I was spending the weekend at my sister’s for a visit—brother, nieces, nephews, dogs, the whole gang was present. I hadn’t given much thought to having thrown the then current issue of Curve on the patio table. I was about to share in my good news that I’d be blogging on spirituality, when my sister-in-law picked up the mag and noted to my brother, “Hm, how green is your sex life?”
Now mind you, this isn’t a family where I worry about things like my sexuality being an issue—obviously not, given that I had thrown “America’s best selling lesbian magazine” down on the table… but I had forgotten about that article. I had a fleeting moment of personal embarrassment and noticed no one seemed too terribly fazed besides me. Once past that, I even had a short conversation with my (grown) nephew about some interesting toys.
I have a family where I belong. I’m loved and welcomed there. My coming out story is not in the least bit dramatic or heart wrenching. I realize I am different from many lesbians in this way. Sometimes I feel excluded from the gay and lesbian community for not having some story to tell about exclusion or isolation, but I just don’t. I was lucky, or as I prefer to put it, “blessed.” I have a family that at its worst was tolerant and most of all, most of the time, accepting. Even before I was comfortable bringing my first girlfriend to holiday occasions, my family pointed out to me that she was welcome. My family accepted me.
But what the hell does that have to do with spirituality? And why begin there? Because having a sense of belonging is central to spirituality. We can’t all say we feel a sense of belonging in our families of origin, much less about a spiritual home—if it even exists, in our lives.
My sense of belonging was shattered by another incident, when I was younger and my father died. I didn’t feel like I fit in with the other kids who had two parents. But it showed me, as I grew into maturity, that every one of us: gay, straight, lesbian, transgendered, have at some time or another, felt isolated, shamed, separate or different.
And there’s no escaping that religion can be used to isolate, shame and control. Various religions have been horrible perpetrators of spiritual abuse in the form of isolation and shame, just like the emotional abuse some of us experienced from our own families. It’s no wonder if we don’t care to explore spirituality or religion as a viable tool to assist us in living with the same issues and problems our straight counterparts experience. And who with any compassion could blame us? It is a painful experience to express oneself authentically and be rejected for it. So why even bother or practice a certain religion or spirituality? And go to church? Are you kidding? Not a chance.
However, there are plenty of facets of spirituality, and even plenty of churches, welcoming of lesbians and gays. While there are plenty of people who look for what’s wrong with religion and spirituality, what if we began to look at what’s right?
Whether it’s how spirituality can get us a job (or girlfriend for that matter) or we are seeking a place where we can safely know our kids aren’t being taught to reject us in Sunday school, there are places and spiritual concepts for us.
Churches and religions are evolving despite the bad reputation some of the news media are giving them. And that means we’ve got to look closer and harder if we want to connect with others in a safe spiritual environment. Whether it’s a desire for a permanent sense of belonging, wanting our children to have some concept of what Easter means beyond the Easter Bunny, or we’re looking for an officiant for our weddings, there are religions, churches and places of worship where lesbians and gays are welcome.
If you’re serious about church going, just Google “gay friendly churches” in your area. “Oh that’s great Joni anyone could have told me that.” That’s true but don’t stop there. Go to the church’s website and check out that site like it’s a woman you want to date on Facebook. Look for similarities in style: Is it laidback? Contemporary or contemplative? Youthful or traditional? Most of all though, check out the church’s mission statement, vision statement and core values. If they do not resonate, keep hunting. Remember, spirituality should be like a good bra. It should fit comfortably and uplift the girls; it shouldn't poke you in the wrong places, and it should be flexible enough to easily slip off when you want to have a good time.
If you’re just plain curious how varied and available spirituality has become, MyOutSpirit, is a fabulous resource (www.myoutspirit.com.) Maybe you prefer the Lesbian Buddhist Fellowship in Berkeley over the Reformed Church of Satan in Wayne, Michigan? Whatever blows up your skirt.
Most of all, why not explore the final frontier and come out spiritually? Why not be on the leading edge of shifting our culture toward a greater understanding of one another through a more sacred way of living? You’re already on the leading edge by being a lesbian, right?
In the meantime, I may have to call my brother up and ask him just exactly how green his sex life is. I don’t remember if he answered the question.