It is hard for me to believe that it has been 20 years since the publication of Coming Out Spiritually. This year is also the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village that are generally identified as the launch of the LGBT rights movement. And yes, it’s June, Pride month.
Pride means more than parades and rainbows. As I outlined in Coming Out Spiritually, throughout history, people we today label LGBT have been honored for their roles of spiritual service and leadership. In many cultural contexts, we have been the healers, teachers, shamans, keepers of beauty, mediators, and peacekeepers—those who “walked between the worlds.” For LGBT spiritual practitioners who have done our work and struggled with cultural conditioning and internalized homophobia, not only is our sexual expression or gender identity not a sin, sickness or abomination, but it is a gift, a blessing and a privilege. It is the element of our personality that has pushed us outside the realms of comfort and conventionality and into the place of mystery inhabited by those who fulfill roles of sacred service. If there is any doubt about the pervasiveness of LGBT people in religious leadership roles, it would be a compelling exercise if some weekend all LGBT ministers, rabbis, music directors, teachers, and other spiritual functionaries stayed home from religious services.
“Gay Pride” barely begins to capture the sense of honor and respect this rich spiritual heritage deserves
According to the Dagara tribe in Africa, certain people—those that Westerners would identify as LGBT—are uniquely, physically and energetically suited to be “gatekeepers,” the guardians of doorways into other worlds, realms and realities. The Dagara believe that much of the pain and woundedness of the world can be traced to a lack of respect for these spiritual gatekeepers. In fact, author and spiritual teacher Malidoma Some says that part of the reason the world is in the shape that it is in is because the gatekeepers have been “fired from their jobs.”
Similarly, among Native Americans, Two-Spirit people—a recent umbrella term that encompasses multiple examples in different tribes and languages—were believed to embody and contain the essence of both masculine and feminine, were thought to have special powers and often played key roles in tribal ceremonies. These people, who lived on the edges of tribal life, were associated with the gift of prophecy and the implementation of rituals, and were said to possess healing powers. Two-Spirit folk today are regaining their place of honor among many Native American communities after being annihilated or forced to go underground after the European invasion.
Of course, this does not mean that LGBT people are better than their straight counterparts. (After all, heterosexuals should not be blamed for not having a “choice” about their sexual orientation!) It does mean, however, as far as I am concerned, that LGBT people should have a sense of responsibility to continue bringing light, healing and spirit to the world, even if the world in general does not yet realize or appreciate our value and contributions.
It is time for LGBT people to recognize and fully own our innate spiritual offerings of service and leadership: we have gravitated to and fulfilled spiritual roles throughout history in numbers that far exceed our proportion to the overall population. We have contributed tremendously to the evolution of humanity.
For those who cringe at the occasional boundary-pushing excess of Gay Pride festivals, remember this: These are the outsiders, the spiritual warriors and revolutionaries, the scouts of consciousness who are undoing and healing millennia of sexual repression for much of the rest of the world. Without denying that the pendulum in this area has occasionally swung a bit too far and that opportunities for sexual healing abound in our community (as they do in the world in general), we owe these modern-day shamans the latitude they need and the respect they deserve to do this crucial work.
For those of us who identify as LGBT, the world is crying out for us to show up from a place of authentic power and humble pride. We must know, in the deepest recesses of our souls, in the very fabric of our tissues, in every one of our cells in every part of our bodies, that we are blessed in the ways we express our love and our passion. Our blessing stems from the fact that we have had to overcome huge obstacles in order to know love. We must now love deeply, passionately, compassionately, completely and selflessly. It is our calling as a people. It is our calling as human beings.
This spiritual calling is what I will be celebrating during Gay Pride. I invite all of you who hear this call within you—no matter how you express your love or your passion—to do the same.
Have you suspected that you had a role to play as teacher, healer or spiritual activist?
Ready to step up your game?
Join us for A Call For LGBT Heroes Retreat
July 19-21, 2019
Esalen | Big Sur, CA
Together with other seekers of higher consciousness, we will explore what it means to live heroically in the 21st century, consider the spiritual meanings of being LGBT, and uncover and release the obstacles holding us back from living our greatest purpose.
Please click HERE for info or to register!