Inspirational influencer Jordan Bach on spirituality, sexuality, and being a demonstration of love
By Jumol Royes
We all have that one friend we go to when we need good advice. A conversation with Jordan Bach is like chatting with that friend. He’s calm, cool and collected, and his words drip with wisdom.
Bach has people talking: The Advocate named him “an LGBT architect of the next decade.” Fans flock to his website, The Bach Book (thebachbook.com), for tips and inspiration. His Twitter profile describes him as an inspirational talker, life coach, believer in the power of love, LGBTQ+ advocate and Dolly Parton fan—but if you ask him what he does, the simple answer is he helps people connect with themselves.
IN recently connected with Bach on Skype for a free-flowing conversation about spirituality, sexuality, love, and living with purpose.
A lot of people don’t relate to being religious, but they’ll freely admit to being spiritual. Where do you stand?
You hear the term ‘spiritual but not religious,’ but the idea has taken on a life of its own that’s not always wholly accurate. Younger people want a religious experience, but we’re not necessarily comfortable using the term ‘religious’ to describe it. We want an experience of transcendence; we want an experience of letting go of our fear and believing in a force greater than us. You can have that experience in a nightclub just as much as you can at church, temple, synagogue or mosque. What I love is being able to take [faith] traditions and apply them to our times. Some of us want to avoid the traditional religious experience, but then there are some of us who want to transform it. I certainly consider myself to be in that group of people who want to transform the traditional religious experience.
It’s fair to say that many faith traditions, including Christianity, have a challenging, and sometimes adversarial, relationship with the LGBTQ community. How can we reconcile that divide, and is it possible to embrace both faith and sexual identity?
My friend Matthew Vines wrote an incredible book called God and the Gay Christian. It presents a very compelling, strong, theological argument for same-sex relationships. There are a lot of passages in the Bible that can be interpreted from a place of fear rather than love and compassion. I always refer to St. Augustine, who said scripture ‘teaches nothing but charity, and we must not leave an interpretation of scripture until we have found a compassionate interpretation of it.’ There is indeed poorly distributed power in our religious communities, and some of us in the LGBTQ community feel disenfranchised. That being said, the solution doesn’t come from wrangling power from each other. The real solution comes from increased empathy and understanding. Where there is increased understanding, there is equality.
So how do we start those conversations or create those encounters in our everyday lives—especially on social media, where so many of us are talking past each other instead of with each other? I don’t know if you saw the Heineken campaign about the power of human connection…
Yes, I loved it! I tweeted about it and someone said, ‘Stop promoting alcohol.’ And then someone said, ‘…it’s a brand; you know they’re just trying to appeal to people.’ I say: A good message is a good message. There’s a quote that goes: ‘Twice I did good, that I heard never. Once I did bad, that I heard ever.’ We’re constantly railing on how companies are getting it wrong and we’re not talking about when they get it right. We heard so much about Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad. We like getting upset about shit. Every day there’s something new to be upset about. One thing I live by is: promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. The thing that was really great about [the Heineken ad], and the thing it showed so clearly, is that when you sit down with someone in person, something changes. What we’re really seeking is connection. The paradox of this new age is that we’re more connected than ever, yet we’re more disconnected than ever.
In your YouTube video, When I say ‘I’m Gay,’ you talk about LGBTQ people being teachers sent here to expand humanity’s vision of what love really is. What do you mean by that?
A Course in Miracles says that ‘to teach is to demonstrate.’ To teach love means to demonstrate love. And so the most powerful thing that we can do as LGBTQ people is to demonstrate our love and to do it in a way that is true for us. I believe we don’t just happen to be gay…I don’t just happen to be gay; I came here to this planet intending to be gay, and here I am. And so the most powerful thing that I can do is to love as passionately and with as much fierce grace as possible, and just by doing that, I can change the world.
You’ve clearly found your purpose and you’re doing what you were meant to do, but it’s something a lot of us still struggle with. How do you know when you’re living authentically and in alignment with your purpose?
That’s a very popular self-help Google search: how do I find my life purpose? Practically speaking, about 85 per cent of people don’t have an obvious, natural calling. Some people do. The rest of us have to try out different things and test for feedback. Clarity comes through engagement, not more thinking. Every time you try something and it doesn’t feel right…that’s a sign that it’s not for you. I would do what I do without being paid for it. I brought a self-help book to reading time in third grade…I’ve been into self-help and spirituality and having deep conversations my whole life. It was right in front of me the whole time. I think it’s helpful to ask yourself, what is it that I love to do? That’s number one. Number two: of the things I love to do, what do I do well? Then number three: of the things I love to do that I do well, what do I do better than most other people? And there’s your sweet spot.
When you’re not busy dispensing solicited advice, what’s your guilty pleasure?
I love pop culture. I love knowing why is Khloé Kardashian mad at Caitlyn Jenner [laughs].
JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based PR and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.