Sean is a gay third generation Baha’i who has been with his partner for ten years. He kindly agreed to give an interview about his experiences to God Made the Rainbow. This is the first part of a three part interview.
Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in a very progressive Baha’i household. Both of my parents were active in the Peace Movement and psychedelic music scene in Baltimore, Maryland, and southern California in the late 1960s. I would not consider my parents “Hippies” since they didn’t fit the stereotype of tripping out, living in communes, and love-ins, but they were in pursuit of a new way of life in the turmoil of their generation. My parents knew there was a path that would unite all of mankind in making this a better world, and that path was the Baha’i Faith.
My older sister Erica and I were raised in a very gender neutral environment where my parents put the Baha’i teaching of “the equality of the genders” into practice. My parents thought they were raising a new generation of children, so it was not unusual for my sister and I to play with toys that were stereotypical for the opposite gender.
My parents were always gay friendly and it turns out they named me after a gay friend they had in the early 1970’s. Going through public school I was always harassed for being “different”, called “fag” on a daily basis; this onslaught brought on an undiagnosed depression through high school. My mom knew what I was going through and confronted teachers and principals throughout my time in public school. Around age eleven she asked me if I were in fact gay, and if so she would love me regardless. I thought it such a bold move for a mother to make, but I automatically denied it, my reasoning internally being that if I came out to my family I would be too comfortable and would slip up and come out by mistake at school.
I am glad I never came out until after graduating, there were some brave guys who came out when I was in high school and they were beat up so severely that they were hospitalized (mind you this was the early to mid 1990’s). When I did come out I timed it with the “Ellen” episode where she came out on national TV: my family and I watched the show together and I saw it as an opportunity to bring up the “coming out” discussion. Initially I came out as bisexual thinking it would be easier for my family to understand, but in all honesty it was a stupid idea and made it too confusing for them. They ultimately accepted me as gay.
My family’s acceptance was gradual, but gained momentum as I helped to educate them about the GLBT community. My parents later became active and revitalized their city’s dormant PFLAG [Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays] and are currently very active as gay rights activists in their city. I am very proud of my parents: they are a shining example of acceptance, and a gay child could not ask for a better family all together.
This interview is part of a irregular segment called God Made the Rainbow, promoting inclusive spirituality. Subscribe to SarahMcCulloch.com via Email so you don’t miss future posts! (or via RSS!)