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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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We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

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

I'm not gay...

But I am no longer a practicing Baha'i. I declared in 1983. In about 2005 I had a close friend, who has since moved and with whom I have lost touch (sadly), who is a lesbian and the best, most amazing Baha'i I have ever known. She taught me so very much about the Faith — things I had not thought of nor been exposed to previously. But after she wrote, yet again, to the UHJ regarding her homosexuality and was told she could not be a Baha'i, I was done. She begged me to stay active in the Faith so that I could help facilitate change, but I just couldn't. I cannot be a part of something that treats someone as wonderful as she is, someone with a deep, abiding love for the Faith, for people, for justice, for equality, with such utter disregard for those wonderful qualities due to the way she was born. If we believe that God is perfect and does not make mistakes, then how on earth can we believe that people who are born gay are somehow a mistake or spiratiually deficient in any way? It is illogical. One of the main reasons I became a Baha'i was the concept that if science and religion are diametrically opposed, then the fact of the science must replace the belief of the religion. Have we not yet been provided sufficient scientific evidence that homosexuaility is not a choice but is genetic? Not something to be controlled, but something to be accepted, embraced and included. Until and unless the Faith changes it's stance on homosexuality, I will continue to be a non-practicing Baha'i and will tell anyone who asks exactly why. I love the Faith, but the Faith needs to love EVERYONE — again a reason I declared in the first place.

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”.

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.