Gay Affirmative

gay-love2By Joe Perez

Today the war between homosexuality and religion rages on in the churches, mosques, and synagogues. Most conservative or orthodox or traditional religionists reject homosexual acts or the orientation itself as incompatible with ethical and righteous living. And worldwide these are the loudest voices and the most powerful and influential forces in society.

But things are changing surprisingly rapidly. In only a few decades gays and lesbians have made enormous strides towards social acceptability and won key rights and liberties. Governments in many nations recognize gay unions or marriages and attitudes have changed such that the sight of two men or two women kissing or holding hands in public does not arouse approbation.

Spiritual individualists (a.k.a. “nones” or the “spiritual, but not religious” types) tend to be more accepting of gay people because they have thrown off religions which they by and large view negatively. They have insisted upon being spiritually independent which gives them the freedom to choose their own attitude towards homosexuality rather than sheepishly obeying the dictates of church officials or fundamentalist doctrines. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your point-of-view.

But if you ask spiritual individualists for a rationale for their views, they are an incoherent and incohesive chorus. Some will tell you that discrimination against gays is wrong because it just feels uncompassionate or unloving or too judgmental. In other words, they root their disapproval of homophobes on their own individual feelings, whims. notions, and fancies. By and large, they don’t appeal to anything more substantial than their own conscience because they know better possibilities.

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Gay Love Is God’s Love

God-sistine-chapelBy Joe Perez

Don’t tell me you don’t believe in God and therefore you don’t need to care about spirituality. Spirituality, as Paul Tillich tells us, is about our ultimate concerns. And everyone has ultimate concerns. Joseph Campbell once said words to the effect that half the world thinks their religious metaphors are literal truths and totally real and the other half things their religious metaphors are literal falsehoods and therefore totally false.

In fact, Campbell’s postmodern view from the mountaintop which allows him to dismiss the errors of the religious and secular alike is its own kind of illusion:  a pretense that the capacity for tolerance and peace and understanding and the sort of high-level abstract thinking about mythology exists is totally real and universal, whereas in fact it exists only as an artifact of complex developmental systems in which the worldviews of the traditional religionists and atheists each play important and valuable roles in themselves, and not merely as false versions to Campbell’s higher consciousness to be deconstructed or condescendingly embraced merely as means to an end.

Premodern, modern, and postmodern views of God each have ways of understanding the value and dignity of Spirit and Gay Love as playing an important role in the Divine, however it is conceived — as a Tradition-based belief system, as a scientifically-based understanding of the general systems of evolution within Nature, or as a postmodern embrace of virtually irreducible diversity and plurality.

There are ways of embracing the essential truth behind the notion that Gay Love is God’s Love whatever your worldview and in a way that respects the integrity of that worldview as offering a genuine platform for enlightened or awakened consciousness. Maybe you will say Gay is a face of God, or maybe you will prefer to say that Homophilic self-immanence is a fundamental drive of all evolving things, or maybe you will say the same essential truth in a different formulation. Whatever the exact phrasing, Gay Love is God’s Love must be the gay liberation movement’s next great mantra.

Photo: Wikimedia

It’s Time To Mold New Grooves In The Vessels Of Consciousness

pottery-handsBy Joe Perez

(Originally posted on Aug. 25, 2013.)

Sometimes great enthusiasm builds up in me for the future of the international Gay Community when I work on this website.

Why? Because the LGBTQ rights revolution which is sweeping Europe and North America is in the midst of molding the destiny of the entire world… and the time may be coming at last for Spirituality to shape The Movement in what has been a cause lacking in the fervor of spirit.

It makes sense when you think about it. Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania, the Middle East: with a few notable exceptions like China and Russia, the rest of the world is much more religious than the much more secularized Europe. The religionists in huge parts of the world are more conservative even than the religionists in the U.S., where I live.

All this means that religion is a huge part of the challenge facing gay and bi men and everyone else seeking to live authentically themselves and love who they choose. And religion is also a source of identity, strength, and hope for many people, gay and bi men definitely included.

Our role must not be to swerve around religion and hope that everybody in the world becomes an atheist overnight in order to justify The Cause. God forbid. The world has seen enough of atheist ideologies which promised liberation and only delivered another tyranny.

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Going Into The Light

Photo Credit: Birrell Walsh

Photo Credit: Birrell Walsh

By Joe Perez

On the days before his death in 1991, Andre felt a distinct sense of foreboding and familiarity. The San Francisco man, a sound and light technician and rock musician, dismissed the feelings as nothing more than gloom and doom prophecy.

Andre and his lover Robert had been arguing and fighting bitterly. The drugs they had both been taking weren’t smoothing their communications. A longing struck Andre for real change in his life but he wondered if it was too now late.

Back in his apartment and alone, something weird started happening. Everything started getting dark. Not only dark, but also ominous and foreboding. Andre turned on all the lights, but his vision remained dim.

He was going out of his mind, he said. He felt a pain in his lower right gut and his head was humming. He heard loud voices around him, yelling at him, and he began to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Then, unexpectedly, three old friends dropped by in a car and took him on a trip to Guerneville. A rainstorm hit; Andre says he can still remember the sound of raindrops on the windshield. As the radio played songs, he intuitively seemed to know the next one that would play.

Andre noticed that his friends were not who they appeared to be. They were actually three beings with beautiful shiny eyes, and everyone talked without using their mouths. When they spoke, a heavenly scent came forth. They told Andre that he had died three days ago.

“What was the cause?” he asked.

“A ruptured appendix,” they replied. Then Andre remembered the pain in his side, and he thought that it felt great to be dead. The beings asked Andre if he knew where they were headed.

“Heaven?” he asked.

“Good, because that’s where we’re going,” they said. “Where is heaven?”

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Forging A New Both/And Approach To Our Lives

mark-thompsonBy Joe Perez

Mark Thompson in the “Introduction” to Gay Spirit (1986):

“In creating new myths for themselves, gay people need to return to the questions asked by the founding members of the Mattachine Society nearly forty years ago: Who are we? Where have we come from? What are we here for?

The self-definition sought by members of America’s first gay political organization is also to be found in the writings of such gay visionaries as Walt Whitman, Edward Carpenter, Gerald Heard and others who are included here. In an attempt to answer these questions, gay studies today have been polarized, stymied by the absolutes implied in the nature versus nurture discourse currently employed. To simplify: An essentialist view holds that gay people have existed throughout recorded human history, an errant offspring of nature; a constructivist view says that our notion of gay people has been formulated by the values of contemporary society and that it would be impossible to draw an analogy between homosexuality as practiced in ancient Greece and, for an example, as it is define today in America’s excessive gay subculture. Both concepts are largely irreconcilable, one trying to link feelings and behavior across vast stretches of time and variant cultures, the other destructuring modern perceptions of homosexuality as medical and psychological conceits.

The quest for a gay identity cannot be contained within a dialogue of opposites, a rational either/or approach. Perhaps answers lie somewhere in between, waiting to be forged from a synthesis of biological and social factors — that is, a situation of both/and….”

Thompson’s words, written incredibly more than 25 years ago — have been prophetic. His vision of an understanding of gay identity which is a synthesis of the best insights from biological, psychological, cultural, and sociological studies is definitely in keeping with an Integral approach to gay spirituality. He recognized before virtually any other writer that I know of the importance of bringing together seemingly irreconcilable views into a greater synthesis, and he saw that the great frontier of gay liberation is not oppression studies nor narcissistic self-expression but spiritual exploration and development. In his words, the great subject of our interest is “that most personal possession of all, our dreams… a world of our making.”

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