Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fix My Life: Season Premiere

"... You can be cripple, you can be a liar, you can be a whore-monger, you can be a thief, you can be a lotta things but Lord (insert pause) do. not. be. gay. in the Black Church... openly gay..."

Iyanla #FixMyLife
Series Premiere tonight 9/8c
Iyanla Vanzant, no stranger to criticism goes straight to the heart and pulse of the Black community with this season's explosive premiere of Iyanla Fix My Life on OWN 9/8c.

The first episode follows Iyanla as she aids the navigation of two Black Pastor's paths out of the closet.  This is a heart-wrenching look at two men to embark on a journey that threatens to rip their lives apart.  The episode begins with Derek a thirty-year old ordained minister explaining how he feels speaking truth as a gay man.  "... I feel hurt, sub-standard, petrified and lonely."  Iyanla pauses and instructs Derek to take a breath.  He complies.  She asks him to clarify what he means by lonely... "No one will love me or no one loves me?"

More than the season premiere which promises not to disappoint; this post is about the portal of healing Iyanla Vanzant creates in whichever room she enters.   I've seen Iyanla in person on several occasions and I still join the room in being mesmerized. So she did enter the press room and boy oh boy did the healing begin.

Iyanla first framed the show with profundity.  "... This season we are talking about issues we only whisper about..."

Iyanla Vanzant
Press Conference
Season Premiere Iyanla Fix My Life

She explained the episode and her reasoning for featuring Gay Pastors... "Fear drives [gay] men into ministry..."  And why 'Pray the Gay Away' is so damaging because this ushers in one living in-authentically and no good ever comes of that.  "I'm concerned with the servants of God walking into God's house to serve God's people telling a lie... It's not about them being gay.... The show is about not living authentically..."  Iyanla asserted several times.

That statement ushered in a barrage of questions that always led back to one answer.  "It is my goal to give people the tools to stand and live in their truth."  This statement lead to an intriguing question from a journalist.  He asked how do [you] feel about people who don't use the tools you've given or take the help you offered?  To which Iyanla responded "I'm not attached to what people do with the information..."  She is a conduit to offer tools and create space for healing.

Me and Actress Vanessa Williams
exchanging healing

A number of other questions continued, to which in my opinion we all would have gladly sat poached in our seats all day.  Then the charge came to the journalists in the room.  To go forth and write to create space for conversation versus having an opinion.  Expand your emotional library and do not give up on [truth].  "So many people give up 5 minutes before the miracle..."  She furthered her point that as journalists we have to be focused on healing by asking the question, how do I present information to promote healing?

This prompted a question from me particularly concerning this episode.  How do we as journalists open the conversation, to the public, about this and other subject matters?  How do we help promote healing toward the surrounding community enthralled in controversy not just the people on the healing journey?  To which she kindly responded, by eradicating your opinion out of the context of your writing.  "Study principle and give up your opinion... Report ye on those things..."  Vanzant concluded with a joke.

What followed the joke was a series of instructional tools with how as human beings we can aid in the healing in any given situation.

1)  Hold people accountable
2)  Be present with people as they speak their truth
3)  Give people a safe space to tell their truth
4)  Let people know they can speak to you
5)  Hold their confidence
6) Ask the question, What is it that you want me to do with this information?  Listen to the answer because this gives us a clue as to whether or not the person wants an ear, a solution or both.

Unfortunately the session was over but she left us with this thought about her upcoming season.  "This season is about creating the conversation to stay healthy when dealing with other ills..."

With the formula of from and for the heart... I predict this season to be her best yet.  Below is a pre-view of tonight's episode.

So this journalist is opening up the conversation with a question.  How do we erase anger, shame and judgment when faced with the disagreement of a loved one's lifestyle?

This is Toni Staton Harris, Checkin' Up and Checkin' In on how are you living well.

OWN Offices

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