bahai

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 third part of a three part interview. Read the first part here and the second part here.

What do it mean to lose your administrative rights as a Baha’i? What impact does that have on someone’s participation in their community?

To lose your Administrative Rights is quite a blow to a Baha’i. Although you are not shunned you cannot attend the 19 Day Feast (which serves as a spiritual, administrative, and social meeting once a Baha’i month), you cannot give to the Baha’i Fund, and you cannot take part in Baha’i elections for Baha’i Administrative bodies. People who loose their Administrative Rights can only attend Baha’i Holy Days. Ultimately most people who lose their Administrative Rights become estranged from their faith community.

The way the law is applied in various Baha’i communities concerning gays and lesbians varies. The interpretation can be as strict as losing your Administrative Rights for being “flagrantly” gay (interpret as being openly gay). The more mature communities just leave their gay members alone as long as they “keep it under the radar”, renounce gay relationships and live lonely celibate lives, or go through therapy and become magically straight!

An interesting fact is that back biting is considered an awful offense like arson, theft, etc., yet my entire Baha’i life I never witnessed anyone losing their Administrative Rights over it: most of the Baha’i world would have to collectively loose thier Administrative Rights if we were going to be playing this game of “Scarlet Letter”.

How do you see the Baha’i faith ultimately resolving the conflict between Baha’i law and homosexuality? Do you think there is an answer?

I believe the future for gays in the Baha’i Faith to be bright. Gays will ultimately will find a place in the Baha’i Faith as their straight Baha’i peers become less homophobic. Baha’i Administrative Bodies will have to re-examine how Baha’i law is applied to gay Baha’is in committed relationships. There will have to be a campaign to educate Baha’is on the harm of homophobia, that homophobia is indeed a form of prejudice that has to be eliminated. Gay Baha’i Gatherings similar to the Black Men’s Gatherings will have to be formed to bring solace to the GLBT Baha’i Community.

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

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!)

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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 second part of a three part interview. Read the first part here.

Do you find meaning in Baha’i now? Has your practice changed since coming out?

I still consider myself a Baha’i. There is nothing similar to it out there, the very teaching of “Progressive Revelation” where each world religion is like a chapter of a book (Baha’i being the latest, but not last), our prophecies, and our teachings keep me bonded to the Baha’i Faith. When I came out, initially I was not less active in the city in which I resided; in fact I was elected to our Administrative Body a few years in a row as an openly gay person. As the years passed I was less comfortable sharing my faith with others who knew or asked about the Baha’i stance on homosexuality. How could I share in my faith that teaches those who are in a gay relationship will be spiritually handicapped in the next world? When I moved to the city I currently reside after meeting my partner (whom I have been with for nearly ten years), I contacted my local Baha’i community, and as luck would have it I would be elected to their Administrative Body as well.

My city happens to have the largest gay population per capita in the U.S., so those who would be attracted to the Baha’i Faith for its largely progressive beliefs would be equally turned off with the Baha’i Faith’s stance on homosexuality. I addressed my frustration with my fellow Baha’is in my community; some were understanding, others less so. Ultimately I became inactive in my religious community, seeing that there was no place for openly gay people. To be a gay Baha’i, one cannot be in a gay relationship, gay Baha’is have to deny themselves the basic human need to share their life with someone while their straight peers can lead full lives. It was a very depressing existence leading a double life to remain an active Baha’i. Although I do miss aspects of Baha’i community life, I found that I have to be true to myself.

Is there much of a gay Baha’i community anywhere, similar to the LGBT Christian and Jewish movements? If yes, do you and other LGBT Baha’is find it useful, and if not, do you think one will form?

There is no formal gay Baha’i community life anywhere, though gay Baha’is may meet up on an individual basis. The closest thing gay Baha’is have to a support group is called BNASSA (Baha’i Network on Aids, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse). BNASSA is an officially sanctioned Baha’i Institute of the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, and is supported by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. BNASSA’s name alone entails a large grouping of “issues”, a far cry from any kind of gay Baha’i support group or Gay Baha’i Gathering. Ultimately GLBT Baha’is will seek each other out and will form support groups or Gay Baha’i Gatherings as a way to bond and share their love for Baha’u’llah.

Black Men’s Gatherings were groups started by African-American Baha’i Men as a way to heal generations of wounds that were afflicted upon the Black Man, to bring them up spiritually as a group, to share their pain, their strengths, and a way to move forward in their communities and families. It is basically a spiritual renewal for them. I think that the GLBT Baha’is need something similar that is equally encouraged by the Baha’i Administration.

Read Part 1 here and Part 3 here.

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!)

Related Posts:

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