Try Walking in Their Shoes

An Empath’s Perspective on Being Gay in America

You’ll stumble in my footsteps. Keep the same appointments I kept. If you try walking in my shoes.” Walking in My Shoes, Depeche Mode, The Singles 86>98* (Disc 2) 

After writing the last post on my perspective on the current loneliness problem, I dusted off the Depeche Mode CD I had mentioned. As I was listening to that old favorite in the car, I heard another musical gem, Walking in My Shoes. It occurred to me that it was the perfect topic for the June Happy Healthy Helpers blog.

We often hear the request to consider what it might feel like to “walk in another’s shoes” as a means of developing empathy. This has never been difficult for me. As an empath, I am often sensing and feeling the emotions of others. When I can’t do so physically, I am inclined to do so mentally. After all, how can I truly connect with others if I haven’t considered their perspective?

Some think of this as spiritual mumbo jumbo. To me, it is just common sense.

A core need for all humans is to live our lives in freedom, loving what and who we love. For that very reason, I have always found it odd that people do not accept the sexual preferences of others.  As we are deep into Pride Month, I think it is important to reflect on what it might be like to be LGBTQIA+. I suspect that people who don’t approve of those lifestyles haven’t considered some basic facts. I offer the following 5 points for your reflection.

#1. No One Wants a Life of Struggle

Very few people want to live life as a rebel, going against the norms of society. We are hardwired to fit in. Our ancestral history and cultural conditioning implore us to follow the mainstream lest we be ousted from the tribe to fend for ourselves.

One of the easiest ways for me to find compassion for anyone who is not identifying according to societal norms like sexual preference or gender is that it is a brutal choice to do so. No one would willingly choose to be questioned, mocked, shamed, and even killed. It strikes me as a bizarre assumption that those who bravely follow their heart’s inclinations, living a life of authenticity despite the potential for it to cause them great harm, are doing so solely by conscious choice.

#2. It’s Not a Choice

I learned in high school psychology that homosexual tendencies show up throughout the mammal world. Turns out these “preferences” are encoded in DNA. As such, choosing our sexual preference is no more possible than choosing our eye color. It was chosen for us by the genes we inherited at birth. 

That is the factual part of the equation, but love and attraction defy facts and logic. Have you ever instantly fallen in love (or lust)? You saw someone from across the room and were overtaken by their presence. It didn’t have to even make sense – the person was older, they were with someone else, or maybe they were the same gender as you. Regardless, your body felt an immediate response.

Attraction and chemistry are often outside of our conscious control. Humans like what they like. This is as true when we are talking about favorite ice cream flavor as it is for sexual preference.

#3. Change Is The Only Constant

Perhaps you were born with a genetic propensity to be attracted to the opposite sex, yet over time you found that your heart longed for the type of shared connection that only someone of the same sex could provide. Life changes, and so do we. 

There are many reasons why someone may no longer identify with their gender or initial sexual preferences. While some of these reasons relate to our biology, there are also reasons that pertain solely to our experiences.

We can fall in and out of love with anything – ideas, beliefs, foods, and even people. The human mind and heart are quite malleable.

#4. This Is a Free Country

As gay rights are often brought up in political arenas, it feels important to note that the United States of America was founded on the principles of religious freedom. As part of that goal, it was explicitly declared in the Bill of Rights that there would be separation of church and state.

The majority of people who oppose providing rights to everyone equally typically state religious rhetoric as their reason. Such arguments have no place in politics. PERIOD.

Furthermore, if your religion is telling you to hate or discriminate against others because they are different from you, you might be misunderstanding some things. Love is a core tenet of most of the world’s religions. It is hard to understand how that basic truth has gotten so skewed.

#5. It Is None of Your Business

We’ve covered some facts, a little mystery, and even some political truths, but here is what really matters:


The sex lives of other people should not be anyone’s concern. Everyone on this planet should have the personal autonomy to make the choices that feel best to them, provided they are not intentionally, or physically harming anyone else.

It’s Not About You   

I think it is important to note that the concepts I’ve shared don’t have to relate to you personally for them to be true. One of the hardest aspects of empathy is recognizing that not everything is about us.   

Additionally, if these concepts don’t apply to you at all, consider yourself lucky. The thought “live and let live” comes to mind.   

I feel grateful that I have always known that my physical attractions fit into the heterosexual norms and that being in a female body is comfortable to me, even if being a woman hasn’t been easy. Still, there were certainly moments during my online dating experiences when men behaved so badly that I considered what it might be like to date a woman who had the potential to be more compassionate and empathetic.

The bottom line for me is that our societal norms are often quite hurtful and oppressive. The way that the majority has always done things is not a very accurate portrayal of the best way to proceed. Regardless of your current beliefs on LGBTQIA+’s rights, I hope you will consider walking in their shoes. Word has it they have some fabulous footwear. 🏳️‍🌈❤️

Michelle Gibeault Traub is a health writer,compassionate coach, and the author of Online Dating for Sensitive Women. Her mission is to help women be their best in body, mind & spirit.

Sign up for Michelle’s FREE Gifts – The Natural Healing Toolkit and 33 Ways to Add More Joy to Your Life.   

*This is an affiliate link for one of my favorite CDs.

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