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Struggles of a gay ex-bahai.

I was really inspired to write this story because of all the other comforting stories on here. I really hope my story helps someone else. Just as an FYI I am a gay man living in Canada :)

I was raised a Baha'i and taught Baha'i principles ever since I was born, always attending children's classes, feasts and other religious events but not in a strict way. My parents consider themselves Baha'i's but they barely pray, they drink alcohol, they rarely hold a feast in our house but they still go to other Baha'i events mostly because their friends are there. Also it should be noted that my parents never forced the religion on me, if I didn't want to pray or go to an event they wouldn't force me but they did encourage me as they thought it was what's best. Even at age 15 when a Baha'i signs their card and states that they want to “officially” be a Baha'i, my parents said nothing and told me it was completely my decision (I didn't sign my card which i am to this day very glad about lol). I have to say thought that being raised Baha'i was nice as i got to grow up in a community with other children and people, having fun and becoming more socialized so in a way i am grateful for that. it wasn't until I was older that I started feeling alienated.

An early example of this was with my hair. When I was younger I liked having longer hair but in the faith it is taught that men can't have hair longer than their earlobes which is stupid and a double standard. So I was constantly teased by other Baha'i kids. It didn't help that my interests were to things that aren't stereo-typically for boys such as female characters, art and so on. Coming to terms with my sexuality was also difficult, I knew that i was attracted to boys from a very early age but i also knew this was “wrong” so if anyone asked me If I was gay I would always deny it. I didn't think however that the Baha'i faith specifically outlined anything about homosexuality, I just thought it was something no one talks about and it should be kept hidden and to ones self. One year in my junior youth class, I was about 14, my friend asked the leader why it's wrong to be gay in the Baha'i community when the faith talks about unity and acceptance of everyone. The answer given was that a gay person should love Bahá'u'lláh and not someone of the same sex. This broke me, I left and cried all day. I felt so hurt and betrayed that a religion and belief system I was apart of and spent so much time with was saying that I was lesser than my peers because of who i love and am attracted to. It was also a slap in the face that essentially my peers could have their happy ending with their significant lover but I couldn't because it was with someone of the same sex. I kept thinking to myself, why do I have to stay single and lonely forever while people just like me get to live a happy life with the person they love. I felt as if I was being cheated and was having my life and future taken away from me. I somewhat pushed this aside.

In the coming years I tried to push my identity and beliefs together. I wanted to get married but I knew that was not allowed because in the Baha'i faith marriage is between a man and a women. So I told myself that I could have a boyfriend but we just could never get married. I also was interested in sex (like most teenagers) but sex is only for a married couple. I just settled at the fact that I would have to give up sex if I wanted to be a Baha'i and was content with that......for the time being.

In the years after I slowly pulled myself out of Baha'i events, one by one. The only events I would go to were feasts, celebrations and the “fun” events that had no prayers or conversations about religious writings. It wasn't until I went into university that I pulled myself from events altogether. Not only that but I gained the courage to take a stand against all the bullshit that I was being fed from day one. University was a turning point for me, I have become a different person, a stronger person. I was able to tell my parents how wrong they were and how their beliefs are flawed. I fueled all my feelings of isolation and discrimination into strength and motivation. I know that sounds really cliche but it's true hahah. I now tell people who assume i'm Baha'i that i'm not and that I don't support the religion whatsoever.

The only issue I have now is facing the people around me, my family and friends who are made up up mostly Bahai's. It hurts knowing that the people who say they love me still partake in beliefs that say i'm sick and lesser than them. Not many people stand up for me or say that the Baha'i writings on homosexuality are wrong and discriminatory, that includes my parents. It makes me angry that no one will side with me when I have brought so many arguments and evidence to the table to support my case. Is this too much to ask? I don't know since i'm looking at it through my perspective. All I want is some support and acknowledgement. I want people to face their prejudices and educate themselves. It's fascinating that in the Baha'i and Persian culture there is so much emphasis on education! but these same people that preach about how important education is don't want to be educated when it comes to topics such as gender, gender norms and sexual orientations etc.

Moral of the story is live your life for you! we're only going to get one life so stop living it for others. If the people you care about are going to let something like who you love get in the way of your relationship, ditch them. You don't need people like that! even if they are your family. I know that's obviously easier said than done but trust me on this one. You have to make sure that at the end of the day you are truly happy. It breaks my heart to see people in their 90's wishing they lived their lives authentically and regret all the choices they made. One of my favorite quotes comes from Mae West, She says “You only live once, but if you do it right once is enough”.

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