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.
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!)