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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Gay Spirituality As A Universal Donor

donor-flowerBy Joe Perez

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.

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The Atheist’s Spirituality

atheistBy Joe Perez

“I think that truth should be found by open questioning, which religion inhibits.” “I became aware that religious teachings could not be rationally defended.” “The religious view of the world seems incredible to me.”

These are some of the reasons that members of the Gay and Lesbian Atheists and Humanists give for rejecting religion. According to the GALAH Web site, they are a group of people whose ethics are based on reason rather than ignorance, mythology, and fear.

Approximately six percent of all gays and lesbians are atheists, according to the 2003-2004 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census. Officially, the only belief required of the atheist is atheism, or disbelief in the existence of a deity or supernatural being. Unofficially, many atheists also espouse a wide range of positive, humanistic values.

GALAH, for instance, supports a variety of values beyond atheism. According to the organization’s Web site, they support the separation of church and state, equal rights for gays and lesbians, public education about atheism, and the creation of social environments where freethinkers can meet.

When I learned that six percent of gays are atheists, I was surprised that the number was so low. Perhaps more people would admit to being atheist except they fear social disapproval if they admit to disbelief in God.

Sadly, there are many ignorant people who wrongly associate atheism with moral depravity, Satanism, and devil worship. Atheists therefore frequently face intolerance and discrimination.

Atheists often insist that their beliefs are not a religion but freedom from religion and superstition. However, as I see it, there are actually a wide variety of atheistic perspectives. Sometimes atheism represents a positive, healthy step in the evolution of a person’s consciousness. And sometimes, it may not. That’s when atheism becomes as rigid and inflexible an ideology as the worst of religions.

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“Coming Out Spiritually” By Salvatore Sapienza

Sal Sapienza speaks on “coming out Sunday” at C3Exchange, an inclusive spiritual community.

Coming Out Spiritually from C3Exchange on Vimeo.

Daniel Helminiak: Gay Identity Is A Gateway

gate1Daniel Helminiak’s website summarizes the book Sex and the Sacred: Gay Identity and Spiritual Growth:
Sex and the Sacred: Gay Identity and Spiritual Growth shows how comfort with our sexual nature is essential to spiritual sensitivity. The “gay identity” in the subtitle does not limit the scope of this book. Rather, attention to homosexuality serves as a test case: show how gay sex can be profoundly spiritual and you highlight the spiritual dimension of all sex. Ordained a Catholic priest in Rome, and a theologian, psychotherapist, psychology professor at the University of West Georgia, and the author of the best-selling What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality, Daniel applies to sexuality his lifelong pursuit: an understanding of the human basis of spiritual growth. He relies on an analysis of consciousness—effected by Bernard Lonergan, SJ, “the Thomas Aquinas of the twentieth century”—to highlight a spiritual dimension in the human mind that finds expression through religion and is oriented toward God. According to Daniel, the harmonization of this dimension with the rest of one’s humanity—including sexuality—is the essence of spiritual integration. Matters of religion, ethics, God, and salvation follow as “grace builds on nature.” This book addresses a wide audience. Religious leaders of all denominations, elected officials, educators, counselors, members of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community, non-religious spiritual questers, and anyone interested in spirituality will find this book enlightening and uplifting. Daniel inspires us all to cherish our bodies as gateways to spiritual experience. When specifically addressing the LGBT community, he treats themes relevant to us all—such as sexual diversity, sexual self-acceptance, bonding and coupling, sexual ethics, spiritual seeking, and organized religion.

Read an excerpt from the book’s Preface.