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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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Being A Gay Baha'i is Spiritual & Virtual House Arrest

Being a gay Baha'i is a lot like living under spiritual house arrest. There is nowhere you can go without feeling unwanted! Trust me, it ain't fun! This analogy was troublesome for two reasons: I'm used to moving around (as a home front pioneer, travel teacher and international pioneer; as a performing artist, and as an American. I love to travel. The other is the fact that Baha'u'llah Himself endured years of living under house arrest throughout his divine tribulations (especially in Akka). This realization has led to a powerful epiphany within my own soul but that is another story.

I became a Baha'i when I was 21 years old back in OLD CENTURY, in 1970. When I declared, it was in the presence of a friend of my father's who visited our home regularly. She and my father were the only African American Baha'is that I knew of and with whom I had continual contact. Like most teens, I had issues with my father as I sifted through ideas of belief and career choices. Sexual identity was not a common phrase at the time and it was extremely uncommon for young people to speak openly about it especially with a parent. Like I mentioned earlier, the other Baha'i (who I'll call Patty) visited our home frequently and eventually became my mother's confidant and friend. At the time, my mother was a Catholic. And, although my father had been a Baha'i for 8 years, I had only a superficial knowledge of the Faith, it's Teachings, and knew nothing of Baha'i laws. This was long before the publication of the Kitabi-Aqdas. My response to reading a single paragraph from Gleanings had been to say ... "this could only have been written by God," and I had said that aloud to her when I'd finished reading the passage. The moment of recognition of Baha'u'llah, once having read His own words for myself was an immediate catalyst to a profound spiritual awakening the glow of which remains with me to this day. Looking back at that time, I know that the thought of asking about "homosexuality" didn't even occur to me. I fell in love with Baha'u'llah and set out to learn as much as I could about the Faith. Needless to say, although there were many Baha'i books available it was nothing so compared to today. The last thing I was thinking about at the time was sexual orientation, a phrase that didn't even exist yet. At age 21, I was as caught up in denial as I was exploration and being or not being "gay" wasn't even on the radar of my newfound Faith in Baha'u'llah.

Today, at age 61, my love for Baha'u'llah is even more intense and firm as I wrestle with the question of how to be an authentic human being and a lover of Baha'u'llah too. I will be posting this journey here as it unfolds. But what I will say here is that after being married to a woman for 12 years in my first marriage; and 22 years in my second, my journey's path has been strewn with broken pieces of glass, an inner pain that no sane person would willingly volunteer to endure, and a social and emotional rejection that make all my failed endeavors seem like wrapper on a stick of gum. Keep me in your prayers!


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