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Mark Tobey (1890-1976),

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

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Lacking a path to tread..

I first 'came out', officially if you like, as gay when I was 18. I had always preferred guys to woman and was always very free with my sexuality - sometimes, perhaps too free! I have never doubted my sexuality or even attempted to live a lifestyle that would in some way not allow me to express my homosexuality. I don't mean by that that I am extremely camp, but I mean that I have never tried to hide it or downplay it. If someone asked if I was gay then I would reply in the affirmative.

I first became aware of the Baha'i faith when I was 19; the grandmother of a friend of mine came back Baha'i after travelling in the middle east. At this point it never really meant much to me, however as time has progressed I have became far more religious/spiritual. (To clarify, I had always been this way (religious/spiritual) but my yearning for God has dramatically increased year on year.) This culminated in my declaring my belief in Baha'u'llah in January of this year - knowing full well the faith's teaching on homosexuality, or rather Shoghi Effendi and the UHJ's teaching on homosexuality. This wasn't really a great worry to me, as I am of the belief that only those who were divinely guided within the faith, and could speak with authority on the ideals of God are the Bab, Baha'u'llah and Abdul Baha. It is also my understanding that none of these individuals spoke on homosexuality, but merely on pederasty - a wholly different subject. Shoghi Effendi and the UHJ are there to give guidance, in my view and nothing more. They are human after all, and not perfect like the Bab, the Ancient Beauty or the Master - they are responsible to God for their actions; they do not speak on His behalf.

Sadly however, a few weeks after making my declaration I withdrew from contact with most of my new Baha'i friends (only remaining in touch through the odd text or email) not because I was gay, but because I didn't want to be told I had an unnatural urge that I could overcome, that is, if I was open about my sexuality, which to them, for the first time in my life, I have not been. I also didn't wish to get involved in a debate about the status of the Guardian or the UHJ. How many a faith has been damaged by the creation of such institutions?!

As time goes on, I do feel however that the power of Baha'u'llah is pulling me to be a part of the faith i.e. contributing, going to Feasts etc, but the question of what to do re my being gay still lurks in the back of my mind. I do not agree that God, upon making me gay, would state that I would have to remain chaste for the rest of my life, so chastity or at least the teachings of it are also brought into question. Also as Abdul Baha, said

' If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science, they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible, and there is no outcome but wavering and vacillation.'

Therefore, given that science is increasingly showing that homosexuality is natural and genetic, the words of Shoghi Effendi and the UHJ, that homosexuality is unnatural and can be 'cured' mean nothing to me, as it shows they are not speaking for God or in His name, and thus allow me to hold the opinion I expressed above. Yet again however, if I were to bring this up with the LSA and my Baha'i friends, no doubt I'd be shot down in flames and probably thrown out of the Faith.

There are many things I do not believe in regard to the Faith, but I do believe in Baha'u'llah. It therefore pains me that the institutions of a beautiful faith would be prepared to excommunicate members for disagreeing with an aspect of the faith or live a lifestyle they (wrongly) perceive to be unnatural. One should only be excommunicated from the faith if you disagree with a fundamental eg the status of Baha'u'llah, not whether you choose to be a member of a political party and be politically active or live the way God created you. No other faith, I know of, acts in such an arbitary way.

Finally, I ask for your prayers and that Baha'u'llah bless me with his grace to be a member of the community and work towards destroying the ignorance and misplaced hate/love of my local Baha'i friends.

Eko

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