Perhaps the phrase “gay spirituality” seems odd to you, as if there should be just one spirituality for everyone. It is an imperfect phrase, but it points to an important and neglected fact: gay people and straight people love in different ways and how we love is very important to our spiritual life. Indeed, in Christianity and other religions, it is said that God is Love. So how can it be that there is such a fundamental difference as straight/gay and this would be irrelevant for the spiritual life? It seems almost self-evident that there is something distinctive about how gay people love that gives them/us a unique perspective on Love.
One doesn’t need to look too far beyond common sense and self-evident principles in order to discover what is special about gay love that sets it apart from straight love. Simply put, it is same-directed instead of opposite-directed. There are same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. There is homophilia (same-love) and heterophilia (other-love). This is true for gay men and for lesbians, and true for bisexuals at least part of the time. And so the phrase “gay spirituality” could mean nothing more than recognizing the fact that gay people love in gay ways and straight people love in straight ways, and the unique way of loving reveals different aspects of spirit/reality. The life lessons learned by a man loving a man in his primary relationship and a man loving a woman in his primary relationship are inevitably different. These differences are important, and recognizing a distinctive gay spirituality speaks to the differences.
Perhaps you’ve heard this explanation before regarding homophilia/heterophilia. Is there anything new in what I am saying? Perhaps it is just a recapitulation, but if there is something I want to add that you might not have heard before it is this: It is important to own that “gay spirituality” is about the way we love and the way we are sexual beings (loving and sexing as it were). There are bells and whistles for sure, but they will vary from tradition to tradition. Some will want to add a New Age flavor and stress queer archetypes or wicca or tantra, others will want to stress gay saints and sages and mystics and their contributions, others will prefer philosophical or aesthetic views of human nature and purpose. There is truth in all of these, so long as one doesn’t make the mistake and claim that only one tradition has an exclusive lock on truth.
But their teachings do not speak to the gay/lesbian/bisexual population catholic. They do not have the universal applicability to offer ideas or teachings that qualify as definitive for “gay spirituality”. Only a teaching about love and sex, and only a teaching which points to the difference between homo-love and homo-sex and hetero-love and hetero-sex speaks to everyone and is translatable into many languages, cultures, and religions. As you probably know, the core teaching of “gay spirituality” as I see it is that Homophilia and Heterophilia are the Two Prime Directions of Love, and Love is the essence of spirit/reality. There is a Jewish version of this. There is a Christian version of this. There is an Islamic version of this. There are Hindu and Buddhist and Sikh and Baha’i versions. There is a secular humanist version too, if its agnosticism isn’t held too strongly but is open towards a higher power. Gay Spirituality as I see it is a sort of “universal donor”, offering pointing-out-instructions that can be useful to anyone regardless of their spiritual tradition.
The intuition that Gay Love is one of the Two Directions of Love and therefore one of the Two Prime Paths of Spirit is profound and life-altering. I spent <a href=”http://www.shambhala.com/soulfully-gay.html”>an entire book</a> not just explaining but showing how it changed my life forever. The intuition is at the center of visions of human nature (called philosophical or theological anthropologies), marking a distinction arguably more primordial even than the distinction between masculine and feminine. I think our sexes (usually male or female) tell us about what is loving, how we translate ideas about God into our nature, but our sexual orientations tell us about the purpose of loving, how we transform our natures into something beyond how we take ourselves to be. The notion that gay sexing is one of the Two Prime Paths of Sexing is also revolutionary — striking in its simplicity and obviousness but at the same time formidable and elegant in its capacity for showing the world in a new prism.
Thousands of books have been written and countless courses been taught about spirituality from a straight person’s point-of-view. It is our time now, in the LGBT community, to show how our differences are important not just for ourselves but for everyone because they highlight universal features of humanity. Gay Spirituality is one of the Two Prime Paths of Spirit in every spiritual tradition — Wow. We have important lessons to learn for ourselves and teach the world about the purpose of human life and Spirit’s activity in the world, so let’s get to it.