We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
Joan Didion, title essay, The White Album (1979)
I wanted to post here and share my perspective, as a straight male who grew up Baha'i, and left the faith in my mid-20's, primarily because of the incongruousness of the teachings on homosexuality.
It was extremely difficult for me at the time. It broke my heart.
Growing up, I always felt lost in a sea of chaos. I moved a lot. My family had difficulties. School was hard for me. My sanctuary as a teen and in my early 20's was the faith. I met some of the best people I've ever known through it's auspices, including some of my best friends to this day. Going to conferences, youth groups and other activities was like a salve to all that hurt. The Baha'is I've met have run the gamut, like people do, but the best of them were/are the best people I've ever known.
In my early 20's, much of my identity was tied up in being a Baha'i. It wasn't all good – I wasn't all that fond of the emphasis on administration and formalism. I struggled to understand why being intimate with a girl – even cuddling, kissing and holding hands – were somehow going to corrupt my soul. I wished it was more focused on activism and fellowship and less on giving to the fund, obedience, and a definition of “unity” which seemed to mean stifling creative thought. I had a few quibbles, but I felt like it was well worth it compared to the horrible inner turbulence I had felt before becoming a practicing Baha'i.
I told myself that my quibbles were obviously just my human limitations. That it would be prideful of me to think I could possibly understand all that divinity. That's the response I had been taught to internalize.
What broke it for me was the issue of homosexuality in the faith. I am not gay. I didn't have any close friends or family members who are. It doesn't matter – the thought of telling people that they are born spiritually afflicted is repellant to me. My Dad converted to the faith in his teens precisely because he was disgusted with the Catholic teaching of “original sin”. This is far worse. It singles out a marginalized group of people, and tells them that the way they are born is a spiritual handicap. That is NOT the religion of universal love and unity that I thought I believed in, until I learned more.
At first, I hated myself for doubting. Over time, I started hating my religion. I doubt I ever would have entertained the bigoted notion that homosexuality was wrong, except I was lied to. By the one entity I was straightjacketed into not questioning. My religion, my very relationship with God, was broken.
The religion itself refused to allow any leeway – infallible, not subject to interpretation, absolute. Monolithic. Sterile.
Unfortunately, nothing has ever really filled the void. I no longer even believe in God, per se. I've thought about Buddhism, but have no idea where I could start, or if it would be a good fit.
I just wanted to share. My main point that I wanted to get across is that the current state of affairs not only disadvantages and harms gay, bi, and trans people, but also straight allies as well. Massive amounts of guilt and inner turmoil were experienced by me because of this one teaching. Either I felt horrible for daring to question God's messenger for this day and age, or I felt horrible for, well, being a bigot. At best, a passive weight on the side of persecution.
The only possible solution for me – the only one allowed by my religion – was to leave. So, I did. I refuse to be told – forced to stomach – the thought that gay people are unnatural, aberrant, against nature, ect. It's simply bullshit.
I truly wish it didn't have to be this way. The Baha'i Faith – Baha'i people- have so much potential to do good in a world that desperately needs them.
My love to all. Thank you for reading
Allah'u'Abha. I'm not so good in English, excuse me. I'm a young virgin lesbian from Eastern Europe, and I'm in love with baha'i woman for 6 years. We're still serving in one administrative organ, and it may be changed soon. She always said me, that she's asexual and the kind of love I offer to her is unacceptable to her. I was patient and hopeful and continued to love her. This love conveyed me to the Faith. Abdul-Baha says – “Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time”. It's about me. And I was happy with my beloved woman. I achieved her love – kisses, embraces, a several nights when we lay nearby embracing. I even caressed her breasts and she allowed this… I've never seen her naked. We often embraced on bahai meetings and it was wrong for all. Why not somebody who didn't like this conduct asked us why we're embracing? Truthfulness is a foundation, but I would reply that she comforts me in case of life difficulties – it would be truth. Why not somebody who didn't like this conduct asked us to stop public embraces because it can bring damage to our beloved Faith?.. What was happened instead of this? – backbiting. They discussed the situation without me. They added details which never took place. They separated me from communication with beloved. They say, bahais of several countries are in shame because of this story. They told Counsellor about the situation. I told lies to Counsellor – that we're just friends. Three SA members doesn't communicate with me. A week remaines befone the Nat.Convention. What shall I do? I'm in fear. I'm in lies. I want stay a baha'i forever. I don't want to lose friends! I want continue to guide a child.class, a circle. I want to serve even more than I served. I can't leave here my contacts. I believe in unity of mankind! I ask for justice. I hurt myself with razor. I cannot eat. I cannot sleep. And even pray. I strongly need your help!!! Bahaullah wanted us to love all humanity. So why the community allows backbiting and stops our core activities by the separation from she with whom I served together? THIS is a real harm to the Faith, not my conduct!!!
For the past 4 years I've been struggling with all these questions:
Do I follow the Baha'i law of chastity, or fully embrace my sexuality as a lesbian?
Do I look to the Holy Books for answers, or find them in my own heart?
Do I focus on following the Manifestation, or manifesting my own spark of Divinity?
Do I 'turn away from the world of matter', or dive right into all that it has to offer?
Do I try to transcend my emotions, or concentrate on feeling them fully and finding gifts in them?
Do I learn to be happy in prison, or concentrate on breaking out?
Do I stay in the safe, secure job, or take a crazy leap of faith to follow a dream?
Do I 'give myself away', or 'fill my own cup first?
Why does doing the 'wrong' things feel so right?
With the help of some wonderful friends, I've been starting to let myself believe that I have the power to create my own reality, but still feeling guilty about it a lot of the time. I've been flipping back and forth between 'I'd have been a Baha'i if I wasn't a lesbian' and 'I'd have been a lesbian if I wasn't a Baha'i' and then fooling myself that I could have it both ways. But it wasn't until I read this article by Andrrea Hess that I realised I was actually sabotaging myself by trying to follow two opposing paths at once:
I found it hugely helpful, not only for thinking about money, but also sexuality and desire...
also - I may have mentioned it before but I love love love the My Silent Half blog: http://wordpress.com/mysilenthalf
It is by a pastor from the American Midwest who came out as a lesbian and moved 800 miles across the country to be with the woman she loved - she writes so powerfully about love, sexuality and faith...
Yours in solidarity, love and hope,