Why I came out of the psychedelic closet
“Just as with gay rights, the psychedelic movement requires person-to-person advocacy. This can take the form of education, of explaining these substances from a cultural, historical, or scientific perspective. But in my opinion, the most effective way to change someone’s mind, or at least get them to reconsider their original position, isn’t through intellectual discourse; it’s through emotional connection. And this requires that we share our personal experiences.”
Psychedelic users are considered societal pariahs, a vestige of the 1960s hippie generation. So when an educated, responsible, and productive member of society shares his personal experience, it paints a completely different picture that causes the rest of us to reconsider the conventional wisdom. If society was going to continue characterising the people who’ve used these drugs as do-nothings and dropouts, then I could stand up and call bullshit. And so I did. I finally understood that, given my unique circumstances, I had a real opportunity to speak out about this very important issue. But to do so I had to come out publicly. I’ve always considered myself a person of integrity, someone who speaks out when other people won’t, and I think my decision to write the Newsweek article is consistent with those qualities. But that’s not the end of this story. My case isn’t just a triumph of courage over playing it safe. I benefited from coming out. I got to write about my experience for a prestigious mainstream magazine, and I’ve also been given the opportunity to write an article for this one. But more importantly, I have to acknowledge that my decision is as much a function of my privilege as it is of my courage. A relative of mine is fond of saying, “There’s principle and principal, and you should care much more about the latter.” What he means, of course, is that money matters more than your convictions. And even though I’ve always ignored his advice and prided myself as a person of principle, it’s clear that my principal is, in part, what gives me the freedom to be principled. I know deep down that if the worst happened, I have a large support network that would help me. So what’s my final message? Coming out of the psychedelic closet is a terrific way to speak truth to power and advocate for an important cause. If you have the courage or the privilege, you should consider joining me on the other side. Or just lend your support to the conversation with the newly launched campaign #PsychedelicsBecause. We need your voice and those of many others to help undo the damage done by decades of propaganda.