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Notable Individuals

Mark Tobey (1890-1976),

famous artist, dedicated and devout Baha'i, was gay. His life and work were commemorated.. More

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We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

                          Joan Didion, title essay, The White Album (1979)

To Join or Not to Join

Just introduced to Bahia today, I was curious and encouraged by what I was told (in brief). Subsequently I researched the history and basic guiding principles, and found it a reflection of my own core beliefs.

I read on. Then, my heart sank; there was indeed intolerance within the principles, an exclusion of peoples, not a true equal view of human kind. A conflict rose, in my mind, which once again, in my search for a spiritual group that I could embrace and be comfortable as a lesbian who loves God. I am disheartened.

However – I've yet to read ANY story on this page. I wanted to note what a first impression is like from an outsider looking in, and looking for a spiritual “home”. I will read on, and have seen changes noted through the years, and feel there is hope for the leaders to truly accept all people regardless of color, creed, or sexual orientation, one day.

A Baha’i Parent’s Epiphany Story Entry:

(An unpublished essay written by a mom, in hopes that our family's experience will be of interest to other Baha'i families with a gay child, in supporting him or her in love and unity:)

May 30, 2012. It was an ordinary day in an ordinary place, when my cell phone rang in the K-Mart parking lot. It was always a pleasure to hear from our 28-year-old son, though on this occasion it was not clear as to what was on his mind. I asked the usual “mom” question to draw him out: “How’s your social life?” (The predictable answer was that he was “talking to a girl,” but that she was not his “type.”)

Today, however, he replied in a voice heavy with resignation: “That’s a story for another day . . . .” For some strange reason, I gently dared to ask: “Alex, are you . . . gay? In the uncomfortable, prolonged silence which followed, I steeled myself for the unexpected reply: “Yes,” he said in a breaking voice. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.” Though my world had just experienced a seismic event, nevertheless my heart immediately went out to our brave, youngest child—ever truthful, even when it was the hardest thing he had ever had to say.

During the remainder of that phone call, I learned everything I did not know about what it meant to be gay, as he patiently answered my many questions. My mental adjustment was almost instantaneous: our beloved son was now our beloved gay son. My emotional adjustment was just beginning.

Over the coming days, I searched my cerebral cortex for subtle clues that would point to homosexuality. Certainly our son was the picture of masculinity. But . . . yes—there was Alex’s lukewarm interest in an internet dating site to which my husband, with the best of intentions, had unwittingly subscribed on his behalf. And yes, there was the hint that most girls weren’t his type. Yes, our son would often insist, enigmatically, that he wasn’t “as good” as I thought he was. . . . And yes, there was Alex’s one gay friend to whom I’d been introduced; that would be Chris—now known to be the love of his life.

It was a revelation, that day in May, that already he and Chris had made sensible plans for a future together. Already they had become legal domestic partners, and Chris’s house would soon be their shared home. . . . The following summer, after the passing in November 2012 of a State referendum permitting same-sex marriage, they would be legally married in a moving and sanctified ceremony. Leave it to Alex to do it with grace and class, and make us proud.

My husband, too, searched for missed clues as to his son’s “natural nature,” and brought to mind a branch on his family tree consisting of aunts, uncles, and cousins who had never married—as was the case with his own bachelor brother. Dad has become a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage in his own circles. To Alex, he cheerfully rationalized that the new state of affairs was “Plan B.”

That our own religion (Baha’i) condemned the very idea of Alex and Chris’s relationship was a bitter pill to swallow. My therapy was to take up the violin. The violin sang sweet midnight songs to soothe my conflicted soul. It intoned simple harmonies to distract from the dissonant clashing of faith and reason, of immutable dogma and evident truth. It wept for all gay youth rejected and disowned for coming out; for those who were forced to live a lie; and for the more devout among them who contemplated in lonely distress the cruel fates which awaited “sinners” with wayward inclinations. Ultimately, I had to choose between allegiance to God’s Will as interpreted by my faith (which requires celibacy on the part of homosexual members)— and supporting the love of two guys who intended to become family. Love won. In the interest of personal integrity, I had no choice but to formally withdraw from the faith to which I had given about 37 years of my life.

Had our son continued to bear his burden of guilt in silence, this family’s story, like others, could have ended badly. Alex’s coming out was the demarcation between darkness and light, for himself and for those whose lives he has touched. As for me, this being my story, his painful revelation in May was the pivotal moment when latent homophobia, bred of ignorance and holy writ, was replaced by compassion and understanding. My epiphany on May 30, 2012 was a blessing. I was blind—but in a dizzying, transformative, lightning flash, I saw.

I'm not gay...

But I am no longer a practicing Baha'i. I declared in 1983. In about 2005 I had a close friend, who has since moved and with whom I have lost touch (sadly), who is a lesbian and the best, most amazing Baha'i I have ever known. She taught me so very much about the Faith — things I had not thought of nor been exposed to previously. But after she wrote, yet again, to the UHJ regarding her homosexuality and was told she could not be a Baha'i, I was done. She begged me to stay active in the Faith so that I could help facilitate change, but I just couldn't. I cannot be a part of something that treats someone as wonderful as she is, someone with a deep, abiding love for the Faith, for people, for justice, for equality, with such utter disregard for those wonderful qualities due to the way she was born. If we believe that God is perfect and does not make mistakes, then how on earth can we believe that people who are born gay are somehow a mistake or spiratiually deficient in any way? It is illogical. One of the main reasons I became a Baha'i was the concept that if science and religion are diametrically opposed, then the fact of the science must replace the belief of the religion. Have we not yet been provided sufficient scientific evidence that homosexuaility is not a choice but is genetic? Not something to be controlled, but something to be accepted, embraced and included. Until and unless the Faith changes it's stance on homosexuality, I will continue to be a non-practicing Baha'i and will tell anyone who asks exactly why. I love the Faith, but the Faith needs to love EVERYONE — again a reason I declared in the first place.