I was raised a Bahai and truly believe that Baha'u'llah is the manifestation of God for our day and age. I am also gay.
I was fortunate, as strange as it sounds, to be bi-racial in a very racist part of the country growing up. So, hatred from others for who I was, happened all the time.
My mother used the Bahai writings to teach me to love myself for who I was. She said God made me exactly as I supposed to be. She also told me to pray for the ignorance of others. I was able to internalize these teaches to deal with my sexuality.
My mother adopted me late in life (she was 50), but she has always been forward thinking. I came out as a teenage. After some initial anguish, she accepted me. At first I was angry. I expected her to accept me right away. But I realized it took me some time to accept it, so I had to give my mother the the same leeway.
As an out gay man, I have served on LSA's and worked with youth groups. Am I bothered by the Bahai's official stance on homosexuality? Of course. But this is what I personally believe:
1) Just as it often takes us years to come out, it takes time for religion to evolve. Christianity has had 2,000 years to grapple with this issue. And while there are accepting branches of Christianity, it does not change the fact that the Bible, when quoted literally, condemns us to death. (Along with about everybody else, at some point.)
2) The Bahai Faith is the newest of the world religions and therefore has the most growing to do. The faith was, and is, so focused on gender and racial equality, that sexual orientation hasn't been addressed in any meaningful way. But as the science has changed, so has the faith. The official stance has moved from "it can be changed" to "we're expected to be celibate." Not equality, by any means...and not the acceptance that you might find in other religious denominations. But again, thousands of years vs hundreds...has to taken into account.
3) When I was a teenager, I met many members of ACT UP - who demanded gay equality now and would accept nothing less. Their passion and hard work helped our cause in many ways. But real change takes time. For instance, just because a tiny portion of America that actually votes, elected a bi-racial President, doesn't mean that racism is dead.
4) Prejudices often take generations to die out. I pray that isn't the case for the Faith. For me, The Bahai Faith is the only religion I have studied that makes sense to me. Again, I could find a Christian church that affirms me being gay. But that doesn't negate what their holy book preaches. Nor the fact that they believe that the followers of every other religion is going to hell. But I refuse to give up on religion. And again, I believe the Faith will someday grow into the fully unifying force it’s meant to be.
So, for me personally, I choose to stay an out, and open, member of The Bahai Faith.
If there are those that judge you, or gossip about you, they are breaking The Covenant. Scripture after scripture of Baha'u'llah's writings teach of his, and God's love for all of us. The Faith will eventually have to adapt. Too many people are leaving, or not becoming Bahai's, because of the interpretation on Baha'u'llah's one line about pedophilia.
This change won’t happen overnight....or soon enough for many. But it will happen eventually.
Until then, I wish all of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and straight allies, serenity and peace. Please know that no matter what the people say, God loves us, just as we are.
Editor's Note: This is another version of Jeffrey's previous story here, Being a Gay Baha'i - I have chosen to publish both versions, since they are somewhat different.