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.