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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)

Resigned (but not resigned)


I'm resigned to the fact that I can not see a bridge back to The Faith for me. Still, I haven't resigned formally. I just drifted away...
I am a second generation Baha'i, now lapsed, but always haunted. At 42 I've been away from the Baha'i teachings for 17 years. It's just a natural progression for me, nothing I could stop. It was slow and gradual and ultimately complete. I still think of my dear departed mother, who was such a lover of Baha'u'llah. I remember my passionate love and aching for Baha'u'llah as a youth. I don't know what to do with those remembrances other than resign to the reality of what is: in my heart, I have no connection with the Baha'i world. even though The Faith was pivotal in informing my world view, my primary education, my youth. It helped my large and complicated family cope with adversity. It set me ablaze after I left home and was exploring the world on my own for the first time. A few years later it had become too big an inner conflict, since I couldn't stop wanting to be loved and to love - another man.
I now find it hard to not regard any religiosity as naive and silly, dismissible - even though I try to remain respectful. I'm totally lost in this world, trying, flailing in my attempts to make it through life with a sense of well-being, with a spouse. At 42 I've not found that spouse. I wonder if I'm psychologically set up to fail in love because of my experience being a Baha'i. I know I'm turning my back against "God" and so in a sense "He's" not on my side. I'm alone in the darkness. And I don't believe there really is any more "LIGHT" than I myself can see - in a world tearing itself apart with dysfunction and peril and relentless human frailty.
I went out and got drunk tonight. I'm trying to bounce back from another relationship that didn't work out. Down but not beaten. Arrrrr!!!
Thanks for reading. What a great project this is. It's important.

Roger

New Zealand Lesbian story



I have always been different... Whisperings in the nether regions of consciousness. I am Lesbian. In the bell shaped curve of intimate preference I am Lesbian. I am not a covenant breaker.
The faith for me was wonderful for 17 years.. during this time I was happy socially but miserable personally. I read everything and practiced well. I tried to do the heterosexual thing but it did not work well. I do not like the feel of men. It doesn't work. I have a soft personality that gets 'run over' by even the most well meaning of men.
I am Lesbian and to get here I have had to come through some major re-organising of my life. Firstly homophobia in myself, feeling of self disgust and shyness in the lesbian community... then I have had to leave my faith which was just as big as the former experience. You see to leave the faith.. one is leaving the covenant and this means I am out in the cold.. out in amongst the evil of the world. Do not think light of my experiences they make me shiver to understand the turmoil of choosing a womyn as a partner in the faith.
My partner fit..all the Abdul'baha's teachings..She still is a wonderful person some 14 years later...I was in love for the first time in my life at 38 years old.. I finally understood love..I wrote one letter to the LSA a copy to the Person for the protection of the faith and the NSA... I am an honest person. I wanted the faith to see how lovely my relationship was. I was hoping to get a letter that said well ..sort of yes we see you are happy ...we don't agree but be happy anyway and just continue in the faith.
I got a letter that took my voting rights away and condemned me to an unprotected life...it insinuated that my life would be full disaster. It warned me that my actions if I continued would be disastrous.
I was very hurt and angry and walked away from all faiths spitting tacks and reasoning out that if the faith of unity of diversity did not include me as Lesbian and if God made me then there is something seriously wrong with the faith or there is not God.
Fourteen years to get over the anger the pain and the betrayal of it all...I have no Baha'i friends left. All those life long buddies left within the first 3 months of the letter. I went to a public baha'i meeting 9 years later and all I could do was cry..silly me. I am faced with no faith at this point knowing that I was a spiritual person..I tried Buddhism.
Currently..I have been going to a Christian church... which is fine... but with this has come a clear recognition that I am Baha'i. A Lesbian Baha'i. I need to have the faith in some form in my life. (Is this acceptable unto God ...am I a covenant breaker...how can I make this work??? and be honest) Funny thing is that if the faith included Gays then my Partner and I would be in boots and all.. She too is tuning into the principles and consciousness the faith is.
You see if you take human ability to give or speak or create comfort away from humans ..you take away that which makes us Human.
It is the same with spirituality. I have to find it somewhere as it is built into my human make up. The strange thing is..which like some many other dilemmas I have around the faith and being Lesbian is that... we are meant to uphold diversity and here the faith has taken away a basic human right to spirituality and dehumanised me in the process as well as destroying the virtue of diverse inclusion it so strongly advocates.
It is painful still to write.. I am amazed at the emotions this has taken to write this... Please if you are in power in the faith consider the humanitarian implications to being excluded from the Baha'i faith. We are one section of the global community the Male scribes of the faith left out. Is this Unity and Diverstiy.. All we are is love

Anonymous

Grieving for the Community I Knew

I am a gay woman, and believe me, the realisation that I was gay wasn't a pleasant one. When I was a teenager I wanted to be happy in the way I thought the Teachings said would make me happiest. I sobbed and repressed with every ounce of energy I had my desire for other women and focused myself on men.

No matter what I did, how many times I cut myself for "bad thoughts" or having "bad" dreams, no matter how hard I prayed and begged God for help, I couldn't make myself stop. I wanted so badly to want a boy, but the first time I kissed another woman, it felt very right. I'd made myself kiss boys, even sleep with them to prove to myself that I could enjoy heterosexual sex and it was alright... but just kissing another woman, just holding her was something else entirely. I felt disconnected with men, like I was made of paper and I felt nothing but a discomfort and "ugh" feeling inside no matter how considerate they were, but with another woman I felt whole and fulfilled.

I stayed in the closet until I was eighteen. Then I tried again to date a man. He was a gay man who was struggling with the same issues as me. We did everything we could to make it work, but the fact was that we were both trying to be something we weren't. When I told my Baha'i parents what I was, they told me that I didn't know what I was and that I should just try harder. To say that it was crushing cannot encapsulate how I felt. I'd tried since I was eleven years old. I have scars up and down the insides of my legs, I prayed for hours, I tried all the methods in the books you can buy. Name it, I've tried it, and it nearly killed me.

I tried to committ suicide two months ago because I was so full of self-hatred. If it were true that we could overcome this with prayers, I would be a saint by now. I did everything humanly possible, and in the end, looking into my girlfriend's eyes and kissing her mouth feels as right to me as praying to God for wisdom and purity.

I haven't been back to my Baha'i community because I know they would never accept me. I miss the community I once had, but I can't pretend that I'm straight. My community welcomed the birth of a child to an unwed young teenaged Baha'i (as they should have!) with love and welcoming, but the way they talked about homosexuals lets me know everything I need to know.

But I'm sure the community would rather I succeeded in my suicide attempt than if I found a woman who loved me in return. I regretfully will not attend services and will let myself be classified as "inactive". They wouldn't care about the years and years of suffering, self-hatred and pain I've experienced, because according to their minds any love I have that makes me feel that life is worth living is dirty and disgusting.

I wish bitterly I were straight. I would do anything if it would magically happen, but I've come to accept that it won't happen because there's something wrong with them--not with me. I have to let what I know inside to guide me, and the 'right'-ness I feel when I look into my girlfriend's eyes or hold her hand lets me know that I won't be able to return to a community who would have never accepted me in the first place if they knew what I was from Day One. Is that love? No.

a lonely tree