Tag Archives: Religion

MODERN GAY PERSPECTIVE: A GAY GOD

Modern Gay David LaChapelle

“God” is a difficult and heated topic, one which I try to avoid. Everyone has their own understanding of what God is and if God ‘is’ at all and when these understandings conflict, intense debate often erupts.

For many gay men, particularly those who come from families who prescribe to a traditional religious persuasion, God is a concern that they cannot avoid. Rationalising one’s sexuality within the context of religion and what is wrong or right in God’s eye is an inevitable part of coming to terms with homosexuality for these men.

Coming from a home and educational system that was based on a Judeo-Christian belief of God, I was one such man. Although my view of God differs slightly today, the following is the rationalisation of my homosexuality from a religious perspective.

I was taught that we are all created in the image of God and that we are all God’s children. If you believe this then you cannot deny that gay men and women were created thusly so, by God, in his image. Denying gay men and women is directly denying God. Furthermore, God is perfect and therefore does not make mistakes. When God created gay men and women, it was no mistake. Denying gay men and women is therefore denying that God is perfect. God exists within all of humanity and therefore we each possess the same, identical Godliness within us. Denying gay men and women is denying the God that exists within you, the one God that exists in everything.

Obviously there will be religious people who believe that homosexuality is a choice and that the above rationale is therefore flawed but it’s futile to try convince them otherwise. Anyone who is gay, knows in their heart that their homosexuality was not a choice and that they were born that way either by divine purpose or through nature.

It is not our duty to try persuade our religious parents, teachers or friends to think differently but it is my belief, influenced by these parents, teachers and friends, that God loves ALL of his children and that’s all that matters to me.

Image Credit: David LaChapelle for Flaunt Magazine

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MODERN GAY PERSPECTIVE: A MUSLIM MAN’S STORY (Part One)

Unknown Gay Man

The Modern Gay Guide to Life is a platform to share ideas about what it means to be a gay man in the modern world. We all have different experiences, come from different backgrounds and therefore have different perspectives. In the following two part true story a gay Muslim man shares his experiences with dating, the gay scene, religion and Grindr. 

I have a heavy heart tonight. I can’t help but feel sad and lonely as I write this but before I get into the cause of my heartache, I’d like to start from the beginning. I’d like to talk about another kind of gay man.

I was born in Pakistan to an orthodox Muslim family. My childhood was typical; I had a loving family who provided me with everything. I was like every other kid, but as I grew older I noticed my attraction to men. Something, which I didn’t understand because homosexual orientation as it exists in the West is not understood at all in my culture so there was no one to speak to. I didn’t think much of it until in high school all I heard was boys talk about girls but I couldn’t relate. I rationalised it to myself by saying that I was raised by a strong maternal figure and had close female friends so I looked at women more for their personality than their looks. I did, however, explore my sexuality a little thanks to online groups and met guys who were going through the same thing (even if such guys were hard to find since most Pakistani men, like other men seemed to be using such groups for quick sex).

When I was 19, I moved to Australia to study at university. Living away from home and everyone I knew gave me the chance to explore my sexuality but my social and cultural indoctrination got the best of me and I remained closeted. I did, however, meet someone and fell in love (or what I thought was love). He had a similar background but was older, more open and confident than I was, which I couldn’t help but admire. It was unrequited love though and while he enjoyed the attention he wasn’t honest enough to tell me up front that nothing was going to happen.  Obviously, it ended in heartbreak, shook my confidence and I retreated back into my own world and explored my feelings once again discreetly through the Internet. At that time, I was still convinced that I was bisexual and still dated women but it never went anywhere. I end up seeing a counselor at unviversity, who provided me with a space to explore my thoughts on my orientation, especially what it meant for someone who was Muslim. I went through periods of rejecting either my Muslim or queer background but with her help I was able to realize that I could be both, I just had to find a sense of balance within the two.

Around that time, I discovered an American organisation called Muslims for Progressive Values, that works on various issues such as the lack of support for LGBT Muslims, which is where I found my spiritual home. Listening to these people (even if they’re a minority) and striking a friendship with a prominent Imam, Amina Wadud, and hearing her thoughts on equality for queer Muslims helped me reconcile my faith and sexuality. I took baby steps and I came out to my brother, a few cousins and friends. The reactions I received varied from total support to severed relationships. My brother and my cousins while not entirely supportive evolved and tried to understand my position. I am still grateful for their response as they grew up in a conservative and sheltered environment where they never had to deal with an openly gay person. My Australian friends who I came out to couldn’t understand my need to be discreet because of my Muslim background but were supportive nonetheless.

That also gave me the boost to go out in the scene and try to make gay friends. In my naivety, I thought it would be easy and that for a minority, gay guys would be quite open-minded and accepting of each other. However, I didn’t realize how superficial the scene was and how I wasn’t considered “worthy” to befriend because being a person of colour and “unfit”, I didn’t fit the image of a desirable gay man. Some guys laughed in my face at the idea of me trying to be friends with them because of my looks. I was also ridiculed because I followed a faith most of them did not understand and considered violent and archaic. My experience in gay settings was almost entirely negative because I found guys to be cliquey, bitchy, shallow and snobby. I still persevered for a while and tried to make gay friends. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very successful. Slowly, I realized that I didn’t need to be a part of the scene and while gay friends would be nice, they didn’t have to be a priority. I have since met a handful of really nice gay guys through work and friends who have become good friends.

Eventually, I met guys who were interested in dating me but it still hasn’t been easy and at 28, I find it slightly disappointing that the longest I’ve been with someone is a couple of months. My first substantial dating experience was only in September last year, when I started talking to a guy on Grindr. He was intelligent, witty and funny and I couldn’t help being attracted to him. We got along well and started dating. Things, at least in my head, were going well and I could see myself being with this person long term. However, I didn’t know that he had a secret of his own. A couple of months later I realized how interconnected we all are. I was out with a few friends and met someone who was talking about his boyfriend who seemed suspiciously similar to my current flame. The similarities were so striking that the next time I saw him I mentioned it to him. He initially was in shock but then admitted everything; he had been with this guy for 5 years and while he still loved him, he also had strong feelings for me and wanted to explore things with me. Disgusted by the dishonesty and hating myself for being the other one, I ended things.

Stay tuned to The Modern Gay Guide to Life for Part Two when our author bravely admits the lengths he went to in order to try find love and the consequences of his actions.

To share your story please email josh@joshvansant.com

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RULE NO.11: YOU WERE BORN THIS WAY

dansk-homotography-eidem-01

Throughout puberty I wondered “why am I gay?”

Before Lady Gaga confirmed that she was born this way, before Kurt Hummel vocally expressed his problems 3 octaves higher than most 16 year old boys and before any celebrity promised that it would get better, I was a confused teenager trying to understand why I was gay.

Attending a conservative private school that prescribed to a certain Judeo-Christian religious persuasion, homosexuality was merely a subject in a health book that was superficially brushed over one afternoon in grade 9. This particular book claimed that teenagers often experienced passing attractions to the same sex as a byproduct of hormone release. I wished that when the hormones stopped releasing so would my my same-sex attraction. It wasn’t to be.

Needless to say, my understanding of homosexuality was rather limited.

Furthermore, my belief and comprehension of God was shaped by my educational institution and by all accounts, God didn’t approve of gays. So why did he make me gay?

At first I thought he was punishing me for something I may have done before I was even born. Perhaps my soul was intrinsically bad and therefore I needed to suffer the burden of being gay as a form of repenting? The future seemed very daunting.

Then I was told by a religious teacher that God doesn’t hate homosexuals but he hates the sins that homosexuals commit. Was loving another person of the same sex a sin even though it felt so natural? So, I rationalised that it was to be my test in life to resist all homosexual temptations, thoughts and desires no matter how right they felt.

In my later high school years l began to consider that perhaps God had made me gay not as punishment nor as a test but because he knew that I could handle the pressure. Other boys might not have been able to cope with life as a homosexual. I was grateful that I, a strong willed, confident boy with supportive friends and a loving family was made gay instead of someone less fortunate who may have found themselves in the same predicament.

When my faith in God began to wane, as it does for most who’ve attended a religious school, I searched for other answers to my big gay question. Did my upbringing have an impact on my sexuality? I had read somewhere about childhood trauma and troubled upbringings affecting sexual development and causing homosexuality. Reflecting on my childhood there was absolutely nothing that could have adversely affected me either obviously or subconsciously. I grew up in an “ideal” environment with parents who were besotted with each other, who provided their children with love, support and unnecessary material possessions. I had an amazing relationship with my mum and dad and my sister was one of my best friends. We lived in an affluent area, participated in extracurricular activities too many to name, traveled often, spoke openly about our dreams and fears and comforted each other when the family dog died. My friends even commented on how “extraordinary” my family life was. Surely this wasn’t the cause of my homosexuality?

During this period of questioning I had some dark days. Days when I wondered what was the point of it all. Maybe it was better not to be than to be gay? Luckily these days were few and far between but I know that others have suffered more deeply with their own feelings of confusion and questioning.

In the end, I found the answer. I was born this way. It never crossed my mind that it was a choice; that in some way I had chosen to be gay. What teenager would choose such a challenging path? I was born this way. My upbringing was not the cause, my soul was not bad and I definitely wasn’t being punished. I was born this way. It’s as simple as that. There is no other reason or further questioning needed.

I hope that by sharing my experience, others who are going through or have been through this process will see that a part of self-acceptance is undergoing a period of questioning. The greatest relief is discovering and then believing that you are the way you are because that is the way that God or nature or the universe intended you to be.

Read Rule No.1: There are no rules (except for one)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Eidem by Stefan Zchernitz

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