition through yoga, to be honest. We were calling it on Earth. Spirit or whatever, but it's this thing inside of us that has all that, that juicy information, the truth about ourselves and the world. And I hear you, you know, making up that you get there through. You said it curiosity. So besides curiosity, how can you describe if it's even possible, that feeling when you know that you're in touch with your intuition, as opposed to when you're reacting to something other than your intuition?

JD Wolfe 14:31
Yeah, well, you know, this is this is early days that I'm describing to you. I think, you know, what I was tracking was intuition early on, but I didn't know it was that Yeah. And then later, definitely developed my intuition by acknowledging its presence and becoming aware of that even that terminology of like getting hit or having an awareness or being in the moment and knowing exactly what to do. Because I could, I could sense that it was correct. And meditation and yoga and things like that have supported that along the way. And, and lots of reading and research and, and all of that, but I think that how I sort of tracked it early on is that I would call it both an inner knowing, but also a trusting, like my big thing was that I had to know myself, but I also had to trust myself. And I don't know that at the time, I thought of it as me trusting myself because I didn't feel a lot of that trust. I wasn't really looking out for me I wasn't caring for me like I felt a shame I was in so much shame and and in a place of like confusion. But now looking back, I realized that there was something that I that I trusted and I think what it what it lights up for me is a sense have self a sense of inner knowing that no one can touch. No one has a boat on, no one can weigh in on. No one has a say about. There's just this sense of like, clarity. And when I have that sense of clarity, I know that that's, that's my inner wisdom coming out and coming up and that I can trust that. That's how I how I would answer your question. That's what I that's what I tap into.

Mike Gerle 16:30
That's, that's, that's beautiful. And I think it's, I think it's like I said useful. And I also think that that it is something that we as gay men are programmed not to tune into that the safety is somewhere other than that the safety is to pretend that you like football and pretend that you like basketball.

JD Wolfe 16:53
However, I think that we're developing our skills as gay men early on Because we're having these attractions for others that are taboo or forbidden or disgusting, you know, by society standard, and we're having to be covert about it. So I'm looking over at this guy and we're having this discussion and we are talking in a way, like internally to each other, that develops all those skills of knowingness, because that's all we had are all we have. I couldn't just be overt and go across in high school and say, Well, I guess I could, but I didn't. and say, Oh, my God, I find you so attractive. I would love to go out with you. And that the fact that you're the captain of football team makes it even that much sexier. I can hardly wait for our first date. You know, that just was not fucking possible. Yeah, though. So we developed these skills, I think as gay men that really support intuition in stinked in the moment knowing this,

Mike Gerle 18:03
So you're saying those skills teach us that, yes, I'm having all these feelings about asking this guy out. But we know that the world is different. And that would not be a safe thing to do.

JD Wolfe 18:16
Well, well, as I look at him, I have to use these skills of inner knowing to know if he's feeling these same things as I am. Right, like or Is he gay, like gaydar? Right, what I'm basically talking about is gaydar. Yeah. And like what is gaydar? But intuition instinct, a knowing in the moment that this person is into you too. That's not easy shit. And, and without words from across a crowded room. Yes. And, and and you know, like, Oh my god, that guy is into me. I'm into him, I think, Oh my god, we're gonna we're gonna hook up. You know, like, early on.

Mike Gerle 18:56
We talked about energy work

JD Wolfe 18:59
Totally! in It's completely energetic and completely intuitive and instinctual and had nothing to do with like having an actual conversation.

Mike Gerle 19:08
Yeah, that is one of those things. I hadn't thought of describing it as a gift. We'll get to those gifts later. It's remembered, count later, later on.

JD Wolfe 19:20
Remember, we're dignifying all of it.

Mike Gerle 19:22
We're dignifying all of it. Yes. Oh, there's a couple of things that I want to talk to you about. There. Well, one is I want to ask you about what you think a good coach does. You were talking about that one coach with a different, he wasn't nice, but he was an excellent coach. And then how these things that that I'm calling leading to dignity, which is this situation he were talking about are like, tied to tie to our sexuality. And there's so much societal shame on sexuality, that I think that my cloud that message there, and I'd like us to see if we can have a conversation about how we navigated that sexuality led to these tools that might be useful.

JD Wolfe 20:09
What I do for a living is I'm a personal coach. And I've been doing this for more than 12 years or something like that. And one of the things I find highly helpful as a coach different from like a therapist who studies differently than a coach would, and I'm talking about a coach that like, is actually done that work and not just hanging a shingle out saying, I'm a personal coach, come, come work with me. But that I feel like what what a coach does really well is that they have this ability to to not only ask the question, but to hold a certain line and and to to be able to say it as it is, and not beat around the bush and come right to it. And ask the questions that create the awareness and the answers and be curious, and really importantly not do the work. Let that let the client do the work. So I think coach at best is really like listening. And then is also able to support the conversation by thoughtful questions, and then continuing to be able to track the energy and the connection between what's happening with what the person is saying and how they're being. And then being able to do that and being able to track all those energies. I think a good coach can really support someone to do what they say they want to actually accomplish.

Mike Gerle 21:44
Wow that is great. And one part of that is he said, they hold the line. What do you mean by that? You said that right at the beginning?

JD Wolfe 21:53
Well, I love the fact that coach doesn't necessarily have to kowtow or like, be gentle. Or something with the client, if they've been working together for a bit, and under established the the ground rules, and the ground rules are, I'm here to support and I'll do anything I can to do that. So some of that may be tough for you to hear, but I'm not going to hold back on that, we're someone else like friend or employee or therapist may have to couch it in a certain way that the coach can just say, That's fucking bullshit. What's up? I see that you're, you're saying this in a certain way. And yet you're, you're actually doing the complete opposite. So what's happening for you right now? It's not congruent. And I'm curious why. And so they can go right to the thing. Because I'm not concerned with whether you're not you're pissed with me because I've asked you that question. I don't care. Actually. What I care about, is you moving towards the thing you actually said you want and if I've made a good agreement with you right up front I can help you hold that agreement to the end. So that you actually start to create the things that you want in your life that you say you're after. And that I believe, because I've actually joined with you in this connection that you want. So I'm going to help see you through to that. And I don't really, I'm not I'm not interested in or invested in whether you like me or not. I'm invested in whether I can do my job correctly with you and powerfully with you.

Mike Gerle 23:32
So it sounds to me that good coaches. It's about holding somebody accountable to their own stated goal or mission, as opposed to just helping them feel better feel good. or not, I think,

JD Wolfe 23:48
which I think is a good thing. Right. But I think there's other resources for that. Yeah. I think that like therapy is a fantastic thing. I've had tons of therapy in my life. I'm so glad I have because that helped me feel better about who I was. And it helped me to go into the depths, something a coach isn't really trained to do a therapist is no and and so I have all respect and honor for that what they do as as a profession, and helping people to feel better, and maybe do better. But what I think coach can do different from that is take whatever it is that person says they really love, and are about and move that thing forward in their lives in a really powerful way. That's what's important to me and about being coached and that I get to be there by someone side to create their dreams, or the things they say that are important to them. That fills me with a lot of joy. It's a very fulfilling career for me.

Mike Gerle 24:52
I love that, and as a gay man, do you think that your experience with your across country, with those sports was not just important to that, but I just like a critical piece of that getting there, or what have you gotten to be a coach even without having done sports in school?

JD Wolfe 25:14
Ah, great question. I think the sum total makes me who I am. So I would have to say that whatever was would have shaped and created the person that I become, and my particular pieces of the puzzle were that sports was a part of that for me, and, and along the way, I met really crucial people to support that. And so it's tough to try to parcel that out and say, Well, I think I would be this anyway. But I think that I've always been super curious. And I've always been not only for myself, like deeply for myself, but for others. Like for others to succeed for others to be great for others to find their, their hope, their happiness, their love, their passion, like, that's always been super important to me. Hmm, you know, sometimes to a fault, because I wanted so much for for myself and others that I forget sometimes to just let them have their experience.

Mike Gerle 26:27
Yeah, I guess I'm saying that because I've, as an adult have gotten a lot out of doing being coached to like run a marathon or ride 550 miles on a bike. And I before that had demonized sports in my own way from my own trauma with them in junior high and whatnot. And it's incumbent upon me to like say there might actually be some use to sports. And I know there's a lot of access to sports now with gay people, if they want to play sports with other gay people and whatnot, that it's, it's not all bad.

JD Wolfe 27:10
I thought running was a great way to sort of grow up and have that be my sport because like I said, there's other sports didn't really appeal to me. But here I could learn the lessons of like, positivity and powerful self talk and like, you know, visualization and setting up my own paradigm for how I wanted to see things go and then work on my talent, you know, but not have to involve others hitting me at the same time while I'm learning those things. You know, like in football being knocked down. Yeah, yeah. Nothing to do with that.

Mike Gerle 27:48
You weren't into the violets?

JD Wolfe 27:50
No. Not at all. There was something that you had asked earlier. How gay people maybe show up in the world differently. Yeah, no. What what their gifts might be what their gifts might be. And for some reason, I thought about it when we were talking just a moment ago. And I think one of the things that where GBTQ folks or LGBTQ folks are different, how they offer something bigger and better to the world is that I feel like there's this observational quality that I make up, we all share, you know, collectively everybody hetero and LGBTQ. However, I think because I had to be on guard, I had to be aware, I had to be sensitive. I've developed skills of watchfulness and awareness that I believe my sisters and brothers who are LGBTQ share with me, I might be off, maybe you know, that's too sweeping of a generalization, but I would say and I really would make up that other share this with me that we've been having to be watchful our whole life. So we take in the world differently. We see things differently. And I believe that it's just a greater level of creativity. Because of the way we learn that we had to navigate in a different way.

Mike Gerle 29:21
When it comes to creativity, I often thought that we were more creative, but I've changed a little bit. In fact, I think we've just been forced to use our creativity more and so we have a lot more. Yeah. So I always love it when something I believe is validated by another person. That it's absolutely true. We both believe it. It has got to be true

JD Wolfe 29:47
There's something to that, because I remember thinking like when I first read my first spiritual or new agey books, and there was something about like the way that I I read that these authors were seeing the world that I'd always believed myself. Hmm, yeah. And that had never, ever, ever, ever, in my years up until this point been validated. So there is something beautiful about aligning with another and realizing: "I'm not alone!". Other people think this way, because for so long to think a certain way and never have it validated. Yeah. There's a crazy making about that, like, Am I Oh, like, is there? Am I way off base here? And then I started to read New Age books and things on visualization and things like that. I thought, wow, I am not alone.

Mike Gerle 30:43
Yeah, yeah. That goes into that. The other question I wanted to ask about: Who's your core group? Who's your crew? Who's your family? And I think it's important that we identify who our core sources of community are, so that we can invest in them. And we can put little deposits in those bank accounts with those people who we need to support us. So I'm asking this question because I want men to understand that they do need other people. And that after you understand that you need other people, it's important to know who those other people are. And we could use a lot of other terms to talk about it. But I use the term family in a loose way in both bio and chosen family as just a shortcut word to say who's your family, who is your core support network. So it might be your bio family, it might be your chosen family or it might be a mix of people, just when it comes down to it and now with Coronavirus in the air. I just want to let you know who and I grew up, you know, through the plague of AIDS and all that and that shaped my sense of family. It's like who will visit you in the hospital and Who is going to plan your funeral? Those are two very, very personal things that I think are done by the family. And most of the funerals. I have been to have not been planned by their bio family. So that's a whole whole diatribe on that. So who Who's your core group? And how do you invest in your family? So who is your family and how do you invest in those relationships?

JD Wolfe 32:25
Yeah, beautiful. You know, first and foremost is my husband, Kevin, we've been together for 21 years. And I not only love him, I like him. I really like him. And I didn't know that that was actually possible. I Well, I didn't I certainly didn't even know that I would have a marriage in this lifetime. And my mom who's not very emotional when I called her and announced that we had gotten engaged. This was three years ago. She cried. She she's barely ever in my lifetime with her. I've barely seen her cry. So that was really moving and and made me realize, wow, I'm going to get married, you know, like, this is something I did not expect for myself ever. And so Kevin would be that person and our arrangements for our funeral and for our internment are taken care of actually. There. That's all. That's all decided already. So there's the answer to that.

Mike Gerle 33:34
So have you decided who's going to speak and whatnot?

JD Wolfe 33:37
No, nothing like that.

Mike Gerle 33:39
Who do you think will speak?

JD Wolfe 33:41
Well, so.

Mike Gerle 33:44
Maybe that's taken us off the topic?

JD Wolfe 33:46
No, but no, but no, you're not taking off topic. I think that as I as I express who my people are, that will really identify who speaks.

Mike Gerle 33:56

JD Wolfe 33:57
Yeah, yeah. Because with me, so there, there's Kevin, and then our immediate family, if you will, I was making quotation marks, by the way, in Los Angeles, and those are our friends, our immediate friends. And then and then we have quite a few and some of these friends I've had forever like one of my absolute family members is my friend Sam, and she lives in Huntington Beach, and she grew up five houses down from me with train tracks in the middle of us in Abington, Massachusetts. But we've been friends forever and she would certainly be there for me and was there at my wedding and will be there for the rest of my life without question, and would be the first person I would say: Well, can Sam say something at my funeral? because I'd like that. And you know, I have a friend here, Meredith who's part of my life and then there's this whole world of friends that I have grown up with, and I've stayed connected with, you know, through high school and through college. There's my people, the guys in MKP, who have been such a part of my, my world and my existence. And I know, like, if anything came to pass in any capacity, they would be there. One of the men in my group isn't feeling well. And he's had to ask for some support. And he's just immediately gotten it from the men in my group. And it's been so lovely to watch that unfold because he and his family couldn't take care of it. And so we could, and you know, I just know those guys would be there in an instant for me. So I think those are the types of people who would speak you know, those the type of people who would be there and have been there for me when I've been in the hospital, or whatever is occurred in my life where I've needed my own support. Definitely those men have been there for me. I've seen that time and time again.

Mike Gerle 36:06
Mm hmm. Awesome. So then this might sound really basic, but I think that's what I always need. So, basically, how do you stay connected to these people? How do you invest in these relationships?

JD Wolfe 36:20
Well, I have to say that one of the ways that I eventually had a long term relationship with somebody, you know, and ended up being with Kevin was that I realized that I was really good at staying connected with friends, and that I am someone who makes the call. I am someone who sends the note. I am someone who is there to support and I'm also a friend that equally tells my own stuff, and ask that other person what's up for them. So I share the time. It's not all about me, and it's not all about them, you know, and that we're there together. To hold one another in a way, so I'm good at that. Like, I feel like that's a strength I have. But that's what taught me that I could be in a long term relationship, because for a long time, I really wasn't meeting anybody and having anything long term. And I thought, Well, what do I know about myself? And so will I'm a good friend, like I know how to stay connected to someone. So I could have a long term relationship, because I know how to do that. I just don't know it in all the ways I want it right now. And one of the ways I wanted is in a long term relationship. So I just started to think, what do I do well, and I knew how to be connected with others. So I just started doing that more I started connecting and staying connected with others, and not running away having the conversation, you know, being more willing to show up and then they stood that helped me to start develop more intimate relationships that lasted longer. I think No, I sort of brought two thoughts together there. I hope that was clear. But that's how I really learned to be with others in the world was really connecting with them and, and knowing that I already know how to do this, just stay the course, do those things that you're doing well, and those other things will come along and follow.

Mike Gerle 38:22
Well, I really do think that's a beautiful way to look at how romantic relationships and other love relationships have. They inform each other. That's it. Yeah, I know how to be with trust and faith. So we have so many ways of being connected. Now, if you could run the world, how much texting, Facebook messaging, Instagram messaging, phone calls, meeting in person. Or you could tell us your perfect world and you could tell us how or just tell us how you do it.

JD Wolfe 38:56
For me, I definitely am someone who loves more personal connection. I've sort of circum these days to texting and email. But if I could have my way, it's more more contact, more connection. Like, in the beginning, when I was first coaching, I invited the idea of like, I think Skype or Zoom or whatever was available at the time where we could see one another and most clients did not want that. And now clients across the board, when I offer Zoom, they take that option. And so I'm more being able to see someone, I'm going to feel you anyway, even if we're just on a phone call, but I'd rather be able to see you too, and and have that intimacy and so getting together being one on one, like right now, I'm so super grateful that I get, that I have this relationship with Kev, because I get touch in my life. Like, we're in this place of like not being able to be near others or being away and like, the fact that I get to have touch is something I'm so so grateful for right now. Yeah, they really have noticed. Just what a relief that is for me. I rather one on one connection is really the Yeah, the bottom line for that, and I'm willing to do the other stuff, just if that means that I get to connect with you.

Mike Gerle 40:30
Awesome. So what are your boundaries? What do you not participate in? Or, for me, I don't participate in text conversations on the phone and involve more than four people.

JD Wolfe 40:46
Yeah, well, I've not even actually thought of it as a boundary as much as like, I'm someone who's like, that doesn't work for me. I am not doing it. You know. So like, I don't even think of that as a boundary. It's just like so clear. So like, if someone wants to argue via text, I'm like, No. You know?, like, I won't even respond back with anything. Like if they I won't post something that I know is just stirring the pot. You know, I won't respond to somebody being a douche. You know? Like, I just won't do it. Like, it's not part of my DNA, even if I'm like, on this side, like, that guy's such a jerk, you know, for saying that they're doing that I'm not unlike let them be. It doesn't matter. me saying something here is not going to change that. That guy's probably gonna still continue to be a jerk.

Mike Gerle 41:46
I think that's great. I think that's the tool of silence is not spoken about in communication these days. So I want to talk about two things. Before we end which is one. I think we've already talked about it, but anything specific that you think that LGBTQ or people that find themselves in "The Other" category have? like what kind of Hero's Journey they might have or what goal they get from the hero's journey? And then I just want to ask you your perspective on the pandemic. Yeah, I'm snickering because it's just I can't believe I'm saying that sentence. So. So when it comes to LGBTQ people, and I think people in "The Other" category too, like this, some people that might be in a specific minority, whether it's racial or economic, or whatever it is, whover they are, I think the experience of the other causes challenges but then I think we come out the other side with perspectives or gifts. And I'm wondering, I'm gonna put you on the spot and ask you if you can name any of those or if you are, if you disagree.

JD Wolfe 42:54
Well, my thought is that there's something about important about this idea of the heroes journey. I know you've mentioned it, but I don't know how much you've actually spoken to it on your podcast, but this idea that...

Mike Gerle 43:06
Well, I will be going back to it, we're gonna be looking at that a lot very often.

JD Wolfe 43:11
Right? And that Joseph Campbell wrote a lot about the hero's journey, correct?

Mike Gerle 43:15
Yeah. Yes.

JD Wolfe 43:16
And that it was this idea that we we have to experience this dark night of the soul. And that in experiencing this place of darkness within ourselves, that we have this opportunity to transform that and, see the light and make our way to the other side. And because of that, because we've gone through that, because we've experienced that, that there's a depth that is created from that a gravitas that is from having this experience.

Mike Gerle 43:52
The part that I relate to is that when I look at these circles and the diagrams and talk about it is, it starts in the ordinary and it ends back in the ordinary. Except for that we see the ordinary, completely different having been on the journey.

JD Wolfe 44:08
That's right.

Mike Gerle 44:08
And that's the way I feel when I visit my family. I am definitely my family's shaman. Yes, because I had a different experience. Yeah.

JD Wolfe 44:20
Yeah, I would say the same for me with my family. I'm definitely their shaman. I would absolutely say that I agree with that. And so to answer the question, I think that the hero's journey of being, you know, gay and going through that what felt like very much especially in college, that dark night of the soul where I just thought, first of all, I just felt like, I didn't know somehow that this was a curse, to be dealt with, like and that I had to like, I had to just do my best to live with this. You know, instead of it being the gift that it is and the beauty that it is and I feel like that sort of hero's journey is never, although I feel better about where I am now, and it feels very much like a gift and I feel like I am the person I am because of the fact that I am gay, I feel like there's always many little hero's journeys is always going on new things to look at new ways of being with this information and this energy and seven or eight years ago, I went through I feel like a hero's journey around, recognize and really realizing the shame that I had been carrying all my adult life around all the societal bullshit that I had taken on about being gay. And that I that I had believed that that I had had processed that I had taken that in and I operated out of a level of shame instead of really recognizing I have a place at the table. And then I'm not asking for anybody's permission anymore to be there. You know, and it was a real awakening and a real awareness. But I very much had to go through that shame. I wish I didn't. But, you know, on a certain level I wish I didn't I know that was important that I did. But it was painful.

Mike Gerle 46:13

JD Wolfe 46:14
And so to be able to come out on the other side and be like, looking at the world, the same world, but differently now, like you referenced was such a gift. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Even though it's murder. It was it was so painful. There was just so many tears and days of crying and feeling like I had been cursed by this lifetime, you know, and not having any real way of expressing it to anybody. You know, there was no one close to me who I could just turn to and say, Wow, I'm going through this because being gay, it's so alone, making, especially in the beginning there, there is no sense of support. And I didn't know when I was 17 or 18 years old that I could just go to a therapist. It wasn't an option for me. You know, there was just no one to talk to. Yeah. And even though I wasn't suicidal, I remember at one point calling a suicide line just so I could talk to someone about being gay, was I knew that it was a confidential space. And I didn't have any of those thoughts. I just knew that like, I had nowhere else I could talk about it.

Mike Gerle 47:34
And then so when you come back to the world, after being on your hero's journey, just when specifically said I'm talking about about being queer, so what are those insights like when you're with when you returned home? I'll use my air quotes, and what's different than when he left?

JD Wolfe 47:54
Well, I think the the massive insight is the responsibility. I have to be pay it back in to offer it to others and to be present for other people who may be going on their journey. And I think that a great big part of who I am as a leader in the Mankind Project is so that I can support those brothers and sisters of mine who are in my community, and I'm there for them all. I'm there for all men. And I know that a big part of why I'm there is is to be present and show up for other folks journeys, especially those in my community, because there was no one there for me, there was no one there, I got to turn to to be there and I am there and I can be there for others, and I want to be very much so and I have been, I very much have been, and I'm super grateful for that.

Mike Gerle 48:50
Awesome. And I do want to honor you for that, for being there. It's still unusual, because this is a new road that we've been able to travel over the last 15 years, whatever, 25 years ago, you could get arrested for touching somebody in a bar.

JD Wolfe 49:06
Yeah, and people are still being killed for it in this day and age for being gay. And what does that say to the the youngster who is dealing with these same feelings that I've talked about today with you, who has no one to turn to, you know, that just fucking sucks. At least he might be able to see his image on the TV or read about himself in a book or a magazine, where I, you know, I didn't have that really to any great degree. And so it just felt so alone. So I know still, though, that there are folks out there that are seeing those things, hearing those messages that still want to keep us, us LGBTQ folk in a box and say stay there. And that's all your your allotted, and you've been I like it, you know, and and I'm here to align with those other folks to say fuck you, that is not going to be my existence. And and and i'm not signing up for that and and I hope to be able to be there for others in that way and I can I think I have to finally not only just say fuck you, but to say I'm okay.

Mike Gerle 50:26

JD Wolfe 50:26
I'm okay with who I am. And I accept that. And I love that and I appreciate that.

Mike Gerle 50:32
Well I would like to share that I've, I've seen you celebrating who you are as a gay man and seeing you own that truth of your value in front of groups of men, straight men, in fact, his right side and not in a aggressive I'm better than your way or whatever you just you know, you know who you are. And knowing who you are, is bringing strength to that and that excites me. So much because I have this diagram, I don't have it here with me I made it is about I'm trying to move us from oppression to celebration. And I think that that has five levels, there's oppression, and then there's tolerance. And then there's acceptance. And then there's liberty. And I think we're kind of in this liberty stage right now somewhere between acceptance and liberty. We know that at least in the bubble I live in, in West Hollywood or, you know, the big centers, we have this liberty but we're not taking the opportunity to actually celebrate who we are the same way we celebrate other other others. Celebrating all of our diversity, I think is really important to becoming solid. members of society that have a lot to offer others.

JD Wolfe 51:51
Yeah. And what I see you doing so well, and by doing this and offering this is that in between acceptance and liberty you're offering a shred of dignity and retelling our story in a new way, and hold ourselves in a greater light. So that we can retell our stories from a perspective of hopefulness, yes, and maybe even joy that can enlighten the world. And so then then maybe that trajectory of moving towards celebration, more enlightened beings and celebrate is possible.

Mike Gerle 52:27
But yeah, that's the reason I started it. Start the show with dignity. Investing in our own dignity is the path to not only our own happiness, but to the well being of our communities in here, in the world, regardless of which group you started. So...

JD Wolfe 52:46
How beautiful that you offer that. And thank you.

Mike Gerle 52:49
Oh, thank you. I don't know how to frame this question. Just thoughts on that pandemic.

JD Wolfe 52:54
Well, where I'm sitting with it right now is that we're in that completely unique and unprecedented time, no one, no one across the board knows what to do with. And so what I feel like is important during this time is to not make up stories and to not create futures surfing that you know nothing about right now. And I believe that in general, I normally like to do the things that you can do to create a strong and helpful and healthy life for yourself. But don't get into such future surfing that just makes you crazy. And right now because everything is a new, everything is an unknown, staying present is more important than ever. Staying present to yourself, to the people that you care about, to your well being, to nature, to every moment is really where it's at. And yes, do things that you can to help support your future but don't wander off into those places for too long a period of time. Because that's unhealthy and unsustainable. And so taking better care right now of yourself is about living in the moment and a challenge to do that thing that you said you were going to do, you know, all the time but you always have this excuse why you can't get to it or can't do it. Like, you can now you can do that thing. If it's at home, especially you can do it. If is that book that you were planning to write, or for me a closet I wanted to clean out You know, now is that time Yeah, enough. We can close it out. Yeah, so, focus on what you can right now. And please don't focus on the things that don't support you right now. They will not be supportive. There's nothing there for you. There's no there there.

Mike Gerle 54:47
That's wonderful. That is really wonderful about being in the moment, understanding that I'm healthy and safe right now. How do you feel about the news? How much news do you consume on a daily basis?

JD Wolfe 55:00
I don't, I don't, I don't think much about the news at all. I don't spend a lot of time there. I'm aware enough to know what's going on. And I keep present and I'm respectful of the fact that this is a thing and it's going on and gather information on an as needed basis. But I just told my mother, she needs to shut the TV off and go outside or do something else. And she's been heating that and doing that and listening to that. I think it's super important to watch too much of that I see with another friend of ours from New York, if he's watching it in a loop. He just almost becomes untethered. It's it's like, watching someone frazzled. You know, it's almost like seeing someone like in my early days when I did drugs and seeing them being like, just shaky alone, sort of proud of it. That's the impression I had when I See someone's watch too much News. I'm sensitive to energy anyway. So I can kind of see that sort of a level of like panic that's been created by these stories that they can do nothing about. Yes, have little or nothing to do with them in a way. It's really a matter of handling what you can add where you are and doing the right thing in the moment that's right for you, for example, wrestled with the idea of having these couple of friends over. And we realized we just can't do that right now. It's not correct. It's not. It's not right. Not for them, not for us, not for anybody, and that we're all connected in a way and we have to be respectful of that right now.

Mike Gerle 56:43
Yeah. And, again, you're a first I thought that would be your response, but I really do see it correlating with my friends who are the most toured up about this emotionally right now are the ones consuming the most news. It makes me sad, because they're my friends and I love them. But then the only alternative right now is to deal with yourself.

JD Wolfe 57:09
Yes, yes, I get that and from a archetypical viewpoint of this, or there were times when that we have been by ourselves, like, there're spaces and places within our ancestry where, you know, we've lived without many things. We know how to do this. It's part of our DNA. We know how to survive, you know, whether that's with ourselves or with others. We know how to get quiet, to hibernate, to go within. It's part of our makeup. And and so I believe we know what to do right now. And the only place we run into trouble with that is when we try to fight that, that natural awareness, that natural instinct to go within and be quiet and be silent and separate, recalibrate.

Mike Gerle 58:03
This is a huge opportunity for all of us. Have you seen this poem? It's floating around, everybody stayed home. This woman, a beautiful introvert. Did you see that?

JD Wolfe 58:14
Yeah, I did. I did. I did see that something about how, you know, people had conversations.

Mike Gerle 58:19

JD Wolfe 58:21
You know, met with family, like it's been beautiful, really in a way like everybody that I've known in lots of folks who are part of my community have contacted me or part of my immediate family, like my sisters and my brothers and my mom, you know, they reached out and, you know, really made an effort to say hello and check in and, you know...

Mike Gerle 58:45
I've experienced that, too. It's a beautiful thing. So beautiful. I've had three ex boyfriends, from way back, reach out to me. So touching. So touching, and I'm you know, reaching out having Zoom calls with just normal people, non business related.

JD Wolfe 59:10
I never thought to use my my Zoom platform that I own to, to have conversations with our friends and family. But there seems to be a possibility. Like I thought today one of my sister in law she it's her birthday and I thought well, wouldn't it be great to get the family together? To wish Tricia Happy birthday? You know, and and I thought that that's that's weird. We've never done that. But, so what? we could now.

Mike Gerle 59:39
Now we can, and everybody's home

JD Wolfe 59:42
Lead the way.

Mike Gerle 59:44
Yeah. Yeah.

JD Wolfe 59:45
That's the great thing about leadership is seeing the thing and and doing it, picking it up and going for it.

Mike Gerle 59:51
Yeah. Well, another thing that I think of doing besides having these zoom calls with groups of friends, just for fun is opening my morning meditation to people who want to do it with me.

JD Wolfe 1:00:06
That's beautiful.

Mike Gerle 1:00:07
Yeah, that's the thought I am. I'm really excited as an introvert. I really think this is the time of the introvert. Me and my introverted partner, my boyfriend went out last night for a second just walking to get some air and kind of laugh is like, wow, the streets are so quiet. But we live right in Hollywood, two blocks from you know, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and all that and very busy. And it's very quiet now. And with the rain, and with fewer cars going, the air was sweeter and we could hear all the birds and we said, well, this is what happens when everybody lives our lifestyle.

JD Wolfe 1:00:51
It's true because Kevin and I both work from home and we were saying the same thing like, this is not so different from our lives. Where we have our separate spaces, which I'm super grateful for, yeah and feel privileged to have and we, you know that we work on and then we have our shared spaces where we come together and we enjoy so much like making food in the kitchen or watching TV in the living room and you know, that's our regular day to day so we're quite used to this i'm i'm really appreciating that this is not, you know, too far off the mark of like, my life.

Mike Gerle 1:01:32
JD, I just want to thank you for your time. I think you are a real asset to the planet and you're a lightworker, you are a coach in the sense that we were talking about that earlier. You are full of love and you are also full of determination to go through rough patches that will help people see themselves. I'm loving seeing you on my screen in my studio. And I've loved getting to know you. And I really want to thank you for your time here and for the work that you do in the world and the community.

JD Wolfe 1:02:17
Well, thank you. It's been an absolute delight to be here. my physical body is really warm right now, my heart especially is really open. And I just feel very connected to you and to the people who may be listening. And it just feels like a joy to maybe add some levity or some light into a time that that feels so scary and dark. Because I know that right now I'm the one who can hold that space, you know, for others in a way that maybe someone else can't and there'll be a time when I need someone to hold it for me. And so I'm glad to be able to be there now and I just appreciate my time with you and who you are in this world and what you are just called to bring to the world, especially to my LGBTQ community, it really means a lot to me because I feel like on so many levels, we just haven't had this level and this type of support, and appreciation and love. And so thank you for bringing a little bit more love into a space that really could use it. I'm all about that.

Mike Gerle 1:03:32
Oh, thank you.

Thanks for listening to the show, my friend. Now stay connected by subscribing to GerleMen podcast and sharing with your friends on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or anywhere else podcasts can be found. Visit the web page at Sign up for the newsletter and find more details about each episode. Let's make this a conversation because I'd really like to hear from you. Join us on Facebook at GerleMen, Submit your questions, suggest topics or just chat with your brothers. Want to add your own two cents? Use the voice memo feature on your smartphone, ask a question or say anything. We just might play it on the podcast, email the file to [email protected] Until next time.

Sign Up for New Espisodes & Updates!

We look forward to sharing new episodes and important updates with you. Thanks for joining the community.