I’m gay and I can gladly say…

I may be an outspoken polytheist and have my reasons to feel very glad about my religious choices, but I usually keep them to myself and avoid entering the my religion is better than yours kind of discussion. For one, because what fits a person may not fit another and what makes me happy may make someone less so. And civility – not to mention History – calls for the rejection of the type of speech that claims the superiority of a religion over the rest and the resulting need for conversion. Yet, when I read things like this, I can’t help thinking that I am so glad I’m a polytheist! As glad as others who have a religion that doesn’t condemn them for their sexual orientation: the type of freedom I feel as a cultor deorum isn’t exclusive, but shared by many from other religious traditions, be they a form of polytheism or not, and even by atheists. Which makes me wonder why some people cling to institutions and philosophies that strip them of their dignity. And that, in turn, makes me want to say out loud why I’m glad I’m a polytheist.

Maybe I feel compelled to do so because I’m gay and I’ve seen my share of people who go through a rough time due to having a religion that condemns them for who they are. Some eventually abandon their faith, but it seems most of them try to fit in, either by reinterpretating scriptures and teachings or by simply hiding who they are and maybe hope for some sort of cure. Why? Really, why? It’s not like there’s only a handful of religions to choose from and they are all anti-gay. If that were case, it would make sense that one would try to fit in at all cost, but there are hundreds of options! Different communities, denominations, faiths, philosophies, and traditions with diverse opinions about pretty much everything. And if you live in a western country, you’re legally free to pick any of them, none, or even start your own religion. I can understand if someone tries to blend in a country where there’s no such freedom, but that’s not the case in the west. So again I ask: why?

To put it bluntly, why do people insist on being part of something that has no respect for their dignity or that of their loved ones? Is it because of family tradition? That’s no better than living with homophobic relatives who would kick you and strip you of all your things if they found out you’re gay. And while you may come out of the closet once you’re independent enough and there’s little your family can do about it, why would you choose to spend the rest of your life as part of a church, faith, or community that doesn’t accept who you are and for no other reason than prejudicial dogma? Is it because you don’t know what else to choose? Go to a library or, even better, search online: there’s thousands of webpages on the topic, not to mention forums, mailing lists, podcasts, and blogs. Don’t want to go through the trouble, but still feel repressed or rejected by your faith? With all due respect, that’s just another way of saying you’re too afraid to die and too scared to live. If someone tells you you’re damned for being gay, question him! If a Church strips you of your dignity because of your sexual orientation, argue against it! And if a priest walks out of a ceremony because someone’s daughter or son is gay, leave his church as soon as possible! There’s plenty of options to choose from, so don’t act like there’s nowhere else to go.

Of course, I realize that not everyone has easy access to a library or the internet, lives in a tolerant community (even in a western country), or has the strength to fight deeply rooted notions of sin, punishment, and eternal damnation. Some people just can’t cross the line and it’s not necessarily their fault. A good piece on something of the sort has been recently published here. For them, hope lies in those who have crossed the line and fight for LGBT rights, but if you have the means and freedom to make a choice, do it! Don’t humiliate yourself by clinging to a religion or church that doesn’t respect you (or your friends and relatives) because of your sexual orientation. Change! It may take a while and be a hard path, but every journey starts with one step and often the destination lies at the top of a steep hill. I’m gay and it took me several years to come out of the closet and find a religion where I felt at home. I went from Catholicism to undefined Christianity, atheism, Buddhism, Wicca, Druidry, Heathenry, and finally Roman Polytheism with a culturally diverse personal pantheon. That’s around fifteen years of my life in a nutshell and it was worth it! I’m so glad I’m a polytheist:

If a god doesn’t accept me for who I am or shows no particular interest in me, I can always try the deity next door, so to speak. Just like in everyday life, you’ll meet people who get along with you and others who don’t and that’s fine. It’s not that they’re necessarily evil, it’s just that people are different and some will enjoy your company while others won’t. In the same way, not every god will befriend you, but you will be befriended by a god.

I’m glad I’m a polytheist because diversity is paramount. There are many deities, male and female, of changeable gender or undefined one. If that’s the case with the divine community, why should I expect it to be any different and any less respectable in the human world? And why should I wish everyone to adhere to one cult if I believe in multiple Gods and They tread different paths while keeping the common ground and basic rules that allow for a community to exist?

And I’m glad I’m a Roman Polytheist because I have no scriptures or commandments set in stone to regulate my behaviour no matter how much the world changes. Not that I don’t have a theology or a moral code, but it’s born out of free will and free enquiry, not dogma! And this is something that is common to other forms of polytheism, from Europe and elsewhere, as is the feeling of being in a religion that doesn’t strip me of my dignity as a gay man. I don’t claim it to be an exclusive characteristic of any or all forms of polytheism. Again, diversity is paramount and the rainbow flag is a good symbol of just that.

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3 thoughts on “I’m gay and I can gladly say…

  1. A thought provoking question indeed, and one I have pondered at some length. I would posit, in a very shallow analysis, that the reason that many in the (keeping the theme of your post) GLBT community choose Christians, rather than convert, is that they are Christians. Not that folks who were Christian are unable to convert, that’s contrary to the evidence; it is that they have a particular conception of deity and theology and likely have either never considered, or rejected out of hand, alternatives. Monotheism is not, afterall, an easy mould to break out of and it has infected just about every aspect of Western culture.

    They idenfity as Christians,and so it is central to how they perceive themselves and their world. This tends to (again broadly) polarize the reactions to the inherent bigotry which exists in Christian theology towards GLBT folks: either they fall into the self denial/celibicy camp, and will convince themselves that their sexual nature is immoral, or they move from their current form of Christianity into another which has developed its own scripturally or theologically based acceptance of their sexual nature.

    The former tend to go for conversion therapy/ wind up “living a lie” until it catches up with them, or choose to remain celibite; terribly harmful in my view, but individuals make their own choices. The later, well they have their own interpretation, and develop their own theology which is in keeping with Christian history anyway. These later types are the ones who strongly identify with their religion and have decided that “its worth fighting for” or “it can be redeemed”, so to speak.

    I do admit, however, as an outsider looking in, I find it… frustrating that these later folks are unable to see that the reason they have been marganilized, oppressed, and become objects of hatred and violence is almost exclusively to do with a few lines in their holy text, and so their religion is precisely the cause of their suffering. I actually wrote about a related topic a few months back, detailing the Ontario Catholic School Boards being required to allow “gay-straight” clubs to stem the tide of homophobic incidents/ suicides, but also their refusal to allow the use of the term “gay-straight”, “rainbow” or any other term which could be misconstrued as condoning homosexuality. The sheer hypocrisy is almost vomit induicing, yet here it stands.

    The only sense I can make, and again perhaps the problem is that it is not based on reason at all, is that these folks have to have a very deep investment in their world view or self identification as Christians to live with such blatant hypocricy day in and day out.

    • You make very good points! It’s true, monotheism makes it harder to break out and way it influences western culture doesn’t help. Which is probably another reason why we should be outspoken and participate in public forums as much as possible: someone has to break with the one god, many faces of interfaith discourse and show there are alternatives.

  2. Pingback: Miscellanea « The House of Vines

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