I found the Baha'i Faith while living outside of the continental US. A wonderful pioneer gave me a small book I read through in one sitting. As I read the principles of the Baha'i Faith, I thought, "I believe that" and "I've always thought that."
At that time, I was living with my lesbian partner of 3 years. There was no question that I am a lesbian. When I returned to the US, the relationship broke up. I sought out the Baha'i community and declared my faith in Baha'u'llah. I dedicated myself to service and got involved in the administration of the Faith. It wasn't long before I realized homosexuality was not accepted. At the time, I was so in love with the Faith, it didn't matter. My Baha'i community embraced me. I believed what they told me, that my lesbianism would be removed. I spent 4 1/2 years studying the writings and serving the Faith, including going on Pilgrimage. While at the shrine at Bahji, I prayed to fulfill what I was told was healthy--to become heterosexual. It was a deep and sincere prayer.
During that 4 1/2 years, I met many Baha'is and fortunately made close enough friends with some of them that we mutually disclosed our homosexuality. We spent much time talking about the dilemma. We would discuss our options in keeping true to both ourselves and the faith. Throughout that time, many of my straight Baha'i friends extended their love without judgment. Then the inevitable happened. I fell in love with a woman.
I was on the LSA, feeling like a hypocrite. I would leave the meeting and go to her house. I loved her. I hated myself. I got depressed and would spend days on the couch, just getting up to go to work. One night, I looked at a whimsical clay sculpture I made. I realized he was my creation and I loved him. At that moment, it hit me that my Creator felt the same about me. I thought no loving God would create me with features that would lead to hating myself. In my Creator's eyes, I am every bit of what was intended.
I'm a lesbian. I'm a Baha'i. I believe in a loving God. From that moment forward, I have walked with my faith placed fully with that loving God. That was 23 years ago. I am still a Baha'i. I have had relationships with women, one that lasted five years. Now, I'm single. The Baha'is in my community know I'm here, know I'm a lesbian and that's why I don't participate. I'm saddened by the strident nature of many Baha'is and the inability to live and let live.
I remain a member of the Faith because I want the Baha'i burial practices to be followed with me. The spiritual principles and mystical elements of the Faith are in my heart. How things manifest in the Baha'i community, at this point in my life, are none of my business. I live on the fringes and avoid the situations and people who would have me suffer over my lesbianism. I extend my love and compassion to my brothers and sisters who struggle.