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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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                          Joan Didion, title essay, The White Album (1979)

What is the truth behind Baha'i laws on homosexuality.

Dear LBGT Bahai friends I'm so glad this site exists because it's an outlet for views that are hard to broach in public. I would describe myself as a happy Two -Spirit Baha'i, content with the teachings of the Faith on sexuality and with himself and my Baha'i identity. i also hope this can go forward to be read by other LGBT/ Two -Spirit people.

In this posting I would like to raise the possibility of accepting the Baha'i laws on sexuality as they stand because maybe we don't understand them fully at the moment. I know some might not like me saying that but I ask for tolerance at least to hear me out on this matter.

  1. Firstly there is trust in God – He knows exactly what LGBT people go through and have gone through, but somewhere in these teachings there is an inner truth, some benefit to us LGBT people. The concept of ‘crisis and victory’ plays a part here – what seems like calamity may turn out to be something very enlightened in the end! We have to trust that whatever teachings God sends us, that they are sent down from One whose wisdom surpasses our own and they are in our best interests, as any loving God would act towards His children.

  2. Secondly there is the truth – any unbiased observer will see that men and women naturally complement each other. They are meant to go together like two pieces of a jigsaw. Furthermore only men and women can create life, so therefore they should naturally rear life too. Marriage, sexual intercourse, child bearing, child rearing are all natural processes of men and women interacting with each other.

  3. I'm not gay anymore; I've healed myself through the teachings of the Bahai Faith; I thank the Bahais for showing me my true nature, for being able to understand a deeper view of myself. I'm a new creation. To me ‘gay’ is the old world view of human sexuality. In my opinion what comes closer to the truth is the native american concept of the Two Spirit.

  4. The Bahai teachings offer a new world vision of human sexuality, a deeper and truer concept of life and love. Central to Baha'i teachings is the concept of the equality of men and women. In fact the universe is replete with these two forces. God himself has ‘male’ and ‘female’ attributes. The concept of the equality of men and women is central to my own understanding of myself and human sexuality.

  5. What is natural and healthy is a balance between male and female forces; this is why same sex relations are discouraged in Baha'i teachings. However as the Faith suggests we all have the ability to achieve complementary relationships, because we all within us have male and female attributes. We need to find the balance between male and female attributes within ourselves first , then find a partner who complements those attributes.

  6. The Bahai Faith cannot equate a relationship between two men or two women as the same as that between a woman and a man. They are not the same, that between women and men is divinely ordained and natural giving rise to offspring naturally and is evenly balanced between the natural forces of female and male. It is the blue print for relationships and life to which all of us can try to get as close to as possible.

  7. The issue of sexuality in the Bahai Faith in my opinion is to first allow your male and female forces within you find their natural balance, then find a partner who complements that balance. EVERY TRUE RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE A BALANCE OF MALE AND FEMALE FORCES BOTH WITHIN INDIVIDUALS AND BETWEEN THEM, that is why I think the Native Americans had it right – we're not gay, lesbian, trans or bi – we're TWO-SPIRITED people; we're blessed with being able to see from male and female perspectives – something that we should be revered for by the population, just like the Native Americans revered such people.

  8. Some may find what I'm saying off the wall but I think the Bahai teachings are far from regressive but are in fact potentially revolutionary and far sighted and ahead of their time. When i was ‘gay’ I used to find that gay society was very masculine orientated – and traces of softness or femininity were scorned. It was also very sexualised and could be impersonal. I don't know about lesbian culture. This is why I say I'm no longer gay – gay makes me feel trapped and limited. Two -Spirit frees me from all the limitations of the gay world. It truly feels like I was handicapped when I think back to my days as a gay man in the gay society. It's certainly not enough now!! I need to spread my wings – both male and female wings :) – and fly!!

  9. With this new thinking in mind I can interact in the Bahai world with no problem. I don't find it unwelcoming, discriminatory or judgmental. You are free to love who you wish. because all love is good. Of course discussing sexual relationships is taboo in Bahai society whatever your sexuality – that is private and between you and God. Men and women don't discuss their sexual preferences in Bahai public life, nor do they snog etc etc. The only indication that they do have sexual relations is in the fact they are married and have children, that's all! i do love someone and i am loved by someone, we complement each other well, and by following the rules of the Faith we find no problem at all in interacting with Bahais.

  10. Having children belongs only to men and women because that is a natural product of sexual intercourse and to have children you must therefore have marriage- so marriage is limited only to men and women as a natural institution for procreation. The Bahai Faith could not condone same sex marriage and child rearing and then claim to be telling the truth because it wouldn't be natural to same sex couples to create children as it would be to mixed sex. Two Spirit people must be instead helpers to the family and support them in their child raising , help mates if you like. An extra pair of help hands. We can certainly be a very useful force in society as we were in Native American society.

Conflicted

I am one of those people they term late life lesbians. I have been through three marriages. I declared for the Baha'i Faith in 1996. At the time, I did not know I had a same sex orientation. After declaring, I was forced to marry a man I was living with by the local spiritual assembly. I was given a choice to either move out of his apartment (which I couldn't afford to do, or, marry him). We were best friends who were sharing a roof because my finances were shaky and I couldn't afford my own apartment. We were mostly platonic because there was no sexual spark between us. We would try sometimes, because we are taught in this society that men and women can't be just good friends, but, it never went anywhere. I was menopausal so could no longer get pregnant. The only time I have ever had any sexual spark towards a man was when I was able to get pregnant. Every other time I had been with a man, either I had endured our acts of intimacy or had to get drunk to get some minimal enjoyment.

About ten years after I became Baha'i and got married in a Baha'i ceremony I started taking part in a women's sexuality group. It was while I was studying women's sexuality that I realized that I was probably a lesbian. I wanted to know if this was true so I got on one of those internet lesbian dating sites. There I found a beautiful black woman (I am half Anglo half Native American) and we really hit it off. When I became active with her, I realized that I couldn't in good conscience remain a Baha'i. I resigned from the faith. We have been together for almost six years. We are a beautiful inter-racial couple, which is something that is promoted in the Baha'i Faith.

Even though I had resigned from the Faith I kept surreptitiously reading Baha'i I went from being an in-the-closet lesbian to being an in-the-closet Baha'i. It was crazy.

About four months ago I contacted a Baha'i friend and alternative medicine doctor because I have been very sick, and, the regular western doctors have not been very helpful. On that first phone call, she spoke a Baha'i prayer to me. The incense of the prayer was so beautiful that it sent me into tears. In the meantime, I and my partner were having relationship problems. I decided that it was best for me to be chaste because I seem to not be able to be in healthy relationships with either men or women. Thus, I decided to re-enroll in the Baha'i Faith since the impediment of being in an active lesbian relationship was no longer present.

After re-engaging the Faith, I started re-studying the writings on marriage. I fully agree that one shouldn't have sexual relationships outside of marriage. I agree with this law because of my own personal experiences. I re-read the marriage laws in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. There is not a single one I disagree with. I looked at the law against pederasty. I am in full agreement with that law. I, in particular, find great healing in the fact that Baha'u'llah promulgated that law, because I was sexually abused by both men and women as a child. The problem is that the law on pederasty was later broadly interpreted to include homosexual relationships. That is just insane. Pederasty and same sex relationships have nothing in common with each other. I know this because I was sexually abused as a child. And, my desire for women and not men has nothing to do with that childhood abuse. I was born lesbian. I was abused by both men and women. There is no reason why that abuse should have made me prefer to have intimate relations with women over men. To make the argument that men who are sexually abused as boys will grow up to be gay men is equally insane. Wouldn't it be more likely that sexual abuse from man to boy would make a boy grow up to hate same sex relationships? I can testify to that because of my own experience with childhood sexual abuse. As a child, I was raped both orally and anally, not vaginally. When you are a child, and people are putting their private parts in your mouth and anus it hurts like hell, because a child's jaws and anus are too small to handle adult sized private parts. This does not even bring in the emotional wounding that happens.

So, now, I am re-engaged in the Baha'i Faith, as a celibate lesbian. This is fine for me because my own inner wounding from childhood and young adult sexual abuse and rape makes it impossible for me to have healthy relationships with women or men because of the repeated abuse I have suffered most of my young life. I also grew up neglected and so my trust issues and ability to value family relationships is stunted and wounded. It is unfair of me to try to engage in familial and marital relationships when I am this way, and a Baha'i.

The interpreted laws as they stand though are unjust to same sex couples. I know many beautiful same sex couples and families who cannot become Baha'i unless they break up their relationships. This would be extremely cruel and oppressive. It is also extremely cruel and oppressive to prevent young gay men and lesbian women from being able to enter marriage with same sex partners. It is cruel to force them and their potential heterosexual partners into considering heterosexual marriages where intimacy is only possible if it is forced, or results with agreement only when the woman is fertile. I know this from personal experience.

For now, I will stay a member of the Baha'i Faith. I am Baha'i and a lesbian and I know that disengaging from the Faith would be wrong. What is right is for me to work for change within. Thus, I write this letter.

Gay and proud

I joined the Baha'i Faith in my early 20s, being attracted to its message of universal peace and justice. But I was repressing my own sexuality and looking to escape into religion. I dropped out a few years later after I overcame the shame of being gay and am now in my 40z happily married to my husband. As long as the Baha'i administration continues to hold retrograde views about homosexuality, it will never grow. People who believe in racial, religious, and gender equality are naturally drawn to accepting homosexuality as s natural form of human diversity. Besides the anti-gay stance, I also had other problems with the faith: 1) Why aren't women allowed on the UHJ? Because patriarchy still rears its ugly head. 2) It has a poor understanding of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other non-Abrahamic religions, often forcing them to fit into its worldview or progressive revelation. 3) It refuses to speak o ut about injustices that don't affect the Baha'i community — a very insular and self-absorbed culture. Specifically, the apartheid-like treatment of Palestinians under the Israeli government. I guess protecting their fancy Mt. Carmel monuments is more important than defending people living under humiliating prison-like conditions. 4) The notion of infallibility-- totally unscientific and creates a sheep-like mindset that discourages questioning, reasoning, and experiential knowledge.

I'm a much happier person now, having come to a place where I am true to myself and my heart. I sometimes go to Unitarian Universalist services and meetings for a spiritual community, and that is enough for me.