The internet runs on an interesting mixture of transparency and secrecy. Some of us tell all, and others build identities behind which to hide.
Some of us do a little of both.
I began writing under the name Teo Bishop in 2009 in order to provide me with the safe space to explore my evolving religious identity. My given name was wrapped up in other things, like this:
And even this:
Before I was a blogger named Teo Bishop, I was an artist named Matt Morris.
I’ve been doing music since I was a little kid, been a pro since I was a teenager, and up until the last year or two, I’ve done little else. Music has been my mainstay, my bread and butter, my life-long career.
But then I discover through writing this blog, and through all of the work I’ve done in dialogue about matters of religion, faith, and practice, that there are many means for being expressive outside of music. My non-musical work fulfills me in ways that the business of music never has. I love writing for Patheos and HuffPost Religion, and I’m developing new ideas about how I might be able to contribute to the betterment of the Pagan Community at large, and my religious community of ADF in particular.
I also love to write songs. When my blog goes quiet for a few weeks, that’s usually what I’m doing. My Indiegogo Campaign, which closed this last week, was an attempt to reintroduce and re-prioritize music in my life, and while it may not have succeeded in raising the funds, it was certainly successful in reminding me how important a role music plays in my life.
At some point, we must all come out. We must all be honest about how we’ve compartmentalized to excess, how we’ve created new masks — either out of fear or in an attempt to approximate privacy in a increasingly non-private society. We must recognize when it is time to integrate all of our disparate parts (T. Thorn Coyle might say that it is always time to integrate).
While my situation may look rather extreme — my relative fame in the music world necessitating a new name, a new series of URL’s and social network profiles in order to grow in my religious practice — I don’t think I’m the only one who has gone to such measures in order to explore the subtleties and complexities of their identity. We’re living in a rather strange time; one in which many, if not all of us are negotiating our identities for public consumption. Every status update is a mini-press release; every tweet a soundbite. Some of us apply a kind of close-scrutiny about what messages we broadcast to the world in a way that was once reserved only for major public figures and celebrities.
It’s all very bizarre, when you take a moment to think about it.
But my coming out is not simply an act of confession about another online identity. I’m choosing transparency at this time because I believe doing so may be the only way I can move forward in both my music and my writing. I was never two people — I was always, only one. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise. My nom de plum has become my legal name, and my given name a stage name, but the person beneath has remained throughout the process.
Teo Bishop has always been Matt Morris, and Matt Morris has always been Teo Bishop.
I offer this up to you, my loyal, inquisitive, insightful readership. I share these heretofore hidden parts of myself, trusting that you’ll likely google up a good bit more (it’s all there on the interwebs, after all). I trust that the act of being honest with you is worth whatever risk comes with it.
And I leave you with the song I’m perhaps most proud of, Eternity; a song which affirms that I am — we are — all of the identities that have ever been, that are ever being, and that ever will be. From the song:
“I’m telling you / with sincerity / that what you do / and what you be / is go’n follow you / like it follow me / and be with you for / eternity.”