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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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Better to Live in Truth

I have written a letter that I have been planning in my head for 18 years. I was raised a Baha'i, raised that homosexuality was a spiritual disease. At 16 years old, when I looked across a room and felt those fluttery feelings for another young woman, such as I had never felt for my boyfriends, I knew instantly that I was gay. I also knew this was no disease, this was the pure truth of how I was created.

If souls have no gender, why would it matter if the relationship were with the same-sex or a different-sex, shouldn't it just matter that it is a GOOD relationship, full of love and respect and honesty?

In my younger years, I tried to be with men. I always ended up crying in the night...and cheating on them. It wasn't the right thing to do, but at least we didn't have marriage and children before I would realize I just couldn't do it. When you "cure" people of homosexuality, you often just bury it until it will be more hurtful. Even Exodus has figured that out! http://abcnews.go.com/US/exodus-international-gay-cure-group-leader-shutting-ministry/story?id=19446752

My mother kicked me out of the house at 17 for having a girlfriend. A girlfriend who at that point I had only kissed and held hands with, because I could tell this was something special. (How Baha'i of me!) I knew that at that age it was unlikely the girlfriend and I would stay together forever. But I wouldn't want to live under the roof of someone who would treat me with such discrimination. That girlfriend and I stayed together for a couple of years...a long time in teenage time...and today she is my veterinarian.

Baha'i are against discrimination, unless you are gay, of course. They aren't against you *being* gay, you should just do the right thing and be celibate for your whole life. Baha'i recognize that humans are in need of love, and human contact, and commitment. Gay people somehow either don't have those same basic needs, or don't deserve to have those needs met. It is bizarre how the religion that is so focused on human rights issues is so backward and oppressive on this human rights issue.

Bahai's are also all about unity...unless you are gay, of course. My mother treats my partner in a way that could best be described as shunning. And she certainly isn't invited to family events. I have tried to find a solution to this, even went with my mother to a Baha'i mediator. But she is not interested in even discussing a change in her behavior. So I had to make the very painful choice of letting my partner be treated badly and my son to witness that, or to tell me mother she couldn't be around my family until she could afford my partner a basic level of respectful politeness. I choose the later. I know it is the right thing to do, but it breaks my heart. I watch the spouses and children of my (straight) siblings be showered with affection from her. After spending more than half my life hoping for a change, I am trying to accept that she probably never will want to have unity with my wife and children.

Finding this website and seeing that I am not alone has been so comforting. Writing the letter to the NSA telling them that I don't want to be part of a religion that treats me as a second class citizen has been so empowering. I should have done it 18 years ago! Just as I hoped my mother would change, I hoped the faith would change as well. I hoped they would get with the times and be part of giant social change happening in the US, Europe, South Africa, and other places in recognizing that gay people deserve to get married just like everyone else.

I am ready to move forward with my adult life and heal the wounds made by the faith, and my Baha'i parents. At age 35, it's about time to do so. For myself, for my partner, for my son...I am so blessed to have such a sweet loving family. Any religion that cannot see that, cannot possibly be of God.

So I am going to do the right thing, and send this letter now. It feels so much better to live in truth.

 

Jesica

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