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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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helpful book on LGBTQ spirituality

Thank you so much for this site, it makes me feel less alone. I thought I was the only LGBTQ Baha'i in the world until I found this site! I wish we could have a gathering, but I suppose by definition it wouldn't be Baha'i and we would probably all be stripped of our administrative rights, at least those who haven't lost them already...

I'm a lesbian Baha'i in my mid-thirties, although I have only come out to a very, very few people. I often prefer the label 'bisexual', if I have to have a label at all, because I've never been in a same-sex relationship, only a straight marriage (which I'm still technically in, although separated) so it feels as if I'm somehow cheating to call myself a lesbian. But the desire, the longing, to be with a woman is definitely there. I used to go on gay pride marches even before I knew I had gay feelings. Many, many of my close friends throughout my life have been gay or lesbian: it's as if I'm somehow drawn to 'people like me' without knowing it. When I was at university, I used to watch films and just focus on the women and how beautiful they were. I might have dared to go to a lesbian club night or join an LGBsoc if I hadn't been Baha'i. I even tried to make a move on my best friend when I was 21, I loved her deeply but she rejected me and that hurt so much that I ran far, far away, away to a different continent where nobody even thinks or talks about homosexuality. I didn't think or talk about it either, for more than ten years, Ibut instead I got into a string of abusive relationships with men. Then last year I read a novel with a lesbian theme that made me think, "Yes! That's me." A lot of the time I am still trying to deny it, fight it, shove it back into the box and put the lid on tight. Often I try rejecting the label Baha'i instead, but I have a hard time with that as well.

I couldn't work it out, I still can't. How can a religion that cliams to be in harmony with science deny what scientists in every discipline, from psychology to evolutionary biology to zoology to anthropology are saying, that there are individuals in many species (not just humans) who are created with a homosexual orientation and that is all there is to it? If there had been more Guardians, would the Faith have moved on with the changing times instead of staying stuck in 1950s understandings of what is 'against nature' and what is perverted? Could it be because the Baha'i faith arose in a Muslim country where homosexuality is seen as an abomination (even thouogh many other Muslim customs and traditions have been revoked)? Or is it true that I am just 'all wrong', that the Creator (I don't like the word God either, or all the male-dominated language in Baha'i writings) somehow made a mistake when S/He was creating me? Is homosexuality really a mental illness, like depression, which is natural but still undesirable, as Justice St Rain (obviously struggling with the issue himself) tries to argue in 'Falling Into Grace'? If so, why hasn't someone found a 'cure' yet?

I felt as if I was banging my head against a brick wall, then I found a spiritual counsellor who told me it was OK to think about it, talk about it, explore my feelings. She introduced me to Goddess spirituality, to Wicca, to feminist spirituality, to the idea that it was OK for me to 'be who I am' and that maybe it is not me that is 'all wrong' but the homophobics. That all that matters is the authentic encounter with the Divine Essence, which is pure Love and pure light and pure acceptance and pure compassion, regardless of how organised religion has interpreted it. I started to unwind a little, to realise that instead of trying to make a hole in the wall with my head I could just go in at the gate. I actually felt connected to Spirit for the first time in five years. I was praying, deeply, authentically, from the heart, getting close to ecstatic trance through meditation and discovering all kinds of insights and serendipity in my daily life. It was all going so well until the day I had planned to go to a festival of LGBTQ spirituality and ended up cancelling it and going to a Baha'i friend's funeral instead. It all came flooding back with a vengeance: the guilt, the feeling of not belonging, the fear of being outed, the urge to out myself and just see what would happen, the feeling that I had let the guy down by not being a proper Baha'i, even the totally irrational and ridiculous fear that it was somehow my fault and that a vindictive 'God' was trying to get back at me for daring to think about coming out in public. 'Oh, she's getting away, quick, catch her!'

Well, today I just read a beautiful book 'Coming Out Spiritually' by Christian de la Huerta (another one of my counsellor's recommendations) and it was so healing. It talks about LGBTQ people as, historically Iin pre-patriarchal times) healers, teachers, shamans, priiests and priestesses, mediators between words, agents of social change, 'sacred clowns' who introduce fun and creativity into life, artists, poets, musicians, dreamers and creators of new realities. It was the first time I had seen a POSITIVE, not a neutral, vision of LGBTQ spirituality. De la Huerta talks in very personal, candid terms about the challenges of speaking to the United Religions (generally united against homosexuality?) about having a loving, welcoming, inclusive attitude towards gay and trans people. But he also talks in a very inspiring and uplifting way about how to make sexuality sacred, and about the power that LGBTQ people have to change the world, precisely because of the pain we have been through and the fact that we see things from different perspectives at once and we are not bound by gender roles in the same way as conventional 'masculine' men and 'feminine' women. I never knew so many famous people were gay or lesbian. Wow! For a long time I have felt called to be a healer, an artist, a teacher and a poet. But I never connected any of that with being a lesbian. He also talks about the fact that gay people often have a deep connection to Nature because we have been hurt by human society and we want something that we can trust in and rely on. Agan, spot on for me. Perhaps the book might help others who have been left hurt and bleeding emotionally, either because of the ignorant prejudices of Baha'i community members or the uncompromising attitude of the Writings, or both??

I want to thank you all for your stories. Even though none of you have come up with answers, because they don't exist, it's deeply reassuring to know that you're all asking yourselves the same questions.

.
Love, Morwenna
(not my real name, but it's one that resonates for me)

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