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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

I'm glad I came across this forum. I was gonna keep this short and sweet, but I don’t do short, so I hope I don’t ramble too much.

I was raised a Bahai and always knew that I was gay. I was born in Florida, but grew up in Kentucky, where being a Bahai was considered evil, because we didn't believe that Christ was the only way to salvation. I was bi-racial in the backwoods, where there were only 4 bi-racial people within a 100 mile blatant, sometimes violent, racism was common. This was in the mid to late 80‘s. I didn't come out to everyone until college. But I learned to understand people's prejudice and ignorance at an early age. And I turned to the teachings and prayers for answers.

I’ve been openly gay and on Spiritual Assemblies in New York and Los Angeles. It’s never been an issue to other people.

This is only my story, so take it for what it is, but here was how I reconciled my faith with my sexual orientation.

Bahai's believe that God, and God alone, is who we have to answer to in the end. God knows our souls. He knows we were born gay/straight/bisexual....even though science and society didn't know it 150 years ago. I know we’ll be judged on the goodness of our souls, not our orientation.
The Bahai Faith is a baby it will take time to grow. There are now Christian churches who accept gay people, but that religion is 2,000 years old and The Bible still condemns gays to death. Our Faith will evolve with time. But to me, the early focus on the Faith was equality of the races and men and women, so homosexuality hasn't had its day in court.
Science and religion cannot conflict. That's a major tenant in our Faith. Science used to believe that sexual orientation was a choice and could be changed. They now know it’s not. Exodus International, the largest ex-gay organization in the world closed it's doors and apologized for all the damage it caused the LGBT. So, the Faith will be forced to reconcile it’s thinking with science. I’ve seen the discussion go from “it’s something that can be changed” to “it can’t be changed, but you have to be celibate.” Not ideal, but it’s progress.
Backbiting is considered the biggest “sin” of all...not that I believe being gay is a sin. But I’m just saying... I know a lot of backbiting Bahai’s. And anyway, they’re not supposed to judge us.
This last one is tricky, but has to be pointed out. Baha’u’llah never condemned homosexuality. He condemned pederasty. It’s even annotated in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, that Shoghi Effendi later interpreted the one line on pederasty to mean all homosexuality. I know The Guardian is infallible, but I found solace in the fact that the manifestation of our day, condemned, very clearly certain behavior. But he only said one line that was clearly about pederasty, which was later interpreted differently.
The UHJ has basically said the only way we would be asked to leave The Faith is if we’re doing something extreme that embarrasses The Faith (like walking down the street in ass-less chaps, waving a vibrator, doing Meth and wearing an “I’m a Bahai” t-shirt.”)

To wrap this up, for me the Bahai Faith is the only religion that makes sense. The others are “my way, or the highway.” I’ve seen so many people, of every faith, give up on religion over this issue. But to me, The Bahai Faith’s belief in progressive revelation, and Baha’u’llah’s explanations of the meanings of the older religion’s seemingly contradictory teaching, make sense. He lays the framework for a new world of peace and unity. The major tenant about science and religion being in harmony, gives me hope that our baby religion will be more progressive in the future. And since I know God made me gay, he’s not going to judge me for it. (I gotta work on the back-biting though). :)

Anyway, those are my thoughts. To all of those struggling, just remember it’s human nature for people to judge, so they can feel superior and not look at their own lives. We are each a special, and beautiful, flower in the garden of humanity. God made us who we are. And God loves all of his creations. It’s that simple.

Wishing all my LGBT brothers and sisters peace, serenity and happiness.

Jeffrey Reddick

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