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

The Practice Of Homophilia


Homo- means same, and philia means love. Homophilia is literally love of the same. It applies to the love of same-sex couples, one for the other; more generally, it applies to any form of same-directed love.

Hetero– means other, and philia means love. Heterophilia is literally love of the same. It applies to the love of opposite-sex couples, one for the other; more generally, it applies to any form of other-directed love.

Bi– carries the meaning of two, and philia means love. Biphilia is literally love of two. In the case of sexual orientation, it means the love of both sexes; more generally, it applies to any form of love manifesting in two directions.

The practice of Homophilia is the practice of Love, seen from a gay perspective. Gays and lesbians teach us through the way they love about the practice of Homophilia.

The practice of Heterophilia is the practice of Love, seen from a straight perspective. Heterosexuals teach us through the way they love about the practice of Heterophilia.

The practice of Biphilia is the practice of Love, seen from a bi perspective. Bisexuals teach us through the way they love about the practice of Biphilia.

Love (philia) is the essence of the world we live in together and co-evolve. It is the essence of the real, not merely an emotion.

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Becoming The Change

mahatma-gandhi-colorBy Joe Perez

The success of queer activism in recent decades has been limited because it has been motivated by desperation, pain, and anger. Furthermore, such activism has frequently been harmful to both straights and queers, claims writer and activist Ko Imani.

Imani describes a vision for the future of queer activism in Shirt of Flame: The Secret Gay Art of War (Goko Media, 2003). Imani’s book is a manifesto for a new breed of queer activism, one grounded in spirituality, committed to non-violent principles and personal integrity, and supported by community.

Imani praises queer activists who have been models of courage and who have refused to cower in silence and shame. Yet he argues that their legacy is mixed. A significant portion of the heterosexual population “bears attitudinal scars” as a result of aggressive forms of queer activism.

For example, Imani cites a 2002 BeliefNet survey on attitudes towards homosexuality. The survey asked people why they think fewer people are speaking out against homosexuality. Twenty-three percent said that the reason is that people have changed their views and do not want to speak out against homosexuality. However, 46 percent said that people feel threatened by gay rights groups or by expectations of political correctness.

If the results of this survey are valid, then activists have good reason to worry about the effectiveness of their methods. People still harbor antigay fears and beliefs, but they have become more reluctant to express themselves because they feel intimidated. Repressing antigay feelings won’t produce a truly more favorable climate for gays; instead, it only pushes homophobia beneath the surface where it’s even harder to deal with.

If tactics of intimidation aren’t an effective approach for activists, what’s the alternative? Imani says love is the answer. He’s not merely offering New Age platitudes, but a discipline that sees the transformation of individuals and society as inextricably linked.

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What Do Gay Men Offer The Future Of Spirituality?

adeptIn “The Gay Man as Spiritual Adept”, published on BeliefNet, Toby Johnson examines the nature of Gay Spirituality:

“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 institutionalized religion. Yet this spiritual enlightenment is there for us, if only we open our eyes.

Gay enlightenment comes, in part, from seeing the world from the perspective of an outsider. It comes also from bringing a different, less polarized, set of assumptions to the process of observing the world. And it comes, for most of us, from not being parents and thus not being caught up in rearing offspring and holding expectations for their lives. The various forms of what is called “gay spirituality” arise from–and facilitate–this enlightened stance. From this position, it is possible to understand what religion is really about in the “big picture.”

Because gay people are conditioned to step outside the assumptions of society to see sexuality in a more expansive way, we are blessed–and sometimes cursed–with this vanguard vision. If we can deal with this vision successfully, we can assist everybody in understanding the real message of religion.

In fact, it is by our issues that religious people are being tested on the real message of their faith: Do they obey the commandment to love their neighbor or do they give in to prejudice and homophobia? Can religious mentality keep up with cultural change?

It is in regard to our issues that the churches give themselves away. By appealing to homophobia, based in an outmoded view of human nature, instead of helping to cure it for everybody’s good, they show their failure to abide by the basic teachings they proclaim about love and compassion, they exemplify their inability to cope with the modern world, and they demonstrate (to us, at least) that they are not being led by divine guidance.”

Read more at BeliefNet.

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc