Toby Johnson: Gay Spirituality

Posted by Censor Librorum on Nov 16, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I received this bit of writing via an email message from the gay and lesbian group at St. Francis Xavier Church about a year ago in preparation for their weekly discussion. The theme was: “Search for Spirituality.” I thought it was worth printing out and keeping for inspiration. Yesterday, as I was feeling depressed over the bishops’ pastoral on gays, I decided to share it here to help me get out of my doldrums. By doing something positive I hope to counterbalance my feelings of hopelessness and futility over the bishops’ statement.

“There is an enlightenment that goes with being gay, an understanding of the real meaning and message of religion. Not all gay people avail themselves of this enlightenment. Some are blinded to it by momentary attractions of the flesh and the glamour of a liberated gay life. Some are blinded by the guilt and confusion instilled in them by a homophobic society. And some are blinded by the misinformation perpetuated by organized religion. Yet this spiritual enlightenment is there for us, if only we open our eyes.

The conflict between church teachings and the reality of gay feelings can create a spiritual crisis that causes homosexuals to reevaluate religion and the meaning of their lives. This spiritual crisis leads some people to reject their religious/spiritual sensitivities, often out of indignation at the blindness and stupidity of conventional religion.

While this may be an act of spiritual integrity, it can cost these people an important part of life. After all, spirituality can offer a vision of hope and meaning in a world that sometimes appears to be a hopeless miasma of pain and suffering. At its best, spirituality bestows vision and love of life. It widens our perspective. It sensitizes us to beauty and vitality–the very things at which the gay person excels.

Many, however, reject neither their religiousness–their will to be good, kind, and honest and their interest in spiritual matters–nor their homosexuality and their enjoyment of the adventure of being gay.

The proposition is that gay spirituality (in contrast to, though not in conflict with, “straight spirituality”) is:

1) Experienced from an outside perspective
2) Nondualistic
3) Incarnational (sex-positive and not other-worldly)
4) Evolutionary (and, therefore, challenging to the status quo of traditional religion)
5) Insight-provoking
6) Transformational
7) Adaptively virtuous

As a consequence, we as gay persons have a special role to play in the evolution of consciousness. We are playing it through the various incarnations of the “Gay Spirituality Movement,” and, whether we like it or not, by our very existence as self-identified gay people.

The point of all spirituality is to alter our attitude so we live in “heaven” now, that is, in a state of loving acceptance of life and active good will for others. In our homosexuality itself is our experience of “God.”

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