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Mark Tobey (1890-1976),

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I just read the story "Homosexual Alternative" and I've finally decided to submit my story. I think it is important to balance the dangerous trend inside the Bahai community towards "reparative therapy". I will never tell another person what journey to take in life. If an adult Bahai decides of their own free will that to be a "true" Bahai they must try to overcome their God-given sexuality, then that is their choice. I don't agree with it, but that's their choice. Whatever makes you happy. BUT, I do believe that an alternate voice must be heard, so here is mine.

I am five generations Persian Bahai from a pioneering family. Bahai prayers were recited in my ears the day I was born in the hospital in Tehran. A prayer were the first words that entered my ears at birth. I lived a happy well-adjusted life. No alcholism, no abusive parents. I had both the love of my father and mother to sustain me. My role models, my life, everything around me was geared towards the straight world. Long before I knew anything about what chastity meant in the Bahai writings, I knew that the equation was One man + one woman in marriage to make a famly. So I expected this was my future too. Except for one thing....I never thought, fantasized in any shape or form about women. Never have and I still don't. As my sexual feelings developed in my pre-teens and definitely teenage life- all I could think about were men. I even remember as as child, I wouild fantasize about, not my beautiful female Bahai school teacher, but instead her jock husband. It wasn't in a sexual way, but in a way a child has puppy love for a teacher. Mine were for males- not females. Where did this come from? Iv'e read the bogus therapies wanting to blame everything from hormones gone crazy during the pregnancy to a distant father... but none of it applied to me. Then I realized- it's maybe just genetic. That's all it is. God made some of us to prefer the same sex and a few to like both.

My teenage years were hell. On the outside, I am the poster child of a good Bahai boy. Smart, handsome (some would say) and a pretty good catch for any Bahai girl. Except, I just never dated. I had no interest. And there was NO ONE in the Bahai community to talk to about this. It was the most horrible, lonely part of my existence. I'll say it again- my teenage and college years active in the Bahai community were the most horrible, lonely parts of my existence. A day did not pass that I did not wish God would strike me down if He wasn't going to take away this "disease" this dsgusting part of me that if I understood the Aqdas correctly made Bahaullah shrink from very shame at the thought of what I was fantasizing- sex with another man! At the age of 18, in the Shrine of the Bab, my only prayer was that he strike me down since I couldn't "overcome" anything. I actually one time even took a match to my penis, wanting to burn it because I felt such shame that I couldn't control these feelings that were so abhorrent to the Creator. Yes folks, THIS is how you are fucking with the heads of gay Bahai youth in your communities! All the prayers and submission to God did nothing.

So let's fast forward a few years. In my late twenties, I went overseas to work with a development group. I also went as a pioneer. I figured this is it. If as a pioneer, dedicating my life to service, I don't get cured of homosexuality- then when? Soon I realized, the answer is NEVER. And a strange thing happened, while serving as a pioneer, my daily thoughts of suicide went away. Once in my heart I decided this is wrong. Telling me that I'm sick and need help is just plain wrong. Once I felt that through my core, the thoughts of suicide went away. I spent most of my thirties in anger. Anger never against God, but against this religion, and especially Shoghi Effendi. Only recently have I realized that anger is misplaced. My anger now is against ignorance. Against a shrinking community of believers that is acting more like a small cultish group instead of having a world-embracing vision.

I am a happy well-adjusted gay man. I have many outlets of service and a great community of loving friends- I don't need to be active in the Bahai community for my spiritual growth. I'm not holding my breath that the Bahai community will truly become the umbrella for ALL of humanity. In fact, I think it is seriously dying out. Some of my friends get upset that more Bahais don't stand on the side of the struggle of gays in the Bahai community. My answer to that is this "how much can you expect from a handful of people that are continuing to dwindle in numbers?" It is sad, because I don't want that. I want to see a growing, vibrant community that is making a difference in this world as Bahaullah intended. But alas....

So why do I continue to post? Why am I a thorn in the side of the current members of the AO and those who believe that gay couples do not have a place at God's table? Because I care about the vulnerable in the community, especially the youth, who will fall prey to those who want to inflict their "pray the gay away" therapy in a Bahai fashion. These vulnerable people are the ones who I worry about. Because for every one of these gay Bahais who swears they are overcoming their sexuality, there will be many more who will leave the Faith in anger, become inactive, or worse give up hope and sink into lows of depravity or drugs, or even worse suicide-when they realize they just can't "overcome" and they never will.



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