Now that I’ve embraced myself a bisexual, one of the complexities I’ve been struggling is with is am I part of my religion or not? I still believe there is a higher power out there and that everyone has a soul. I’ve also discovered that are many ways to nourish one’s soul such as organized religion, yoga, walks in nature, breathing meditation, sound therapy and other modalities. One modality is not better than another. For me, the key is to find the method that brings my heart joy and a sense of fulfillment. It sounds like an easy task, but it’s one that’s created inner turmoil in my world over the last year and half.
I believe that god loves everyone and that everyone has a soul is which is genderless. Meaning the soul doesn’t have a sexual orientation, a race, an ethnicity, gender or any other labels. Then why over the centuries have all major religions created structures, interpretations and systems resulting in a culture that excludes people who identify as LGBTQ2? It’s like religions are saying that if you identify as a heterosexual you have privilege and the religion will accept you with open arms. Those individuals who are heterosexuals in a religion are a group of people who are the majority and are given advantages over other minority groups. Unfortunately, if you are not heterosexual, then you need to either change the essence of who you are to be accepted or you need to leave the religion. This makes me feel small and like my soul doesn’t matter in my religion. Since when is religion about exclusion and not inclusion? How is that acting in an ethical manner? Doesn’t that go against the premise of god loves everyone? It also doesn’t take into account that I did not make a conscious choice of being bisexual, god made me like this.
In most religions, we are taught to see god’s light in everyone and treat people with love and compassion. So individuals engage in activities such as giving back to the community we live in while at the same discriminating or marginalizing people who identify as LGBTQ2. In some cases, individuals who identify as LGBTQ2 are treated as invisible people who are not seen, heard or understood. How is that following the principle of seeing god’s light in everyone?
I’ve thought to myself many times since I believe that god loves everyone and the soul is genderless then I should be able to go to my prayer centre and feel a sense of belonging, a sense of peace and inner fulfillment? Unfortunately, I don’t feel that welcoming space in my religion as there is no acknowledgement of people who identify as LGBTQ2. Given this fact, there is also no affirmative statement around homosexuality. There is very little talk in public within the religions about how we can support the LGBTQ2 people or how can we work together to create prayer centres that are more inclusive. This is happening in all major religions. It’s also no coincidences that special churches and mosques just for queer people are being created in certain cities around the world.
Let me use a metaphor to explain how some LGBTQ2 individuals don’t feel welcomed in different types of religious prayer centres. Let’s say we live in a world name CandyCane. In this world, the majority of the people identify as LGBTQ2 and there is a small number of individuals who identify as heterosexuals. The main religion in called Essence. The main principles and beliefs of the Essence religion are created to cater to the LGBTQ2 community. This has been in place for centuries. The leader of the Essence religion has not formally made a statement accepting the heterosexual community. There are some heterosexuals who try to advocate for change and equality, but they are always brushed off and their issues are placed under the carpet. If you as a heterosexual lived in the CandyCane world, would you be part of the Essence faith, go the prayer center as well as feel a sense of belonging and inner peace? I would hedge my bets and guess that as a heterosexual you would not feel comfortable.
So how have I answered the question am I part of my religion or not? I’ve realized that it is completely okay to question the religion I was brought up in to see if it’s the right fit for me. What works for one individual may not work for someone else. Right now, I don’t feel like the religion I grew up with is right for me and that’s completely valid. I’ve been engaging in my own spiritual practice based on love which includes walks in nature, yoga and breath meditation. This practice brings me joy, inner peace and fulfillment.
It also took me a long time for me to let go the notion that not being part of an organized religion makes me a bad or selfish person. Through inner reflection and the help of my spiritual teachers, I was able to change my view and see that creating a spiritual practice that is meaningful for me is a valid way to grow my soul. I know as I go along my life journey, my views and preferences around religion may or may not change. And that’s totally okay too.