Browsing the archives for the Bullying tag

Is Gay Spirituality Better…?

Robert V. Taylor

Robert V. Taylor

“Gay spirituality is better than any other” – the reporter desperately wanted me to endorse his belief.  I wasn’t going there. Righteous spiritual segregation is antithetical to the idea of a spiritual journey. So where does spirituality
for LGBTQ people connect with the human family and the Holy?

Our normative story usually includes experiencing bullying, fear of coming out, rejection by family when we do, the Holy used by religion to condemn.  We
might even be the victims of violence or discrimination. Our journey also
contains another story line. It is about courage and love birthed in us.

A more spacious invitation than the reporter’s belief invites us in. Spirituality in not about a theory, it is discovered in the reality of who we are. I’ve discovered that in the spiritual journey of immigrants, women, people of color and other minorities my own journey is inspired. Many of us fall into several self identifying categories.

The question is not whether your spirituality or mine is “better.”  It’s how does your journey create empathy with others?  How does your spirituality get fed by the
wisdom of those who are different from you? How does it connect you to oneness
with others?

Unlike the belief of that reporter my spirituality is not celebrated as a “better” treasure. I discover a much richer inclusive path in three pathways to celebrate and share the gift that is my life.

Whoever and whatever tries to define you wants to confine you. It creates an enclosure keeping you from the Holy discovered in your life. In accepting an enclosure you become cut-off from the unique gifts that only you have to offer.
You deprive yourself and the world of them. Allowing yourself to be enclosed can happen subtly over time. The good news is that we have a choice to break out of the enclosure.

When we discover our voice and claim it as an LGBTQ person we are on sacred ground. Instead of listening to the bad advice of those who do not want you to claim your voice, you discover that in the Holy is present in it. Not outside “there” somewhere, but in you.  You begin to be free of a narrow consciousness. Claiming your voice is a spiritual practice taking you to a field of feasting with others.

The Universe needs your story as much as that of anyone else. As you tell your story you discover self-compassion. In the telling you become awake to the sacred in you as an LGBTQ person. As you settle in and celebrate your voice you begin to listen to the stories and voices of others with new attentiveness. They become connecting stories. Through them your appreciation and love for yourself and others deepens. You discover a new way of being alive.

These three pathways of moving beyond enclosures, discovering and trusting your voice and connecting stories are markers of your authentic experience of being gay.

Love is the only thing that matters on our spiritual quest. Everything else pales in comparison. I am loved by the Holy for all of who I am. It’s a struggle for many to know and believe it every day. When I love myself and know that I am loved life becomes more radiant. I become more fully human, more alive as I am.

It takes courage to journey through the three pathways. The root word for courage means love. To be grounded in love we cannot avoid being courageous about who we are. Not the lonely isolated warrior courage, but the courage discovered in trusted people to call on along the journey. It’s all part of our spiritual positioning system.

When I’m grounded in these three pathways my encounters with others become sacred ground. Like the Hindu greeting Namaste the light me honors the light in you.

The three pathways are not just for GLBTQ people. Love and courage are not confined to GLBTQ spirituality. They’re each part of our common journey to become fully human –  as we are. We bring to the journey the only gift we can – ourselves.

So what are the markers of your spirituality?

Share your comments below

Read or post comments

Beyond Religious Bigotry?

 
 

Robert V. Taylor

Fear of the “other” and its cousin of hatred  are powerful emotions.  The energy they consume keep us from being fully alive.  Exclusion in the Name of God has been the experience of many, including women, people of color and those who are gay or lesbian.  Mitchell Gold founded Faith In America to respond to religiously driven bigotry against LGBT people.  Robert V. Taylor and Mitchell Gold talk about this work.

RVT: Faith in America was your idea.  Was there a defining moment that made you think about creating Faith in America

MG: About 5 years ago I realized the LGBT advocacy groups were afraid or uncomfortable talking about religion based bigotry.  That is the #1 reason the LGBT community does not have full and equal rights in America.  So, someone had to do it.

RVT: In your own life, how did your religious experiences shape your thinking about being a  gay spiritual person of great worth? 

MG: Actually not very much.  I was brought up as a Reform Jew and consequently homosexuality was not discussed in synagogue at the time.  But in a different way, when I observed how some Christians (like Jerry Falwell or George Wallace) would use their religious teachings to justify why they did not want people of color or woman to have equality in America that had a profound impact on me.  I thought it was just horrible.

RVT: You say that churches are indirectly responsible for killing about 500 gay and lesbian youth each year because of misguided religious values.  You add that religious organizations maim the souls of thousands.  How do you engage the religious organizations that you believe are responsible for this? 

MG: I encourage people to be understanding of where those misguided religious values are coming from as difficult as that can be.  We need to speak clearly, honestly and patiently.  And make no mistake about it, we must speak up.

 

Mitchell Gold

RVT: As an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa I discovered the way in which scripture was used to justify apartheid.  I later realized that the God and texts that I loved were being hijacked to justify subtle and not so subtle homophobia.   How does Faith in America respond to religious texts used to promote hatred and exclusion?  

MG: We don’t get into theological discussions but rather point out how in different times in history, like the ones you cite, scripture was used to cause great harm.  History is the arbiter of the harm and pain that has been caused and we hope that as people understand it better, they will stop.  The most recent California ruling pointed out how those against marriage equality for gays and lesbians did so purely on religious grounds, and that is unconstitutional.  History repeats itself again.

RVT: You and I were present with Chely Wright, the Country and Western singer, days before she came out as a lesbian.  Chely’s story is one of courage and integrity about who she is as a spiritual person.  Truth telling and personal stories are powerful.  How does Faith in America connect the dots between religious messages and personal coming out stories for young people? 

MG: We connect the dots by talking about them.  This is really not all that complicated!  The reality is that there are certain hard core people who are extremely difficult to change.  I believe they use their religious teachings to place themselves in a superior position to others.  They live a life of fear.  But there is a much larger swath of America that as they recognize the harm they have caused either by condemning LGBT people or by being complicit by watching the harm caused and not having the courage to stand up and talk about it, these moveable middle Americans do change when they hear people talk about who they really are.

Robert V. Taylor, Mitchell Gold & Tim Gold

MG: I realize that everyday there are young, vulnerable kids who are just starting to recognize they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  It’s a frightening time….a crisis for hundreds of thousands of them.  More often than not, they do not have someone to talk to.  I know what it feels like and I don’t want one more kid to go through what I went through as an 11 year old.  History has clearly shown it is wrong to use religious teachings to justify discrimination to minority groups.  It is idiotic to have it continue today.  Not another moment should go by where people are harmed in the name of religious teachings!

RVT: What is your greatest concern about ending religious intolerance towards LGBT people? 

MG: I have no concern about it!  It will be a wonderful time.

RVT: Talk about your hope for the full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT people in the years ahead? 

MG: The great news is that you almost never hear of people who are accepting of LGBT people changing and becoming unaccepting.  All the numbers keep moving in favor of fairness and equality.  People who are transformed and lift the bigotry from their shoulders rarely turn back.  It’s very hopeful.

RVT: Are there spiritual passages that nourish you or remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing to end hatred?  

MG:  Actually no.  My real nourishment comes from the letters and emails I get from people who have been transformed to be loving and accepting of LGBT people, from kids who write and tell me CRISIS was an enormous help in their journey and from people like Chely Wright who contacted me after reading CRISIS to tell me how it helped get her on a healthy path to love herself for who she is.

 Share you stories of responding to bigotry or spiritual inclusion here

Exclusion in the Name of God – or inclusion?  Join Robert’s YouTube conversation here

Read Robert’s Blog: Chely Wright: Contagious Courage

Read Mitchell Gold’s Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America – click here or visit the Resource Page

Read or post comments