By Clayton Gibson
Whether it comes to “getting off” or “getting God,” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people know their stuff.
We have developed a highly sexualized and sex-positive gay culture and, at the same time, many LGBT people are deeply religious or deeply spiritual. The problem starts when we perceive these two aspects of LGBT life – sexuality and spirituality – as mutually exclusive.
It’s normal to have that misconception, and no one in particular is to blame. The renunciation of the body and its needs and desires goes back thousands of years in a number of world religions, based on a misunderstanding of human development; as if, in order to avoid attachment or pathology at the sexual level of development, one should deny that aspect of oneself.
The unfortunate result, however, is that many, if not most LGBT people, start their “out” lives thinking their sexuality is sinful – even if they do not believe in sin. The idea that gay sex is an abomination to Spirit is so deeply embedded in Western Judeo/Christian culture that often even people who do not identify as religious or spiritual will tell you how much God hates gay sex.
It’s not true, but most (not all) LGBTs still react to that internalized homophobia in one of two ways: assimilation or abdication.
Lots of LGBTs believe that we are OK just as we are and react against that internalized homophobia by fighting with all their might for LGBT inclusion in, or emulation of, traditional faith communities.
Others find it easier to ignore their spiritual sides altogether – to deny spirit as vehemently as they perceive spirit denying them.
The ideal solution is to create a queer culture that encourages spiritual as well as sexual pursuits, doing everything to rid ourselves and the rest of the world of the dangerous idea that gay sex is sinful so that we can develop to our full mental, social, physical, sexual and spiritual potential.
How? At MyOutSpirit.com, we encourage LGBT people to “Come Out Spiritually” by sharing their personal spiritual journeys, discovering what spiritual practices, from yoga to contemplative prayer, they’re interested in trying, and the “Big Questions” with which they still wrestle. (The most asked question is some version of, “How can I know God loves me even though I’m LGBT?”)
Making spirituality part of the conversation about LGBT identity helps normalize the idea that gay sex, queer people and gender diversity are good, so the easiest way to create change is to start talking about what you believe (or what you don’t believe) with your LGBT friends. Fear of conflict usually keeps religion out of bounds in polite conversation, so be gentle and understanding with each other.
Sexuality. Spirituality. It’s all supposed to feel good. It’s all supposed to be fun. It’s all supposed to free you, so don’t be afraid to go to the “Sex Spirit Circus.”