Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Eduardo is an Oxford graduate from Colombia with a passion for philosophy and peace-building. He recently joined one of our 'Who am i?' virtual retreats for gay and bisexual men, and has kindly agreed to share his experience.
Who are you?
Well, my name is Eduardo Gutiérrez. Professionally speaking, I have a BA and an MA in philosophy, both from Colombia. And I have just finished a year-long MSt in Science & Religion at the University of Oxford (UK). I'm hoping to continue with doctoral studies along the same lines. I'm super interested in using imagination as a powerful tool to overcome false mental oppositions and to create new dialogues. I consider myself an empathic, curious, reflexive, and fast learning person.
How did you find yourself doing what you are doing?
Luckily I've been able to connect my personal journey and my spiritual inquiries to my academic work. At one point, I was managing several aspects of my life as independent silos, I felt deeply unsatisfied by the rigid and closed views I had on the world. Both my experience and my study of philosophy made me realise I needed to go through a period of intense auto-reformation. I have been working on that for the past two or three years: and here I am!
What have you learnt along the way?
I´ve learned that it is very easy to antagonise, but it´s much more demanding to harmonise. I think we have a strong tendency to see our lives in specific ways, and sometimes the habit is too strong and does not allow us to consider other options. The key, I believe, is a balance between what you know and what you do not; to maintain the views that have guided you through your life, but also be mindful that life itself might eventually suggest a change of course.
Why did you get involved in the ‘Who am i?’ Programme?
I actually found the programme by accident, scrolling down my Instagram feed. I first participated in one of the teaser-workshops and then on the two day retreat. I loved it. The idea of offering an open platform for gay or bi men to open up, discuss their own life experiences and share their views regarding identity and sexuality sounded like a valuable contribution to the LGBTQ+ world!
What relationship do you have to the LGBTQ+ community?
I only recently came out as bisexual, so I believe I am still in exploratory mode. Although there are still lots of things I need to understand, the key point is that I've found myself surrounded by amazing people. Everyone has gone through something in order to find themselves, and build a space in society where they feel safe and secure. I completely identify with that struggle, and I think part of what drives me to participate in these workshops is my wish to learn more from other people's experiences.
What’s the biggest challenge you’re currently working through?
I think deep down, my fundamental challenge is to tear down walls and bridge different aspects of my life! Primarily the gap between my academic discussions and socio-political initiatives, but also between my bisexuality and my Catholic faith. I guess my desire to contribute to peace building processes in Colombia is also about bridging dialogues and fostering reconciliation.
Have you learnt anything new about yourself since the retreat?
I have found that there's a lot to learn from fellow LGBTQ+ people; that I need to work through my own childhood traumas and certain ideas I received about love; that it is totally worth it to share and connect with others’ emotions; and that re-connecting with my body, especially through practices like breathwork and meditation, can be a powerful way to unlock important information I need to grow more peacefully.
How do you ‘Create Space’?
I of course try to keep healthy habits in terms of eating, sleeping and exercising etc. In addition to that, I make an effort to pray and/or meditate at least three or four times a week; this keeps me centred and focused, and strengthens my connection to myself. I find that writing down what I think and feel is extremely useful when my emotions and ideas are a bit entangled. Reading literature is an important way for me to allow my imagination to roam freely, and this helps me to avoid single-minded views and be open to new possibilities. And finally, engaging dialogue with others (preferably over coffee) – this is also a fundamental part of my self-care.
If you're interested in joining the 'Who am i?' programme, you can find out more here.