I chose the title "Making Peace With The Nature of Fire" for this story I'm submitting because it is how I feel about the process of coming to terms with a perceived injustice. Outrage. I began to participate on the discussion board here at the Gay/Lesbian Bahai Story Project shortly before the Fast began in 2011. At that time it was my intention to submit a story about my experiences as a perceived " lesbian" Bahai. Until now I haven't been able to formulate my thoughts in story form. The story seems to keep changing and expanding along with increased awareness. I've decided to keep it brief.
I began my Bahai life in a group. I now realize that this group very innocently functioned for the most part outside of the AO. It wasn't a choice that was made by the group by reason of dissension or revolt. There simply weren't enough members in the community to form an assembly. In this rural area there were several groups in other small towns who would frequently gather together for informal firesides, deepenings, and Feasts. That was the community where I declared and to this day it is the place I consider my Bahai home. Due to the circumstances of my vagabond lifestyle, I have had the opportunity to be a a part of several American Bahai communities and one in Finland during the 1980's. I have served on 2 LSA's. In short, my Bahai experience has been low key and ordinary. Ordinary until I began speaking out about my personal take on the silence that has been built around LGBT issues. For those of us who have the point of view of being a gay Bahai it would seem that we are only heard when the pitch turns borderline inflammatory. I have personally never been afraid to walk to the edge of a deep crevice when the cause is one of great importance. Just like our colleagues in cyberspace over at the "Largest Bahai Facebook Group Ever" we all, as Bahai-minded individuals are ready to stand up for what we believe to be right and just to the point of being indignant and rude. I am no exception and I take full responsibility for unkind words and thoughts towards people with differing opinions coming from their own point of view. I am doing my best to nurture the compassion that keeps a pilgrim grounded.
Now, about the "Largest Bahai FB Group ever"..........I am glad that I went over there for a couple of days to visit. The experience reminded me of how it goes in some real life Bahai discussion groups. Someone brings up an uncomfortable subject and someone else suggests we open the Ruhi books. The uncomfortable subject gets pushed out to the margins, the Ruhi lessons begin, and unity is declared again.
I am not for one minute blaming the Bahai Faith for any of the personal difficulties that have arisen over individual attitudes and assumptions that exist within some of the less than mature communities out there. What I notice though is this : The feeling of being pushed aside, silenced, and disregarded because of ones sexual/gender orientation, whether actual or perceived. As a middle aged + woman, I have had enough practice and familiarity with being marginalized that the patterns are quite clear. For example: I left the "Largest Bahai Facebook Group" with a profound sense of hopelessness. The hopelessness leads to despair and then the despair leads to the place where the 15 yr old in me temporarily considers suicide as an attractive option to isolation. Fortunately, I am not 15 years old and as always the cloud passes by and another day begins. It does help to know that you (we) are not alone. Hang tough, kids.